SILVER SPRING, Maryland — “‘Jesus said to his disciples,’ and to us, ‘Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.’ Jesus might have said that you do not know the day, but I know it. That day was yesterday, and today, and tomorrow.”
With these words, Franciscan Provincial Minister Jack Clark Robinson OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, exhorted the 12 men entering the postulancy program of six US Franciscan Provinces, on Thursday, August 30, here.
Friar Jack went on to spell out the challenges which the postulants will face: “individual challenges, individual affirmations, meant for you and for you alone….[and] the challenges that we face together. They come in your community here, among the friars of the six provinces, and in the Church in our world.”
The group which will face those challenges are a diverse gathering of ages, backgrounds, and places of origin:
Edgar Alberto, 27. Originally from El Salvador, Edgar met the friars from, Durham, North Carolina. Edgar spent the last year serving as a Franciscan lay volunteer at St. Francis Inn soup kitchen in Philadelphia, Pa.
Fritz Newburger, 22, comes from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Joshua Richter, 21, comes from Hamilton Ohio.
Bruce Tran, 29. Originally from Vietnam, Bruce comes from Los Angeles, California.
Gino Grivetti, 21, is from Peoria, Illinois.
José de Jesús Osorio
Josè de Jesús Osorio, 26, is originally from Mexico and comes to the friars from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Daniel Samsel, 26, is from Cleveland Ohio.
Carlos Wagner, 39, is originally from Cali, Colombia, and more recently, New York City, New York.
Adolfo R. Mercado, 44, is from Sacramento, California.
Neil Pavao, 22, is from Douglas, Georgia.
Michael Specht, 24, is from St. Bonaventure, New York. Michael worked for one year as a Franciscan lay volunteer in Camden, New Jersey.
Zach Zeman, 23, from Elgin, Illinois
These men bring a variety of educational preparation: business management, theology, philosophy, anthropology, education, language study, environmental science, global studies. They come to the friars through contact with the Franciscans in their families and parishes, as well as other religious.
The new postulants were welcomed at a Eucharist which was attended by the local friar-community at Holy Name College, friars from other communities, and the Franciscan lay volunteers based in Silver Spring.
Friar Jack included in his homily a far-reaching prediction for the postulants: “You will, God grant, make solemn profession of vows, five, six or more years from now, into a province not yet born.”
“But our challenge and the hard work that we must do together before your day of solemn profession is to bring that new province into being, by offering our best selves—the best Franciscans each of us can be individually; offering the best of our inheritance from our six mothers (now there is a thought—six mothers!) and offering the best of our dreams, which is where you are so very important, to make that…truly a new sign of the power of God at work to change our world.”
As part of the ceremony, the new postulants were presented with a symbol of the Franciscans, the Tau cross. A friar who just professed his first vows as a Franciscan, Friar Luis Rosado OFM, made the Tau crosses by hand.
SANTA BARBARA–Five men professed their first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as Franciscan friars here at Old Mission Santa Barbara.
On August 6, 2018, the Feast of Transfiguration, Friars Jason Damon OFM, James La Grutta OFM, Michael Lomas OFM, Antonio Luevano OFM, and Luis Manuel Rosado OFM, professed their first vows to Provincial Ministers David Gaa OFM and Kevin Mullen OFM.
The service began with the song “These Alone Are Enough,” reminding the five men and all the friars that God’s love and grace alone are enough. This grace flows from the moment of our baptism, which was recalled by the pouring of holy water during the song, followed by the sprinkling rite.
The reading chosen by the newly professed friars was from Gospel according to St. Matthew, where Jesus reminded his disciples not to worry about what to eat and wear, but to seek first the kingdom of God. Friar Kevin Mullen, who proclaimed the Gospel and gave the reflection, called to mind St. Francis’ Letter to All the Faithful that “listening to the Word of God is the key dynamic of our life.” As the five men continue their journey in the Franciscan life, they were reminded to always trust in the providence of God as proclaimed in the Gospel reading.
For the profession part of the ceremony, each friar had two friar-witnesses as his provincial received his vows. Jason, James, and Luis chose to have Friars Ross Chamberlain and Eric Lopez as their witnesses. Michael and Antonio’s vows were witnessed by Friar John Gutierrez, their former postulant director, and Friar Arturo Noyes.
The new novitiate class of 2018-2019 played a major role in the festivities. They helped with the music, prayers, and reading during the liturgy. The novices also stepped up to the plate to cook for all the invitees at the reception and took care of the cleanup afterward, including making the guest bedrooms after their departures.
