Postulants’ Tour of the Province – 2020 (Continued)

Our Order’s Postulancy location for the four provinces serving North America is in Chicago, IL, in the St. Bonaventure Friary of the St. Bonaventure Province. Two of our Postulants of Our Lady of the Angels Province, Mr. Michael Boes and Mr. Edgar Varela live in community in the Chicago Postulancy, along with three more Postulants from other provinces. In addition, our third Postulant, Mr. Jonathan Zenteno, is in studies at The Catholic University of America while living in community in our Post Novitiate (Silver Spring, MD) in the St. Bonaventure Friary. Each year each Postulant of every North American Province, gathers with the Postulants of his own province to take time away from the Postulancy, and visit his own individual Province ministries, friaries and friars. Our three Postulants have been documenting this year’s partial tour on the Postulancy’s Facebook Page; sharing photos and verbiage about their visits. So far they have enjoyed time with our friars serving in the Chicopee, MA area and in the Syracuse, NY area (check out their Facebook page for more info on those visits). They have now moved onto visits with our friars of our Province Delegation of St. Francis of Assisi, in Canada. The first stop on this leg of their Tour is with our friars serving in the Ottawa, ON area. They will next move onto the last leg of their journey; visiting with our friars in the Toronto, ON area.

On the Ottawa leg of the postulants’ tour of our province ministries, they were welcomed at our pastoral ministry of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish by the friars of St. André Bessette Friary, and hosted by the pastoral and finance councils for a festive dinner. Besides visiting there and to our other pastoral ministry in the Ottawa area – St. Ignatius Martyr Church, our Postulants were joined by Fr. Jobe Abbass, OFM Conv. (Guardian of St. André Bessette Friary – Provincial Delegate – Delegate to the M.I.) as they traveled on pilgrimage to Kahnawake, Québec to pray at the tomb of St. Kateri Tekakwitha (below) and onto Montréal to visit the Shrine and Basilica of St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal to pray at the tomb of its founder, St. André Bessette.

Michael, Edgar, Fr. Jobe and Jonathan are pictured in front of the first chapel of St. Joseph’s Oratory, built 1904 by Brother Abundius, CSC (a confrère of Brother André). Due to its diminutive structure, it was aptly called an oratory; a small wayside shrine. The room where Brother André lived after being appointed caretaker of the Oratory is found above the chapel and has remained the way he left it.

Memorial Mass for +Bishop Elias

+Bishop Elias James Manning, OFM Conv., 81-year-old Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Valenca (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil), passed away on October 13, 2019. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at his home parish, St. Michael the Archangel Church, 175 Williams Road, Troy, NY, on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 11:00 A.M. All are welcome.

+Bishop Emeritus Elias James Manning OFM Conv. of Valenca, Brazil in 2016, at a meeting in Rio De Janeiro celebrating the 70th anniversary of Franciscan Friars Conventual presence in Latin America.

Born on April 14, 1938, in Troy, NY, the son of James and Agnes (Fennelly) Manning, he was baptized James John. Educated at the La Salle Institute, Troy, NY, he cherished his status as a La Salle alumnus, for his lifetime. When he entered the Franciscan Friars Conventual, he took the religious name Friar Elias. As a missionary bishop in Brazil, he became affectionately known as “Dom Elias.”
From 1956 to 1958, Friar Elias studied at the minor seminary of St. Francis of Assisi in Staten Island, New York. In 1958, he entered novitiate and received the Franciscan habit and his new name.  From 1959 to 1962, he studied philosophy and theology at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, New York, and continued his theological studies in the Order’s missions of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, arriving there on November 6, 1962. From 1963 to 1965, he studied theology at the archdiocesan seminary of San Giuseppe in Rio. In 1965, he received the diaconate by the imposition of the hands of Dom Jaime de Barros Camara and was ordained a priest on October 30, 1965 in the chapel of St. Francis on Staten Island, New York, by Archbishop Francisco E. Hyland.
Friar Elias easily adjusted to life in Brazil, quickly enculturating and learning the Portuguese language, while engaging in the pastoral work of the Church and Order. Within the Franciscan Mission of the Custody of the Immaculate Conception of Rio de Janeiro, he exercised the role of parish priest and guardian for several years; always bearing witness to the Kingdom of God by a notably simple and discreet Franciscan way of life. Friar Elias served as parochial vicar and parish priest in Santa Rita di Cassia, Pontalina (GO), in the diocese of Itumbiara; and as parochial vicar and parish priest at the Parish of San Francesco d’Assisi in Rio Comprido (RJ). From 1976 to 1979 he was Provincial Custos of the Immaculate Conception Custody of Rio de Janeiro. In 1986 he was transferred to Arauama (RJ) as parish priest.
In 1990 he was appointed sixth bishop of the Diocese of Valença, adopting the motto: “You are the highest good.” His ordination and episcopal inauguration took place on May 13, 1990. Dom Elias’ episcopal ministry in the Diocese of Valença focused on the role of the laity, and their commitment and participation in in the Church’s evangelization activities. Dom Elias strove to implement and satisfy the expectations of the Second Vatican Council, as a humble protagonist in Brazil’s Missionary Church. During his tenure as Bishop, Dom Elias inspired the faithful by his humble Franciscan lifestyle. He refused to live in the Bishop’s palace, opting instead for a small apartment in a housing complex occupied by the lay faithful.
Dom Elias retired as Bishop of Valença in 2012. After his retirement Dom Elias continued to live in his modest apartment, and he maintained an active ministerial life in the Brazilian Church. He remained closely affiliated with his religious family, the Franciscan Friars Conventual, and with the parishioners of St. Michael Parish in Troy, who supported him throughout the fifty-seven years of his Franciscan missionary labors among the poor in Brazil.
Suffering a stroke just after celebrating Mass on the Feast of St. Francis, October 4, 2019, Dom Elias passed away a few days later. His death was universally mourned throughout Brazil. Dom Elias’ Requiem took place immediately following his death, and he was interred in the Bishops’ crypt of the Cathedral in Valença.
Dom Elias was predeceased by his parents, and his sister Joan Manning Plunkett. He is survived by his brother Lawrence Manning, his sister-in-law Susan Manning, and several nieces and nephews. Memorial Donations for the Franciscan missions in Brazil can be sent to: The Franciscan Friars Conventual, 12300 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042.

