Here is an update on the activity with our Vocation Office so far in 2019, and of the good work that our friars are doing to encourage vocations to the Franciscan Friars Conventual of Our Lady of the Angels Province. This a busy time with applicants getting in their documents, as they seek to make application for the next year’s postulant class.
At the end of January, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv. – Vocation Director was invited to our province pastoral ministry in Winston-Salem, NC (Our Lady of Fatima Mission & Our Lady of Mercy Church, under the leadership of Fr. Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv. – Pastor & Fr. Joseph Angelini, OFM Conv. – Pastor Emeritus) to speak to the youth of the parish about vocations. It was a joint effort with Sr. Maria (Peaches) Dela Paz, OSF, of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, who is a novice and was serving at the parish at that time. It was encouraging to see how much the students knew about St. Francis and how attentive they were to our presentations.
In February, Friar Russell led a pilgrimage for students from our high school ministry of St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY) to Assisi and Rome. Fourteen men attended and their desire for God and to know St. Francis and St. Clare was truly palpable. It was a moving experience for the students, their chaperones, Friar Russell and Fr. Alvin Te, OFM, who also led the pilgrimage. (Our friars serving at the high school are Fr. Michael Sajda, OFM Conv. – President, Fr. Matthew Foley, OFM Conv. – Director of Campus Ministry & Instructor, and Fr. Maximilian Avila Pacheco, OFM Conv. – Instructor.)
In mid March, Friar Russell was able to be present for the Sophomore Retreats of our high school ministry of Archbishop Curley High School (Baltimore, MD), held at our Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD). Although those students are young, seeds of vocation are being planted. He looks forward to returning to St. Francis High School to attend their Sophomore retreat in April, where he is sure the young men there will also have vocational awareness presented to them. (Our friars serving at Archbishop Curley High School are Fr. Donald Grzymski, OFM Conv. – President, Br. Lawrence LaFlame, OFM Conv. – Instructor, Br. Nicholas Romeo, OFM Conv. – Instructor, Friar Chris Dudek, OFM Conv. – Campus Minster & Instructor, Br. Emmanuel Wenke, OFM Conv. – Instructor) (Our friars serving at the Shrine of St. Anthony include Fr. Ericson de la Pena, OFM Conv. – Director, Fr. Hilary Brzostowski, OFM Conv. – Shrine Associate, Br. Douglas McMillan, OFM Conv. – Shrine Assistance, Fr. Thomas Lavin, OFM Conv. – Chaplain at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School & Shrine Assistance, Fr. Angelo Geiger, OFM Conv. – Shrine Assistance, Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. – JPIC Commission Chairman & Shrine Assistance and Fr. Emmanuel Oposika Acquaye, OFM Conv. – Shrine Assistance.)
Last week, Friar Russell was once again invited to our ministries served by our friars of St. Anthony of Padua Friary, in Durham, NC. There the friars are very present to promoting vocations to our way of life. He was able to meet with seven men from Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill while he was there. We pray that the witness of the friars and the Holy Spirit inspires them to continue discerning Religious Life. (Our friars of St. Anthony of Padua Friary are Fr. Brad Heckathorne, OFM Conv. – Guardian, Continuing Formation Commission & Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Duke Catholic Center, Fr. Bart Karwacki, OFM Conv. – Pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church, Fr. Bill Robinson, OFM Conv. – Parochial Vicar & Associate Campus Minister at Newman Catholic Student Center Parish ~UNC Chapel Hill, Fr. Michael Martin, OFM Conv. – Director of Campus Ministry at Duke Catholic Center, Fr. Nicholas Spano, OFM Conv. – Pastor & Campus Minister at Newman Catholic Student Center Parish ~UNC Chapel Hill.)
We pray that the spirit of St. Francis inspires others to follow Jesus, as Francis did. Please keep encouraging vocations.