Graduations at our High School Ministries

There are many more to come over this next month or so,
and we will update this post as each school celebrates.


Photos and excerpt adapted from the
St. Francis High School Facebook Page 05-18-2022 post:

The SFHS Valedictorian ~ Thomas Kashino receiving one of his many academic awards, presented by Br. Michael Duffy, OFM Conv. and Fr. Michael Sajda, OFM Conv.

“After two years of having little to no formal celebrations of the graduating classes due to the pandemic, we want to acknowledge this monumental return back to tradition and being together once more. Our current seniors were only freshmen the last time we were able to celebrate the Baccalaureate Liturgy.
Thank you to our school leaders, Assistant Principal Dr. Mary Lou Stahl, Dean of Students Mr. Joseph Krug, School Principal Br. Michael Duffy, OFM Conv. and President Fr. Michael Sadja, OFM Conv., who helped organize the receiving of the academic awards.”


Photo, video and excerpt adapted from the
St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic High School Facebook Page 05-14-2022 post:

Fr. Robert Schlageter, OFM Conv. (pastor), Fr. Manny Vasconcelos, OFM Conv. (parochial vicar), and Fr. Paul Pantiru, OFM Conv. (parochial vicar) serve the students of St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic High School, in pastoral leadership at St. Anne Catholic Church. Friar Robert and Friar Manny concelebrated the Baccalaureate Mass and High School Graduation.

In Fr. Robert’s final address to the Class of 2022 he expressed, “It is never too late to come Home to Christ. You are more than your worst moments or your worst choices. You are precious in our eyes and you are precious in God’s eyes. We are proud of you! … We are filled with so much hope for you.”


Photos and excerpt adapted from the
Archbishop Curley High School Facebook Page 05-26-2022 post:

The Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2022 took place on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, MD. As is the custom, the graduates filed past the tomb of Michael J. Curley, the 10th Archbishop of Baltimore (right). Our Lady of the Angels Province friar ~ Fr. Donald Grzymski, OFM Conv. ’70, president of Curley, was the main celebrant and homilist (pictured below presenting one of the students with one of the many awards earned by the Class of 2022 members).


Photos and excerpt adapted from the
Our Lady of Good Counsel High School Facebook Page 05-26-2022 post:

Graduation Mass for the Class of 2022 of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, in Olney, MD was presided over by Fr. Tom Lavin, OFM Conv. (at right), who serves the school as Chaplain, since August 2015. The 10:00 a.m. Graduation Ceremonies were livestreamed from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington DC. During his Homily, Friar Tom reminded the Graduates to, “always allow your Faith to be a foundation of your future.”


Video adapted from the
Bishop McNamara High School Facebook Page 05-26-2022 post:

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Br. Dan Lutolf, OFM Conv. serves as a Theology Instructor at Bishop McNamara High School.
Here is the video from the school’s Facebook page, of the “Bishop McNamara Baccalaureate 2022.”

Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.

Ascension by Pavlo Syrokvasha (Bila Tserkva, kiev, Ukraine) 1996

Truth re the Russia-Ukraine War and the Greco-Catholic Church

 It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set
by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit
has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses
…to the ends of the earth (Acts 1: 7-8)


At Ascension time, our minds cannot get around; our hearts break; our eyes cannot believe what we see in Ukraine since 24 February, the “dark” almost diabolical nature of Putin’s war. As a child I remember the strength and faith of my Ukrainian neighbors, I never doubted the Ukrainians would fight for their homeland, truth, and freedom. Poverty, newfound freedom after World War II, and living Greco-Catholic faith with devotion to Mary imbued them. In time, as artisans, they built a landmark replica[1] of the wooden Churches of the Greco-Catholic Church. With the drift towards secular modernity, Sacred Heart Church is a witness of faith.

