FMA Book Distribution to Ghanaian Seminary

Monday, July 1, 2019: In the presence of most our the Our Lady of the Angels Province Definitors, Novice Christopher M. Fernández & FMA staff members – Reilly Gates and Joseph Hamilton – Director of Mission Advancement (below), our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. and our Province Secretary, Fr. Richard-Jacob Forcier, OFM Conv. blessed nearly 6,000 philosophy and theology books bound for the Order’s seminary in Accra, Ghana (left). Collected over the course of three months through the Province Franciscan Mission Association (FMA) office, locted in Ellicott City, MD, these books were donated by friars, friaries, and ministries of our province, as well as friaries of other North American Franciscan Friars Conventual Provinces, and Diocesan friends of friars. The effort to collect books for the seminary in Ghana has exceeded our effort two years ago to collect books for the seminary in Sri Lanka.

Renewal of Vows ~ friar Franck & friar Timothy

Three years ago, on July 21, 2016, after completing their time in the Novitiate, friar Franck Lino Sokpolie, OFM Conv. and friar Timothy Blanchard, OFM Conv. first professed their Simple {Temporary} Vows; choosing to live as a Franciscan Friar Conventual for a period of three years.  Most often, Simple Vows will be renewed at least once during a friar’s Post-Novitiate years of continuing study and formation. Solemn Vows are perpetual and are not professed until after the friar completes all stages of formation. The time between the temporary and perpetual vow profession is also the formation period when friars reflect as to whether they wish to live as a friar priest or friar brother. 

As the first three years come to a close, Our Lady of the Angels Province joyfully announces that in the presence of many of their confreres, friar Franck and friar Tim, both chose to profess their Renewal of Vows on Monday, July 1, 2019, during Evening Prayer, in the Portiuncula Friary Chapel (Provincial House).

Witnessed by Fr. Paul Schloemer, OFM Conv., a friar of Our Lady of Consolation Province who serves as Co-Director of the St. Bonaventure Friary Post Novitiate – Silver Springs, Maryland, and Fr. Mark Szanyi, OFM Conv., Prefect of Formation for our Province who serves as pastor of St. Lucie Catholic Church – Port St. Lucie, Florida, the Vow Renewals were received by our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv.

On hand to celebrate with friar Franck and friar Timothy were most of the members of our Province Definitory: Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv. (Vicar Provincial), Fr. Richard-Jacob Forcier, OFM Conv. (Province Secretary), Fr. Jude Surowiec, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Professor at the College of Our Lady of the Elms – Chicopee, MA), Br. Tom Purcell, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Executive Director of  St. Clare Inn – Toronto, ON), Fr. Gary Johnson, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Director of the San Damiano Friary Post Novitiate – San Antonio, TX), and Fr. Eric de la Pena, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Director of the Shrine of St. Anthony – Ellicott City, MD). Also present were Fr. Stephen King, OFM Conv. (Associate at the Shrine of St. Anthony – Ellicott City, MD), Christopher M. Fernández who is on his way to our InterProvincial Novitiate to be Invested in our habit July 17, 2019, as well as two of their friary-mates, friar Bede Thigpen, OFM Conv. (a student friar of St. Bonaventure Province) and Friar Israel Arauz-Rosiles, OFM Conv. (a solemnly professed student friar of St. Joseph Cupertino Province).

Celebratory Fraternity (friar Tim – far right & friar Franck – second to right)


Congratulations Friar Nader!

From June 3-28, 2019, Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Nader Ata, OFM Conv. took a Four Week Intensive Pastoral Spanish Course. at the Mexican American Catholic College, in San Antonio, Texas. The High Intermediate program engaged the students in classroom conversation, phonetics training, grammar skills and most imporantly – pastoral vocabulary.
After a short break, Friar Nader will head to Brooklyn, New York to beging his new pastoral assignment as parochial vicar at the Roman Catholic Church of Most Holy Trinity – St. Mary.

Congratulationsto the whole class!

Fr. Nader’s Homily from the June 28, 2019 Graduation Mass.

Meet Our Postulants 2019

July 1, 2019: Today, our new postulants begin their year of postulancy. Two of them, Michael and Edgar will be experiencing it in our St. Bonaventure Friary – Postulancy, in Chicago, Illinois; home to postulants from all four Franciscan Friars Conventual Provinces of North America. Our third postulant – Jonathan, begins his postulancy with our province at our St. Bonaventure Friary, in Silver Spring, Maryland (House of Post Novitiate Studies); home to our student friars who have already been through the postulant and novice stages of formation. As Jonathan had been a professed member of our Order a few years ago (in Mexico), we felt this community of friars would best fit his year of postulancy with us, while also affording Jonathan the opportunity to study English at the LADO International Institute.

Hello my name is Michael Boes. I’m 39 years old, from Scotch Plains, NJ. I currently work as a teacher’s assistant for Autistic teenagers. I’ve worked with Special Needs children for four years, which has increased in me a desire to serve the vulnerable. My contact with the Conventual Franciscan community started through communication with a Friar in the community on social media, which was followed by the chance to meet more friars through a retreat. My very first draw and attraction to this community is the authenticity and deep love for one another in community, along with an authentic love for Christ, I experienced in the friars. The Lord has drawn me to completely give my life over to a life of prayer, community, and service in the Church and I’m excited to begin this journey.

Hi, I’m Jonathan Garcia Zenteno from Mexico. I’m 34 years old; graduated from the Franciscan University of Mexico, with a degree in Philosophy. Previously, I was with the Conventual Franciscan family in the province of Mexico. Later I started working as a teacher in a religious monastery in Chiapas. I also was a documentary researcher for the XI District of the State of Chiapas and the Director of Logistics in a Civil Association. I seek to serve God from his church and particularly from the Franciscan family; I count on your prayers on this journey of self-surrender to God. Peace and good.

My name is Edgar Varela and I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. I am 34 years old. I previously discerned with the Carmelites and first met the Conventuals during my studies at Loyola University in Chicago, IL, and at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Afterwards, I had the desire to further pursue my discernment in a religious and fraternal setting. I reached out to this province since I was impressed and touched with the fraternity I saw in the Conventuals I met at school and while enjoying each other’s company in their friaries. In my free time, I enjoy going on a hike, listening to music, playing volleyball, and occasionally experimenting in the kitchen cooking and baking. Paz y bien.


Thank you for your prayers this year for vocations. Please keep them going! 

This is an exciting month for Vocations and our province. Our postulants will be formally received by our Minister Provincial this week. This month, Christopher Fernandez, this past year’s postulant, moved to our Order’s Novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California. He will be Invested into our habit on July 17, 2019.  Our last year’s Novices, friar Antonio Moualeu, OFM Conv., friar Raad Eshoo, OFM Conv. and friar Joseph Krondon, OFM Conv. will Profess their Simple Vows (First / Temporary) during our Province Jubiliarian Mass celebration at our Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, Maryland, on July 22, 2019. In August, friar Antonio and friar Raad will move to the San Damiano Friary, in San Antonio, Texas (House of Post Novitiate Studies) and friar Joseph will move onto Silver Spring.

Simple Vows are first professed after a friar has completed his Novitiate, choosing to live as a Conventual Franciscan for a period of three years.  The norm is that Simple Vows will be renewed at least once during his Post-Novitiate years of study, which usually last about four years. Solemn Vows are not professed until the friar in formation has completed a Fraternal Apostolic Experience. Today, we will also joyfully celebrate the Renewal of Simple Vows with two of our student friars: friar Franck Lino Sokpolie, OFM Conv. and friar Timothy Blanchard, OFM Conv.

We ask all of you to keep encouraging men to consider our way of life. Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv, our Province Director of Vocations, is available via email ( or phone (718-510-5822).

SFHS to Host “Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz”

Our Athol Springs, NY high school ministry of St. Francis High School (SFHS), in conjunction with a few Buffalo – South Town parishes, will host “Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz,” on Thursday, August 15, 2019 (the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary). Admission will be free.
Our Lady of the Angels Province friar and president of SFHS, Fr. Michael Sajda, OFM Conv. was approached by Fr. Bill Quinlivan (pastor of St. Martin of Tours and St. Thomas Aquinas) to see if SFHS would be available to be one of the sites for this production.
The Diocese of Buffalo is supportive and will provide some of the funding needed to put on the production. SFHS has also procured an additional sponsor. Once all details are finalized, it is planned that there will be four performance opportuntites in the area: August 14th – St. Martin of Tours, August 15th – St. Francis High School, August 17th – Niagara University, and they are looking at Canisius College for August 16th. 

