Vocation Journey

Publicly official at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (12:00 Noon Vatican Time), on March 5, 2020,  His Holiness Pope Francis appointed our brother, Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, and current Bishop of Savannah ~ The Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. as the new Archbishop of Atlanta.
Archbishop-elect Hartmayer was to be installed as Archbishop of Atlanta on May 6, 2020, at 2:00 p.m., in St. Peter Chanel Church, in Roswell, Georgia and  June, 29, 2020 was originlly the date planned for Pope Francis to give the pallium to the new Archbishop in ceremonies at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Due to the Pandemic, a private installation is scheduled to be held on May 6, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. Solemn vespers will also be held privately on May 5, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. Both events will be available on livestream.

He was recently featured in the areticle “From Friar to Bishop and always Franciscan”  in the Spring 2020 Edition of the St. Anthony Companion, a publication of our Companions of St. Anthony Ministry.

Keep on top of new developments via his Facebook Page.

World Day for Consecrated Life 2020

February 2nd is the World Day for Consecrated Life. It will be celebrated in parish churches on the weekend of February 1-2, 2020 and is a great weekend to share our way of life and to invite all of the faithful to pray for vocations while encouraging those in discernment to consider a vocation to Consecrated Life with our Order. Through our ministries and vocation events, we friars will attempt to focus in on this topic at weekend Liturgies, in the classroom and at our other ministry sites. We share Vocation Stories, encourage visits our province YouTube channel and Facebook Page, as well as the North American Province’s collaborative Vocation Website, Novitiate Website, and Postulancy Facebook page.
Thank you all for helping to foster vocations to our way of life. We ask for your prayers for men who have begun application and those considering application, to the Order in July 2020. We pray that Our Lady of the Angels and St. Francis of Assisi will intercede for us, so that more men will be drawn to serve Jesus with us.

Heads Up!
In a few months, our province will be hosting another “Come and See Weekend” for those in discernmment, as well as other single, healthy Catholic men aged 18-40, who are looking to experience a weekend living and serving with our friars. Participants will meet at our Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD) to visit with several friaries and ministries in the Maryland/DC area. This is a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of the day to day life of a friar;  to see what it means to be a as Franciscan Friars Conventual. You must be registered to participate, so email our Vocations Office soon. We  do have a page on this site devoted entirely to Vocations. Take a moment to check it out and prayerfully consider adding our province to your discernment journey.

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar John

Be sure to check back on this site for the next reflection.

Father John Burkhard, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ January 2020

My name is John Jude Burkhard, a 79-year old friar of Our Lady of Angels Province. My middle name was given to me in honor of a Conventual Franciscan priest in the then Immaculate Conception Province who was a close friend of our family. My father was very formative of my faith life and accompanied me to Mass every Sunday. Later in life, my mother, too, challenged me to be more well-rounded and less rigidly demanding of others. I cannot claim that I have always measured up to her advice, but I keep trying. Since we worshipped at Our Lady of Angels Church in Albany, New York, ably and lovingly staffed by the Conventual Franciscans, and since we four children attended the parochial school of the same parish selflessly staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, I suppose my joining the Conventual Franciscans was somewhat providentially “predestined.” Be that as it may, I have never regretted this “destiny.”

I entered the seminary in my sophomore year of high school at the ripe age of 15. As strange as it might seem nowadays, in the Church of my youth before Vatican II it was not so unusual. My pastor, Fr. Denis Gallagher had encouraged my vocation by the novel tactic of teaching me Latin beginning in the seventh grade. Every week I would report to the rectory for a lesson. In this way, too, I got to know the other friars who also encouraged my fledgling vocation. The excellent education I received in the Order’s high school, junior college, and college imparted a life-long love of learning I have never regretted and has set me on my path to higher studies and a teaching career as a friar-priest. The Order permitted me to study theology abroad in Innsbruck, Austria, and Strasbourg, France. These two universities, my fellow students there, and the opportunity to meet Conventual friars and members of other religious communities on an international level were seminal experiences in my life.

