caRe vaN ~ Continuing Service

The Pandemic has not stopped the outreach efforts of many of our ministries, including the College of Our Lady of the Elms caRe vaN; the mobile health care van brainchild of Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Br. Michael Duffy, OFM Conv. (DNP, ANP-BC), who serves as Associate Dean and Director of Undergrad Prog. of the School of Nursing. The caRe vaN has served the community surrounding Elms College since January 13, 2013.  Developed as the Capstone for Friar Duffy’s DNP, the caRe vaN provides free healthcare to the homeless and under-served in the Chicopee (MA) area, while allowing pre-licensure students clinical experience. Services include blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, foot care, first aide and minor wound care. For now, services have had to be adjusted, and are provided on the parking lot outside of the van, so that all can safely practice social distancing. Screenings, vitamins (C and zinc), acetaminophen, as well as the simple comforts of coffee and a snack are still being provided for the most vulneralbe.

“The poor you will have with you always. The last Sunday of each month is particularly hard on the homeless. In addition we have been getting Vitamin C, Zinc and acetaminophen out to our clients. Thank you all for your support.”
For more information or to make a donation to this effort, please email Brother Duffy, at bro_duffy@hotmail.com.


For more on our many outreach projects of our ministries throughout our province, follow our Facebook Page.

1st Planting 2020 ~ Little Portion Farm

March 4, 2020: Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. and Little Portion Farm manager Matt Jones organized a ceremony for blessing the season’s “First Planting” at our Little Portion Farm in Ellicott City – the produce of which will all be donated to the Franciscan food center in Baltimore.

March for Life 2020

In January of 1974, the first of the Annual March for Life walks on Washington DC began, to lobby Congressional leadership to find a legislative solution to the Supreme Court’s decision to make abortion legal – on demand – throughout the United States in the decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Soon after realizing congressional protection of the unborn was not on the horizon, the decision was made to hold a March for Life every year until Roe v. Wade is overturned. The theme for this 47th March for Life was “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.”

The March for Life is an inspiring, peaceful. Vibrant, and joy-filled rally of women, men, young people, and children from all across the country. Every year, tens of thousands of pro-lifers converge on the National Mall and march on Capitol Hill on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized abortion in all 50 states. It’s the largest annual human rights demonstration in the world. But this is not just a protest… TOGETHER, WE GATHER TO CELEBRATE LIFE. We celebrate each and every life, from the moment of conception. We envision a world where every life is celebrated, valued, and protected.”

Every year, our friars join with the people they serve to March as representative of those who have no voice; honoring life from conception to natural death. This year our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. was able to join a few of our ministries’ groups present. There were many more in attendance along with the estimated 225,000 participants, so it was amazing he was able to find these in the crowds.

Fr. James marched among the nearly 600 students of The Catholic University of America (Washington DC) participated in the 2020 March for Life. All classes were canceled from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 24, 2020 to allow students to participate in the annual event. Included in this group were our friars serving at CUA in Campus Ministry, as well as our Student Friars who are in study there. {CUA Campus Ministry: Fr. Jude DeAngelo, OFM Conv., Fr. Andrzej Brzezinski, OFM Conv., Fr. Louis Maximilian Smith, OFM Conv. and Fr. Albert Puliyadan, OFM Conv.}

Friar James caught up with the young men of our Archbishop Curley High School (Baltimore, MD). Bookending this photo are two of our five friars who serve the men of Curley – Br. Manny Wenke, OFM Conv. and Br. Nick Romeo, OFM Conv. Fr. Chris Dudek, OFM Conv. was taking the photo.

The friars, students, and faculty of St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY) were well represented. They were even joined by Fr. Rick Rokitka, OFM Conv., a former instructor and our province’s current Treasurer. He now also serves as Co-Director of our Post Novitiate Friary in Silver Spring, MD. The campus minister at SFHS led the group – Fr. Matthew Foley, OFM Conv. can be see here, just above and to the right of Friar James.

One of our postulants, Jonathan Garcia Zenteno is in studies at CUA. He joyfully joined with our groups to march.

Friar James also ran into newly elected Bishop of Syracuse – Most Reverend Douglas J. Lucia. Our province has eight friars serving in the Diocese of Syracuse (New York).

Many more ministries of our province were also represented there that day.

