Welcome New Postulants!

2019 Class of the InterProvincial Postulancy with Our Lady of the Angels Province friar & Postulancy Director – Fr. Brad Milunski, OFM Conv. (left) and St. Bonaventure Province friar & Postulancy Associate Director – Fr. Paul Schneider, OFM Conv. (right)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019: During Evening Prayer in Chicago’s St. Bonaventure Friary, home of our North American InterProvincial Postulancy, five men were officially welcomed into initial formation as Franciscan Friars Conventual Postulants: Anthony Ruffolo (St. Bonaventure Province), Zakary Navarrette (Our Lady of Consolation Province), Wayne Mulei (St. Joseph Cupertino Province) and for our province – Michael Murphy Boes & Edgar Ivan Varela.
In addition to the new postulants, Kyle Gregg (Our Lady of Consolation Province) also returns as a second-year postulant. Our province has a third postulant. Jonathan Garcia Zenteno will be arriving in August and will serve his postulancy stage of formation with our student friars in the St. Bonaventure Friary, in Silver Spring, MD. More photos from his Welcoming will be added to this post after his arrival. Please keep all of these men in your continued prayers.


As a Welcoming to the Fraternity, the Minister Provincials conveyed a San Damiano Crucifix to each postulant of their province.

Friar James, Michael and Edgar take a photo with our Province Prefect of Formation – Fr. Mark Szanyi, OFM Conv., who was also able to attend the Fraternal Welcoming.

Read more about our three 2019 Postulants



Congratulations Fr. Colin Mary Edwards, OFM Conv.

Saturday, June 6, 2019: Our Minister Provincial, the Very Rev. Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. was joyfully in attendance as the friars of our Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody (aka the Greyfriars of Great Britain/Ireland) celebrated the
Priesthood Ordination of Fr. Colin Mary Edwards, OFM Conv.,
by Bishop Michael Gregory Campbell OSA, at the Blackfriars Priory, of Oxford University.

Friar Colin Mary is from the UK, has also lived in Africa and has traveled extensively. Prior to joining the Order, he lived in London where he worked as a teacher and principal in inner-city schools. Several of our Our Lady of the Angels Province friars  were in attendance. His Novitiate classmate, Br. Emnanuel Wenke, OFM Conv. (Theology Instructor at our Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore, MD; pictured in bottom photo 3rd from left) also made the trip to Oxford to share in the celebrations, as did Fr. Dan Quackenbush, OFM Conv. (Pilgrim Guide at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi – in Assisi, Italy; pictured below 5th from right). Two of Our Lady of the Angels Province friars serving in the Custody were also on hand: Fr. Giles Zakowicz, OFM Conv. (Director of Formation at the Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Friary – Oxford) and Fr. Matthew Chadwick, OFM Conv. (Parish Priest – St. Anthony’s Parish – Rye, East Sussex).

Many of the friars were on hand as Fr. Colin Mary celebrated his First Mass of Thanksgiving, including his Formators – Friar Giles (far right corner) and Friar Jarosław Zachariasz, OFM Conv. of Poland (back row center) and his Provincial Custos, Very Rev. Ciprian Budău, OFM Conv. (right of Friar Colin Mary)

The Friary, Oxford – House of Formation

Renewal of Vows ~ friar Franck & friar Timothy

Three years ago, on July 21, 2016, after completing their time in the Novitiate, friar Franck Lino Sokpolie, OFM Conv. and friar Timothy Blanchard, OFM Conv. first professed their Simple {Temporary} Vows; choosing to live as a Franciscan Friar Conventual for a period of three years.  Most often, 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 are not professed until after the friar completes all stages of formation. The time between the temporary and perpetual vow profession is also the formation period when friars reflect as to whether they wish to live as a friar priest or friar brother. 

As the first three years come to a close, Our Lady of the Angels Province joyfully announces that in the presence of many of their confreres, friar Franck and friar Tim, both chose to profess their Renewal of Vows on Monday, July 1, 2019, during Evening Prayer, in the Portiuncula Friary Chapel (Provincial House).

Witnessed by Fr. Paul Schloemer, OFM Conv., a friar of Our Lady of Consolation Province who serves as Co-Director of the St. Bonaventure Friary Post Novitiate – Silver Springs, Maryland, and Fr. Mark Szanyi, OFM Conv., Prefect of Formation for our Province who serves as pastor of St. Lucie Catholic Church – Port St. Lucie, Florida, the Vow Renewals were received by our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv.

On hand to celebrate with friar Franck and friar Timothy were most of the members of our Province Definitory: Fr. Michael Heine, OFM Conv. (Vicar Provincial), Fr. Richard-Jacob Forcier, OFM Conv. (Province Secretary), Fr. Jude Surowiec, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Professor at the College of Our Lady of the Elms – Chicopee, MA), Br. Tom Purcell, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Executive Director of  St. Clare Inn – Toronto, ON), Fr. Gary Johnson, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Director of the San Damiano Friary Post Novitiate – San Antonio, TX), and Fr. Eric de la Pena, OFM Conv. (Definitor & Director of the Shrine of St. Anthony – Ellicott City, MD). Also present were Fr. Stephen King, OFM Conv. (Associate at the Shrine of St. Anthony – Ellicott City, MD), Christopher M. Fernández who is on his way to our InterProvincial Novitiate to be Invested in our habit July 17, 2019, as well as two of their friary-mates, friar Bede Thigpen, OFM Conv. (a student friar of St. Bonaventure Province) and Friar Israel Arauz-Rosiles, OFM Conv. (a solemnly professed student friar of St. Joseph Cupertino Province).