The event is being held in response to New York State extending the look back period.  It is the hope that this play will encourage the faithful and inspire them with hope.

Sacred Heart of Jesus ~ Day of Prayer for Priests

Sacred Heart of Jesus by Jason Jenicke

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (in the Roman Catholic Liturgical calendar since 1856) is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday; always falling on a Friday. This year, it falls on June 28, 2019.
In 2002 St. Pope John Paul II established that, on this day each year, the church will also observe the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests.

St. Francis of Assisi always had a great respect and admiration for priests because it is from their hands that Jesus gives us His Body and Blood, in the Eucharist. Let us join the Church in prayer, praying in gratitude for the gift of the Priesthood as well as for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
Please join us as we pray for priests and all consecrated religious.  Perhaps your prayer may invite you to consider discernment as a Franciscan Friar Conventual Brother or Priest.

Our altar of gold is the Heart of Christ.
We must enter into the Holy of Holies,
which is this same Heart of Jesus,
and gather up the riches of His love.

~St Anthony of Padua

Duke Catholic Center Pilgrimage

Duke student pilgrims, along with staff from the Duke Catholic Center – including Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Michael Martin, OFM Conv. (Director), Sr. Mary Peter Ryan, FSE (Director of Retreats and Pilgrimages), Ms. Catherine Preston (Campus Minister for Faith Development), and Mr. Andrew Witchger (Director of Music) in the cortile of the Basilica Papale e Sacro Convento di San Francesco.

In May 2019, for the first time, our Campus Ministry at the Duke Catholic Center hosted its own Assisi/Rome Pilgrimage for students, thanks in part to a grant from our friars’ Fr. Justin Ministry Fund. Reflecting on Franciscan themes, the six days in Assisi included trips to the Carceri, La Verna and Greccio. The pilgrims then spent four days in Rome.

One student pilgrim noted:  “I went into the pilgrimage praying that God would open my heart to vocational discernment but afraid of what He might ask of me. My prayer was answered in the ten days of pilgrimage and my heart is more open than it has ever been! And while that fear remains, something about walking in the footsteps of Saint Francis and Saint Clare and praying in such sacred places has made me aspire to greater trust, faith, and love.”

Friar Michael expresses gratitute to his confreres of our province for the help in allowing some of the Duke Catholic Center students to witness Christ’s presence through a Franciscan lens. He sends a special thanks to Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Dan Quackenbush, OFM Conv. for an awesome tour and for facilitating some more special moments. (Friar Dan serves as an English speaking pilgrim guide at the Basilica.)

Summer at our Shrines

Our National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine and Historic Site (Fonda, NY) will celebrate the annual weekend of festivities surrounding the Feast Day of their Patron Saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, July 13-14, 2019. The Shrine is a very unique property ~ “a sacred place of peace and healing; a place of history and holiness.” This is the best time to visit the Shrine. From May 1st through October 31st, Masses are celebrated on the weekends, all of the aspects of the property are open daily (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). Don’t count out the cold months though. From November 1st through April 30th, weather permitting – pilgrims and visitors can still visit the Candle Chapel, outdoor sanctuary, Caughnawaga Village Site, Kateri Spring, and hiking trails, from dawn to dusk. However, there are no Masses available, the Saint Peter’s Chapel, the museum, and public bathrooms are closed, and the gift shop is only open by appointment.
Beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, lovingly known as the Lily of the Mohawks and the first Native American woman to be honored with sainthood, was canonized on October 21, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI. In his homily, Pope Benedict stated, “Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!

Saturday, July 13, 2019
10:00 a.m. Opening Thanksgiving Address by Bernice Lazore
10:15 a.m. Four Directions Sacred Plants smudging with music by Kateri Native Ministry of Ottawa
10:30 a.m. Welcome by Fr. Tim Lyons, OFM Conv. and Rita Gullion
11:00 a.m. Guest Speaker Kay Olan
12:00 noon Lunch break
12:30 p.m. Guest Speaker Kay Olan
1:45 p.m. Testimonials – What Kateri means to each of us
3:00 p.m. Closing – Prayer to St. Kateri
4:00 p.m. Confession available
4:30 p.m. Vigil Mass with Traditional Purification Rite (smudging) and Solemn Blessing with the relic of Saint Kateri. Music by Kateri Native Ministry of Ottawa
7:00 p.m. Prayer and healing circle with Terry Steele in Grassmann Hall

Sunday, July 14, 2019
10:00 a.m. Confession available
10:30 a.m. The Most Reverend Edward Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany will celebrate the Feast Day Mass with Traditional Purification Rite (smudging) and Solemn Blessing with the relic of Saint Kateri.