The service concluded with Friar Jason Damon representing his class in thanking the novitiate team: Sr. Susan Rosenbach SSSF, and Friars Michael Blastic OFM, Michael Jennrich OFM, and Jeff Macnab OFM. He also thanked the staff, parishioners, and friar community at Old Mission Santa Barbara, and friars who came near and far to be present on this special day, including the Conventual Friars from their novitiate in nearby Arroyo Grande.
Profiles of the Newly Professed
Jason Damon OFM is from South Wales, N.Y. While studying for his B.A. in history and a minor in political science at St. Bonaventure University, he frequently participated in the prayer life of the Franciscans there. He desires a life and vocation with meaning, “to wake up every day with the goal of helping people.” After profession, Jason will move to Chicago to begin his theological studies at Chicago Theological Union (CTU) in order to pursue ordination as a friar-priest.
James La Grutta
James La Grutta OFM is a native of Beacon, N.Y. He met the friars while pursuing his bachelors in political science degree at Siena College. His inspiration came mostly from the Franciscans’ direct work with the poor and the disenfranchised, particularly in a fraternal setting. He will also move to Chicago to pursue a master’s in divinity.
Michael Lomas OFM was born in Visalia, Calif., and grew up in San Jose. He started in the bachelor’s program in philosophy at Holy Names University in Oakland. He also worked as a youth and young adult minister for the diocese of San Jose. This led to an encounter with a former friar was working for the diocese, who inspired Michael to join the Franciscans. He hopes to continue his passion for working with youth. After profession, he plans to complete his B.A. in philosophy at the University of San Diego while living at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside.
Antonio Luevano OFM hails from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He holds a B.A. in religious studies from Humboldt University. While working for the Diocese of San Bernardino, he attended the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside. His interactions with friar students and professors there inspired him to join the Franciscans. After profession, he will move to Mission San Luis Rey to finish his master’s degrees in divinity and theological studies at FST.
Luis Rosado OFM is a native of Puerto Rico. He has an associate degree in criminal justice and is also a certified and experienced emergency medical technician. He first discovered the friars through the Holy Name Province website and was attracted by their ministerial outreach and fraternal spirit. He will begin his theological studies for ordination at CTU as well.
The Profession Ceremony
You can watch the profession ceremony at Old Mission Santa Barbara here:
In my experience, invoking the meekness and humility of our founder St. Francis, through the lens of a privileged dominant group, have advertently or inadvertently undermined the struggles of people of color in reconciling conflicts with our White brothers (and sisters) in religious life.
Three decades have passed since Peggy McIntosh wrote “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through the Work in Women’s Studies” in 1988. Salient among her insights is the conflict ignited by the dissonance she describes among White people where a White Supremacist can be nice and kind and yet embody a belief system where only White people make knowledge.
This is a dilemma for us people of color. Often I am asked, “Do you really think that White friars are evil for being ‘clumsy’ in their language or micro-aggressions?” This is a wrong question to which people of color in the Church are under no obligation to respond. This locates me in a place of deficiency because it privileges white sensitivity over my experience of marginalization, which is already micro-aggression. How can there be reconciliation in such questioning when it structurally falsifies what truly creates the language of “us-versus-them”?
This is why McIntosh asserts that a White person can be both nice and oppressive (Rothman, 2014).
Rather, a person of color must ask, “Who am I to reject my dignity and bend to such questioning as if my experience of exclusion never mattered from the very beginning?” This is where I often face resistance, defensiveness and a demand for an apology, which I cannot honestly offer. More importantly, this is where I intentionally heighten my consciousness so that I do not internalize this manner of oppression towards others and myself. When I do, I usually shame those who shame me. It is self-sabotage and wrong.
The meekness and humility of our Brother Francis cannot negate the experience and dignity of those who are marginalized. We must restore what they truly mean to Francis — nakedness before God, in which all that we are is illumined by the indiscriminate, relentless, and merciful love of God. It is but just that our contemplation according to Thomas Keating yields to an “awareness of our own biases, prejudices, and self-centered programs for happiness, especially when they trample on other people’s rights and needs”.
For further reading
Keating, T. (1999). The human condition: contemplation and transformation. New York, NY: Paulist Press
BOSTON—Archivists from the six US Franciscan provinces met on the Boston College campus from July 11-13, 2018, to participate in the “Envisioning the Future of Catholic Religious Archives” conference. The purpose of the conference was for archivists, historians, and congregational leaders to exchange ideas and best practices for preserving the future of Catholic religious.
This first-of-its-kind conference included presentations, panels, and break-out sessions around a variety of topics. As result of he conference, a white paper will be produced as to best practices for Catholic archives.
