If we are serious about the Conversion of England we must be serious about the conversion of our own hearts first, asking Our Blessed Mother to lead us ever more fully to be conformed to the fullness of God’s plan for our lives in the divine will. As this divine restoration in our own heart deepens, it will deepen in all our relationships in family and community life, which inevitably will have a transformative impact in our parishes up and down the country.
In recent weeks part of God’s divine restoration for this nation once holy and ancient in splendor became more visible – after 480 years of exile from Walsingham, the Greyfriars returned to build a new foundation.
“Vision of St. Francis of Assisi” by Vincente Carducho – 1631
O Virgin of the Angels,
who has for centuries established your throne of mercy at the Portiuncula,
hear the prayer of your children, who trust in you.
From this truly holy place and the habitation of the Lord,
so dear to the heart of Saint Francis, you have always invited all men to love.
Your tender eyes assure us of a never failing motherly help
and a promise of divine help to all those who humbly have recourse to your throne,
or who from afar, turn to you to ask for help.
You are, indeed, our sweet Queen and our only hope.
O Lady of the Angles,
obtain for us, through the intercession of blessed Francis,
pardon for our sins,
help us to keep away from sin and indifference,
so that we shall be worthy of calling you our Mother for evermore.
Bless our homes, our toil and our rest,
by giving us that same serenity we experience within the walls of the Portiuncula,
where hate, guilt and tears turn into a song of joy
like that once was sung by the Angels and the seraphic Francis.
Help those who are in need and hungry,
those who are in danger of body and soul,
those who are sad and downhearted,
those who are sick and dying.
Bless us, your most beloved children,
and we pray you, bless also with the same motherly gesture,
all those who are innocent, together with those who are guilty;
those who are faithful, together with those who have gone astray;
those who believe, together with those who are in doubt.
Bless all humanity,
so that all men acknowledging that they are God’s children,
would find through love, real Peace and real Good.
Alphonse Legros (May 8, 1837 – December 8, 1911): The Blessing of the Sea
Each year, on August 15th our friars serving at our pastoral ministry of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ celebrate a unique Mass with the community, for the Solemnity of Assumption of Our Lady. The Mass always includes the Blessing of the Sea.
This year, hundreds of the Faithful joined our friars for 9:00 a.m. Mass in the Jenkinstown Beach Pavilon (a resort space donated by the Storino family, owners) followed by a procession on the beach to the sea. There, after the blessing of the ocean with holy water by Friar Pedro deOliveira, OFM Conv. (Pastor), he and Friar Marek Stybor, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar) dipped Friar Marek’s personal statue of Our Lady, into the sea. Friar Pedro then climbed up a lifeguard stand with the statue and held her high for all to see, as he made the sign of the cross. The procession of Faithful then went down to the shoreline to gather the blessed water for their homes. As Friar Pedro explained in the August 17, 2018 Issue of The Ocean Star, this is am important tradition for the people of Point Pleasant Beach because so much of their daily lives revolve around the sea.
The parish bulletin for August 12th also explained: “It is a custom in many coastal regions in the US and Europe to have special blessings of the water –the sea or ocean– on the Feast of the Assumption. The custom originated in the 15th century Italy. A bishop traveling from Venice, during a storm at sea on the Feast of the Assumption, prayed and threw his pastoral ring into the sea from the ship. The waters were calmed. In these “blessings of the sea” celebrations, after the priest blessed the water, the people wade out into the water and fill bottles with it, and use the holy water in their homes.”
All four of our friars, who live in the St. Peter Friary and serve the people of the parish and school, celebrated Mass that day, including Friar Richard Rossell, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar) and Friar Brennan Joseph Farleo, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar).
Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. has been preparing with the other friar organizers from around the world to make this week a success. Pictured here is a sampling of those friars (Friar Michael with his hand raised) during the first meeting held January 24-27, 2017 at Rome’s Pontificia Facoltà Teologica San Bonaventura, known as the Seraphicum.
