CUA – Spring Break Service Trips

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar and Associate Chaplain for the CUA Faculty & Staff, Fr. Louis Maximilian Smith, OFM Conv. alongside the participants on the Rural Appalachian Service Immersion, in West Virginia.

Our province contributes to the Service & Justice Immersion Program at the Catholic University of America (CUA). Our donation helps keep the cost down; making the program accessible to students from more diverse economic backgrounds. This year, CUA students were able to engage in immersion trips outside the USA to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, as well as trips to the Appalachian region of West Virginia, Philadelphia-PA, El Paso-TX, and Apopka-FL. The program has expanded through the years to facilitate more experiences, opening the participants’ eyes to different realities, struggles and gifts of communities far from their home. These experiences fall right in line with our Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) charism; inspiring the participants to get more involved in social justice.

From volunteering with children to farming with migrants, the students were able to experience different cultures and learn ways to live in solidarity with the poor and marginalized. The students who traveled to rural West Virginia learned about the environmental impacts of mining, and also worked with various social services. Some students lived with migrant families in Florida, while working on the farms with them, and learning more about the challenges immigrants face in the United States. A group of students also went to Jamaica and worked with the Missionaries of the Poor and the Passionist volunteers.

Since returning to campus, many of the student participants have begun volunteering in the Washington, DC area. In just a few weeks, another set of students will travel to Belize and El Salvador for Summer Immersion Trips. Your support of our friars helps our continued support of programs affiliated with our varied ministries. We currently have four friars serving the students, faculty, staff and visitors of The Catholic University of America through the Campus Ministry Office:
Fr. Jude DeAngelo, OFM Conv. (University Chaplain & Director of Campus Ministry),
Fr. Andrzej Brzeziński, OFM Conv. (Associate Chaplain for Faith Development),
Fr. Louis Maximilian Smith, OFM Conv. (Associate Chaplain for University Faculty and Staff),
and 
Fr. Albert Puliyadan, OFM Conv. (Associate Chaplain for Liturgy and Worship).
Our province also has several student friars in study at CUA, and together with our friars in ministry, they help to enhance CUA’s Campus Ministry as a place where friends soon become family, expanding the capacity to serve and love others, while finding the freedom to take a deeper dive into what it means to live a life of faith.
Learn more about Campus Ministry at CUA

Congratulations Friar Michael!

In the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) Weekly Newsletter Published April 1, 2019: “Doing Something New”, the FAN Board of Directors announced Our Lady of the Angels Province friar – ​Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv​. as their newly elected president.

Born in Baltimore, MD, Friar Michael professed his Solemn Vows in our Order in 1998, and was Ordained to the Priesthood in 2000. He began his ministry in the province as a teacher in 1997, at St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY), took a break from ministry to earn his M.Div. and get ordained, and returned to the high school to teach from 2000-2005. He spent the next five years as Campus Minister, at Western Connecticut State University, in Danbury, CT. In 2010, he began a two year assignment in NY as Regional Director for the Americas, of Franciscans International, working at the United Nations to address human rights injustices that impact on the poor and most vulnerable. After spending time in Spanish Studies, in Bogota, Columbia, he served as the Parish Administrator and Campus Minister of Newman Student Center Parish, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC). Upon moving to our friary in Washington DC, he joined the FAN Board of Directors in 2014 and had served them as vice president for the last four years.
Friar Michael currently resides in our St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, adjacent to our Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD), where he also provides sacramental assistance when he is able. He serves as chairman of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission (JPIC) of our Province, using his gift for preaching, flair for presentation and generosity of spirit to reach out to everyone he meets. From an office in the Shrine, he also works as the Director of Little Portion Farm, on the property of the Shrine. His love for justice for all has no limitation; no matter what faith or cultural background ideals are held by those around him.

