Celebrating St. Francis’s Feast Day!

Throughout the province, our ministries are holding varied celebrations in honor of the October 4th Feast Day of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, including the Blessing of Animals, as well as Transitus Services and Feast Day celebrations. Spend some time in prayer with our friars at a Province Ministry Location near you.

Here are examples of some of the scheduled events. Click on the image to link to the ministry’s website:

Most Holy Trinity-St. Mary Catholic Church, Brooklyn, NY (also Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, October 1st at 11:00 a.m.

Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.


12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

“We are only passing through!” From her youth, Queen Elizabeth II, who died on the feast of the Nativity of Mary, was telling the world that she had belief and could reason well. For seventy years as monarch she exemplified that there is no antithesis between hope for heaven and loyalty to the earth. Her hope was also hope for the earth, and very quietly, without wavering, Queen Elizabeth II lived hope for something greater and definitive. Does anyone doubt that her focus was: Christians must bring hope into what is transitory, into the world as it changes, the old giving way to the new? Her public statements respected the dignity of the person and reflected a modern Christiainity. In other words, close listening to her ruled out a Christianity that would be for speciously sophisticated individuals who respect God. Moreover, a person participates in making who I am before God. Requiescat in pace.

Pope Emeritus Benedict was born in Bavaria (photo insert at left of his birthplace) a year after the future Queen Elizabeth and grew up on the same raft in the stormy sea. Europe was shaken to its core by conflicts that he found noxious and nihilistic. To give up on truth, to jettison truth from the raft ostensibly because of its weight, and to reduce truth to opinion, is now a stance protected by society. A “protective clause” forbids truth claims[1] and engagement of controversies in debate, disallows any view from being defeated, and forbids amendments to truth claims. He found that emendation of the Enlightenment was a rupture and an elevation of relativity. Such an immunization clause[2] which forbids rational decisions is noxious because every thought is reduced to opinion.

Truth is at stake, truth needs time, truth matters. Second, the modern sense of the primacy of the political system includes familiarity with the local, state, national or international politicians who promise everything; but how society actually gets organized makes the difference. Benedict asks: is order on the basis of utility or on the basis of justice, at least some form of justice and social identity?  He knew well that Fascism gave a form of identity based on resentment for the overdemand of reparations after World War I which reduced Germany from the richest country in Europe to the poorest. The new Marxism, on Benedict’s eastern border, was offering a vision of making sacrifices now with a promised payoff from an ever-illusive utopia. Marxism was easy: just overthrow the morality of the bourgeois now and all will be well.[3]

Benedict recognizes the complexity of the ensuing primacy of the political in the West and changes in Islam in the East. Goals are supposed to regulate political ideologies, but there is no evidence that this is happening. Benedict observes that secular modernity and its call for human rights, its claim to reason, its refusal to be subject to any Church, its dream of depending on generosity with equality: economic, gender, ethnic, or social, arises and reproduces itself. Religion is left behind because, in the view of the self-styled cultured elite, religion has impeded progress, whether in the economic realm, or in the use of reason, or in justice as they define it.

It may surprise many that Benedict argues why secular modernity is not a complete break from Christianity, but funded by Christianity. His view of the modern debate is:[4]

  1. The state itself is not the source of truth and morality. It cannot produce truth from its own self by means of an ideology, … nor via the majority. It is not absolute.
  2. The goal of the state cannot consist in a freedom without defined contents. … The state requires a minimum of truth, of knowledge of the good. It is defined by justice on the basis of what is good for everyone.
  3. The state must receive from outside itself the essential measure of knowledge and truth with regard to that which is good.
  4. A pure rational evidential quality independent of history does not exist. Metaphysical and moral reason comes into action in a historical context.
  5. Christian faith has proved to be the most universal and rational religious culture. It offers the basis of a rational moral faith without which no society can endure.
  6. The state receives its basic support from outside, from a reason that has come to maturity in the historical form of faith. By merging with the state, the Church would destroy both the essence of the state and its own essence.
  7. The Church remains “outside” the state, in its own proper place and within its boundaries. The Church performs for the state the service that the latter requires, to shine forth the moral truth to the citizens. Truth must be vigorous. The Church must form its members to convince and to be a leaven for all society.