World Day for Consecrated Life 2020

February 2nd is the World Day for Consecrated Life. It will be celebrated in parish churches on the weekend of February 1-2, 2020 and is a great weekend to share our way of life and to invite all of the faithful to pray for vocations while encouraging those in discernment to consider a vocation to Consecrated Life with our Order. Through our ministries and vocation events, we friars will attempt to focus in on this topic at weekend Liturgies, in the classroom and at our other ministry sites. We share Vocation Stories, encourage visits our province YouTube channel and Facebook Page, as well as the North American Province’s collaborative Vocation Website, Novitiate Website, and Postulancy Facebook page.
Thank you all for helping to foster vocations to our way of life. We ask for your prayers for men who have begun application and those considering application, to the Order in July 2020. We pray that Our Lady of the Angels and St. Francis of Assisi will intercede for us, so that more men will be drawn to serve Jesus with us.

Heads Up!
In a few months, our province will be hosting another “Come and See Weekend” for those in discernmment, as well as other single, healthy Catholic men aged 18-40, who are looking to experience a weekend living and serving with our friars. Participants will meet at our Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD) to visit with several friaries and ministries in the Maryland/DC area. This is a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of the day to day life of a friar;  to see what it means to be a as Franciscan Friars Conventual. You must be registered to participate, so email our Vocations Office soon. We  do have a page on this site devoted entirely to Vocations. Take a moment to check it out and prayerfully consider adding our province to your discernment journey.

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar John

Be sure to check back on this site for the next reflection.

Father John Burkhard, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ January 2020

My name is John Jude Burkhard, a 79-year old friar of Our Lady of Angels Province. My middle name was given to me in honor of a Conventual Franciscan priest in the then Immaculate Conception Province who was a close friend of our family. My father was very formative of my faith life and accompanied me to Mass every Sunday. Later in life, my mother, too, challenged me to be more well-rounded and less rigidly demanding of others. I cannot claim that I have always measured up to her advice, but I keep trying. Since we worshipped at Our Lady of Angels Church in Albany, New York, ably and lovingly staffed by the Conventual Franciscans, and since we four children attended the parochial school of the same parish selflessly staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, I suppose my joining the Conventual Franciscans was somewhat providentially “predestined.” Be that as it may, I have never regretted this “destiny.”

I entered the seminary in my sophomore year of high school at the ripe age of 15. As strange as it might seem nowadays, in the Church of my youth before Vatican II it was not so unusual. My pastor, Fr. Denis Gallagher had encouraged my vocation by the novel tactic of teaching me Latin beginning in the seventh grade. Every week I would report to the rectory for a lesson. In this way, too, I got to know the other friars who also encouraged my fledgling vocation. The excellent education I received in the Order’s high school, junior college, and college imparted a life-long love of learning I have never regretted and has set me on my path to higher studies and a teaching career as a friar-priest. The Order permitted me to study theology abroad in Innsbruck, Austria, and Strasbourg, France. These two universities, my fellow students there, and the opportunity to meet Conventual friars and members of other religious communities on an international level were seminal experiences in my life.

Equipped with the appropriate degrees and formed by temperament to teach, research, and write, I have spent the last 53 years pursuing the passion of my life. I have never doubted or regretted my ministry as a teacher, but have rejoiced in God’s gifts to me and in the Order’s generosity and confidence in me by fostering my academic talents and propensities. I have taught at our Conventual Seminary of St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, New York, at St. Peter’s Regional Seminary, Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa, and at the Washington Theological Union, Washington, D.C. I have always wanted nothing more than to teach my confreres, so anything beyond that goal has simply been a serendipitous blessing. I have had the joy and honor of knowing so many dedicated and outstanding men in the Order, not to mention the many fine lay men and women I have been blessed to have as students as well. An added joy of my life has been my activity as a translator, making theology originally in German and French available in English to others. Somewhere along my life’s journey I discovered that I actually love languages, classical and modern. Now in my final years as a retired professor, I continue to have the privilege of living with our young friars in formation in Silver Spring, Maryland. I often think of the fine example of so many of my Conventual teachers, directors of formation, staff, residents, and my fellow students in our seminary system, and I am profoundly grateful.

I have no particular spiritual wisdom to impart to our friars in formation or to prospective applicants to the Order except for the admonition to identify and accept your talents, thank God daily for them, develop them humanly with the help of the Order, and generously put them at the service of the Church’s universal mission. If you do this, your dreams and your life will be richly rewarded. I know mine have been!

Postulants’ Tour of the Province – 2020 (Part One)

Our Lady of the Angels Province Postulants: Edgar, Michael and Jonathan during the first week of their Province Tour, pictured at our pastoral ministry of St. Paul Catholic Church, in Kensington, CT

Our Order’s Postulancy location for the four provinces serving North America is in Chicago, IL, in the St. Bonaventure Friary of the St. Bonaventure Province. The current Director of the Postulancy, Fr. Brad Milunski, OFM Conv., is a friar of our province and the Assistant Director is Fr. Paul Schneider, OFM Conv. of the St. Bonaventure Province. Two of our Postulants of Our Lady of the Angels Province, Mr. Michael Boes and Mr. Edgar Varela live in community in the Chicago Postulancy, along with three more Postulants from other provinces. In addition, our third Postulant, Mr. Jonathan Zenteno, is in studies at The Catholic University of America while living in community in our Post Novitiate (Silver Spring, MD) in the St. Bonaventure Friary of our Province, under the Co-Directors – Fr. Paul Schloemer, OFM Conv. of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation and Fr. Nicholas Rokitka, OFM Conv. of our province.

It is important for each of the Postulants of every North American Province to take time away from the Postulancy, visiting his own individual Province ministries, friaries and friars. Each year, after Christmas break, the friars in formation for our province spend several weeks enjoying the fraternity of visits with our friars and our varied ministries. Our three Postulants have been documenting this year’s partial tour on the Postulancy’s Facebook Page, where they will share photos and verbiage about their visit to the Chicopee, Syracuse, Ottawa and Toronto areas of our Province. Here are a few shots from the first stop of the tour with Michael, Edgar and Jonathan:

Our Postulants spent a few days in the Chicopee/Holyoke, MA & Kensington, CT area. Durein that time, they were given a tour of the Elms College caRe vaN 2.0 (pictured above). Developed by Friar Michael Duffy, OFM Conv., DNP, APRN-BC, as the Capstone of his DNP, the caRe vaN a mobile health care unit serving the area’s homeless and underserved, while allowing clinical experience for pre-licensure students of the Elms College School of Nursing. (For more information or to make a donation to this effort, please email Brother Duffy, at
Friar Frank Grimaldi, OFM Conv. took our Postulants to Our Lady of the Angels Care Center where the Felician Sisters care for our five of our elderly friars, and to two of our pastoral ministries in the area ~ St. Anthony of Padua Parish, in Chicopee and Our Lady of the Cross Parish, in Holyoke (at left) . Friar Joe Bayne, OFM Conv. even took them to see the Bright Nights Christmas Lights. Friar Vincent Vivian, OFM Conv. welcomed them to our St. Hyacinth Friary (Chicopee), where they met several of our nine senior friars in residence. They enjoyed the Vigil Mass at our pastoral ministry at the Basilica of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr, celebrated by Friar Paul Miskiewicz, OFM Conv. The Basilica’s Deacon Joseph Peters invited Michael, Edgar and Jonathan to join one of the “Take and Eat Sandwich Ministry” to help make sandwiches and distribute them to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Chicopee, MA. Our friars of St. Paul Friary in Kensingtons, CT (serving the St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, in Kensington & St. John Catholic Church, in Cromwell) invited our friars from the local areas for the Epiphany party where we had a great time of fraternity (below).

