Juntos Como Hermanos 2018

Juntos Como Hermanos 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Franciscan friars involved in Hispanic ministry gathered here Sept. 17-20 for the 6th annual Juntos Como Hermanos (“Together as Brothers”) gathering. With special thanks to Friar Edgardo (“Lalo”) Jara OFM and friars from the Inter-provincial Postulancy House in Silver Spring, Md., we had fruitful and inspiring fraternal experience.

Lay Collaboration in the Ministry of the Church — Part One

The theme for this year was the importance of working with the laity and to that end, we had some input from Carmen Nanko Fernandez who has had years of experience working and teaching in the Church, most recently for many years at CTU in Chicago. Carmen challenged us, especially in light of the renewed clergy abuse scandal, to be rigorously honest about naming the reality in which we find ourselves and to not be afraid to move forward together “latinamente”.

She spoke to us about the history and development of the 2005 document “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” which tries to address the question of cooperation and collaboration of laity in the Church, especially dealing with issues of the hierarchy and power struggles which still exist.

Carmen suggests three “movements” that have happened in this regard:

  • Laity as “Object” of Ministry — when the laity was encouraged to basically “pray, pay and obey” and there was really no sense of accompaniment on the part of the clerics who served them. At the same time, there was a sense of the “priesthood of the faithful” that was already taking shape as people found ways to pray that didn’t need clergy to be leaders, e.g., rosary devotions.
  • Laity “in” Ministry — the idea that lay people have a key role to play in their own world of the law office or the hospital or the bakery or the factory. The focus here is on the secular world. With Vatican II came the development of the laity as “full, active participants” in the ministry of the Church. This eventually led to the notion of Lay Ecclesial Ministers working alongside the clergy. Especially among Hispanics however, there has been (and still is) a deep sense of people being under-representation, under-studied and not really welcomed as co-workers. At the same time, there were various local grass-roots movements that started and have continued under the direction of lay people, e.g., Cursillo, Jornadas, Encuentro, etc.
  • With Laity in Mission — a developing sense of shared stewardship along with a sense of lessons that we can and are still learning, e.g., being intentional, understanding particular contexts, “acompañamiento”, OFM itinerancy, popular piety, “conjunto” (not speaking for them), etc.

Carmen concluded her reflections by suggesting that perhaps we could use a new metaphor when we speak of our co-ministry, that of “Fiesta”, which includes the need for various “Padrinos” to take care of different aspects of our work together.

Lay Collaboration in the Ministry of the Church — Part Two

After the more academic approach of Carmen Nanko Fernandez, we heard from Friar Gino Correa OFM about a more pastoral approach to this question of working with the laity, especially in light of our recent vote to become one national province. Quoting our General Minister Michael Perry OFM, Gino encouraged us to allow God to renew us as individuals and as a province, to re-ignite the fire, to seek a “New Jerusalem”, etc.

Gino also challenged us to be aware of the choice between “engagement” and “disengagement” and called us to a new “metanoia”, to go “beyond the mind.”

Seven Priorities of the 2018 Plenary Council

Gino next presented us with the results of the recent Plenary Council which took place in Africa this year. Looking at these seven priorities, we spent some time beginning to apply them to our own context of friars in Hispanic Ministry. It really was the beginning of a much longer conversation, but here are some of the reflections:

  1. Global Crisis of migrants and refugees — our response and responsibility as lesser brothers and men of the Gospel
    • — this should be our #1 priority in that it touches the roots of our Order
    • — we need to unify our voices on this issue, not only here in the United States but also with people in Mexico and Central America
    • — we need to move beyond words to actions
    • — awareness of this issue needs to happen at the level of formation
    • — we can financially support his work more
  2. The lived reality of youth in the Church and the World. The shaping of a Franciscan culture of hospitality.
    • — this should be a priority, but working with young people is a challenge
    • — need to focus on second and third generation of Latinos, who often don’t speak Spanish.
    • — create “encuentro” experiences for young people, even outside of “Church” settings, go to where they are and don’t wait for them to come to us
  3. Becoming Fraternities in Mission. Promoting an ecclesiology of inclusiveness, especially as it relates to the relationship between our lay and clerical brethren.
    • — elect lay brothers as Provincials/Vicars and see what happens
    • — be a model of equality and justice among ourselves as Friars
    • — include our lay brothers in more ministries
    • — as we move toward becoming one province, we should take on a poor, inner-city, bi-lingual mission — where we’ve never been before — perhaps in the city where the new provincial motherhouse will be
  4. Evangelization in the Spirit of Laudato Si. Developing a new ecological vision with a fraternal lifestyle to back it up.
    • — start this in our own houses first, or re-start it
    • — simplicity of life is key
    • — there really is as sense of urgency here
  5. Being Franciscan in a world of constant change and transformation. To be engaged and to make the changes we need to make.
    • — call to a new discernment, to go beyond our comfort zones
    • — look for people who really need us, get rid of “sacred cows”
    • — this priority really speaks to all of the rest, needs the most emphasis
  6. Being visible signs and instruments of peace in the face of contemporary violence in the midst of all that divides and disfigures us.
    • — work with victims of domestic violence, also with gangs
    • — fundamental Franciscan work of reconciliation, instruments of peace
    • — this can be applied to all of the priorities
  7. Embracing the vision of Pope Francis for a renewed understanding of religious life grounded in authentic discipleship and mission.
    • — really a call to transparency and authenticity in our Franciscan life
    • — always involves risks and dangers
    • — call to be baptized people of God, i.e., authentic disciples
    • — need to develop a pastoral plan according to our reality


The last part of our meeting was dedicated to a kind of “check-in” in terms of what is happening in each of our provinces as well as what we might see as some future possibilities. We spent some time sharing our realities and dreaming of some possibilities. What is clear is that there is plenty of very good and creative work being done by many friars in the area of Hispanic Ministry, only some of which is represented here in our gatherings. It is our hope to be part of the future discernment on the level of the US Provincials, especially the “US 6” as we move toward becoming one province. We would like to be pro-active in this conversation.

In that regard, for our meeting next year we would like to invite one or more provincials to be present with us as we look to our future with hope. We will also try to engage Dominic Perry to help us in this process, as he has already been involved with friars for some time. In preparation for that, a representative of each province will send a “picture of Hispanic Ministry of the Province” to Friar Efrén Quintero OFM, the convener of Juntos Como Hermanos.

Next Gathering — October 14-17, 2019

We will gather again next year, from October 14-17, at one of the retreat houses of the St. Barbara Province. Oscar Mendez will investigate the possibilities and get back to us.

12 Men Join the Franciscans

12 Men Join the Franciscans

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

Edgar Alberto

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

Fritz Newburger

Fritz Newburger, 22, comes from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Joshua Richter

Joshua Richter

Joshua Richter, 21, comes from Hamilton Ohio.
Bruce Tran

Bruce Tran

Bruce Tran, 29. Originally from Vietnam, Bruce comes from Los Angeles, California.
Gino Grivetti

Gino Grivetti

Gino Grivetti, 21, is from Peoria, Illinois.
José de Jesús Osorio

José de Jesús Osorio

Josè de Jesús Osorio, 26, is originally from Mexico and comes to the friars from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Daniel Samsel

Daniel Samsel

Daniel Samsel, 26, is from Cleveland Ohio.
Carlos Wagner

Carlos Wagner

Carlos Wagner, 39, is originally from Cali, Colombia, and more recently, New York City, New York.
Adolfo Mercado

Adolfo Mercado

Adolfo R. Mercado, 44, is from Sacramento, California.
Neil Pavao

Neil Pavao

Neil Pavao, 22, is from Douglas, Georgia.
Michael Specht

Michael Specht

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

Zach Zeman

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.

New US Franciscans YouTube Channel

New US Franciscans YouTube Channel

US Franciscans has a new YouTube channel!

Our first video is online. It is a video of our five novices taking their first vows as Franciscan friars. More videos are on their way.

So, visit the channel at http://usfran.us/youtube, subscribe to the channel and then enable notifications to be informed everytime a new video is made available.


Five Novices Profess First Vows

Five Novices Profess First Vows

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

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

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

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

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:

Video by the author. All still photos by Friar Octavio Duran OFM.

#FriarFriday – Nice and Oppressive: A Conflict in Nakedness before God

#FriarFriday – Nice and Oppressive: A Conflict in Nakedness before God

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

McIntosh, P. (1988). “White privilege and male privilege: A personal account of coming to see correspondences through the work in women’s studies.” (Working Paper No. 189).

Rothman, J. (2014). “The origins of ‘privilege’”. The New Yorker.

Franciscan Archivists Meet

Franciscan Archivists Meet

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.

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