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Helping to Turn Strangers into Neighbors

Franciscan Friars Conventual Responding to Real Needs –
Helping to Turn Strangers into Neighbors

On February 21, 2017, Pope Francis in an address to the VI International Forum: Migration and Peace, felt compelled to address the nature of contemporary migratory movements, which increases challenges presented to the political community, civil society and to the Church, and which amplifies the urgency for a coordinated and effective response to these challenges. Our shared response, according to our Holy Father Francis, “may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”
Have you ever wondered what it is like living in a world, city, or local neighborhood, where your very presence arouses contempt, suspicion, prejudice or common indecency? Where judgements are made of you based on the tone of your skin, the first language you speak or the accent present in your words? Where you as the stranger are literally untrusted, despised or rejected? Where your description begins with a negative – illegal? Where the term friend, neighbor, brother or sister are unspoken?
Sometimes we forget that the words we choose to identify another person do make a difference in whether they meet with our approval, are treated with respect and dignity or vilified and turned away.
Ever given a second thought, to what is to be in hand to enter your child’s school, pick-up a pharmacy prescription, enter a hospital, sit in a library or present when you use a credit card?
Ever question, why we do what we do to others who like ourselves are merely looking for opportunity and means to provide for themselves and those they love and care for?
Most of us perhaps fail to ponder and take for granted that when a person, be they an officer of the law, pharmacist, teacher, sports coach or cashier, ask for a picture identification we readily show a driver’s license, passport or BJ’s / Costco ID which has a picture, address and baseline information stating who we are and where we live. It is not so easy for everyone. Essentially, it is the reality of tens of thousands reaching into the millions now living within our country’s borders, cities, villages, towns and rural areas. They are the souls we greet in the market, on the streets, in our churches, work places and gatherings. They are the anawim of God, loved and cherished by Jesus, and named by him as our brothers and sisters.
As part of small but growing effort, the Blessed Sacrament Faith Community and the Franciscan Friars Conventual together with the local Burlington Police Chief, law enforcement officers, and a dedicated group of volunteers representing various religious traditions and families came together two years ago – May 2015 – hoping to make a meaningful dent into a lived problem. Namely, “How to help turn strangers into neighbors”. The result of our coming together was the formation of the Faith ID Card Task Force of Alamance County.

With financial and moral support from the Conventual Friars of Our Lady of Angels and Our Lady of Consolation Provinces and the approval of Bishop Burbidge, then Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh, we setup a specialized FAITH ID CARD PROGRAM linked to an expanding program here in North Carolina known as the FaithAction Network.

So What Is A Faith ID Card Program?
An ID card is just a piece of plastic until a person gives it a face and story, and our community gives the card value. We believe each person in our community, regardless of race, culture, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration or socio-economic status has inherent dignity and worth, and is deserving of a valid form of identification.  At this particularly divisive time in state and national politics on issues of immigration and diversity, community ID programs bring greater dignity, access and hope to our newest neighbors, while building safer, more inclusive and united communities for all.
The Faith ID Card Program is a connected group of faith communities, nonprofits, and grassroots movements that recognize the urgency of valid ID cards for members of our community who may have limited access to government issued forms of identification, and the importance of creating a unified model and vetting process that community partners (law enforcement, health centers, schools, businesses, and other city agencies) can trust and use to better identify, serve, and protect all residents in cities across North Carolina and the United States.

The Blessed Sacrament Faith ID Card Program is part of the FaithAction ID Network. We are proud to say we are the first franchise so to speak. We call ourselves In the past two years the network has experienced tremendous growth and community ID programs now exist in Guilford, Alamance, Forsyth, Randolph, Orange, and Mecklenburg counties, and may soon be expanding to Wake, Moore, Montgomery, and other counties throughout North Carolina and there is a satellite sponsored by Catholic Charities in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Network members agree to utilize the same community ID model to ensure the integrity and further the growth of new and existing programs.  Shared hallmarks of FaithAction ID network programs include:

