Father Antone Kandrac, OFM Conv.
Hello! My name is Antone Kandrac and I will be 90 years old on May 10th next year. I am a member of the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA), and I am retired here at St. Catharine of Siena Friary in Seaside Park, NJ, one of our Province’s Senior Friar residences.
I was born in 1930 in Wilkes-Barre, PA to a VERY large, close-knit Slovak-Catholic family. I was the 11th child of my mother and father…and there were 14 children in our family all together. Needless to say, sibling rivalry was ‘red hot’ in my family with me and my 9 brothers! But my parents were very loving and kind to all of us. My father was a coal miner who originally came from Czechoslovakia. He was a good and kind man and very good looking (like all the Kandracs!). Unfortunately, he died when I was only 11 years old of coal miners ‘black lung.’ At that time, I was given a shoe-shine box and went around the neighborhood shining shoes to help out my mother. I was very, very close to my mother….I think she said I was her ‘favorite!”
My diocesan parish priest suggested that I become a priest, and he arranged several meetings with Religious vocation directors (Augustinians, Holy Cross, and Holy Ghost Fathers) and I also visited a Passionist monastery but that life was not for me. Then when I was a junior in high school, I met Conventual Franciscan Fr. Adrian Brennan. I loved his humor and his vocation talk and his music and I said to myself, “Great! This for me.” One of the Religious Sisters in my school, Sr. Laurentia, also gave me Johannes Jorgensen’s Life of St. Francis to read. I loved it.
I entered the Conventual Franciscans in 1948 at St. Francis Seminary, Staten Island, NY. Then two years later I entered the novitiate in Middleburg, NY and professed my first vows in 1950. There were 14 novices in my class. Some of my classmates were Carl Vino, Bruce Ritter, and Christopher Balas…all are deceased now. My solemn profession was in our seminary, St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY. I finished my studies for the priesthood at The Catholic University of America and was ordained a priest in 1957.
My first assignment as friar was at Trenton Catholic Boy’s High School, Trenton, NJ but I was only there for a short time and then was assigned to St. Francis Hospital, Trenton. I have had several other assignments. For example, I was the Chaplain of the VA Hospital in Jamaica Plains near Boston, MA for several years but one of my favorites was being Pastor at St. Mary Parish, Nassau, NY. I was missioned there for about 20 years and was the last friar to serve there after 100 years of Franciscan service to that parish community.
My favorite prayer is: “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”
I would recommend Johannes Jorgensen’s Life of St. Francis to any young person considering a Franciscan vocation, and I would tell all of our student friars to be sure to have a special devotion to our Blessed Mother, our spiritual mother.