Spiritual Testment ~ Friar Julian

Each week, check back for a new reflection.

Father Julian Maria Zambanini, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019

My name is Julian Maria Zambanini. I am 80 years-old and a Conventual Franciscan Priest in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). I am in residence at Immaculate Conception Friary in Rensselaer, NY and I am retired.  I was born in Brooklyn, NY on January 20, 1939. My mother, Alvia Trentini was born in 1913 and one of 11 children in a small soft coat mining town in western Pennsylvania, the daughter of immigrants from northern Italy (Previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). My father, Lino Zambanini, also born in western Pennsylvania in 1910 to immigrants of northern Italy before they returned to what is now a small town not too far from present day Trento, Italy. My paternal grandfather immigrated to the U.S.A. about 1905 and my father and his brother were born in the U.S. The family returned in time for my grandfather, Massimiliano, to be drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Empire army which was at war with Russia (War of 1916); he was captured by the Russians and sent to Siberia; after 8 years he escaped and returned home. When my fathers was 18, my grandfather sent him back to the U.S. so that he would not lose his US citizenship.
I met the Conventual Franciscan Friars because they staffed Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Albany, NY. I attended OLA school grades 5-8. I was also an altar boy in the parish. In the 7th grade at OLA school, Sister Cassilda, OSF asked us to put down on paper what we would like to be or do in life. For the first time I indicated that I wanted to be a Teaching Brother and gradually a Franciscan….and Priest and most of my life I have been involved in teaching at the high school level, university level and in our seminaries in the U.S. and in Italy. I remember +Fr. Dennis Gallagher also tutored a number of us (Fr. John Burkhard and I) in Latin at OLA school.
I arrived at St. Francis Seminary on Staten Island, NY in September, 1956 after graduating from Vincentian High School, Albany, NY. Two years later, I entered the novitiate in Middleburg, NY (August 1958-1959). +Fr. Celestine Regnier, OFM Conv. was my Novice Master and for three months +Fr. Rayner Schram, OFM Conv. was the Assistant Novice Master. +Fr. Giles Van Worner, OFM Conv. was the assistant for the remainder of the year. Some of my classmates were: +James (Elias) Manning, Joseph (Barry) Angelini, +Robert Leahey, +Mel Madden and +Thomas Larity. We professed our first vows on August 12, 1959 at the Novitiate and then our Solemn vows on September 8, 1962 at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary, Rensselaer, NY. Then, after studying at the seminary there and receiving an STB degree, I was ordained a priest on May 29, 1965 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Albany, NY. Some of my ordination classmates were: Joseph (Barry) Angelini, +Mel Maddon, +Robert Leahey, +Elias Manning (in Brazil) as well as Alexander Cymerman, Herman Czaster and Herman Obijiski. I later received and MA in Classical Languages from The Catholic University of America (1969).

My first assignment was to teach Latin and Religion at Canevin High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Since then, I have had so many “favorite” assignments. These include:
1965-1978 Canevin High School, Pittsburgh, PA and President of the Province Formation Commission
1978-1979 Director of Religious Brothers at St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY
1979-1982 Student at the Biblicum, Rome, Italy
1982-1989 Assistant General for Formation and Vice Rector and Rector at the Seraphicum, Rome, Italy
1989-2002 Secretary General of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome, Italy
2008-2016 Guide at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and de familia a the Sacred Convent, Assisi, Italy
May-July 2019 The only time I worked at one of our parishes: St. Lucie, Port Saint Lucie, FL