Equipped with the appropriate degrees and formed by temperament to teach, research, and write, I have spent the last 53 years pursuing the passion of my life. I have never doubted or regretted my ministry as a teacher, but have rejoiced in God’s gifts to me and in the Order’s generosity and confidence in me by fostering my academic talents and propensities. I have taught at our Conventual Seminary of St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, New York, at St. Peter’s Regional Seminary, Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa, and at the Washington Theological Union, Washington, D.C. I have always wanted nothing more than to teach my confreres, so anything beyond that goal has simply been a serendipitous blessing. I have had the joy and honor of knowing so many dedicated and outstanding men in the Order, not to mention the many fine lay men and women I have been blessed to have as students as well. An added joy of my life has been my activity as a translator, making theology originally in German and French available in English to others. Somewhere along my life’s journey I discovered that I actually love languages, classical and modern. Now in my final years as a retired professor, I continue to have the privilege of living with our young friars in formation in Silver Spring, Maryland. I often think of the fine example of so many of my Conventual teachers, directors of formation, staff, residents, and my fellow students in our seminary system, and I am profoundly grateful.

I have no particular spiritual wisdom to impart to our friars in formation or to prospective applicants to the Order except for the admonition to identify and accept your talents, thank God daily for them, develop them humanly with the help of the Order, and generously put them at the service of the Church’s universal mission. If you do this, your dreams and your life will be richly rewarded. I know mine have been!

Meet Our Vocation Director

Friar Russell Governale, OFM Conv. was born in Brooklyn, NY. He began to discern Religious Life and Priesthood when he was a student in high school. He desired to do something with his life that would serve God and neighbor. Although he was good friends with the Diocesan priest at his school, he did not feel the call to Diocesan life, but rather too, Religious Life. He found some advertisements in his Catholic newspaper about different communities and contacted them for information. He was amazed by the literature that the Conventual Franciscans sent him and continued to communicate with them. After visiting the seminary and Novitiate he saw that there were many men who were his age who had joined. In 1976, he decided to join them after his high school graduation in 1978.

Congratulations Frei Jesus & Frei Ricardo!

First Profession of Simple {Temporary} Vows is a stage in the formation of a friar, when he chooses to live as a Franciscan Friar Conventual; professing the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.  Most often, these Simple Vows will be renewed at least once during a friar’s Post-Novitiate years of continuing study and formation. Solemn Vows are perpetual and therefore not professed until after the friar completes all stages of formation. If the friar discerns the priesthood, that formation will follow solemn profession.
The time between the temporary and perpetual vow profession is also often the formation period when friars reflect as to whether they wish to live as a friar priest or friar brother. Those choosing the path to priesthood will be affirmed as Acolyte and as Lector during this time frame, in preparation for the transitional diaconate step prior to the priesthood.

December 11, 2019: Two of our confreres from of our Immaculate Conception Custody (Brazil) – Frei Jesus Rodrigues do Amaral, OFM Conv. & Frei Ricardo Elvis Arruda Bezerra, OFM Conv. – renewed their vows and were instituted in the ministry of Lector. Many of their confreres were on hand to celebrate with them. Online Album

Frei Jesus Rodrigues do Amaral, OFM Conv. renews his vows at the hands of his Custódio Provincial, Frei Ronaldo Gomes da Silva, OFM Conv.

Frei Ricardo Elvis Arruda Bezzera, OFM Conv. renews his vows at the hands of his Custódio Provincial, Frei Ronaldo Gomes da Silva, OFM Conv.

Frei Ricardo and Frei Jesus receive a blessing from their Custódio Provincial

Frei Jesus receives his book of the Gospels from Frei Ronaldo, as he is installed as Lector

Frei Ricardo receives his book of the Gospels from Frei Ronaldo, as he is installed as Lector

Note on Minor Ministries: Prior to 1963 and the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), during the formation process on the road to the priesthood, men were affirmed to four Minor and three Major Ministries. Now there are two; Acolyte and Lector (Can. 230 §1 and §2) in preparation for the transitional diaconate step prior to the priesthood.  These are two stable “Ordinary” ministries, as opposed to  “Extraordinary” ministries of temporary designation afforded to those not in preparation for the priesthood

Read more on our Order’s Site

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Noel

Each week, check back for a new reflection.

