The Friars pray for Baltimore

A message from Minister Provincial Friar Michael Heine, OFM Conv.

The Franciscan Friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province are praying for everyone involved in this morning’s tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. We remember the victims and their families, may God grant them comfort and peace. We pray for the brave first responders who put their own lives at risk in the recovery effort, and we pray for strength for the government officials who are tasked with leading the Baltimore community in the aftermath of this horrifying event. During this Holy Week let us be united in prayer with the people of Baltimore.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine director meets with Holy Father

Melissa Miscevic Bramble, director of Operations at the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine and Historic Site greets Pope Francis at the Vatican.

During the March 7-8 International Conference Women in the Church: Builders of Humanity held in Rome, our very own Melissa Miscevic Bramble, director of Operations at the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine and Historic Site in Fonda N.Y., gave a presentation on Kateri! Melissa is doing fantastic ministry alongside the Shrine’s chaplain, Friar Joe Angelini, OFM Conv. It is great to see the 1938 dream of Thomas Grassmann continue to grow!

Melissa even got to meet Pope Francis, who sends his regards to all of Our Lady of the Angels Province. Take a look at her presentation, linked below. One point Melissa stressed was that, when Kateri faced opposition and difficulties in her life, she went deeper into her relationship with Jesus.

By Our Lady of the Angels Provincial Friar Michael Heine, OFM Conv.

+Gerald Seipp Embraced by Sister Death

Br. Gerald (“Gerry”) Seipp, OFM Conv., 80, a Franciscan Friar of Our Lady of the Angels Province, died peacefully on Monday, March 11, 2024, in Granby, Conn.

Born in Baltimore on Apr. 11, 1943, he was the younger son of Joseph and Anna Mary (nee Rezed) Seipp. After spending some time at Patterson High School, he withdrew to care for his ailing mother. After nine years working as manager of the Record Department at Two Guys’ Department Store on Belair Rd., Br. Gerry entered the Novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Ellicott City, Md., in 1973.

Br. Gerry made his first profession of vows on Aug. 15, 1974. He professed solemn vows on Aug. 15, 1977. Perhaps most remembered for his simplicity and love of trains, Br. Gerry gave more than 50 years of witness to the vocation of the religious brother in the Church.

Between 1977 and 1982, Br. Gerry ministered with the Militia of the Immaculate, based in Granby, Mass. His work there caught the attention of the minister general, who requested Br. Gerry be sent to Rome to assist with the Marian Apostolate of the Order. Instead, he moved to Boswell, Penn., where he served as a pastoral minister, laying some of the early groundwork for religious brothers’ involvement in parish life.

Between 1983 and 1996, Br. Gerry was assigned to Immaculate Heart of Mary in Baltimore. He again assisted in a parochial setting in Trenton from 1996 to 2000, before beginning a 16-year presence at the Shrine of Saint Anthony in Ellicott City. In 2016, Br. Gerry moved to Rensselaer N.Y. In 2019, he was assigned to Chicopee, Mass. With declining health, Br. Gerry moved to his final assignment at Our Lady of Angels Care Center in Enfield, Conn.

Visitation hours will be held Friday, March 15 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., at Our Lady of the Angels Care Center (1315 Enfield St., Enfield Conn.), with a Franciscan Wake Service at 4 p.m.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, March 18, at 2:00 p.m., at the Shrine of Saint Anthony (12290 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City Md.), followed by burial in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Baltimore. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Franciscan Education Fund (12300 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City MD 21042).

Joy to the Heart: An Essay on the January Sophomore Retreat

Adrian Font ‘26 (right) with Danny Chung-A-Fung ‘24, one of the retreat leaders, at the Little Portion Farm.

When one “retreats”, it is a form of reconnecting with something foundational, whether it be with internal conflicts or external influences.  Retreating, in its essence, serves as a powerful means of rediscovering and reinforcing connections. To me, the January Sophomore Retreat was a journey of reconnecting with the profound roots embedded in Xaverian history and Charism, and after experiencing that retreat I felt reconnected with that Xavierian history. Stepping out of the routine of our everyday lives provided a rare opportunity to delve into profound reflections on our true motives and how we live our lives and prioritize what truly matters.

