Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis

TRANSITUS: Each year, on October 3rd friars from all over the world gather to celebrate the Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi. Transitus is Latin for crossing or passage, and is commemorated on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Francis with prayer, scripture readings, joyful songs of praise and thanksgiving. The often candle lit night service commemorates the 1226 death of our beloved Seraphic Father, as he crossed over from life on earth to eternal life with the Lord. Traditionally the celebrations of these Feast Days are chosen to mark the date of a saint’s death and are remembered by the faithful with special mention, prayers, and scripture readings.  For Franciscans, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th) is much more. It is a day filled with celebration and joy, including the traditional Blessing of the Animals and gatherings of fellowship with our brothers and sisters, in Christ.

FEAST DAY FRATERNAL FELLOWSHIP: Throughout the province, our friars shared this joyful day with the people we serve. We also took the opportunity to celebrate our Franciscan Brotherhood with Mass, prayer, meals and laughter together in our friaries and in our ministries.  Archbishop Curley High School stated it well on their Facebook post that day. “The Church celebrates the Poor Man of Assisi on October 4th and so do we at Curley. St. Francis is the founder of the Franciscan Order and he is the patron saint of Archbishop Curley High School. Since its doors opened, Curley has been imbued with the Spirit of St. Francis through the Friars who have staffed the school for 57 years. Today the Curley community celebrated Mass and heard Friar Chris Dudek, OFM Conv. preach about how St. Francis was engaged, excellent and holy. Friar Chris, who is a deacon just like St. Francis was, challenged us to accept the call of Jesus as St. Francis did.”

In celebration of the October 4, 2018 Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, our friars of St. Philip Benizi Friary (Jonesboro, GA) hosted our friars of Holy Cross Friary (Atlanta,GA) and Franciscan Martyrs Friary (Columbus, GA), as well as their confrere – the Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. of the Diocese of Savannah. These friars serve as pastors and parochial vicars in six Georgia parishes. It was the first time that all of our friars ministering in Georgia were able to come together to share a meal, fellowship and fraternity.

The friars living, serving and studying (current and some prior) in the Washington DC area gathered for Mass with the faithful at the Catholic University of America.

For the feast of St. Francis the local St. Francis Hospital near Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church where Fr. Bob Benko, OFM Conv. serves as pastor holds an annual Mass and Muffins.  Before and after Mass the chaplains of the hospital distribute the Muffins to each nursing station, as well as the back office staff, offering a prayer at each stop. This year they invited our friars to have the honor of praying with the staff and distribute the Muffins and our Friar Bob enjoyed the opportunity.  The staff and nurses were extremely grateful for the prayers and the muffins.

Fr. Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv. blessed a new born pony (Our Lady of Mercy Church, Winston-Salem, NC)

BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS: This year, on the weekends prior to and after, as well as several days during the week of the October 4th Feast Day, friars from throughout our province ministries enjoyed the traditional Blessing of Animals; a simple act that helps us share the charism of St. Francis by blessing these special “companions” of those we serve. It is always a source of great joy for our friars and it was wonderful to have others who serve through several of our special ministries there to join in the fun. Here are just a few shots from around the province. This is one of the most fun filled days of the year for our friars.
Included among the ALETEIA.ORG 10-5-2018 online article’s photos of the Blessing of the Animals from around the world, are shots from last year’s blessing with our very own Fr. John Ruffo, OFM Conv. when he was serving at The Church of St. Catharine of Siena, in Seaside Park, NJ. Friar John is currently serving as a Parochial Vicar of the Baltimore, MD Pastorate which includes St. Clement Mary Hofbauer Church, St. Michael the Archangel Church and the Church of the Annunciation.

On the morning of October 3rd, Fr. Mark David Skura, OFM Conv. (pictured here) and Fr. Emanuel Vasconcelos, OFM Conv., who both serve as Parochial Vicars at St. Anne Catholic Church (Columbus, GA), blessed many pets, including this beautiful chicken, in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures.

On September 30th, the Franciscan Church of the Assumption Community (Suracuse, NY) gathered with Fr. Rick Riccioli, OFM Conv. (pastor – pictured here) and Fr. Nader Ata, OFM Conv. (parochial vicar and director of the Franciscan Place Chapel & Gift Shoppe at Destiny USA) for the Blessing of the Animals.

Fr. Marek Stybor, OFM Conv., parochial vicar at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