The 2017 Thanksgiving Weekend was full of festivities for our friars of Our Lady of the Angels Friary, in Winston-Salem, NC, who kicked it off by hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner for all our friars serving in North Carolina. This includes the friars of Blessed Sacrament Friary (Burlington), St. Anthony of Padua Friary (Durham), Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary (Pittsboro). The friars living in these friaries serve in pastoral, outreach and campus ministries in Winston-Salem, Burlington, Durham, Pittsboro, Apex, Chapel Hill and Elon and Siler City. Over half of those friars were still in the area that day and were grateful to enjoy a great meal, relax and share some fellowship with their confreres.
Winston-Salem is home to our pastoral ministry of Our Lady of Mercy Church & Our Lady of Fatma Mission, where our friars, Fr. Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv. (pastor) & Fr. Joseph Angelini, OFM Conv. (pastor emeritus), work and live with Bolivian friar, Fr. Calxto Salvatierra Moreno, OFM Conv. (parochial vicar). After Friar Carl and Friar Joseph hosted Thanksgiving Dinner, the focus moved onto the parish’s weekend festivities, as 2017 marked the ministry’s first attempt with a Live Nativity, or as we Franciscans call it ~ Greccio. The parish celebrated Advent Family Day from 4-7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 26th, as a preparation for the upcoming season of Advent. The day included a “Census Takers” sign in where “Tax Collectors” gathered canned goods in return for 100 pennies with which participants could shop. There was “Bethlehem Florist” with make your own Advent Wreaths, “Bethlehem’s Barn & Noble” where Advent and Christmas Materials were for sale, the “Bethlehem Cinema” showing an animated Christmas film, the “Bethlehem Cafe” with cookies, refreshments and beverages, and Pastoral Associate and Director of Faith Formation for the parish, Sister Kathy Ganiel, OSF created “Bethlehem Market Place” with tables of various activities available for pennies, as were craft activities. Several hundred people attended as the school gym was transformed into a marketplace of the Ancient Middle-East with tents housing the games, crafts, face painting and more. Three outreach projects were attached to the event: Food for the poor served by the Winston-Salem, NC food kitchens (over 800 lbs of canned food collected), several hundred of dollars in pennies were collected for the Samaritan House, and Get-Well cards for the sick and home-bound of the parish were also created by the children attending the event. One of the favorite and newest features was the “History of the Nativity with St. Francis” including the outdoor visit to the stables where participants found live animals, soldiers, townspeople, shepherds, Mary and Joseph – all awaiting the birth of Our Lord.
In addition to the rest of the weekend’s excitement, Fr. Joseph Angelini, OFM Conv. will be featured in a film project of the 4th year students from the North Carolina School of the Arts. They are producing a film on a teenage girl who is an immigrant to the USA, working through the cultural adjustments between Mexico and USA. Part of the project is being filmed in Our Lady of Mercy Church in Winston-Salem, NC with our own featured star, Friar Joe!