Father Noel Danielewicz, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ November, 2019

Hello, my name is Noel Danielewicz. I am 71 years-old and Conventual Franciscan Priest in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). I am currently living at Franciscan Martyrs Friary in Columbus, Georgia where I minister as the Pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Church.
I was born on August 18, 1948 in New Britian, CT. I am the oldest of 7 children born to John and Jennie Danielewicz. I have 4 brothers (Francis, Tom, Bob and Paul) and 2 sisters (Joann and Mary). We are still reading Genesis and I have 11 nieces and nephews and 17 grand-nieces and nephews. Being part of a Catholic, Polish-American family, our life centered on God, the Church and extended family. We enjoyed summers at the beach , the importance of Mass and meals, and our parish school. My family has always been supportive of my vocation and the friars. Both of my parents and grandmothers were Secular Franciscans. ‘Franciscan’ is in my gene pool!
I began my vocation journey first with the life of St. Francis – his love for the poor and his community of brothers. Other influences: The Father Justin Rosary Hour, my Dad’s vocation story, his desire “to be a brother,” a Conventual Franciscan Friar, and awareness of our Friars at Kolbe High School in Bridgeport, CT. But it was the “Blue Book” that connected me to the Conventual Franciscans. Sustaining that connection was a “Friar Pen Pal”- Fr. Nicholas Swaitek.
I entered the Franciscan community on August 3, 1966 at St. Joseph Cupertino novitiate, Ellicott City, MD. I professed my first vows on August 15, 1967 at the chapel in the novitiate. +Fr. Dominic Slemba, OFM Conv. was my novice master. Friars Jude Surowiec, Vincent Vivian, Paul Miskiewicz, Martin Kobos, Kark Kolodziejski and +Pat and +Mike Mendola were my classmates. Three years later on August 15, 1970, I professed my solemn vows at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Granby, MA.
I received a BA in Philosophy at St. Hyacinth College/Seminary, Granby, MA and then a Masters of Theology at our Seminary in Rensselaer, NY (St. Anthony-on-Hudson). Later I received a Maters in Religious Education at Loyola University, Chicago, IL.
On May 15, 1976 I was ordained a priest at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Albany, NY. Some of my classmates are Friar Curt Kreml, Martin Kobos, Paul Miskiewicz and the late Patrick and Michael Mendola.
Following my ordination, I was assigned as a theology teacher at Cardinal O’Hara High School, Tonawanda, NY. I would have to say that my ‘favorite’ assignment was the 19 years I spent at the St. Francis of Assisi Community, Bessemer, Alabama. It was there where I helped implement a planned vision of ministry for them, moving from “St. Francis Mission” to “St. Francis Community” with a ‘mission’, RCIA, Teen Club, Retreat ministry, reorientation for the people.
My favorite ‘spiritual devotions’ or prayer is the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus, be merciful to me a sinner.” I also love Scripture, in particular, Matthew 11:28-30 “Let Jesus be your burden-bearer. I also loved ministering in Assisi and conducting pilgrimages to Assisi.
For those considering a vocation to our Order and Province I would say: “(1) Be open to the Holy Spirit in your discernment. (2) To listen and hear the Lord speak from family and friends and the fraternity. (3) To fall in love with God of the Call and the Lord of the Journey. (4) To be prepared to die and rise in Christ through your Franciscan formation and ministry. (5) to embrace the Gospel and fraternity. (6) Love the Church and the people of God. (7) Witness to the Kingdom.”
And to our student friars: “Be ready to walk with God. Be flexible, compassionate, pastoral; experience God as healer and reconciler. Be a ‘brother’ not only in the Order, but in the fraternity of the Church and Creation. Get to know our Mother – St. Clare. See the bigger picture that includes everyone!”
Some years ago, while I was the chaplain in Enfield, CT, Felician Sister Anastacia asked me: “What language do you think in?” My answer was: “I think in Gospel!” I find that it helps me to choose well.

