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Father Joseph Angelini, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019
Hello, my name is Joseph Angelini. I am 81years-old and currently living and ministering at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Winston-Salem, NC. as the Associate Pastor as Spanish Pastoral Care. I am a Conventual Franciscan Priest in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA).
I was born in September, 1938 in Albany, NY. My father was born in Switzerland and came to the USA when he was 19 years old. He spoke Italian, German, and French and worked in Keebler and Jack’s Oyster House in Albany, NY. He loved to tell stories to his co-workers of their homelands in Europe. My mother was three generations of German immigrants. She was very devoted to prayer and religious experience and taught us how to pray. She was a very hard worker and a “no nonsense” person!
Looking back over 60 years, I still recall with clarity my first encounter with a Franciscan friar. It was after a summer Sunday Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians, Albany, NY. Our diocesan pastor, Fr. Joseph Henrick was gravely ill, and the Franciscans from St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer were helping out. I left the church after helping to clean up after Mass and came upon a group of youth listening to +Fr. Barnabas Eib, OFM Conv. telling stories about his mission work in Costa Rica. The group was in a semicircle and he was answering questions. It was like a bolt of lightning, a sudden illumination of “what I should do.” It was clear and concrete: I should join the Franciscans. I don’t remember exactly what he was saying and I said nothing, but I was drinking in the inspiration of the moment and I wanted to be a Friar. The next day, I went over to the seminary (St. Anthony-on-Hudson) and asked for papers to enter the Order. The rest is history.
Through the years, I’ve often recalled that moment. There was one special time when I recalled his talk. I had the opportunity to minister in Costa Rica and to go down the Coto River in the Puntareanas Province of Costa Rica and land on the beach at Playa Zancudo. Our group was warmly greeted and we proceeded to celebrate Mass, give catechetical instructions, play games, and have a delicious meal. At the end, I said a prayer of thanks giving for the grace of vocation that I had received many years before.
I entered the seminary in Staten Island, NY in 1953. A few years later, in 1958, I entered the novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Middleburg, NY and then professed my first vows under the direction of my novice master +Fr. Celestine Regnier, OFM Conv. Some of the friars in my class were Jim Manning, +Mel Madden, Julian Zambanini and +Robert Leahey. We professed our Simple and Solemn vows at the seminary in Rensselaer, NY.
I completed all of my studies for the priesthood at our seminary and was ordained to the priesthood at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Albany, NY in 1965. +Eugenio Rivera, +Mel Madden, Julian Zambanini and +Robert Leahey were ordained with me.
Right after my ordination, I was assigned as a chemistry teacher at Canevin High School, Pittsburgh, PA. Later, I had several different ministries but probably my ‘favorite’ ministry was working as the pastor of St. George Parish in Stockton, CA. The friars there were very cooperative and we worked hard and well for the people there for 10 years. I felt I did my best and everything went smoothly. Even now, 30 years later, I still have some very good friends there.
My favorite prayer and time of prayer is the Morning Offering. It is a time of thanksgiving for one more day in the Lord’s service, a blessed day for the friars I live with and prayer for the good things happening with the people I work with.
For those considering a vocation to our Order and Province and to our men in formation I would say: “There are many opportunities available to you with a positive Franciscan spirit. Find something you can do and with prayer and hard work it will give you a happy life.” I feel very blessed to have entered the Franciscans and given so many wonderful opportunities.