  • Ensuring each program has a strong home base that can effectively communicate and coordinate a community ID drive with staff and volunteers
  • Utilizing the same policies, procedures, and vetting process to receive an ID card
  • Ensuring partnership with local law enforcement and other community partners who formally agree to support the program and attend ID drives
  • Utilizing the 4 stage ID drive model in a large, safe space (welcome, orientation, document check, photo/computer intake)
  • Facilitating dialogue throughout the ID drive between ID participants and law enforcement and other community partners with the goal of building greater understanding, trust and cooperation
  • Providing the same or similar look as other network programs on the front of the card, and signifying you are a part of the FaithAction ID network on the back
  • Printing and distributing hundreds of ID cards within two weeks of each drive, and securing the personal information of all participants
  • Participating in monthly calls to share experiences and best practices with other network programs

*There may be some flexibility and unique characteristics of each program, depending on the needs of each community. *All participants must attend a mandatory orientation at an ID drive, and provide proof of photo identification (passport, foreign national ID card, driver’s license, matricula consular) and proof of address (utility bill, bank statement, current rental agreement, medical record) in order to receive an ID card from a FaithAction ID Network member.
Finally, network members believe it is crucial we continue to work for a driver’s license for all residents at the state level, as well as lasting immigration reform at the federal level.  In the meantime, we believe community ID programs represent a very important step forward in creating safer, more inclusive, and united communities for all – a much needed example of positive collaboration at this divided time in our nation’s history.

In closing let me say, Thank You, to our Conventual Franciscan Provinces’ leadership and members for helping make this program possible. To date, the Faith ID Card Program here in Burlington, NC, has distributed over 5000 Faith ID Cards. Without your financial and fraternal support, the effort might never have gotten off the ground. The challenge now is to keep moving forward towards the realization of its mission and vision, a place where strangers become neighbors.

Respectfully submitted by,
Fr. Paul Lininger, OFM Conv.
Blessed Sacrament Church, Pastor

 

An article entitled, “Community ID Program Builds trust between migrants and police,” by Maria Benevento, appeared in the April 5, 2019 online edition of the National Catholic Reporter. To read the full article, click on the following link: ID Card Program

Lenten Mission – St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church

In English with Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. – Our Lady of the Angels Province JPIC Chairman

St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church (under the pastoral leadership of Our Lady of the Angels Province friars, Fr. John Zoziol, OFM Conv. – Pastor, Fr. Vincent Gluc, OFM Conv. – Parochial Vicar, Fr. Luis Palacios Rodriguez, OFM Conv. – Parochial Vicar and Fr. Martin Breski, OFM Conv. – in Residence) celebrated a Lenten Parish Mission on March 23-27, 2019 with the theme: “Racism: Moving through Resistance to Reconciliation.
The Parish Mission was presented in English by Friar Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. (Our Province Chairman of JPIC – Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation) and in Spanish by Fray (Friar) Fabián Esteban Arrieta Botero, OFM Conv. (Vocation Director for the Franciscanos Conventuales Friars – Columbia – and Parochial Vicar for Immaculate Conception Parish in Filandia, Colombia). Friar Michael and Friar Fabián began the Mission by preaching during all of the weekend Masses, then preached during the Morning Masses, Monday-Wednesday, followed by Mission talks after each Mass. The 7:00 p.m. evening presentations were followed by a reception.

In Spanish by Fr. Fabián Esteban, OFM Conv. – Franciscan Friars Conventual of Columbia Vocation Director

Day 1: Refining Our Images of Jesus –
Turning the Other Cheek and Non-Violent Resistance with Friar Michael
~ In Spanish with Friar Fabián ~

Day 2: Images of Reconciliation: The Cross and Mary  –
Two Difficult Stories to Hear: The Lynching Tree, and Our Lady of Guadalupe with Friar Michael

~ In Spanish with Friar Fabián ~

Day 3: Seeing through Tears of Faith and  Responding with Broken Hearts of Love –
MLK on Racism: An Examination of Conscience with Friar Michael

~ In Spanish with Friar Fabián ~

Photo and Video Credit:
Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Martin Breski, OFM Conv.
who is currently in residence at the friary, assisting at the parish.

JPIC News


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