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Father Julian Maria Zambanini, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019
My name is Julian Maria Zambanini. I am 80 years-old and a Conventual Franciscan Priest in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). I am in residence at Immaculate Conception Friary in Rensselaer, NY and I am retired. I was born in Brooklyn, NY on January 20, 1939. My mother, Alvia Trentini was born in 1913 and one of 11 children in a small soft coat mining town in western Pennsylvania, the daughter of immigrants from northern Italy (Previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). My father, Lino Zambanini, also born in western Pennsylvania in 1910 to immigrants of northern Italy before they returned to what is now a small town not too far from present day Trento, Italy. My paternal grandfather immigrated to the U.S.A. about 1905 and my father and his brother were born in the U.S. The family returned in time for my grandfather, Massimiliano, to be drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Empire army which was at war with Russia (War of 1916); he was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia; after 8 years he escaped and returned home. When my fathers was 18, my grandfather sent him back to the U.S. so that he would not lose his US citizenship.
I met the Conventual Franciscan Friars because they staffed Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Albany, NY. I attended OLA school grades 5-8. I was also an altar boy in the parish. In the 7th grade at OLA school, Sister Cassilda, OSF asked us to put down on paper what we would like to be or do in life. For the first time I indicated that I wanted to be a Teaching Brother and gradually a Franciscan….and Priest and most of my life I have been involved in teaching at the high school level, university level and in our seminaries in the U.S. and in Italy. I remember +Fr. Dennis Gallagher also tutored a number of us (Fr. John Burkhard and I) in Latin at OLA school.
I arrived at St. Francis Seminary on Staten Island, NY in September, 1956 after graduating from Vincentian High School, Albany, NY. Two years later, I entered the novitiate in Middleburg, NY (August 1958-1959). +Fr. Celestine Regnier, OFM Conv. was my Novice Master and for three months +Fr. Rayner Schram, OFM Conv. was the Assistant Novice Master. +Fr. Giles Van Worner, OFM Conv. was the assistant for the remainder of the year. Some of my classmates were: +James (Elias) Manning, Joseph (Barry) Angelini, +Robert Leahey, +Mel Madden and +Thomas Larity. We professed our first vows on August 12, 1959 at the Novitiate and then our Solemn vows on September 8, 1962 at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary, Rensselaer, NY. Then, after studying at the seminary there and receiving an STB degree, I was ordained a priest on May 29, 1965 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Albany, NY. Some of my ordination classmates were: Joseph (Barry) Angelini, +Mel Maddon, +Robert Leahey, +Elias Manning (in Brazil) as well as Alexander Cymerman, Herman Czaster and Herman Obijiski. I later received and MA in Classical Languages from The Catholic University of America (1969).
My first assignment was to teach Latin and Religion at Canevin High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Since then, I have had so many “favorite” assignments. These include:
1965-1978 Canevin High School, Pittsburgh, PA and President of the Province Formation Commission
1978-1979 Director of Religious Brothers at St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY
1979-1982 Student at the Biblicum, Rome, Italy
1982-1989 Assistant General for Formation and Vice Rector and Rector at the Seraphicum, Rome, Italy
1989-2002 Secretary General of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome, Italy
2008-2016 Guide at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and de familia a the Sacred Convent, Assisi, Italy
May-July 2019 The only time I worked at one of our parishes: St. Lucie, Port Saint Lucie, FL
All of my assignments involved working with persons, young, middle aged, seniors and are my favorite assignments. In every instance, I learned a great deal from students, parishioners, friars, et al. Special to me were those times of celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, St. Francis Basilica, Assisi and in all of my assignments. I have many “special stories” and some of them are: Celebrating the reunion of the Canevin Class of 1969, my interactions with the other Assistant Generals in Assisi and the Seraphicum, working on the saintly ‘cause’ of Friar Martin de Porres Ward, OFM Conv., the miracles of the people to guide in Assisi and the conversion of a Canadian banker to name only a few.
All of my Franciscan prayers are special to me including the greeting that St. Francis asks us to use from his Testament: “May the Lord give you peace!” I also love the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis: “Make me an instrument of your peace” and the Our Father.
A piece of advice I would like to share with men considering a vocation to our Franciscan Order and Province is this: Let the Lord lead…listen intently…don’t be afraid to respond to His call…you are never alone. Investigate all the possibilities the Lord is calling you to. Choose one that with the Lord’s help you can live with joy and love. Be patient. “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived!” The Lord wants us to be happy…Whatever we freely choose…it is important that we speak and live our lives continuously making Him present in the world.
And to our student friars I would like to say: Continuously pray and recognize how much the Lord loves you. “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” Do not become discouraged. Have a spiritual guide that you can confide in Continuously listen to the Lord. Seek always the truth…study hard…count your blessings…we can learn a great deal from our mistakes and failures…and only with the Lord’s help we will succeed. May the Lord give you peace!
Click to read a brochure concerning the Cause for Sainthood for our confrere, Friar Matin de Porres Ward, OFM Conv.