Here is a sample day’s itinerary: Wednesday 15 August 2018 (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) 7:30- 8:30: Breakfast at campground
9:00- 10:00: Lectio Divina of Acts 8: 26-40
Pilgrimage to Rivotorto
12:00: Mass at Rivotorto
13:30: Lunch at Rivotorto
15:00: Pilgrimage to Saint Mary of the Angels with recitation of the rosary
16:00: Visit to the Porziuncola with time planned according to the national groups
20:00: Supper at campground
Free prayer after dinner (exposition of the blessed sacrament until 24:00)
Friar Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. celebrated Mass at Rivotorto.
Our Lady of the Angels Province’s Friar Chris Dudek, OFM Conv. was also among the pilgrim friars and was able to serve during the Mass at Rivotorto. If you look to the very center of this photo, you will see housed within the Sanctuary of Rivotorto, the small stone Sacro Tugurio (Sacred Hull/Hollow), home to St. Francis and his first followers (in 1208) prior to their move to the Portiuncula (in 1212). This Sanctuary is the first friary of our Order and is considered the cradle of the Franciscan Fraternity.
July 6, 2018: Friar Gerard Mary Toman, OFM Conv., a friar of our Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody in Great Britain/Ireland (aka The Greyfriars), was Ordained to the Priesthood by the Right Reverend William Kenney CP, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England. The 1:00 p.m. ordination took place at the Church of The Precious Blood of Our Lord and All Souls, in Coventry, England. Fr. Gerard Mary’s First Mass was celebrated on July 7th, at All Souls and he now serves at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Congratulations, Fr. Gerald Mary Toman, OFM Conv.!
Fr. Maximilian Avila Pacheco, OFM Conv., one of the recently ordained friars of our province, shares a reflection on his summer pilgrimage:
“From Sunday July 22nd to Saturday 28th, I walked the last portion of ‘El Camino de Santiago.’ El Camino, know in English as ‘The Way of Saint James,’ is a pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle James the Greater in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. I started walking at Ponferrada, about 130 miles away from Compostela, where the Spanish Conventual Franciscan province has a house to care for pilgrims, and walked an average of 20 miles daily. Needless to say, it was a demanding adventure, but the prize is worth a thousandfold. Once I arrived in Compostela and prayed at the tomb of Saint James, all physical pain disappeared and joy came to my soul. After six long and excruciating days of walking, the feeling and the emotion of reaching the resting place of the apostle is something that words cannot describe. Simply, it was a wonderful experience! Moreover, I was able to concelebrate Mass at the Cathedral on Saturday and Sunday, where I prayed for the Friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province, and specially for each ‘James’ in the province.”
Friar Max is a new instructor at our St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY) ministry.
Please keep him, and all of the members of the St. Francis High School family, in your prayers.
On our Province Feast Day, August 2nd, the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels (also known as the Feast of the Portiuncula), over 50 friars began new ministry assignments, all around our province. Some moved within the city they were already serving, some moved to a different state and some even moved to a different country, but all have moved with a joyful Franciscan Friars Conventual charism of obedience.
As our Vicar Provincial, Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv. said in an email to all of our friars that day, “May you be surrounded by loving angels as you imitate Our Lady in saying YES to the Lord.”
Our friars have been welcomed with such grace and enthusiasm, for which we are all grateful. Please keep all the friars in ministry, as well as all those served in our province in your prayers.
Fr. Noel Danielewicz, OFM Conv. is now pastor at one of our new parochial Ministries – St. Benedict the Moor Parish, in Columbus, GA. He and four more friars have moved into the Diocese of Savannah to serve at three parishes, at the request of Our Lady of the Angels Province friar and Bishop of Savannah, Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. At St. Anne Catholic Church, Fr. Robert Schlageter, OFM Conv. is the new pastor while Fr. Mark David Skura, OFM Conv. and Fr. Emanuel Vasconcelos, OFM Conv. are the new parochial vicars. At Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Fr. Bob Benko, OFM Conv. is the new pastor. All five of these friars are living in community in our new Franciscan Martyrs Friary.
Fr. Jacek Leszczyński, OFM Conv. is the new pastor of our pastoral ministry of St. Anthony of Padua, in Chicopee, MA. Our friars have been serving at the parish since 1925. Friar Jacek formerly served as pastor of our pastoral ministry of St. Julia Catholic Church, in Siler City, NC. The new pastor there will be Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Julio Martinez, OFM Conv.