All of my assignments involved working with persons, young, middle aged, seniors and are my favorite assignments. In every instance, I learned a great deal from students, parishioners, friars, et al. Special to me were those times of celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, St. Francis Basilica, Assisi and in all of my assignments. I have many “special stories” and some of them are: Celebrating the reunion of the Canevin Class of 1969, my interactions with the other Assistant Generals in Assisi and the Seraphicum, working on the saintly ‘cause’ of Friar Martin de Porres Ward, OFM Conv., the miracles of the people to guide in Assisi and the conversion of a Canadian banker to name only a few.
All of my Franciscan prayers are special to me including the greeting that St. Francis asks us to use from his Testament: “May the Lord give you peace!” I also love the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis: “Make me an instrument of your peace” and the Our Father.
A piece of advice I would like to share with men considering a vocation to our Franciscan Order and Province is this: Let the Lord lead…listen intently…don’t be afraid to respond to His call…you are never alone. Investigate all the possibilities the Lord is calling you to. Choose one that with the Lord’s help you can live with joy and love. Be patient. “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived!” The Lord wants us to be happy…Whatever we freely choose…it is important that we speak and live our lives continuously making Him present in the world.
And to our student friars I would like to say: Continuously pray and recognize how much the Lord loves you. “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” Do not become discouraged. Have a spiritual guide that you can confide in Continuously listen to the Lord. Seek always the truth…study hard…count your blessings…we can learn a great deal from our mistakes and failures…and only with the Lord’s help we will succeed. May the Lord give you peace!

Click to read a brochure concerning the Cause for Sainthood for our confrere, Friar Matin de Porres Ward, OFM Conv.

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Brennan-Joseph

As part of a Four-Year Plan, the friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province drafted a vision statement which included priorities such as Fraternity, Ministry, JPIC Culture, Vocations, Senior Friars, Our Custodies, and in turn, objectives to enact through the work of our varied Commissions and Initiatives.
In accordance with two of the objectives for Senior Friars, in order to provide both the care of our elder friars and their continued inclusion in the fraternal life of our Province, our Senior Friars Commission requested that those friars share Spiritual Testaments, in their own words.
Each week, check back for a new reflection.

Fr. Brennan-Joseph Farleo, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ September, 2019

Hello! My name is Brennan-Joseph. I am a 75-year-old Conventual Franciscan priest of Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). Right now, I am missioned as the Guardian of St. Peter Friary in Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ. I was born on April 29, 1944 in Buffalo, NY. My mother was Irish came from Ireland and my Father was Italian and came from Italy. I had two brothers, Donald and Joseph who along with my parents are now deceased.   I was taught by Franciscans throughout all my years in school. I had both OFM as well as Conventual friars and I loved to witness the community they shared with one another.
I entered the Conventual Franciscans on August 17, 1979 in Holyoke, MA. After my postulancy there, I entered our novitiate at St. Francis Friary, Staten Island, NY…my novice master was Fr. Bill Robinson and my classmates were Jobe Abbass and Maurice Richard. And so, at the end of my novitiate, August of 1981, I professed my first vows as a Franciscan friar. My solemn profession followed three years later in 1984 at our seminary, St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY where I was studying for the priesthood. I was ordained in 1986 and my classmates are Richard-Jacob Forcier and Dennis Grumsey.
My first assignment as friar-priest was at St. Joseph’s Parish in Enicott, NY but I would have to say that my ‘favorite’ assignment was at Immaculate Conception Parish and Friary in Trenton, NJ. In all honesty, I really loved all of my assignments and had fun times with most of the friars I lived with.
I have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I love any and all prayers to Him and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
I would encourage anyone considering a vocation to our Order and Province to “pray each day to know God’s Will. It’s in doing His Will that we find our peace. Stay close to the Sacred Heart.”
And to our current student friars: “Be honest and open to what God is asking you to do each day. Your prayers are so important in our way of life. Be sincere and honest dealing with God, each other and our superiors.”
I give thanks and praise to God for calling me to serve Him and His people.

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar James

Each week, check back for a new reflection.

Brother James Amrhein, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019

My name is James Amrhein and I am a 78year-old Conventual Franciscan Religious Brother in the Province of Our Lady of Angels (USA). I am retired now and live with the friars at St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Syracuse, NY. I was born in Utica, NY, and I grew up in a wonderful Catholic family. My parents were very religious and led very good Catholic Christian lives. I learned about the Conventual Franciscans through my brother, Robert, who is a Conventual Franciscan priest in our Province. I entered the Order in September, 1959 at St. Joseph Cupertino Friary in Watertown, NY. It was the initial house of formation for Religious Brothers at the time. After my postulancy, I entered the novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Middleburgh, NY where I professed my first vows in 1961 under the direction of my novice master +Fr. Celestine Regnier, OFM Conv. Some of my novitiate classmates are Friars John Burkhard, Mark Steed, Ed Handy and Nick Lorsen. Later, in 1964 I professed my solemn vows at our major seminary, St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY.
My first assignment as friar was at Canevin High School in Pittsburgh, PA where the Friars were teachers and administrators. Most recently, I was assigned as the director of the Food Pantry at Assumption Parish in Syracuse, NY. It was one of my “favorite” assignments because I think it was the most Franciscan of all my ministries!

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Douglas

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Friar Douglas McMillan, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ September, 2019

Hello! My name is Douglas James McMillan and I am a 72 year-old (February 8, 1947) Conventual Franciscan Religious Brother in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). Currently, I am retired and live at St. Joseph Cupertino Friary in Ellicott City, MD. The friary is part of the Shrine of St. Anthony there. I am a native of New York City where both of my parents were born. I had one younger brother, +David, who passed away in 2004. I have three nieces and two great nieces and three great nephews.
I found out about the Conventual Franciscan Friars by way of an ad in the former Catholic News of the New York Archdiocese. I then met with +Fr. Juniper Alwell at our friary Staten Island which also served as a Minor Seminary for the Province at that time. Shortly after my discharge from the US Army, I connected with +Brother Dennis Mooney the new vocation director and the rest is history!
I was discharged from the US Army in September, 1968 and entered the Religious Brothers Formation program in “Padua House” on the grounds of the Major Seminary : St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY on November 16, 1968. After one year of postulancy, I entered the novitiate at Our Lady Queen of Peace Friary, Middleburgh, NY and professed my first religious vows on August 16, 1970.   My Solemn profession of vows was on May 31, 1975 at St. Martin Church, Pittsburgh, PA. Brothers Thomas Purcell and Jim Moore are classmates of mine.
I thoroughly enjoyed my studies too. I have a BA in Language Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and a MTh from Xavier University of Lousiana. Each one of my assignments has its own favorable memories. For example, Canevin High School was my first assignment and I loved the fact that it was a friary and ministry full of young friars and students. I then moved to Syracuse, NY and taught at Assumption Academy and Bishop Grimes High School. Those 25 years were wonderful, and I developed many meaningful relationships. I then moved to Baltimore where I taught at Archbishop Curley High School and then later at St. Frances Academy, the oldest African-American Catholic High School in the country, founded in 1829 by Servant of God Mother Lange. My classroom there was right down the hall from the room where she died.
I have two favorite spiritual devotions. I enjoy saying the Divine Office because I find something new in the psalms each time I recite it in choir or privately. The other is the Rosary because of the calming effect it has on me.
I would also like to share with our student friars: “Remember why you entered the Order and do not become discouraged when you run into rough patches…be rooted in prayer.”

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Ken

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Brother Kenneth Lucas, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019

My name is Ken Lucas. I am 74-years-old and I am a Conventual Franciscan Religious Brother in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). I am currently in living at Fr. Justin Residence in Hamburg, NY one of our Franciscan Senior Friar residences. I am from Watertown, NY. My dad, Henry Lucas, was in the Army at Camp Drum, NY and my mother, Monica was a lawyer from Philadelphia, PA. My family experienced some difficulties very early on and we all broke up. I was put in foster home for 12 years along with my brother and my sister. I am very honored to say that I am a former Marine and I still stay involved in veterans affairs. I was also involved in prison ministry for approximately 30 years and considerate one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I came to know the Conventual Friars by one of our Friar-priests, the now deceased +Fr. Jeffrey Keefe, OFM Conv. I entered the Religious Brothers postulancy program in 1976 at Padua House, Rensselaer, NY. I made my novitiate in Staten Island and I professed my first vows on August 5, 1978 in Staten Island, and my solemn vows on August 14, 1981 in Rensselaer, NY. And one of my classmates is Jim Doyle. Fr Julian Zambanini, OFM Conv. was the Director of Brothers at that time also and was instrumental encouraging me in my receiving my GED diploma.
My first assignment as friar was at St. Joseph Parish in Hoboken, NJ and I think that was my favorite assignment too because the people there were really nice and fun to be with.
My Franciscan prayer is the rosary!
Some advice I would give to someone considering a vocation would be to simply take one day at a time! And to our student friars I would say ‘believe in yourselves and never give up…God loves you!’

