103rd Anniversary of the Founding of the M.I.

As we are about to celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the founding of the Militia of the Immaculate by our Franciscan confrère, St. Maximilian Kolbe, I am happily recalling the M.I. Initiative carried out over the last sixteen months in the Franciscan parishes of Our Lady of the Angels Province. Although Covid-19 has interrupted the tour, I was able to visit 22 of our 39 parishes to promote consecration to the Immaculate and enrollment in the M.I. My heart still swells with joy when I think of the enthusiastic congregations who warmly embraced the Initiative and, then, the thousands who decided to make the act of total consecration to Mary and enroll in the M.I.

In contemplating the anniversary of the M.I during this pandemic, I could not help but think back to the 1918-1920 flu pandemic which, like Covid-19, was also driven by a respiratory virus. One of the worst pandemics in human history, its four waves infected 500 million people, a third of the world’s population at the time. Sadly, according to the estimates, the virus took the lives of between 17 and 50 million people. St. Maximilian was ordained a Franciscan priest in Rome on April 28, 1918, during the pandemic’s first wave, and he celebrated his first Christmas as a priest in Rome just as the second and worst wave of the pandemic ended. He returned to Poland in July of 1919 just after the third wave and he was teaching in Krakow during the pandemic’s fourth and final wave in 1920. According to the statistics, the pandemic claimed 466,000 victims in Italy and between 200,000 and 300,00 in Poland. Nevertheless, upon examining St. Maximilian’s letters and other writings, I could not find any references or reflections on the tragic losses caused by the pandemic. This was all the more surprising given that, since his 1917 diagnosis, St. Maximilian was suffering from tuberculosis, an underlying condition whose side effects include difficulty breathing.

At the same time, however, we cannot lose sight of St. Maximilian’s intense focus and sense of mission already animated by an ardent love of the Lord and His Blessed Mother. Having founded the M.I. in 1917 to combat the evils present in the world, St. Maximilian intended by the consecration or entrustment to the Immaculate that he and, indeed, all M.I. members would offer themselves totally to the Blessed Mother as instruments in Her hands to bring about the salvation of all and thereby lead them ever closer to the source of Love, the Sacred Heart. Although St. Maximilian’s writings do not contain direct references to the 1918 flu pandemic, it is curious that, when Father Maximilian celebrated Christmas Mass that year, he noted in the Mass register the following intention: Pro amore usque ad victimam (For love even unto victimhood). By “victimhood” Father Maximilian may well have intended the lengths to which he was committed to sacrifice for the work of the Immaculate but I believe it is also possible that St. Maximilian thought for a moment, “If, in pursuit of Love, I fall victim, even as a result of the pandemic, then so be it.” Thus, his apostolic zeal was already heroic, standing him in good stead for his battle with the evil of Nazism he would later experience in Poland and, especially, at Auschwitz.

As we celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the M.I., I send you all my warmest greetings of peace and every good. May St. Maximilian pray for us, through the Immaculate, to Our Lord for the grace that the Covid-19 pandemic cease, that the sick regain their health and that those who have died may rest in peace.

~Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv.
Our Lady of the Angels Province M.I. Assistant

Posted in MI

Transitus & Blessing of Animals 2020

Due to this year’s various COVID-19 Protocols, our annual Blessing of Animals may look a bit different at each of our ministries. Don’t let that deter you from joining our friars for our varied opportunities available for this special tradition, in honor of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi. Check out the “Locations” page of this website for ministry location websites. Follow the links to see if, and how, our ministry nearest to you will participate.  If you can’t find the information on their website, give them a call to see if they are holding any “in person” events or if they will have any events available online. Here is just a sampling of some of our friars’ ministry celebrations which have already been planned:

The Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD)
Sunday, October 4, 2020, 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
On Sunday, October 4th at 2:00pm, the Shrine will hold its annual Blessing of Animals in honor of the Feast of St. Francis! We will hold the blessing in front of the main Shrine building and ask that all animals be on leashes and that everyone please wear masks!

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha National Shrine and Historic Site (Fonda, NY)
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Blessing of the Animals after 10:30 a.m. Mass.
Note: The Shrine is also planning on having Native Masses on October 10th and 11th in recognition of Indigenous Peoples Weekend. Unfortunately that won’t include the Native Catholic Choirs providing music this year, due to COVID restrictions, but they are still planning on including Smudging as part of the Penitential Rite — which is done by Terry Steele, the Algonquin Elder who is on the Shrine Council — as well as the Four Directions blessing.

(St. Paul Catholic Parish (Kensington, CT)  
(Taken from the 9-20-2020 Bulletin)
Saturday, October 3, 2020, 6:30 p.m.

“Franciscan Transitus Service – The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is October 4th. On the evening before the Feast, Franciscans join together to remember the Poor Man from Assisi’s passing or transiting from this life to life eternal in what is called a Transitus Service. This year we will hold a Transitus Service here at the St. Paul’s at 6:30pm on Saturday, October 3rd. This will be after the 4:00pm Mass and is NOT a Mass. This reflective prayer service will include some music, scripture readings and readings from the life of St. Francis including those that recall his death. The service will be about 45 minutes. All parishioners are invited to join the Friars as we remember our Founder’s passing onto eternity.”
Sunday, October 4, 2020, 2:00 p.m.