On July 29, 2018, at the 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Ann Catholic Church (Baltimore, MD), Fr. Tim Dore, OFM Conv. celebrated his last Sunday Mass as pastor of the parish. The parishioners gathered for refreshments on the plaza in front of the church; with kind words and lots of affection, they too (like he had experienced when saying goodbye to the people of St. Wenceslaus) offered him a wonderful send-off. He stated, “What a tremendous blessing St. Ann has been to me, not only for the past three years, but beginning with thirty-five years ago when I first came to the parish and spent a summer as a diocesan seminarian. Praise God!” This week, Friar Tim met with Fr. Xavier Edet, S.S.J., the new pastor. Friar Tim stated, “With mixed feeling, I handed over to him the keys to the church. He is now the Pastor of St. Ann and St. Wenceslaus (my “old” parishes), as well as St. Francis Xavier (where he has been the Pastor for the past three years). For all of these years, Fr. Xavier and I, as well as Rogelio D’Almeida, the lay administrator of St. Ann, have been working and collaborating closely together in preparation for this day—the inauguration of the new St Ann-St. Wenceslaus-St. Francis Xavier Pastorate. I truly believe he is the right man to have been made the pastor of these wonderful parishes. They are certainly in good hands.”
Friar Tim Lyons, OFM Conv. is now the Chaplain of our National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine (Fonda, NY). Here he is shown presenting the life of Saint Kateri, to a Confirmation Class visiting from New Paltz, NY.
As photos come in, we will be sure to share them here, so please check back and see more of our friars in joyful ministry in their new assignments.
Click here to listen to his May 1, 2018 reflection on Religious Brother’s Day & the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
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.”
One of 28 Minister Provincials from around the world, the Friar James McCurry, OFM Conv., our Minister Provincial is in attendance. (Friar Michael Zielke, OFM Conv. who is also of our province but serving as Minister Provincial for the St. Bonaventure Province is also in attendance.)
Our two Custos are included among the 18 Provincial Custos representing Provincial Custodies: Friar Ronaldo Gomes da Silva, OFM Conv. (Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M – Brazil) and Friar Ciprian Budau, OFM Conv. (Provincial Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa – Great Britain/Ireland).
Serving as two of the 25 Provincial Delegates are Friar Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv. and Friar Timothy Kulbicki, OFM Conv. are on hand. Friar Tim also serves as Secretary General of the Chapter.
Two of the 12 Interpreters serving the friar participants are Friar Julio Martinez, OFM Conv. (ESP-ENG-ITA) and Friar Vincent Rubino, OFM Conv. (ENG-ESP).
In addition, two friars from other provinces who serve in our province are also working as Interpreters, Friar Marek Wilk, OFM Conv. (POL-ESP) & Friar Piotr Tymko, OFM Conv. (POL-ENG), who are both of the of the Polish Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar.
Keep in your prayers these and all of the Franciscan Friars Conventual from around the world, who are spending these five weeks in prayerful fraternity, meeting to discuss the Constitutions of the Order, promoting the prophetic vision, the mission, and the significance of Conventual Franciscan religious life in the Church and in today’s world.
From the Event’s Liturgy of the Hours: Lord, strength of living things God immutable, eternal, you mark the rhythms of the world: the days, the centuries, the time. Fill the evening with your light, which rises beyond death, to the splendor of the heavens, to become a day without sunset. Praise be to the Father Most High to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, now and ever shall be. Amen
Friar James joins a few friars from around the world to find “home” on the globe.
Some of the Interpreters, including Our Lady of the Angels Province’s Friar Julio (center)
Friar Jude Winkler, OFM Conv. preparing for the next session.
Friar Jobe joyfully waiting to begin.
Beautiful Nemi, Italy
August 4th-5th: Friars James and Jobe, made an overnight trip to Assisi, where Friar James met with Our Lady of the Angels Province friars, Fr. Martin Breski, OFM Conv. and Fr.Daniel Quakenbush, OFM Conv., as well as the three Novices of our Provincial Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa (friar Osvaldo Lopez-Figueroa, OFM Conv. friar Joseph David Freeman, OFM Conv. and friar Kieran John Murphy, OFM Conv.)
Friar Martin, Friar James & Friar Dan outside of the Sacro Convento of the Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi