Apostolic Year 2020-2021

Three simply professed student friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province are in the Apostolic Year stage of Formation. Typically, each friar of our province spends a year in service and ministry, known as the Apostolic Year, prior to professing Solemn Vows.


Friar Franck Sokpolie, OFM Conv. (Professed Simple Vows – July 2016) will be serving the St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School community of St. Anne Catholic Church (Columbus, GA). Monday, August 10, 2020 marked the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. During the “Back-to-School Blessings,” the pastor of St. Anne Catholic Church, Fr. Robert Schlageter, OFM Conv. introduced friar Franck to the school community: Video. The school also posted a nice write up about Friar Franck: Post


Friar Richard Rome, OFM Conv. (Professed Simple Vows – July 2018) began his Apostolic Year in May 2020, as the Director of The Franciscan Center (Coal Township, PA), a ministry of the friars of Mother Cabrini Friary (Shamokin, PA). The Franciscan Center works to assist those living in the coal region to create s sustainable and promising future in the area. Read More


Our third student friar plans to spend his Apostolic Year with our friars of St. Bonaventure Friary (Toronto, ON). Once the US/Canadian Border reopens, Friar Timothy Blanchard, OFM Conv. (Professed Simple Vows – July 2016) will serve with our friars of Toronto in their varied ministries, including those of The Franciscan Church at St. Bonaventure and that of St. Clare Inn; community, care and shelter for homeless women with mental health issues along with support for their healing journey.


These young men have answered God’s Call to serve His people in the varied ministries of our province. Our friars serve in parishes, schools, shrines, universities, and as diocesan leadership. They are pastors, social workers, counselors, psychotherapists, scholars, chaplains, and nurses. They are on boards of universities, outreach facilities, service organizations social justice groups. They have each brought forth their individual God given gifts to share with their confreres in community, as well within the ministries they serve. If life as a Franciscan Friar Conventual seems like a great way to share yourself with God’s children, our Vocation Director, Br. Nick Romeo, OFM Conv. would love to hear from you. Contact him at vocations@olaprovince.org.

Pax et Bonum!

Student Presentation by Friar Rijo

Friar Rijo Mulavarickal Polachan, OFM Conv., of the Province of St. Maximilian Kolbe (INDIA) has been living and serving in our province since October 2019. He began his time in the USA with our friars of St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, serving in ministry at The Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD). In May 2020, he moved to Syracuse, NY where he lives with our friars of St. Francis Friary, assisting when he is able at the Franciscan Church of the Assumption, while studying Communications at Syracuse University, home to another one of our ministries – the Syracuse University Catholic Center.

Two friars of our province, the pastor of Assumption Church – Friar Rick Riccioli, OFM Conv., and one of our simply professed student friars who is on summer assignment at our pastoral ministry there – friar Raad Eshoo, OFM Conv. are featured in one of Friar Rijo’s video presentations for his studies. In it, he presents how one should enter into a church during this Corona Virus Pandemic:

  • masks on
  • registration
  • temperature check
  • follow social distancing
  • use hand sanitizer


Congratulations Curley Class of 2020!

Taken from the Archbishop Curley High School Facebook Page:


After an unusual senior year, the Class of 2020 received their diplomas at the 56th Commencement Exercises of Archbishop Curley High School (Baltimore, MD) on Friday, July 31, 2020.

To comply with all the covid-19 protocols, the ceremony was held in the 4-H Building of the Timonium Fairgrounds. The graduates and their parents and the faculty and staff were present, adequately distanced. The commencement speaker was General Paul Nakasone, Commander of the US Cyber Command, Director of the National Security Agency and Chief of the Central Security Service. He is the father of a Curley Alum and two of the 2020 Graduates.

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Christopher Dudek, OFM Conv. serves as Campus Minister, as well as a Theology & Modern Language Instructor. He led those in attendance in an opening prayer. Fr Donald Grzymski, OFM Conv. (Class of ’70), serves as President and offered his congratulations as he reflected on the Scripture reading during a concluding prayer service. Mr. Brian Kohler, Principal, and Friar Donald presented the diplomas and awards. In a private ceremony earlier in the summer, two of the graduates received their diplomas, as one was reporting to the Military Academy at West Point and the other was reporting to basic training.

Congratulations to the 142 graduates of the Class of 2020!

See photos and more on the accomplishments of the Class of 2020, on the Curley Facebook Page.

Congratulations Bro. Solanus Mary!


Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody of Our Lady of the Angels Province
August 2, 2020: Wexford, Ireland 

Bro. Solanus, a religious brother, was formerly a member of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Originally hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he commenced his three year ‘passaggio’ to the Conventual Franciscans in December 2016 and was accepted for Solemn Vows in March 2020. His profession was delayed due to the travel restrictions imposed by the governments because of the corona virus.
Bro. Solanus has been residing in the St. Francis Friary, in Wexford Town, Ireland, since July 2019. His Solemn Profession of Vows ceremony took place there on August 2, 2020,  during Holy Mass. The Provincial Custos of our Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody, Very Rev. Ciprian Budău, OFM Conv. travelled from England to receive the vows. The Wexford community, including Friar Aquino Maliakkal, OFM Conv. (Guardian), Friar Robert Cojoc, OFM Conv. and Friar Kazimierz Trzciński, OFM Conv. were in attendance, along with a visiting friar from Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Friary, in Oxford, England, Bro. Peter George Flynn, OFM Conv. (pictured below right)



Congratulations SFHS Class of 2020

Taken from the St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY)
Facebook Page, on Thursday – July 30, 2020:


After so many challenges this year, today we were finally able to give this amazing and talented class the commencement ceremony they deserve!
We held two ceremonies at Our Lady of Victory Basilica, the location we’ve traditionally used for decades. We followed all guidelines, took all precautions and made sure to keep everyone safe. The celebration may have been slightly different than past years, but it was in the same spirit and tradition that we have always conducted our ceremonies.
In true St. Francis style, we pulled it off!
Another BIG reason to celebrate? As a class, this group received 21 million dollars in scholarships and institution grants, the highest total in our school’s HISTORY!! Incredible!
We’d also like to take a moment to honor some of this year’s major award winners!

An extra special congratulations to each of the following students (and alumni). Each of you are truly deserving of the award you received and should be very proud:

Man Of The Year – Lucas E. Bell
St. Francis School Service Award – Mario J. Moretti
The Valedictorian Award – Benjamin T. Egloff
The Salutatorian Award – Aidan P. Reichenberg
The President’s Recognition Award – Alec P. Dobinski
The Principal’s Recognition Award – Hunter R. Oliver
The Creativity Award – Christopher J. Desiderio
The Sportsmanship Award – Alexander M. Dzimian
Artist of the Year – Benjamin M. Miller
Athlete of the Year – Ty M. Webb
Fr. Leon Krop, OFM Cony. Alumni Recognition Award – Steve Otremba

Today was such a wonderful day and congratulations to all 117 graduates! While this year may have presented each of you with extremely unique challenges, you handled it with incredible class and dignity. You rose to the occasion! You did EVERYTHING we would expect a St. Francis High School gentleman to do!
We are so so proud of each of you, and again, congratulations Class of 2020!

Congratulations to Friar Nicolay!

Congratulations to our Russian Confrere!

At noon on Thursday, July 30, 2020 the Holy See announced that Pope Francis has appointed Friar Nicolay Gennadevich Dubinin, OFM Conv. as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow. Our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. sent the following congratulatory message via email:
Dear Nikolay, Congratulations! The astonishing news of your appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Moscow has made my Franciscan heart leap for joy!… Actually I have a tear in my eye, as I think of you getting up at 2:00 in the morning to drive +Fr. Justin Biase, OFM Conv. and me to the airport on our last visit with you, shortly before Justin died. He must be looking down from heaven with great joy… I am mindful that St. Maximilian Kolbe once predicted that we would see the statue of the Immaculata in the centre of Moscow. Now we shall have a friar of Maximilian’s own Franciscan family in the centre of Moscow as Bishop. May the Immaculata cover you with her loving mantle… Be assured of prayers. James

The newly appointed Bishop, sent the following message to the OLA Friars on our Patronal Feast Day (August 2):
Dear Fr. James, Thank you very much for your message. Thank you for greetings, for your heartfelt words and for your friendship. I am proud to have been able to get to know you well, to stay together in the chapters and to have you guest in Russia. I remember dear +Fr. Justin; he was a very bright man and very good friar. I will live in St. Petersburg helping our archbishop in the north-west part of the diocese. My ordination will take place in Moscow on the 4th of October, St. Francis day. Today when you celebrate the feast of your province, I pray for you and for our friars in the USA. I hope you stay well. God bless you! Hope to see you! Nikolay

To read more about Nikolay, Click on this link:
New Conventual Bishop

2007: the late +Friar Justin Biase, OFM Conv. at left & Friar Nicolay Gennadevich Dubinin, OFM Conv. at right.