Donations of non-perishable food items are being collected all weekend for the Food Pantry.

There are many more events and celebrations happening at our National Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine and Historic Site throughout the summer, including their 21st Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Peach Conference, August 16 & 17, 2019. Visit the Shrine’s “News & Events” webpage for more details.

Catholic Transcript: JulyAugust 2019 Article on the Fonda Shrine


Our Shrine of St. Anthony, Little Portion Farm & Carrollton Hall Historic Site (Ellicott City, MD) is also a very unique property. This site is situated on historic land, previously part of the vast Maryland property owned by the Charles Carroll family, known as Folly Quarter. The manor house known as Carrollton Hall was the home of Emily Caton McTavish (+1867), a favorite granddaughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (+1832), one of four Marylanders to sign the Declaration of Independence and the ONLY Roman Catholic. Members of the Carroll family have served the U.S. in government and as benefactors of religious orders & universities, even giving the land needed to create the U.S. Capital in Washington, DC. A cousin of Charles Carroll, Baltimore’s Bishop John Carroll, SJ, became the nation’s first Catholic Bishop. The manor house, gifted Emily by Charles, has served in many capacities through the years, including as a seminary for our friars. It is now in the midst of being lovingly restored and will serve as an historic cultural center dedicated to Faith, Family and Country.
Little Portion Farm is a part of our province JPIC Office. Located on the same property, this 3-acre agro-ecosystem produces food donated to the Franciscan Center in Baltimore. It also serves as a place of gathering, service, reflection and education ~ “cultivating a deeper appreciation of the beauty of the natural world and its interconnectedness, and realizing the Catholic call to serve the most vulnerable and protect creation.
The center piece of this site is our Shrine of St. Anthony. Home to our friars for over 70 years, it was dedicated as a Shrine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2005. Join our friars to celebrate Daily Mass, Adoration or Special Prayer Services in the Shrine’s Chapel. with multiple opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation available throughout the week.  Explore the Grounds which include Pray Paths, Outdoor Stations of the Cross, an Open Air St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv. Shrine, and a beautiful Grotto of Our Lady.  The Shrine also houses a Major Relic of St. Anthony of Padua, given to the friars of our province as a gift from our confreres in Padua, Italy. A special ceremony of reception of the relic took place in the Fall of 2000. The relic, and the unique reliquary that holds it, can be found in the Chapel which is open to the public for prayers and reflection. Be sure to check out the Shrine’s online calendar to see what is happening when you come to visit.

After Mass on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady & St. Anthony’s Birthday (August 15th),
stay and share some cake with the friars, staff, volunteers and pilgrims.

The lower level of the Shrine’s building is also home to our Companions of St. Anthony ministry. You may have received one of our prayer book or religious goods mailings from this office which serves the province mission advancement, evangelization and development efforts. Visit their website for more information, including a page dedicated to Fr. Jude’s Daily Reflections. {Fr. Jude Winkler, OFM Conv. is a friar of our province who serves as CFF (Conventual Franciscan Federation) Assistant General of our Order.}
One this property, you will also find our province’s Solar Panel Array and our Provincial House Offices (Administration, Finance Office and Healthcare Ministry of the Province).

Fr. James’ Homily – Seraphicum Year End Mass

Saturday, June 22, 2019: The closing ceremony of the 115th academic year of the Pontificia Facoltà Teologica “San Bonaventura” Seraphicum with a Mass of Thanksgiving and dinner in the park. The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by  our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. Among the concelebranti was Bishop Vincent Van Long Nguyen, OFM Conv., the Bishop of Parramatta in Australia, who, after his priestly ordination in 1989, was sent to further studies at the Seraphicum, where he was awared a licentitate in Christology and Spirituality. Fr. James’ Homily

More photos from the day.