As we know by now, the Xaverian values are woven into the framework of the Good Counsel Community. These values serve as the philosophy that contributes to the cultivation of individuals striving to become the best versions of themselves. In this retreat, we had the opportunity to focus on the Xaverian value of Zeal. To me, opening mass with Father Tom was a humbling experience where I could practice my faith. Usually, we go to Mass every Sunday with different intentions in mind, but this Mass felt different and we were nurturing different parts of ourselves. I feel that is the reason why this mass was implemented in the retreat because it contributed to our retreating.

We then had the opportunity to connect with our fellow sophomores in small groups. While we were in our small groups, we went around the room and shared our strengths and weaknesses, and it felt nice seeing others make themselves vulnerable and more relatable. One of the members in my group sang a song as her talent and it was shocking to find out that she was that talented at singing because I didn’t know that before. I think I was able to have zeal in the moments I shared with my small group because of the different environment in contrast to school. Even though I was not friends with most of the people in my small group, I was able to get to know them better- because again, a retreat is all about reconnecting.

We also played this “Xaverian Values Game” where we had to express one of the Xaverian Values by acting it out or conveying it in some sort of way. For example, to represent trust, we conducted a trust fall, which surprisingly did not convey the value well enough for the person to guess!

For most, one of the more resonating moments in this retreat was the outdoor community work at the Little Portion Farm, located on the property of the Shrine. We originally thought that we would be able to work with power tools and construct tables, but we ended up working in the fields trimming asparagus and okra crops. It felt nice to give back to the Little Portion Farm because the farm was a medium to give back to those in need, and I was happy to be a small part of it.

During our closing prayer service, the responsorial psalm came from Psalm 19:8, which says, “The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.” Directing my energy towards providing for something or someone other than myself felt good and satisfying- it’s almost as if it brought joy to my heart.  I believe that Sophomore Retreat was an event that resonated uniquely with each sophomore, whether they were happy to be there, or would have rather been in a classroom at school. This retreat offered a diverse array of takeaways through the activities my retreat group took part in. The setting of the retreat was very tranquil and distracted from all the other worries I had been having.

Carving out time for reflection and connection is essential for leading more meaningful lives. I hope that each individual recognizes how much retreating and having a sense of community helps bring joy to the heart.

By Adrian Font, staff writer, The Talon, the student newspaper of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, located in Olney, Maryland.

Introducing Kristin Austin, Our Lady of the Angels Province’s new Pastoral Advocate

Our Lady of the Angels Minister Provincial Friar Michael Heine, OFM Conv., has announced that Kristin Austin, a licensed clinical social worker and certified clinical trauma professional, has been retained by the province as its new pastoral advocate. In her role as a consultant to the province, Kristin will respond to anyone who reports abuse or misconduct by a member of the province, receiving their allegation and providing pastoral accompaniment to them throughout the process and the time that they are engaged with the province on the matter.

“I have been thinking about this possibility for several years,” Friar Michael said. “We needed to find the right layperson who can share our Franciscan compassion and understanding with survivors. I believe Kristin fits perfectly. She will be in regular contact with the provincial administration. I pray that we will not need her services in the future but take comfort in knowing that if and when the need arises, we have a well-trained, experienced, compassionate person who will offer pastoral outreach in a way that we pray will bring healing.”

A graduate of St. Joseph’s University, Kristin volunteered for a year in Tacoma, Wash., and later pursued a master’s degree at the University of Maryland.  She currently serves as a pastoral advocate for eight other male religious orders.

“I am sincerely grateful to Friar Michael Heine and Friar Gary Johnson for the opportunity to serve the province,” she said. “I have seen so much healing over the past 15 years in this ministry and look forward to assisting the Our Lady of the Angels Province in bringing more healing to all.”

To contact Kristin, please email her at or call 443-462-7787.