In the West to be “academic” means to use scientific, objective methods, to study complex issues by following sources. Ukrainians are a separate Rite in the Catholic Church:

  1. In 1991, independent Ukraine an “unexpected nation” was born which surprised the West. Theology programs, religious studies and Church history have found that distinguishing between Ukraine and Russia is a problem. Why?
  2. The problem in post-Vatican II inspired ecumenical dialogue is a highly romanticized view of history and theology which carries the day with Western Ecumenists. In the dialogical endeavor, Ukraine disappears. Consequences?
  3. In scholarly works on the gift of Eastern Christianity, Ukraine is almost never mentioned. The Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and its influence on the Tsars and Soviet Union is the image of the “grand narrative.”
  4. The Christianization of Rus is the proper historical and theological terminology. Use Rusian,[2] Rusyan, or Kievan. A proper balance is reached by understanding the Romanov Empire (1613-1917) with its multi- ethnic and multi-religious parts.
  5. There is a Church of Moscow, the Muscovite Church, but it is erroneous to speak of the baptism of Russia. There was no “Russian Christianity” in the medieval period, in the time when the event known as “the Baptism of Rus 988” Ukraine is not part of the Church of Moscow. A superficial study of history fuels misinformation in the Western media.
  6. Worse is the role of the clergy in the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill, who function as Russian propaganda, willingly, as co-inventors of the concept of the so-called “Russian World” or “Russian Space” which they want the West to buy. They deny Ukrainian independence since 1991. They want Ukrainians under the Patriarch of Moscow.
  7. This has everything to do with the toxic “Russian World” ideology with its RACIST undertones and the claims over the neighboring nations like Ukraine and Belarus. A caveat to theologians and Church historians who have to address the aggregate of political and military constructions that only appear “benevolent.”

Eight tips for sounding the alarm:

  1. Overlooking a disciplined academic, scientific and objective study of the range of primary sources. That includes knowing the languages.
  2. Failing to step back enough for reflection on the complex issues.
  3. Lack of critical analysis of the political engagements over centuries.
  4. Being too willing to give a pass to the flawed military engagements.
  5. Insufficiency of moral engagement; to take Ukrainians for what they are.
  6. Deficiency in taking the deep view to history; weak fact checking; short cuts that rely on experts who publish in prestigious places.
  7. Failing to remember the famine, Holodomor in 1932-1933, under Stalin. Millions of Ukrainians died when food was kept from reaching them.
  8. Presupposing that the theology of the Greco-Catholic Church leaves nothing to be discovered, but only mixes Orthodox and Catholic theology.

Vatican II, Orientalium Ecclesiarum,[3] was approved on the same day as the engine driving the Council, Lumen Gentium. The Eastern Churches are held with high esteem for the institutions, liturgical rites, ecclesiatical traditions and their established standards of the Christian life. However, its cursoriness short changes Ukrainians their “union and difference” within the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government.

Ukraine is part of the Greco-Catholic Church. Today, the Catholic University in Lviv counters the Russian state and Russian narrative that dominates the media. Knowledge of the history and languages of the old Soviet Union means knowing many languages other than Russian. Reality has changed! There is a quagmire of colonialism. The Ukrainian war is global. To study, to teach, to reach understanding cannot be solely with a Russian lens or Russian markers as if Russia subsumed the existence of all of the old nations. Western universities need to sound the alarm, not condone, nor fail to identify the gift of difference.

The contemporary Ukrainian religious scene differs from religious life in Russia which is dominated by the Russian Orthodox Church and lacks any democratic character. The gift of the contemporary Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church and its future will be reached by studying Ukrainian Christianity on its own terms, with its democratic character.[4] To have finally arrived at the right question may not be much, but I hope it is not nothing.

Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.  


[1] Sacred Heart Church is in Johnson City, New York. I never cease to be moved by remembering history.
[2] Rusian, Rusyan, is the correct spelling. They are used interchangeably with Kievan.
[3] Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, and the Decree on the Churches of the Eastern Rite, 21 Nov. 1964.
[4] Special thanks to Rev. Dr. Yury Avvakumov, Univ. of Notre Dame theologian and historian.

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
Ascension 2022

5-25-222 Homily by Archbishop Hartmayer ~ Atlanta

During the May 25, 2022 Daily Mass at the Chancery of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, celebrated by Most Rev. Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., a friar of our province who serves as Archbishop of Atlanta, his homily speaks on prayerfulness at this time of unrest and grief in our world, and so much more.