National Vocation Awareness Week

Photo from the July 21, 2016 Simple Profession Celebration, as our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. received the First Profession of our Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience from friar Franck Lino Sokpolie, OFM Conv., witnessed by Fr. Maurice Richard, OFM Conv. – Assistant Director of our Interprovincial Novitiate (Arroyo Grande, CA). As Simple Vows are Temporary, he renewed them July 1, 2019. Keep him and all of our friars in formation in your continued prayers.

National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW) will be celebrated by the Catholic Church in the USA (as well as several Canadian Dioceses) during the week of November 3-9, 2019.  We friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province ask the faithful to include in your intentions, prayers for in increase in men being called to serve God as friar brothers and friar priests, as members of our Order of Franciscan Friars Conventual (OFM Conv.). May these men be inspired by Our Lord Jesus Christ, while benefiting from the support of our faith communities and their families, to respond generously to God’s gift of a VOCATION.
This annual week-long celebration promotes prayer, education, inspiration, example and aid to families supporting those in vocation discernment. This organized effort first began in 1976, when the USCCB designated the 28th Sunday of the year as National Vocation Awareness Week. This celebration was moved in 1997 to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, traditionally falling on January 13th or on the 1st Sunday following the Feast of the Epiphany. Since 2014, it has been celebrated the first full week of November, making this year: November 3-9, 2019.

O Father, You desire all of us to be happy.
Stir up the grace of a religious vocation in the hearts
of many men and women.
Grant to them the willingness and generosity
to give of themselves, their lives, their time and their talents
to the service of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord and
Savior, and to His Holy Church.
May more men and women go forth as priests, deacons,
brothers and sisters to bring the truths of our Catholic faith
to all others so that soon they, too, may know You better
and love You more…
and serving You, be truly happy.

News from the Novitiate

Our Lady of the Angels Province Novice, friar Christopher M. Fernández, OFM Conv. (lighter habit) is pictured here with the rest of his Novitiate Class and his Novice Director & friar of St. Bonaventure Province, Br. Joseph Wood, OFM Conv. (at right). St. Bonaventure Province also has a Novice in this class, friar Michael Hintze, OFM Conv., and Our Lady of Consolation Province has three friar Novices – friar Alex Gould, OFM Conv., friar Roberto Macias-Marin, OFM Conv. and friar Joshua Sherls, OFM Conv.

In our desire to offer the novices some local culture, St. Bonaventure Province friar – Br. Joseph Wood, OFM Conv. (Novitiate Director) and Our Lady of the Angles Province friar – Fr. Maurice Richard, OFM Conv. (Novitiate Assistant Director) annually lead a visit to the nearby homestead of the Dana family. The Dana Adobe,” located in the nearby town of Nipomo, CA was the original 1837 Mexican land grant offered to William Dana, a sea captain from Boston, and a Roman Catholic convert with 21 children. Our novitiate property in Arroyo Grande, CA is located within the 39,000 acre boundary of the former ranch. As the town of Nipomo continues to restore the house and grounds of this Cultural Center, we too have added our assistance in the creation of a pioneer kitchen garden, now known as “The Franciscan Garden.” Inspired by the recent encyclical, Laudato Si,” and the progress being made at the Little Portion Farm (Ellicott City, MD) our novices are also working beside professionals and volunteers in an appreciation of “caring for creation” through organic horticulture.

If you feel life as a Franciscan Friar Conventual may be a part of your vocation discernment journey, contact Our Lady of the Angels Province Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv. at vocations@olaprovince.org.

Novitiate’s Facebook Page

Spriritual Testament ~ Friar Antone

Father Antone Kandrac, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ August, 2019