Homeless Memorial Service

On the evening of December 18, 2019, our friars participated in the Homeless Memorial Service at Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry (170 Pendexter Avenue, Chicopee, MA 01013), as part of the National Homeless Persons Memorial Day. This ANNUAL event is held on, or near, the longest night of the year (This year on December 21st). It affords a moment for all to remember those who have died in the past year – on the streets, as a result of life on the streets – secondary to homelessness. The event is usually scheduled to take place in the parking lot, but due to weather concerns (ice, temperature) this year’s event was held in the soup kitchen’s dining room. This year four deceased were specifically remembered at the memorial: Founder of the Soup Kitchen – +Lorraine Houle (1927-2018), as well as some of the visitors/patients of the caRe vaN – +Ricky, +Chris and +Sandy. The losses of +Ricky and +Chris were the results of the heroine epidemic, and loss of +Sandy was from respiratory arrest.

caRe vaN is a ministry founded by Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Br. Michael Duffy, OFM Conv., who serves the on the kitchen’s Board of Directors as Vice President, while also serving as  Associate Dean, Director of Undergrad Program, for the Elms College School of Nursing, in addition to his assignment for our province as a Friary Guardian & Regent of Studies. Nursing Students from Elms College of Nursing were among the volunteers there to help serve a home-cooked meal (at right, with Br. Duffy).
The Nursing Students also serve the caRe vaN alongside Br. Duffy.

Another Our Lady of the Angels Province friar serves the Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry ministry, in the day to day operations. Fr. Nicholas Spano, OFM Conv. serves as Operations Manager (visible working in the kitchen in the news video link).

Also visible in the news video link is Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv., our province JPIC (Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation) Chairman, presented a reflection on the great reversals, including these thoughts:
At Christmas the reversal is that God becomes a human, one like us.
At Easter the great reversal is that Jesus rises from the dead with the promise that we will become one like God in the Resurrection.
Therefore Christmas points to Easter.
As we gather tonight for a Christmas meal, we also gather to remember +Lorraine, +Chris, +Sandy, and +Ricky, and all of the homeless who died this past year, who have now experienced the great reversal of Easter resurrection.
In our gathering for to celebrate these great reversals of God’s love for us, we also experience small reversals:
-We’ve come out of the cold into the warmth of a soup kitchen dining room
-With the meal our empty stomachs become full
-With our conversation our loneliness is transformed into friendship
As Christmas approaches, let us all consider a small change, a small reversal that we can make in our own personal lives. Just a little something that points to the love of God found in the great reversals of Christmas and Easter.”

Pictured at above is Fr. Joseph Bayne, OFM Conv. (Pastor/Rector of the Basilica of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr, & Assistant Fire Chaplain for the Chicopee Fire Department). The Basilica’s Sandwich Ministry sponsored to the event, along with Elms College School of Nursing (Elms College President Harry Dumey pictured at center above).

Read More:

WWLP News online story
Western Mass News online story

St. Clare Inn 2019 Annual Appeal

One of the most unique, fruitful and rewarding ministries of our province ~ St. Clare Inn provides community, care, shelter & healing journey suport for homeless women (aged 30-60), with diagnosed mental health issues. This temporary (up to one year), non-denominational, home-like setting, located in Toronto, Ontario, focuses on re-building lives and self-esteem. When a woman is ready to move on from her time as a resident of St. Clare Inn, those serving in ministry there, including Our Lady of the Angels Province friar – Founder and Executive Director – Friar Tom Purcell, OFM Conv., help her to find permanent affordable housing, facilitating a smooth transition to a self-maintainable stable living environment. An essential part of recovery is finding a home.

Metamorphosis is the theme for the St. Clare Inn 2019 Annual Appeal.
If we recall the image of the caterpillar transitioning into the butterfly, we might understand that each resident weaves her cocoon at St. Clare Inn. It’s her personal space where she can continue to address personal issues and become ‘comfortable’ with her reality that part of her life is coloured by mental health issues. As we say to the residents, these issues do not define who you are, but are part of who you are. Maybe, this time at the Inn is a time of comfort and acceptance for each woman. Hopefully, they emerge from the Inn as beautiful and comfortable in their new skin, much like the Monarch butterfly.”

For more information on this fruitful ministry of our friars, be sure to visit their website.

JPIC News

Little Portion Farm – November 2019 Newsletter
In this week of Thanksgiving, we want to express our deep gratitude to all those who have supported Little Portion Farm in our first year. Whether it be through your donations, your prayers, or your volunteer work, we greatly appreciate you joining our mission to care for our land and serve those in need. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

JPIC News

November 14, 2019: the Conventual Franciscan Federation (CFF) hosted the annual St. Francis Forum in Ellicott City, Maryland. This year, the coordinators, Friars Michael Joseph Lasky, OFM Conv. (Our Lady of the Angels Province) and John Ronald Heinz, OFM Conv. (St. Joseph Cupertino Province), organized a symposium to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the meeting of Saint Francis and Sultan Malik Al-Kamil. The symposium was designed to complement a similar event held at the Seraphicum in Rome on October 31, 2019.

JPIC News

November, 14, 2019 Article by Friar Michael Lasky, OFM Conv.
It was one of those cold winter mornings when the wind catches the snow in swirls of white that dance across the parking lot.