Father Michael Heine, OFM Conv, minister provincial of Our Lady of the Angels Province announced the province has become the sponsor of the Franciscan Center (101 West 23rd St., Baltimore). The center offers a continuum of care that includes food, clothing, emergency services, counseling, culinary, and technology training to help clients become as self-sufficient as possible. The announcement was made on Nov. 29, the Feast of All Saints of the Seraphic Order when the Catholic Church celebrates the Franciscan saints who followed in the steps of St. Francis, and the 800th anniversary of the signing of the of the 1223 Rule of Saint Francis which marked the founding of the Franciscan order.
Our Lady of the Angels Province Vicar Provincial Friar Gary Johnson, OFM Conv. (right), chats with Franciscan Center Executive Director Jeff Griffin.
The Franciscan Sisters of Milwaukee including the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore contacted Father Michael a number of months ago inviting the province to become the sponsors of the Franciscan Center. There is logic in the new arrangement: food grown at Little Portion Farm in Ellicott City, another ministry of the friars, is sent to the Franciscan Center to feed the poorest of the poor in Baltimore.
“The sisters opened the center in the late 60s with some of our friars,” Father Michael said. “But now as many communities are, the sisters are slowly divesting themselves and their sponsored communities. And so, we decided to say ‘yes’ to this invitation. I think this will open up wonderful opportunities for our friars information with our ministries in Baltimore and in Ellicott City, because it’s a way and a sign of new life as we follow our father, Francis, in reaching out to those people who no one else wants to deal with, the people on the margins.”
Recent graduates of the Dignity Plates Culinary Training Academy, a 12-week culinary arts training program operated by the Franciscan Center.
The Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore began their ministry in 1881, feeding the hungry and caring for orphans. With a single gift of Pioneer Natural Gas Company stock donated by Helene and Robert Rea of Philadelphia, and space provided by the Franciscans, the Franciscan Center opened on September 10, 1968. On a typical day 400 to 600 people visit the Franciscan Center to enjoy a healthy meal from fresh ingredients. More than 200,000 meals were provided in 2022.
“When we received word from Father Michael that the Conventual Franciscan’s Provincial Council had unanimously accepted our request to consider sponsorship of one of our most precious ministries, the Franciscan Center, we were not only delighted but relieved that this ministry would be in good hands,” said Sr. Joanne Schatzlein, OSF, Director of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. “Our fervent wish was that our ministry would continue its Catholic Identity and remain faithful to the Franciscan Values. It is truly a gift of God that our Franciscan Brothers will continue the legacy of the Sister Founders into the future.”
“The sisters told me they need help feeding the souls of those they serve at the Franciscan Center. That’s where the friars will come in. We’ll continue the wonderful Franciscan spirit that was started by the sisters and will continue under Our Lady of the Angels Province,” Father Michael said.
The newly renovated dining room at the Franciscan Center.
This year the Feast of All Saints of the Franciscan Family falls on the day of the 800th anniversary of the approval, by Honorius III, of the Order’s Regula Bullata. “His holy sons,” we read in the Seraphic Missal, “of the First, Second and Third Orders, belong to every social condition and to every people. There are martyrs, doctors, priests, religious brothers, lay people, virgins, holy women. An immense multitude gathered around the great Poverello-the poor man, ‘bearing the sign of the living God.”
It is 800 years in which so many women and men have shared and lived Francis’ project, welcoming God without reservations, observing the Gospel in obedience, without anything of their own and in chastity, becoming people capable of loving their neighbour with generosity.
In the Bull of Pope Honorius III, issued Nov. 29, 1223, the Final Rule of our Order was ratified.
It was a worthy thing that Christ, in the seraphic apparition, imprinted His stigmata, as a seal of confirmation and authenticity, on the sacred flesh of this Poverello, who observed and taught evangelical perfection in the most genuine form, so that, in the dangerous gloom of the end times, we might be offered a clear sign that would illuminate the path of perfection.
It is by conditioning, however, that we learn not to desire what gives honour and prestige, but to prefer humble and hidden things.” By virtue of our baptism, we are all called to holiness, as Pope Francis reminds us in his Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate.”
In the footsteps of Francis, Clare and all the Franciscan Saints, let us allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our day and transform everything that seems ordinary, even that which may be discarded, into something extraordinary and precious in the eyes of God and our neighbour.
+Friar Romulus (Leonard Anthony) Rosolowski, OFM Conv., 77, a Franciscan Friar of Our Lady of the Angels Province, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y. Born in Buffalo on Sept. 15, 1946, he was the eldest son of the late Leo and Florence (nee Zielinski) Rosolowski. After graduating from Bishop Ryan High School in Buffalo in 1964, he entered the Novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Ellicott City, Md., professing first vows on August 15,1965.
He completed his undergraduate studies at St. Hyacinth College Seminary in Granby, Mass., during which time he professed solemn vows on August 15, 1968. After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1969, he traveled to Rome, where he studied at the Pontifical Faculty of Saint Bonaventure (“the Seraphicum”) until 1973. He completed his M.Div. at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer N.Y., in 1974. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 11, 1974.