Are Christian faith and modernity compatible, the Holy Father asks? If tolerance is one of the foundations of the modern age, then tolerance claims recognize the essential truth. A spiral of violence runs through the history of religions, and it has to be broken. To dismiss the claim to truth in the Christian faith as the fundamental condition for a new reconciliation of Christianity with modernity is to make an incorrect diagnosis. Benedict repeats essential points about truth, tolerance and freedom. Freedom must relate to truth. Law is constitutive of freedom. The absolutely ideal human situation never existed, nor will a perfected ordering of freedom be achieved. We struggle for the relatively best possible framework of human coexistence, to preserve anything good that has been achieved, to overcome anything bad that exists at the time, and to guard against the outbreak of destructive forces as he and Queen Elizabeth saw.

Queen Elizabeth and Pope Emeritus Benedict, their teenage years during war, her coronation on 2 June 1953, his ordination on 29 June 1951, and seven decades, bear witness to the question of the role “truth” plays as a gift for everyone, which aims to alienate no one.

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame eondrako@alumni.nd.edu


[1] At a University in Canada, the Dean of Studies said to me: “Never make any truth claims.”
[2] Cyril O’Regan, University of Notre Dame, uses immunization clause for protective clause.
[3] Lenin said: find a few useful idiots. He did and we saw them exemplify the absence of the divine.
[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Values in a Time of Upheaval (San Francisco: 2006), 67-70.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael – September 29, 2022

Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.


12 Days on Pilgrimage in August
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6).

Our Marian Franciscan pilgrimage took us through central Europe where several of our twenty-eight pilgrims have roots. We prayed and celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s favorite place in his beloved Bavaria. In this third essay, I turn to his thoughts on why Europe is a “stand in” for secular modernity. “If Europe is to survive, … it involves encountering with reverence that which is holy to another. We can and must learn from that which is holy to others, but it is our obligation both in relation to them and to our own selves to nourish our own reverence for the Holy One and to show the face of the God who has appeared to us, the God who cares for the poor and the weak, the widows and orphans and strangers, the God who is so human that he himself became one of us, a suffering man whose compassion with our suffering gives us dignity and hope.”[1]

Why is Europe a stand-in for secular modernity? Together with Pope St. John Paul II, Benedict lived through the horrendous consequences of the relativization of truth in our modern period. As we drove through Munich, the University and buildings that were home to the Gestapo, their court, prison, and execution place, tears flowed. I remembered the Second World War, in particular, the conviction and courage of Sophia Scholl and her circle of friends in the White Rose Movement. They dared to criticize the unjust regime and were decapitated on Hitler’s orders. Our guide did not mention that poignant fact. Sophia and friends[2] demonstrated their intent to get to truth and love for truth without insisting that they had truth in their back pocket. Today their graves nearby are covered with fresh white roses daily.

Students who refuse to live the lie counter modern reason that has given up on the search for truth and reduced it to only opinion. No doubt the White Rose circle was familiar with Plato’s Republic and its three phases: first, a generation that has shown a degradation of the search for truth; second, a new and young character to the politics without a commitment to truth; and, third, the failure to talk about truth which enables those who seek power to gain it then feel free reign to use power as they choose. John Paul II and Benedict lived with the consequences. Today, all with good sense ask: What are you going to do to prevent the world from being laid waste anew by hatred and violence and falsehood?

As storekeeper, so to speak, to Pope John Paul II, an incredibly engaged Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) had his hand in the writing of Fides et Ratio. The irony is that he wrote a commentary on Fides et Ratio about reason as subject to pathology, to a deformed version of reason. In 1999,[3] the future Pope Benedict already saw the pathology of faith in secular modernity with several forms in fundamentalism which is always around.