Ordinary Provincial Chapter 2022

Pictured is an altered image of a Chapter at the Portiuncula (“Little Portion” as St. Francis called the St. Mary of the Angels chapel) from “The Little Flowers of St. Francis,” published in 1919 by J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. London. The book is an English translation by Thomas Okey of “I Fioretti di S. Francesco,” by Antonio Cesari (1822) of collected tales of St Francis of Assisi. Original stories were in Latin from about 150 years after the 1226 death of St Francis

Please keep the friars of our province in your prayers as their delegates gather this week for the Ordinary Provincial Chapter 2022. A modern Franciscan Chapter is reminiscent of the 1221 version when St. Francis of Assisi called more than 3,000 friars to come together as family, to the Portiuncula chapel, in Assisi, for a general meeting or “Chapter of Mats.” At that time, the friars lived in huts made from reeds and brought their sleeping mats with them, to the area surrounding the chapel to have a place to sit. Modern day friars, instead meet in a conference center, get to sit on actual chairs, and sleep in “real” beds. It is however still thought of as a coming together as a family, offering witness of brotherhood and celebrating Franciscan life. Days are filled with meetings, presentations as well as the much-needed work of organizing the general needs of the friars and ministries of the Province. Chapter is also a time to enjoy Franciscan Brotherhood. Our province is grateful to those to whom we minister, and all of those who prayerfully support our work, who are praying for our friar delegates, as well as the outgoing and incoming leadership. We will share some photos after the Ordinary Provincial Chapter 2022 (May 23-27, 2022).

Catching Up with Friar Nicholas in Japan

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Nicholas Swiatek, OFM Conv. (above center) serves as a parish priest for the Catholic Seto Church (dedicated to St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe), in Seto-Shi, Aichi-Ken, Japan. After his 1968 Ordination, Friar Nicholas spent six years serving in ministry in the USA, before heading to Japan to learn the language and serve as a Missionary. After 33 years ministering there, he returned to the USA in 2001 for just a decade before requesting to return to serve his beloved people of Japan. He will turn 81 in August and still is a strong presence among “his” people.
Joyfully, on Saturday, May 21, 2022,  in Tokyo’s Akabane Church, (dedicated to Our Lady of Assumption), the Most Reverend Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, S.V.D., the Archbishop of Tokyo ordained two friars to the Diaconate. Pictured above are Friar Timothy Maria Nakanori Kosuke, OFM Conv., Friar Nicholas and Friar Michael Toyama Akira, OFM Conv. after the historic moment shared by Friar Nicholas. It has been many years since the last Ordinations there. Friar Timothy and Friar Michael are both friars of the Japanese Province of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.

Mark Your Calendars ~ St. Anthony Festival

After several years without it due to the pandemic, the friars, staff, volunteers and pilgrims of our province’s Shrine of St. Anthony ministry, in Ellicott City, MD, are excited to again host the St. Anthony Festival, on Saturday, June 11, 2022! Guest presenter, Patrick Madrid is a noted author, apologist, and radio host for Relevant Radio. Patrick will be talking about the Eucharist and the biblical sources of Catholicism! The day will begin at 11:00 a.m. with Patrick’s first talk. All present will have the opportunity to gather for Noon Mass and Adoration until 3:00 p.m. Patrick will also give a second talk at 2:00 p.m. The Festival will end with a 4:00 p.m. Vigil Mass in the Chapel.
Mark your calendars and join us on this day as we celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony (June 13th).

Archbishop Curley H.S. Celebrates the Class of ’72

May 20, 2022: Our Baltimore, MD high school ministry ~ Archbishop Curley High School gathered to celebrate the Golden Friars Liturgy to honor the 50th Reunion of the Curley Class of 1972. The main celebrant of the Mass was the President of Curley & a member of the Class of ’70 ~ Fr. Donald Grzymski OFM Conv. (pictured below). Fr. Bart Karwacki, OFM Conv., the Guardian of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Friary, concelebrated with Friar Donald.
More photos can be found on the Archbishop Curley High School Facebook Page
Congratulations to Friar Lawrence and the rest of the Curley Class of 1972!
Included among the Curley’s class of ’72 honorees was Our Lady of the Angels Province friar ~ Br. Lawrence LaFlame, OFM Conv. (seated in the insert with some of his classmates in attendance). Friar Lawrence is a Theology and Philosophy Instructor at Curley. After graduating from Curley, and before he became a friar of our province, he served in the US Navy as a Sonarman. Fr. Lawrence holds a B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy as well as a M.A. in Theology. He spent 19 years teaching at our Athol Springs, NY high school ministry ~ St. Francis High School, where he taught Latin, Theology, and World History. Friar Lawrence, Friar Donald, and Friar Bart live in community with two more friars in the IHM Friary.