One month from today, on September 8, 2018, the friars of our province look forward to a much anticipated celebratory weekend! Not only is September 8th the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but during the noon Mass at our Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, MD, friar Emmanuel Wenke, OFM Conv. will Profess Solemn Vows, in the presence of pilgrims, confreres, family, friends and special guests. Our friars spend many years in preparation and formation before professing the Solemn Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Part of the preparation includes a Solemn Vow Pilgrimage and Retreat with other members from our Order – Franciscan Friars Conventual (OFM Conv.) as well as members of the other two First Order Franciscans (Order of Friars Minor) – Friars Minor (OFM) and the Capuchins (OFM Cap). Each branch of our First Order Franciscans is rooted in the original charism of Francis, through which they find a shared sense of brotherhood.
The Shrine of St. Anthony is where friar Manny’s life as a Franciscan Friar began, in 2012. At that time, the Postulancy of our Province was located in the Shrine’s St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, where the men in this first stage of formation lived, worked and studied under their Formators, Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv. and Br. Daniel Geary, OFM Conv. During that year, there were sixteen friars residing in the two friaries located on the Ellicott City property. Those men included several senior friars, the friars in formation and our Province Friar Leadership.
On July 4, 2013 friar Manny was “blessed and sent forth” to the Novitiate (then located in Mishawaka, IN), by our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. He was then vested in the habit of our Order at the Rite of Investiture at the Chapel of our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (Marytown, Libertyville, IL), on July 24, 2013.
After his time of formation as a Novice in Mishawaka, under the guidance of Formators, Fr. Giles Zakowicz, OFM Conv. & Br. Paschal Kolodziej, OFM Conv., friar Manny professed First (Simple/Temporary) Vows as a Franciscan Friar Conventual July 25, 2014.
He then moved into our Post Novitiate stage of formation in the St. Bonaventure Friary (Silver Spring, MD); a friary of eight student friars, their formators; Fr. Gary Johnson, OFM Conv. & Br. Jim Moore, OFM Conv. and Friar in Residence, Fr. John Burkhard, OFM Conv. During his years there, in addition to discerning to serve as a friar brother, he continued his studies at the Catholic University of America and graduated on May 13, 2017, with his B.A. in Theology & Religious Studies and Certificate of Pastoral Ministry.
That next July 1st, during his summer assignment assisting with our Senior Friars in our Immaculate Conception Friary (Rensselaer, NY) the Guardian there, Fr. Tony Kall, OFM Conv. received br. Manny’s Renewal of Temporary Vows during the Community Eucharist, in which several members of br Manny’s family were able to participate.
In August 2017, br. Manny moved to our Immaculate Heart of Mary Friary and was assigned to Archbishop Curley High School (Baltimore, MD) where he serves as a Theology Instructor.
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Gospel of Matthew 1:18-23
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”