Pope Emeritus Benedict finds pathology in fundamentalism as a modern production which is doctrinaire and narrow. Both Christians and Muslims have been irrational and violent and done fanatical things. Reflect on reason that does not scrub away fundamentalist thinking or fanaticism. Fundamentalism produced by reason arises as a reaction formation. The problem links with the suggestion that every religion does not have conviction. Religion is substitutable or worthless. To put religion on hold as a person grows up in favor of personal preference is not the Catholic way of formation. Benedict adds that the pathology of believers, in any form, is spread by hyper-rationality. Evangelical forms of Christianity, for example, do not have doctrines that develop as Catholic doctrines do. Another example is evidence that anyone can be as apocalyptic as any subgroup of Muslims misguided by jihadism.

Pope Emeritus Benedict deals with these issues in the pattern of  the thought of St. John Henry Newman, who insists that there is a good account and a bad account of reason. Newman grew up in England in the nineteenth century, when the English religious ethos was not to believe too hard: i.e., Yes, God exists; yet, don’t ask if God is triune. Yes, Jesus lived in history; yet, don’t ask if he was human and divine. Don’t ask about claims that Mary was his mother. Don’t ask too much about his death on the cross and claim that Jesus is the savior of mankind.

Benedict follows Newman’s distinction between the extrinsic and intrinsic connection. There is an extrinsic not intrinsic connection that Christianity leads to violence. Newman recognized the pathology of fanaticism as insistence that one thing is absolutely true and ought to be imposed on others. Thinking that is not pure enough is worth fighting for. On intellectual grounds, that is how fundamentalist thinking is the fuel about what is true and not true. Catholics know many examples of historical difficulties when the Church allowed periods of disagreement with patience and forbearance. The first years after Vatican II were a time of “experimentation.”

The important point that Benedict is making about Europe as a “stand in” for secular modernity is that it has arrived on the scene out of the dark ages with a message of human rights, reason as not subject to a Church, and the need for a generic equality in economics, gender, ethnicity, and social equality. Secular modernity, democracy, or equality relate to justice. He asks: Is it a break from Christianity or funded by Christianity? The United States imported secular modernity from Europe, and it has less resistance; therefore has worked.

When Christianity was called on to stand against the fanaticism of National Socialism and Communism, Catholics like Saints Maximilian M. Kolbe, Edith Stein, and others stood up. Conservative Protestants stood up as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had been teaching at Union Theological in New York City. Liberal Protestants, on the other hand, had the view that faith is relative to the historical moment and offered very little resistance. Thoughts?

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. Univ of Notre Dame, eondrako@alumni.nd.edu


[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Values in a Time of Upheaval (San Francisco: 2006), 149, 150.
[2] Significantly, the White Rose students were reading about conscience in now St. John Henry Newman.
[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Truth and Tolerance (San Francisco: 2004), 183-209.

Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Feast of St. Wenceslaus, patron of the Czech Republic and Slovakia
– September 28, 2022


Greeting and Message of the Minister General

Dear confreres, Peace and All Good!
At the beginning of this year, we put out some “guidelines,” as members of the Conference of the Franciscan Family, to help us carry out the Franciscan Centenary in the most meaningful way possible. The Centenary will culminate in 2026 with the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Easter of our Seraphic Father St. Francis. We said that this celebratory journey “offers us a valuable opportunity to invigorate the richness of our charism with a prophetic vision toward the future.” The core of our charism is, without a doubt, evangelical fraternity. This ideal is challenged by the current situation of the world, in which “the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 30). As we know, wars driven by various interests, often fratricidal wars, are proliferating around the world. Moreover, the power figures of the world persist in extending their domains, in spite of shedding innocent blood. However, it certainly must not be so among us: “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44). The only prophetic choice for us is called the “Gospel,” the Gospel “sine glossa,” but lived in an intelligent way. In celebrating our “Brother from Assisi,” I invite you to discern, in fraternity, how we should live intelligently in a way that is appropriate to our charism and our times. Let us keep in mind, however, that “prophetic vision” and “self-interest” are competitors, one at the expense of the other. The choice is ours. Let us choose to live our charism authentically and not let the logic of the world and of power permeate our hearts!
May St. Francis teach us the way!