His first assignment as a friar-priest was to the high school apostolate, teaching at Cardinal O’Hara in the Town of Tonawanda, N.Y., between 1974 and 1976. He then served as associate pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Buffalo, until 1979, when he requested to work in the province’s mission in Ghana. He served in West Africa from 1979 to1983.
The remainder of Friar Romulus’ ministerial priesthood was spent in parochial settings: St. Francis of Assisi, Hamburg N.Y. (1983-86); St. Casimir, Baltimore Md., (1986-91); pastor of St. Paul Church, Atlas Penn. (1991-94); administrator of St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Michael and St. Mary parishes, Shamokin Penn. (1994-95); co-pastor of St. Paul, Kensington Conn. (1995-96); pastor of Holy Family, St. Casimir & Emerich, and Șt. Columba parishes near Hooverville, Penn. (1996-2005); a second stint at St. Francis in Hamburg (2005-2008), and his final assignment was at Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Lackawanna N.Y. (2008-2023).
Friar Romulus is survived by his siblings, Robert (Kristin), Sr. M. Rosalind Rosolowski, CSSF, Dennis, David (Patricia) and like a brother to Mark Yourdon. He is also survived by loving nieces and nephews Thomas (Jessica), Natalie, Wade (Kathryn), Chelsey (Justin), Hannah (Erik); great nephew Parker; cousins, parishioners, many friends and the Conventual Franciscan Friars.
Visitation hours will be held Thursday, Nov. 2, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Our Lady of Victory Basilica (767 Ridge Rd., Lackawanna N.Y., with a Franciscan Wake Service at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Our Lady of the Angels Minister Provincial Friar Michael Heine, OFM Conv., on Friday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m., in the basilica, followed by burial in Saint Stanislaus Cemetery in Buffalo.
riar Joe Krondon, OFM Conv., renewed his simple vows on Oct. 25, 2023, at St. Francis Friary, Syracuse, N.Y. His vows were received by Friar Jim Moore, OFM Conv., guardian of the Saint Francis Friary in Syracuse, N.Y., and was witnessed by the friars who live in community at Assumption Parish. Friar Joe is the director of the Food Pantry at Assumption Parish in Syracuse. Friar James Moore, OFM Conv., received Friar Joe’s vows. Friar Steve Frenier and Friar Jude DeAngelo witnessed his renewal at Evening Prayer.
Community life or Franciscan fraternity is at the heart of the religious life commitment of the Conventual Franciscans. Friars vow to live together in Franciscan fraternity and care for each other as Franciscan brothers in a way that incarnates the Gospel mandate in John 13:34. The rule and life of the Order Friars Minor Conventual is to live in obedience, poverty, and in chastity. Living with other Friars allows them to remain focused on their vows. In the busy world, it allows Friars to slow down and value communal living as an example of the early disciples.
Thank you, Friar Joe for your continued love and commitment to community and Gospel service!
Sister Death embraced +Friar Justin Ratajczak, OFM Conv., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. Our brother died at Lorien Health Services in Columbia, Maryland at the age of 74.
+ Fr. Justin (Leonard) Anthony Ratajczak, OFM Conv. was born in Baltimore, Md., on Feb. 2, 1949, and died on Oct. 25, 2023, in Columbia, Md. He was the son of the late Leonard and Agnes (nee Guraleczka) Ratajczak. In addition to his Franciscan family, he leaves his brother Timothy Ratajczak. He was predeceased by his sisters, Denise and Jeanine.
Having grown up around the Franciscans as a parishioner and elementary school student at St. Casimir Parish in Baltimore, and having worked for a time in the family grocery store, Friar Justin entered the Novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Ellicott City, professing first vows on Aug. 15, 1968. He then studied at St. Hyacinth College in Granby, Mass. (earning his B.A. in Philosophy in 1972), during which time he professed Solemn Vows on Aug. 15, 1971. He completed his M.Div. at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, N.Y., in 1977, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 7, 1977.
Fr. Justin’s first assignments were in the high school apostolate. From 1977 to 1982, he taught at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Tonawanda, N.Y. He taught at St. Francis High School in Hamburg, N.Y., until 1987. He then transitioned to the parochial ministry, serving at St. Anthony of Padua, Fairfield, Conn. (1987-88); St. Stanislaus, Sharon, Penn. (1988-97); and St. Clement Mary Hofbauer, Baltimore (1997-2002). He was beloved at All Saints Parish in Boswell, Penn., where he served as pastor from 2002-2010. Fr. Justin’ last parochial assignment was as pastor of the Church of the Annunciation in Baltimore, from 2010 to 2016. Due to illness, he was transferred to St. Joseph Cupertino Friary in Ellicott City, Md., before being moved into skilled nursing care at Lorien Health Services in Columbia, Md.
Viewing will take place on Monday, Oct. 30, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Church of the Annunciation (5212 McCormick Avenue, Baltimore), with a Franciscan Wake Service at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m., also at the Church of the Annunciation. Internment will follow at 1:30 p.m., at St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Baltimore. Memorial Donations may be made to the Franciscan Education Burse, 12300 Folly Quarter Rd., Ellicott City, MD 21042.