Vocation News

In this season of preparation for the Coming of the Messiah and the celebration of Christmas, the friars of Our Lady of the Angels Province are all so aware of the need to prepare ourselves for these feasts, as well as to help prepare those of our ministries. I am so aware of this as we pray for vocations and work to encourage others to share our way of life. Oh, how we need to prepare others to enjoy Franciscan life and service in the Church!
In November, our province hosted a “Come and See” weekend for six participants, at our Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, MD.  Many of our friars in the area assisted. Our student friars in formation shared their time & talent, and the hospitality of the friars who serve at the Shrine, and on the same Ellicott City Campus – at our Provincial House helped the participants to get a good sense of who we are and how we live. Although several participants expressed a desire for “more time,” we are hopeful that some of them may join our province.
Perhaps during this Advent, our greater community, including those served in our varied ministries, may make an ardent effort to encourage at least one man to consider life as a Franciscan Friar Conventual … maybe even contact our Vocation Office. Perhaps some college students who are home on Christmas break may be open to this invitation.
Thank you for all of your prayers and efforts to encourage our way of life. May the mysteries of Advent warm your hearts and the hearts of those we serve.

Russell Governale, OFM Conv.

How Will I Know

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Ed

Each week, check back for a new reflection.

Father Edward Debono OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019
My name is Ed Debono. I am an 86 year-old Conventual Franciscan Priest in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). I am in residence at St. Anthony Friary, Kingston, Ontario, Canada where I am the Chaplain for the Sisters of Providence.
I was born on November 29, 1932 in Toronto, Canada. My parents were immigrants from Malta! There were seven children in our family and I was #5. My family was very strong, very spiritual and very Catholic and my parents were always mentoring us with strong family values, and common sense. At the same time, they always allowed each one of us to determine our own vocation. Happiness and peace were criteria for my family!
I first learned about the Conventual Franciscan Friars though the Companion Magazine which was a publican of the Friars, published in Canada. My parents were subscribers. After reading about the Community, I applied and entered the Seminary in Staten Island, NY in September, 1951. A few years later, I entered the novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Middleburg, NY and then professed my first vows under the direction of my novice master +Fr. Celestine Regnier, OFM Conv. Some of the friars in my class were +Terence Pescatore, +Douglas Lawson, +Ray Yudin, +Isadore Blair, +Bill O’Donnell as well as Fr. Adam Keltos and Fr. Bob Amrhein. We professed our Simple vows on August 15, 1956 in Middleburg, NY and our Solemn vows on August 26, 1959 in Rensselaer, NY. I completed my formal studies for the priesthood at our seminary (St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY) and I was ordained a priest on May 26, 1962 in the Cathedral in Albany, NY with all of my classmates listed above.
Following my ordination, I was assigned as associate pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. I have had several different ministries but my current ministry is one I really enjoy because it is a very spiritual ministry.
My favorite ‘spiritual devotions’ are to St. Francis and to the Holy Spirit.
For those considering a vocation to our Order and Province I would say: “Observe the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that has to be our focus and do not let anyone deter you!”
And to our student friars: “I would say the same thing as above because our life is a wonderful and rewarding commitment…my vocation is the joy of my life!”
I would also like to see all the friars spend a year or two in Assisi. My time there was a profound experience and I believe it will be a profound experience for those who are open to the Spirit.

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Joe

Each week, check back for a new reflection.

Father Joseph Angelini, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ October, 2019