“Because of St. Francis’ special appreciation for all of God’s creation, including the animal population, it is traditional for a Blessing of Animals be held near the Feast of St. Francis. The Blessing of Animals will take place at St. Paul Church in the school parking lot near the side entrance to the church on Sunday, October 4th at 2pm.  The pets, nor their owners, have to be Catholic to come for the blessing!  ALL are welcome!”

St. Lucie Catholic Church (Port St. Lucie, FL)
(Taken from the 9-20-2020 Bulletin)
Saturday, October 3, 2020
“Blessing of the Animals in the Rotunda. Please bring your pet leashed or caged.”
7:00 p.m.
“From the earliest days of the Franciscan Order, the followers of St. Francis have gathered on the anniversary of his death, October 3rd, to celebrate his Transitus, that is, St. Francis’ passage from earthly life to everlasting life. This celebration is a prayer service with readings and songs that reflect the life off St. Francis and recall the events surrounding his death. Traditionally the Transitus is celebrated on October 3rd, the day before the Feast of St. Francis. Please join us for this uniquely Franciscan celebration on Saturday, October 3rd at 7:00 PM.”

Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church (Winston-Salem, NC)
Taken from the 9-27-2020 Bulletin)
Saturday, October 3, 2020, 10:00.m.
Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. On the fifth and sixth days of creation, you called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. In honor of the Feast of Saint Francis of AssisiJoin us Saturday, October 3rd, 2020, at 10 AMIn front of the church for a prayer service and blessing.”

St. Junipero Serra Parish (St. Catharine of Siena Church, Seaside Park, NJ & Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Seaside Heights, NJ)
(Taken from the 9-27-2020 Bulletin)
Sunday, October 4, 2020

“Next Sunday, the Church celebrates the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 4th is the traditional Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. As a parish served by the Franciscan Friars Conventual, Bishop of Trenton,  David O’Connell has given us permission to celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi on Sunday.  Sunday Mass times remain the same. The Readings for the Liturgy are different. The Readings for Saint Francis Day will be   Sir. 50: 1, 3-4,6-7    Gal. 6:14-18    Matt. 11: 25-30
Since Saint Francis of Assisi was a great servant of the poor with great compassionate love, everyone who comes to Sunday Mass on October 4th is invited to bring a bag of non-perishable groceries to place in the sanctuary before the start of Mass.  These groceries are for our Saint Francis Food Pantry. We will have a second collection basket available for donations to the Franciscan Missions.  We will have the traditional blessing of animals on Sunday, October 4 at 2:00 PM at Saint Catharine of Siena Church in Seaside Park.”

Our Province is also working on creating a Virtual Blessing of the Animals and a Facebook Livestream of the Transitus Service for all those who cannot make it in person to one of our many ministries who are holding events in person, in honor of the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. Check back for more details.

2019 Blessing of the Animals at our pastoral ministry of St. Michael the Archangel Church (Baltimore, MD) with Friar Rom

Annual Linda’s Walk ~ October 17, 2020

Every Year, St. Clare Inn (Toronto, ON) hosts two major fundraisers to help with operating costs. Since St. Clare Inn is entirely funded privately and without any government support, these fundraiser are vital to keeping the doors open. Proceeds account for almost 40% of operating costs. On October 17th, they will hold their 11th Annual Linda’s Walk.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda’s Walk 2020 will be a little different. Participants will still be able to walk the 5km route through the  Don Mills area of Toronto, but start times for walkers will be staggered. This year will also feature a virtual (walk-at-home) option. The staggered start times allow walkers to physically participate in the walk while also continuing to social distance.
The physical walk begins and ends at The Franciscan Church of Bonaventure (Register Here). A free face mask is included with your registration!
The virtual walk option (Register Here) allows participants to complete the walk at their own convenience and speed wherever they live. Where can you virtually walk? Anywhere! Trails, treadmills, or even your backyard. Just be sure to stay safe!
Participants can also register on the St. Clare Inn website at www.stclareinn.org.
Registration Fees:
Free/12 & Under
Linda’s Walk Pledge Form (1)
Walker Registration Form_2020 (1)


Reprint – “Bless Us O Lord for These Thy Gifts”

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Br. Brian Newbigging, OFM Conv. has received permission to reprint, “Bless Us O Lord for These Thy Gifts.” Originally published in 1984 as a fund raiser to help support the education of the friars at St. Hyacinth College and Seminary (Granby, MA), the cookbook’s first edition sold 5,000 copies. To benefit Our Lady of the Angels Province – Franciscan Charity Fund, 1,000 copies were printed for this second edition. Copies are available through the St. Anthony Shop at The Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD: 410-531-2800) or by ordering through Friar Brian (Newbiggingb@gmail.com).
Friar Brian is also facilitator for our Franciscan Soy Candles Ministry.
Proceeds from the cookbook sales, as well as the soy candle sales, go to the Franciscan Charity Fund of our province. For more information or to order in bulk, contact Friar Brian.