News from the Novitiate

September 20, 2022: An Inter-Novitiate class was held at the Conventual Novitiate House of Studies, in Arroyo Grande, CA.  Our Franciscan Friars Conventual Novices were joined by the Capuchin Novices in study in California, for a class on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, presented by Friar Jude Winkler, OFM Conv. (2nd from left front). Friar Jude is not only a prolific author for all ages, a scripture scholar, and a well respected speaker on biblical theology, he is also a friar of our province serving our Order as an Assistant General (CFF).

Post on the Order’s Website

Fall Friars’ Days

2022 Fall Friars’ Days

Thursday, September 15 – Our Lady of Angels Care Center, Enfield CT
Saturday, September 17 – Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Hamburg NY
Monday, September 19 – St. Philip Benizi Parish, Jonesboro GA
Thursday, September 22 – The Shrine of Saint Anthony, Ellicott City MD

Twice annually, during the Spring and Fall, the friars of the Our Lady of the Angels Province gather for a day of on-going formation and fraternity. Because of the tremendous geographical distance among the friars there are generally four planned days: metro-Baltimore, Western New York, Western Massachusetts and Connecticut, and either Georgia or North Carolina.

Here are a few photos from the Thursday, September 22nd session, held at The Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, MD:

XV Ordinary Chapter ~ Provincial Custody in Brazil

September 13-16, 2022: Our Lady of the Angels Province Minister Provincial, Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv. joined our friars in Brazil to facilitate the XV Ordinary Custodial Chapter, of our Custódia Província Imaculada Conceição (Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception). With him, serving as a translator, was Fr. Emanuel Vasconcelos, OFM Conv., who is also one of our province Vocation Directors.
Read More

As stated in the Convento S Boaventura Franciscanos Conventuais Facebook Post

Que as bençãos de Deus sejam derramadas sobre nossos frades.
E que o Espírito Santo possa direcioná-los.
Que Nossa Mãe a Senhora dos Anjos possa interceder por cada um deles.
Rezemos por eles. Paz e Bem

[English Translation: “May God’s blessings be poured out on our brothers,
and may the Holy Spirit direct you.
May Our Mother, the Lady of the Angels,
intercede for each one of them. Let’s pray for them.
Peace and good

The Installation of our new Custódia Província Imaculada Conceição (Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception) Custódio Provincial – Frei Carlos Roberto de Oliveira Charles, OFM Conv., at the hands of our Minister Provincial ~ Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv.

CONGRATULATIONS to the newly elected!
Custódio Provincial – Frei Carlos Roberto de Oliveira Charles, OFM Conv.
Vigário Custodial – Frei Fábio Soares da Silva, OFM Conv.
Secretário Custodial – Frei Willian Gomes Mendonça, OFM Conv.
Tesoureiro Custodial – Frei Luis Henrique Nascimento Lima, OFM Conv.
Definidor Custodial – Frei Ronaldo Gomes da Silva, OFM Conv.
Definidor Custodial – Frei José Pinto Cardozo Junior
Link to photos of those elected

Friday, September 16, 2022 Homily of the new Provincial Custos: Homilia de Frei Carlos Charles, Custódio Provincial na missa da Impressão das Chagas, antecipada para a véspera, abrindo seu governo custodial.



Congratulations St. Paul School, Kensington

Pictured left to right: Julie DelMartino Scalora (Director of Advancement), State Representative Donna Veach (a former school parent), Jill Conaway (principal), Fr. Joseph Benicewicz, OFM Conv. (pastor), Fayne Molloy (former principal), Julia Lawson (Class of ‘20) and Elijah Hairston (grade 8 student) and Kelly Esposito (Admissions Director)

On Monday, September 12, 2022, St. Paul School, the parish school of our Kensington, CT pastoral ministry ~ St. Paul Catholic Church, celebrated their 65th Anniversary. During the presentations, much was said about the history and impact Saint Paul School has had in the community for 65 years. Many more photos from the day are posted on the school’s Facebook page, including a sincere “Thank You!” “to all the amazing teachers for their dedication, and to the families for their on going support. Together everyone works so hard to keep our wonderful school going strong for all the students!