Hello, my name is Joseph Angelini. I am 81years-old and currently living and ministering at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Winston-Salem, NC. as the Associate Pastor as Spanish Pastoral Care. I am a Conventual Franciscan Priest in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA).
I was born in September, 1938 in Albany, NY. My father was born in Switzerland and came to the USA when he was 19 years old. He spoke Italian, German, and French and worked in Keebler and Jack’s Oyster House in Albany, NY. He loved to tell stories to his co-workers of their homelands in Europe. My mother was three generations of German immigrants. She was very devoted to prayer and religious experience and taught us how to pray. She was a very hard worker and a “no nonsense” person!
Looking back over 60 years, I still recall with clarity my first encounter with a Franciscan friar. It was after a summer Sunday Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians, Albany, NY. Our diocesan pastor, Fr. Joseph Henrick was gravely ill, and the Franciscans from St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer were helping out. I left the church after helping to clean up after Mass and came upon a group of youth listening to +Fr. Barnabas Eib, OFM Conv. telling stories about his mission work in Costa Rica. The group was in a semicircle and he was answering questions. It was like a bolt of lightning, a sudden illumination of “what I should do.” It was clear and concrete: I should join the Franciscans. I don’t remember exactly what he was saying and I said nothing, but I was drinking in the inspiration of the moment and I wanted to be a Friar. The next day, I went over to the seminary (St. Anthony-on-Hudson) and asked for papers to enter the Order. The rest is history.
Through the years, I’ve often recalled that moment. There was one special time when I recalled his talk. I had the opportunity to minister in Costa Rica and to go down the Coto River in the Puntareanas Province of Costa Rica and land on the beach at Playa Zancudo. Our group was warmly greeted and we proceeded to celebrate Mass, give catechetical instructions, play games, and have a delicious meal. At the end, I said a prayer of thanks giving for the grace of vocation that I had received many years before.
I entered the seminary in Staten Island, NY in 1953. A few years later, in 1958, I entered the novitiate of the Conventual Franciscans in Middleburg, NY and then professed my first vows under the direction of my novice master +Fr. Celestine Regnier, OFM Conv. Some of the friars in my class were Jim Manning, +Mel Madden, Julian Zambanini and +Robert Leahey. We professed our Simple and Solemn vows at the seminary in Rensselaer, NY.
I completed all of my studies for the priesthood at our seminary and was ordained to the priesthood at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Albany, NY in 1965. +Eugenio Rivera, +Mel Madden, Julian Zambanini and +Robert Leahey were ordained with me.
Right after my ordination, I was assigned as a chemistry teacher at Canevin High School, Pittsburgh, PA. Later, I had several different ministries but probably my ‘favorite’ ministry was working as the pastor of St. George Parish in Stockton, CA. The friars there were very cooperative and we worked hard and well for the people there for 10 years. I felt I did my best and everything went smoothly. Even now, 30 years later, I still have some very good friends there.
My favorite prayer and time of prayer is the Morning Offering. It is a time of thanksgiving for one more day in the Lord’s service, a blessed day for the friars I live with and prayer for the good things happening with the people I work with.
For those considering a vocation to our Order and Province and to our men in formation I would say: “There are many opportunities available to you with a positive Franciscan spirit. Find something you can do and with prayer and hard work it will give you a happy life.”  I feel very blessed to have entered the Franciscans and given so many wonderful opportunities.

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Richard

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. Richard Rossell, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony  September, 2019

My name is Richard Rossell. I am 85-year-old and a retired member of the Conventual Franciscan friars 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 am from Trenton, NJ. My mother Marcella and my father Ralph taught me and my brothers Robert, Ralph, Ronald and Roger how to be persons who loved God and His blessed Mother. They were wonderful parents who worked very hard for our family. I was taught by the Franciscan friars at the legendary Trenton Catholic High School. It was a great experience and I got to know many of the friars.
I entered the Franciscan Order in 1952 at our seminary on Staten Island and then completed my novitiate in Middleburg, NY in 1955 and professed my first vows as a friar in 1955. The deceased +Fr. Celestine Regnier was my novice master. My solemn profession followed in 1958. After completing all my studies at our seminary, St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY, I was ordained on May 27, 1961 at the Cathedral in Albany, NY. +Father Canice Connors, Andy Dural and Joe Laufer were my classmates.
My first assignment as friar-priest was to return to my high school (Trenton Catholic) where I was a high school teacher but my ‘favorite’ assignment was and is right here at St. Peter Parish and Friary in Pt. Pleasant, NJ…a wonderful town and such good people! I also remember the wonderful people at Canevin High School in Pittsburgh, PA where I also tough high school and one of my students who died of cancer. That was tough.
I have a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and love the “Hail Mary.”
I would encourage anyone considering a vocation to our Order and Province to “pray and be open to the Holy Spirit.”
And to our current student friars: “Please trust in God and His Blessed Mother and be grateful for all of God’s gifts.”