Memorial Day in the USA, a Federal Holiday celebrated the last Monday of May each year, honors American Military Personnel lost while fighting in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For our Canadian friars, the day – known as Canada Day – is held on July 1st. They celebrate Remembrance Day on November 1th.
While our friars hold in prayer all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, of laying down their lives in times of war, we remember especially our own Paratroopers’ Chaplain, +Capt. Father Ignatius Maternowski, OFM Conv. +Friar Ignatius was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1912. He joined the Franciscan Friars Conventual and was ordained a priest, in 1938. He and several of his confreres enlisted as chaplains in the US Army, in 1942, and +Fr. Ignatius volunteered for the Parachute regiment. Deployed to Ireland and England, he celebrated one last Mass for his troops on June 5, 1944; the Eve of D-Day, giving them General Absolution, in anticipation of the peril awaiting them all the next day. He died on June 6, 1944 attempting to negotiate with the Nazi occupiers of Gueutteville-les-Grès (a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region in northern France) to establish a “safe-zone” where a common hospital could be used for all of the American, German, and French casualties.
+Friar Ignatius was the only United States military chaplain to die on D-Day.
Although Memorial Day is traditionally observed in honor of those who have died in times of war, faith communities often hold special Memorial Services and Masses around this same time, to honor all men and women who are serving or who have served in the US Military. Our province would like to take this opportunity to remember our friars who have served in the Military, and have been welcomed by Sister Death in the past couple of years:
- +Br. Kenneth Lucas, OFM Conv. ~ April 6, 2021
- Served in the US Marine Corps, 1963 – 1967
- +Fr. Łucjan Królikowski, OFM Conv. ~ October 11, 2019
- Served in Polish Army after liberation from Ukraine Concentration Camp
- Last served in an Egyptian Military Hospital, until 1947 demobilization
- +Fr. Giles Van Wormer, OFM Conv. ~ April 10, 2019
- Served as a radio operator in the U.S. Army, 1944 – 1946
- +Fr. David Suckling, OFM Conv. ~ March 31, 2019
- Served in the Army Reserves, 1960-1961
- +Fr. Philip Blaine, OFM Conv. ~ February 5, 2019
- Served in the U.S. Navy as an electric technician, 1950 – 1953