The archivists present were Friar Thomas Cole OFM, Holy Name Province; Ronald Cooper, Saint John the Baptist Province; Rachel Hatcher Day, Saint Barbara Province; Brie Montoya, Our Lady of Guadalupe Province; Friar Willian Stout OFM, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province; and Denise Thuston, Sacred Heart Province. Also attending was Friar Jack Clark Robinson OFM, an historian and provincial minister of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province.
In addition to participating in the conference, the archivists were able to continue discussion of our own current concerns, in preparation for our next group meeting in the Spring of 2019.
SANTA BARBARA-—On Monday, July 16, 2018—a typically balmy Santa Barbara morning—14 new novices were received into the Franciscan Order. One of the group, Friar Bernard Keele OFM, received the Rite of Probation initiating his transfer from the Benedictines to the Franciscans. In addition, two men from Canada are awaiting their US visas before they can join their US confreres in the program. After they arrive, this year’s novitiate class will consist of 16 novices.
“We’re not at St. Peter’s in Rome, “ began Novice Master Jeff Macnab OFM as he welcomed the diverse group of new friars—almost all of whom had just completed their postulancy year in Silver Spring, Maryland, before moving to the interprovincial novitiate location at Old Mission Santa Barbara. “We’re very relaxed here,” he continued as he looked around the group of the newly received novices, the last class of novices who will make their first vows on August 6, ministers provincial, formation team members, and others gathered in the Friars Chapel: “This is a family celebration—a family gathering.”
The sense of family was reinforced in the remarks given by Provincial Minister Jim Gannon OFM, of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary province. Following the proclamation of the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John (1:1-10), Friar Jim mentioned that it reminded him of not one, but three separate generations of baptisms witnessed in his native Philadelphia. He began by mentioning the parish priest where he grew up, immediately following the baptismal rite, would typically carry the infant in his arms from the rear of the church. The priest would then “present” the infant by placing it on the main altar, while he recited the Prologue, formerly known as the “last Gospel”. Jim shared that this same custom has been treasured in his own family for three generations now.
Jim challenged the incoming novitiate class members to work to understand more deeply the real meaning of the Prologue—“words full of grace and truth; grace upon grace, love upon love” and to apply its message to their own lives. “The Prologue of the Gospel of John is one of the most glorious foundational statements about Jesus Christ. Yet, we often skip over it. John’s story reveals two most fundamental affirmations about Jesus: Jesus is the presence of God’s own life and that Jesus makes this life of God available to every human being.”
“For Francis of Assisi,” he continued, “ the Word became the core foundation of his renewed, revitalized life. The Word turned Francis of Assisi upside down and inside out. I firmly believe that no individual renewal or revitalization, no global renewal or revitalization of the Order of Friars Minor– no national renewal or revitalization of the Franciscans in the United States will be successful unless we are committed to renewing our love for living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Brothers, you are the next generation,” he concluded. “As you enter your novitiate year, enter deeply into the implication of the Prologue of John’s Gospel. Enter deeply into the implications of the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh upon your life as a Friar Minor.”
During the actual reception of the new novices, each man was called by name and, along with two solemnly professed friars as witnesses, signed the Book of Reception. Novice Bernard Keele OFM was welcome separately into “a time of probation” with the friars. Also in attendance were provincial ministers Friars Jim Gannon OFM, Jack Clark Robinson OFM, Ralph Parthie OFM, David Gaa OFM, and Mark Soehner OFM. Friar Basil Valiente OFM represented the Most Holy Name of Jesus Province.
Afterward, Provincial Minister David Gaa OFM, presented each new novice with a journal of his own “to write and express your journey.” “…Be attentive to the workings of the Spirit and (even) the days you resist the challenge,” he urged them.
The service concluded with blessings of and by this year’s interprovincial novitiate team, consisting of Friars Jeff Macnab OFM, Michael Blastic OFM, and Michael Jennrich OFM, as well as Sister Susan Rosenbach SSSF.
Row 3 (l to r): Novice Friars Loren Moreno OFM, Ian Grant OFM, Salvador Mejia OFM, Andrew Dinegar OFM Row 2 (l to r): John Neuffer OFM, Steven Young OFM, Andrew Aldrich OFM, Matt Ryan OFM, Bernard Keele OFM Row 1 (l to r): Josh Tagoylo OFM, Carlos Portillo OFM, Richard Phillip OFM, Nhan Ton OFM, Rafael Ozoude OFM Photo: (c) Dick Tandy OFM