Hello! My name is Antone Kandrac and I will be 90 years old on May 10th next year. I am a member of the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA), and I am retired here at St. Catharine of Siena Friary in Seaside Park, NJ, one of our Province’s Senior Friar residences.
I was born in 1930 in Wilkes-Barre, PA to a VERY large, close-knit Slovak-Catholic family. I was the 11th child of my mother and father…and there were 14 children in our family all together. Needless to say, sibling rivalry was ‘red hot’ in my family with me and my 9 brothers! But my parents were very loving and kind to all of us. My father was a coal miner who originally came from Czechoslovakia. He was a good and kind man and very good looking (like all the Kandracs!). Unfortunately, he died when I was only 11 years old of coal miners ‘black lung.’ At that time, I was given a shoe-shine box and went around the neighborhood shining shoes to help out my mother. I was very, very close to my mother….I think she said I was her ‘favorite!”
My diocesan parish priest suggested that I become a priest, and he arranged several meetings with Religious vocation directors (Augustinians, Holy Cross, and Holy Ghost Fathers) and I also visited a Passionist monastery but that life was not for me. Then when I was a junior in high school, I met Conventual Franciscan Fr. Adrian Brennan. I loved his humor and his vocation talk and his music and I said to myself, “Great! This for me.” One of the Religious Sisters in my school, Sr. Laurentia, also gave me Johannes Jorgensen’s Life of St. Francis to read. I loved it.
I entered the Conventual Franciscans in 1948 at St. Francis Seminary, Staten Island, NY. Then two years later I entered the novitiate in Middleburg, NY and professed my first vows in 1950. There were 14 novices in my class. Some of my classmates were Carl Vino, Bruce Ritter, and Christopher Balas…all are deceased now.   My solemn profession was in our seminary, St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY. I finished my studies for the priesthood at The Catholic University of America and was ordained a priest in 1957.
My first assignment as friar was at Trenton Catholic Boy’s High School, Trenton, NJ but I was only there for a short time and then was assigned to St. Francis Hospital, Trenton. I have had several other assignments. For example, I was the Chaplain of the VA Hospital in Jamaica Plains near Boston, MA for several years but one of my favorites was being Pastor at St. Mary Parish, Nassau, NY. I was missioned there for about 20 years and was the last friar to serve there after 100 years of Franciscan service to that parish community.
My favorite prayer is: “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”
I would recommend Johannes Jorgensen’s Life of St. Francis to any young person considering a Franciscan vocation, and I would tell all of our student friars to be sure to have a special devotion to our Blessed Mother, our spiritual mother.

Congratulations Friar Terence, friar Peter George and friar John Paul!

On Sunday October 20, 2019, the three Novices of our Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody (aka the Greyfriars of Great Britain/Ireland) Professed Simple Vows. Fr. Terence Bateman, OFM Conv. (back wall), friar Peter George Flynn, OFM Conv. (far left) and friar John Paul Banks, OFM Conv. (kneeling) made their vows into the hands of their Custos, the Very Rev. Ciprian Budău, OFM Conv., witnessed by Friar Gerard Mary Toman, OFM Conv. (standing with vows) and Friar Giles Zakowicz, OFM Conv. (Formation Director and a friar of Our Lady of the Angels Province – standing far right).

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Mark

Each week, check back for a new reflection.

Father Mark Steed, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019

Hello! My name is Mark Steed. I am 79 years-old and I am a Conventual Franciscan Friar-Priest of the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). I am currently retired and in residence at St. Bonaventure Friary, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I was born in 1940 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. My Mom was Polish and my Dad was English.
I first learned about the Conventual Franciscan Friars at my high school in Hamilton. After learning more about the Community, I applied and entered the seminary in Watertown, NY in 1958. Later, I entered the novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Middleburg, NY (1960) and professed my first vows under the direction of my novice master +Fr. Celestine Regnier, OFM Conv. in 1961. Some of the friars in my class were +Phil Kelly, John Burkhard, Ed Handy and Ernest Rudy. We professed our Solemn vows in August, 1936 in Rensselaer, NY. I completed my formal studies for the priesthood and I was ordained a priest on March 21, 1987 at our St. Bonaventure Parish here in Toronto.
Over the years, I have had many different and varied ministries, everything from being a maintenance man, assistant novice director, teacher, director of a shrine for Native Americans and parish priest but I would have to say that my ‘favorite’ ministry was working in the northern missions in Canada with First Nations peoples there. I enjoyed living and learning about Native peoples and sharing their lives and stories. As a result, I would have to say that my favorite spiritual devotions would be Native spirituality. I also enjoy the spirituality of Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM.
If someone was considering a vocation to our Order and Province I would say: “Learn who you are in relationship with God and the Friars…and make that relationship real!”
And to our student friars: “Don’t get stuck in any particular devotion…stay open to the Holy Spirit and share your faith and insights and love of God…don’t be afraid of your relationship with God! Always look outward!”