After celebrated Mass for Chicopee’s new Mayor, John Vieau (sworn in that day), they mayor’s family & council members, first responders and an array of area faithful, Friar Joe Bayne, OFM Conv. gave our Postulants a ride to Syracuse, NY where began the next part of our tour. They were joyfully received by Friar Edward Falsey, OFM Conv., guardian of our St. Francis Friary (Syracuse, NY), and Friar Richard Riccioli, OFM Conv., pastor of Assumption Parish.
Be sure to follow the rest of their adventures, as they continue to visit our various ministries in Syracuse -NY, Ottawa-ON and Toronto-ON.

Note: Each of the formation stages for our friars are spent in community with other friars from all over North America. The Novitiate is located in California, in the St. Francis of Assisi Friary of the St. Joseph Cupertino Province. The current Formation Team there includes the Director, Br. Joseph Wood, OFM Conv., a member of the St. Bonaventure Province, and the Associate Director, Fr. Maurice Richárd, OFM Conv. Each province also has individual friars serving in ministries, as well as governance over friars of several Delegations and Custodies, in different parts of the world. In North America, each of the four provinces primarily minister to individual local jurisdictions. The friars of our province serve primarily along the East Coast, from Ottawa, Ontario to Boynton Beach, Florida. St. Joseph Cupertino Province primarily serves the Western Coast of the USA. St. Bonaventure Province primarily serves the Midwestern USA. The Province of Our Lady of Consolation primarily serves the rest of the USA.

Welcome Back Franciscan Soy Candle Ministry!

Re-established this past year, Franciscan Soy Candles is a unique ministry producing artisan candles. Created originally by Br. Andre Picotte, OFM Conv. during the Christmas Season 2012, this hobby turned ministry served to be a great source of income benefiting our Aging and Infirmed Friars, all while making great gifts and filling your home with lovely fragrances. This past year, Br. Andre had to step down from the ministry, but he still serves as a consultant and advisor. The day to day work and creation of Franciscan Soy Candles was taken over by Br. Brian Newbigging, OFM Conv. serving as Director and Fr. Francis Lombardo, OFM Conv. serving as Assistant Director. Now based in Hamburg, NY, you can call to place an order with them at 518-496-4805 or email them at

Kraków’s Provincial Visit to the USA

December 6 – 12, 2019: The Prowincjał (Minister Provincial) of our Order’s largest Province – Kraków, Poland’s St. Anthony of Padua and B. James of Strepa Province (Prowincja św. Antoniego i bł. Jakuba Strzemię w Polsce), the Very Reverend Fr. Marian Gołąb, OFM Conv. visited Our Lady of Angels Province, accompanied by his Ekonom Prowincji (Provincial Economist) Fr. Bronisław Staworowski, OFM Conv. and the Kraków delegate for the USA (Coordinator of Kraków Friars in USA ) Fr. Piotr Sarnicki, OFM Conv.  While staying at the Provincialate in Ellicott City, they were taken by Fr. James to a meeting in Washington DC with the Polish Ambassador, His Excellency Piotr Wilczek.  They also celebrated Mass in for the Polish Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate of the American Province, at the Provincial House for the Congregation, in Catonsville, MD (pictured above with Friar Marian, Friar James and Friar Piotr).  Afterwards they traveled to our pastoral ministry of St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church (Elmhurst, NY), where they met with all the Kraków Province friars presently working in ministries of our province: Fr. Tomasz Ryba, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar – RCC of Most Holy Trinity / St. Mary, Brooklyn, NY), Fr. Mieczysław Wilk, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar – Basilica of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr), Fr. Stanisław Czerwonka, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar – St. Adalbert RCC, Elmhurst, NY), Fr. Jacek Leszczyński, OFM Conv. (Pastor – St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Chicopee, MA & Mass Assistance at Our Lady of the Cross Parish, Holyoke, MA), Fr. Piotr Tymko, OFM Conv. (Parochial Vicar – St. Paul Catholic Church, Kensington, CT) and Fr. Andrzej Brzeziński, OFM Conv. (Associate Chaplain for Faith Development in The Catholic University of America Campus Ministry Office, Washington DC).

Canonization of St. John Henry Newman

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Edward Ondrako, OFM Conv. attended the canonization of St. John Henry Newman in Rome on October 13, 2019. Friar Ed, a lifetime devotee to our new saint, most enthusiastically endorses a close reading of the December 19, 2019 online article, in the Catholic Herald – “Melissa Villalobos: My encounter with ‘the world we do not see‘” – a reflection on what actually happened and prayers of gratitude.  It is a narrative of the miracle that Melissa Villalobos reported to the Vatican that led to his canonization.