A Friar’s Desert Experience

I found the desert canyons to be a lot like the spiritual life: a place of unknowns, uncertainty, and possibly even some danger. But lived in, with the help of a community, dedicating some time to enter the canyon, asking for God’s help, the canyon taught me a lot. And I think the same is true for the spiritual life.”

Two part reflection by Fr. Nick Rokitka, OFM Conv. presented via Franciscan Voice.org. The hyperlink for each part can be found by clicking the title or the image.


Part I: The Spiritual Life And The Desert Canyons Of Utah

Part II: The Desert Canyons Of Utah

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Nick Rokitka, OFM Conv. professed his Simple Vows of poverty, chastity & obedience, as a Franciscan Friar Conventual, on July 16, 2010, and his Solemn Vows on August 06, 2014. He was Ordained to the Priesthood on June 25, 2016. Since his ordination, Friar Nick has served as a high school instructor, in formation, and in administration for the province. He now serves as Parochial Vicar for our Point Pleasant Beach, NJ pastoral ministry ~ St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.

JPIC Message

“Fratelli tutti”

The Encyclical of Pope Francis on Fraternity and Social Friendship

The days of the long hot Summer of 2022 are fading, as Autumn ushers onto the scene. Arriving hopefully, as St. Francis expressed in the, “Canticle of the Sun,” with an array of the beauty, grandeur and splendor of God radiated in all creationThis changing of the season also reminds us that the Feast Day of Our Holy Father Francis grows near. In remote preparation for the coming (October 4th) Feast, as Our Lady of the Angels Province JPIC Director, I would like to invite you to read, reread, or perhaps listen to for the first time,
Pope Francis’ Encyclical – “Fratelli tutti.”

The Introduction to the encyclical captures Pope Francis’ understanding of the spirit of our Franciscan way of life: “Inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis gives us “Fratelli tutti,” a proposal for a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel. It is a call to love others as brothers and sisters, even when they are far from us; it is a call to open fraternity, to recognizing and loving every person with a love without borders; it is a call to encounter others in a way that is capable of overcoming all distance and every temptation to engage in disputes, impositions, or submissions.” Hopefully, encountering the insights so wonderfully presented by Pope Francis may stir our collective reflection and its meaning for us as Franciscan Friars Conventual today.

For your convenience linked here is a PDF Version of the encyclical along with a PDF version of a short-handed ‘at-a-glance’ summary of the text.  For those who may not always have time, are better auditory learners, or for those on the go, here is a link to an audio recording that contains the Introduction and Chapter 01. In the Introduction and 1st Chapter, Pope Francis lists the issues confronting God’s people. Skillfully, in a nonjudgmental fashion, he lays out the problems facing all humanity. And he reminds us that none of them can be healed with simple fixes nor can they be treated with band-aids. In the successive chapters, Pope Francis prophetically addresses the issues calling upon all to listen attentively to God’s grace in this moment of history.

Our Franciscan response to the multiple issues facing humanity urges us to look deep within and ask, “Am I advocate or adversary to the grace of God? Is faith leading life or has it taken a back step to something else leading? What does it mean to be committed to the Gospel of Christ Jesus and to the mission of seeing as St. Francis did; all peoples as brother and sister?”

Audio version of the entire encyclical narrated by Kevin Karam, SJ

Who is Kevin Karam, SJ?


Audio Version – Chapter by Chapter


As always, Thank You for your commitment, efforts and service to making the Making the Gospel Real – Today!  You do make a difference!

Pax et bonum…
Fr. Paul

Friar Paul Lininger, OFM Conv.
Our Lady of the Angles Province – Director of JPIC
Franciscan Friars Conventual