Tau Talks: Real. Catholic

Friar Rick Riccioli, OFM Conv. hosted  Br. Nick Romeo, OFM Conv. – Vocations Director for our province, as they share about life as a Franciscan Friar Conventual and about the process of discerning the call to life as a friar.

St. Francis of Assisi Bore the Stigmata

The mural {created by our own Fr. Joe Dorniak, OFM Conv.} painted above the Sanctuary Space of our Chapel in The Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD) depicts St. Francis receiving the Stigmata.

September 17th – Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

Excerpt from the January 27, 2010 General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI:
In 1224, at the hermitage in La Verna, Francis had a vision of the Crucified Lord in the form of a seraph and from that encounter received the stigmata from the Seraph Crucifix, thus becoming one with the Crucified Christ.” Read More

Domenico Ghirlandaio, Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, 1483–1486, fresco, Sassetti Chapel, Santa Trínita, Florence.

Note: The Franciscan Coat of Arms can be found throughout the ministries, friaries, missions and sites served by the many Orders of Franciscan Friars, around the world. Each version (or artistic interpretation) has the same key elements: the image of the crossed arms with nail wounds in the hands – one representing Christ and the other St. Francis of Assisi who bore the Stigmata. There is also a form of the cross often depicted as the letter “T.” It is actually a “Tau,” the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
A favorite passage for St. Francis of Assisi was Ezekiel 9:4 “… and the LORD said to him:Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark a T (X in English translations) on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it …” The faithful of God were signed with the ‘tau’ and spared. “… But do not touch anyone marked with the T …” (Ezekiel 9:6)
St. Francis’ love of this verse was cemented through Pope Innocent III’s use of this imagery during his November 11, 1215 homily at the Fourth Lateran Council, the most important religious event in the time of St. Francis. Every Catholic in the Church of that time was challenged to take the symbol of the Tau Cross as the sign of their own Passover and Pope Innocent III ended his homily with “Be champions of the Tau!”

Priesthood Sunday ~ September 27th

Each year, the Church celebrates Priesthood Sunday on the last Sunday in September. Priesthood Sunday is a time set aside to celebrate our priests, without whom the Sacraments could not be celebrated. A great way to participate this year (September 27) is to take the opportunity to promote vocations within your families, schools, teams, workplaces, organizations, groups of friends, and local communities.

Here is a tip to get the conversation started:
While it is good and necessary for everyone to “pray for more priests,” it would be even better if you also ENCOURAGE young men to become priests. Follow these steps:
1. Think of a young man in your life, who you think would make a good priest.
2. Ask him, directly and clearly, if he’s ever considered priesthood.
3. Tell him the specific gift you see in him that led you to ask the question, and encourage him to keep his heart open.
4. Give him our Vocation Director’s contact information.

Br. Nicholas Romeo, OFM Conv.
Vocation Director – Our Lady of the Angels Province

Woodworking Worship with Friar Peter

This summer, Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Peter Tremblay, OFM Conv., Associate Chaplain for Catholic Life at Elon University, took some time in the woodworking worship to build a new altar for the Elon Catholic Campus Ministry (at left). The altar was built using wood from oak trees that had grown on campus and were felled when new buildings were being constructed. The needs of the ministry require an altar that can be stored when not in use. This altar is easily [dis]assembled and was an original design by Friar Peter.
On Sunday, September 6, 2020, Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama ~ Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh, came to campus to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit, for the blessing of the new academic year. At that time, he also blessed the new altar (pictured above with Friar Peter at the far right and Fr. Vincent Rubino, OFM Conv., Guardian of the Blessed Sacrament Friary where Friar Peter resides at the far left. Friar Vincent serves as Parochial Vicar at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Community, in Burlington/Graham, NC).
Pictured below with Friar Peter is Bishop Zarama, Dr. Constance “Connie” Ledoux Book, Ph.D. ~ Elon’s President, and Mr. Russ Smith ~ a community member who helped Friar Peter build the altar.

Students Serving Senior Friars


After working with our senior friars and the other residents at Our Lady of the Angels Care Center (Enfield, CT), a group of Master of Occupational Therapy students from Bay Path University (Longmeadow, MA) shared some photos of their favorite moments.

Friar Augustine Pilatowski, OFM Conv. works with a student therapist.

Friar Dennis Sokolowski, OFM Conv. enjoys a snack.

Friar Vincent Lachendro, OFM Conv. enjoying his therapy.

Our province appreciates all those working with and serving our senior friars at the Care Center.
Gracious God,
today we remember in particular all who work in Occupational Therapy.
They serve the physical needs of so many
whose bodies labor to be whole and strong.
Steady their hands and hearts in this service
and give them the patience that comes from You,
a patience born of love for all those who need their skill and care.
May they know the gratitude of those whom they serve
and be strengthened in the knowledge that what they do,
they do in Your name.



JPIC News – Farm Focus

The farm has been firing on all cylinders lately! In the past month we have planted fall or winter crops in 25 beds, with still more to come over the next few weeks. These new beds include carrots, arugula, Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, and lettuce, among others.