Solemn Feast of Our Lady of the Angels

Our Lady of the AngelsFour years ago (2016) marked the 800th Anniversary of the August 2nd Portiuncula Indulgence. You will notice that our province logo incorporates the Portiuncula graphic. This is because the Portiuncula (the small chapel of St. Mary of the Angels nicknamed “Little Portion” by St. Francis of Assisi) is located within Assisi’s Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Franciscans around the world celebrate August 2nd as the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Angels but we friars who are members of a province named in her honor, hold the day in special regard. 

This year (2020) August 2nd falls on a Sunday; the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. As such, the feast day will not be celebrated on August 2nd. For our province friars, our Patronal Feast Day will be transferred to Monday, August 3rd. There will be many opportunities to join our friars for live and virtual celebrations throughout the twenty-one Diocese in which the friars of our province live and minister. We encourage all to find a ministry location nearest to you, to join with us in celebrating Our Lady.
Visit our ministry
locations page for links to our various ministries’ websites. 

In the words of our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv.:
“May Our Lady intercede for each friar,
for all of our fraternal communities,
and for all of the people whom it is our humble privilege to serve
in the various ministries where we are engaged.”


More on the Feast Day and Il Perdono (the Portiuncula Indulgence):
The small chapel of St. Mary of the Angels (Our Lady of the Angels) was very dear to St. Francis of Assisi. He referred to it as the Portiucula (aka “Little Portion” and pictured at right) and it is considered the cradle of the Franciscan Order. In 1209, as the quarters of Rivo Torto became too small for the newly forming Religious Order, St. Francis obtained from the Benedictines the use of the Portiuncula, for which he paid a basket of fish. The chapel and the surrounding small parcel of land were is disrepair. Just as he had done at San Damiano, St. Francis rebuilt the chapel, adding small huts (cells) and enclosing it all in a protective hedge. It was there that St. Francis gained a more vivid understanding of his own vocation. He held the annual meetings of the friars (Chapters) there and it is where he desired to spend his final earthly moments; dying in his nearby cell October 3, 1226.
St. Francis felt that the Portiuncula was a place filled with God’s grace. In 1216, at the request of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Honorius granted special privilege (plenary indulgence – a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins) to all those who would visit the little chapel.
Although limited to include from noon on August 1st to midnight on August 2nd, the privilege continues to be granted to this day; not only to those who visit the Portiuncula, but to anyone who visits any church where Franciscan Friars live and minister. To receive this privilege (for yourself or for someone else – living or deceased), in addition to the visit, one must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation within several weeks of the Feast Day, go to Mass and receive the Eucharist, recite the Our Father and Apostles Creed, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
The beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (below) that now surrounds the Portiuncula chapel was begun in 1569 (completed in 1684) by decree of Pius V. It was meant to accommodate the huge crowds of pilgrims who came on August 2nd for Il Perdono (Portiuncula Indulgence). This is an important feast day for all Franciscans and is celebrated in Franciscan churches throughout the world.

Novice Retreat with Friar Marek

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Marek Stybor, OFM Conv. (pictured above in center and bottom right) serves our province as Parochial Vicar at our pastoral ministry of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church (Point Pleasant Beach, NJ). This month, he facilitated a retreat entitled “The Soul’s Journey into God,” for the Novitiate Class of 2020/2021, at InterProvincial Novitiate in Arroyo Grande, CA. This is the first retreat for this new class of Novices, since their July 5, 2020 Investiture. More photos can be found on the Novitiate Facebook Page. This new class appreciates your continued prayers, as they hold all of you in theirs.

Novitiate Class of 2020/2021 pictured left to right above: Friar Jonathan García Zenteno, OFM Conv. [Our Lady of the Angels Province], Friar Anthony Ruffolo, OFM Conv. [St. Bonaventure Province], Friar Michael Boes, OFM Conv. [Our Lady of the Angels Province], Friar Bram De Backer, OFM Conv. [Our Lady of the Angels Province], Friar Edgar Varela, OFM Conv. [Our Lady of the Angels Province], and Friar Wayne Mulei, OFM Conv. [St. Joseph Cupertino Province]

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Checking in with friar Raad

Now spending the summer with our friars serving in Syracuse, NY, friar Raad Eshoo, OFM Conv., a simply professed student friar of our province, was afforded the opportunity to share his story with Friar Rick, during a recent Tau Talks; monthly online inspiring conversation through Assumption Church.

If you would like more information on life as a Franciscan Friar Conventual of Our Lady of the Angels Province, email our Province Vocation Director, Br. Nick Romeo, OFM Conv. at vocations@olaprovince.org.