Celebratory Fraternity (friar Tim – far right & friar Franck – second to right)


Meet Our Postulants 2019

July 1, 2019: Today, our new postulants begin their year of postulancy. Two of them, Michael and Edgar will be experiencing it in our St. Bonaventure Friary – Postulancy, in Chicago, Illinois; home to postulants from all four Franciscan Friars Conventual Provinces of North America. Our third postulant – Jonathan, begins his postulancy with our province at our St. Bonaventure Friary, in Silver Spring, Maryland (House of Post Novitiate Studies); home to our student friars who have already been through the postulant and novice stages of formation. As Jonathan had been a professed member of our Order a few years ago (in Mexico), we felt this community of friars would best fit his year of postulancy with us, while also affording Jonathan the opportunity to study English at the LADO International Institute.

Hello my name is Michael Boes. I’m 39 years old, from Scotch Plains, NJ. I currently work as a teacher’s assistant for Autistic teenagers. I’ve worked with Special Needs children for four years, which has increased in me a desire to serve the vulnerable. My contact with the Conventual Franciscan community started through communication with a Friar in the community on social media, which was followed by the chance to meet more friars through a retreat. My very first draw and attraction to this community is the authenticity and deep love for one another in community, along with an authentic love for Christ, I experienced in the friars. The Lord has drawn me to completely give my life over to a life of prayer, community, and service in the Church and I’m excited to begin this journey.

Hi, I’m Jonathan Garcia Zenteno from Mexico. I’m 34 years old; graduated from the Franciscan University of Mexico, with a degree in Philosophy. Previously, I was with the Conventual Franciscan family in the province of Mexico. Later I started working as a teacher in a religious monastery in Chiapas. I also was a documentary researcher for the XI District of the State of Chiapas and the Director of Logistics in a Civil Association. I seek to serve God from his church and particularly from the Franciscan family; I count on your prayers on this journey of self-surrender to God. Peace and good.

My name is Edgar Varela and I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. I am 34 years old. I previously discerned with the Carmelites and first met the Conventuals during my studies at Loyola University in Chicago, IL, and at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Afterwards, I had the desire to further pursue my discernment in a religious and fraternal setting. I reached out to this province since I was impressed and touched with the fraternity I saw in the Conventuals I met at school and while enjoying each other’s company in their friaries. In my free time, I enjoy going on a hike, listening to music, playing volleyball, and occasionally experimenting in the kitchen cooking and baking. Paz y bien.


Thank you for your prayers this year for vocations. Please keep them going! 

This is an exciting month for Vocations and our province. Our postulants will be formally received by our Minister Provincial this week. This month, Christopher Fernandez, this past year’s postulant, moved to our Order’s Novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California. He will be Invested into our habit on July 17, 2019.  Our last year’s Novices, friar Antonio Moualeu, OFM Conv., friar Raad Eshoo, OFM Conv. and friar Joseph Krondon, OFM Conv. will Profess their Simple Vows (First / Temporary) during our Province Jubiliarian Mass celebration at our Shrine of St. Anthony, in Ellicott City, Maryland, on July 22, 2019. In August, friar Antonio and friar Raad will move to the San Damiano Friary, in San Antonio, Texas (House of Post Novitiate Studies) and friar Joseph will move onto Silver Spring.

Simple Vows are first professed after a friar has completed his Novitiate, choosing to live as a Conventual Franciscan for a period of three years.  The norm is that Simple Vows will be renewed at least once during his Post-Novitiate years of study, which usually last about four years. Solemn Vows are not professed until the friar in formation has completed a Fraternal Apostolic Experience. Today, we will also joyfully celebrate the Renewal of Simple Vows with two of our student friars: friar Franck Lino Sokpolie, OFM Conv. and friar Timothy Blanchard, OFM Conv.

We ask all of you to keep encouraging men to consider our way of life. Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv, our Province Director of Vocations, is available via email (vocations@olaprovince.org) or phone (718-510-5822).

Vocations News

Here is an update on the activity with our Vocation Office so far in 2019, and of the good work that our friars are doing to encourage vocations to the Franciscan Friars Conventual of Our Lady of the Angels Province. This a busy time with applicants getting in their documents, as they seek to make application for the next year’s postulant class.

At the end of January, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv. – Vocation Director was invited to our province pastoral ministry in Winston-Salem, NC (Our Lady of Fatima Mission & Our Lady of Mercy Church, under the leadership of Fr. Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv. – Pastor  & Fr. Joseph Angelini, OFM Conv. – Pastor Emeritus) to speak to the youth of the parish about vocations. It was a joint effort with Sr. Maria (Peaches) Dela Paz, OSF, of the Sisters of  St. Francis of Philadelphia, who is a novice and was serving at the parish at that time. It was encouraging to see how much the students knew about St. Francis and how attentive they were to our presentations.

In February, Friar Russell led a pilgrimage for students from our high school ministry of St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY) to Assisi and Rome. Fourteen men attended and their desire for God and to know St. Francis and St. Clare was truly palpable. It was a moving experience for the students, their chaperones, Friar Russell and Fr. Alvin Te, OFM, who also led the pilgrimage. (Our friars serving at the high school are Fr. Michael Sajda, OFM Conv. – President, Fr. Matthew Foley, OFM Conv. – Director of Campus Ministry & Instructor, and Fr. Maximilian Avila Pacheco, OFM Conv. – Instructor.)

In mid March, Friar Russell was able to be present for the Sophomore Retreats of our high school ministry of Archbishop Curley High School (Baltimore, MD), held at our Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD). Although those students are young, seeds of vocation are being planted. He looks forward to  returning to St. Francis High School to attend their Sophomore retreat in April, where he is sure the young men there will also have vocational awareness presented to them. (Our friars serving at Archbishop Curley High School are Fr. Donald Grzymski, OFM Conv. – President, Br. Lawrence LaFlame, OFM Conv. – Instructor, Br. Nicholas Romeo, OFM Conv. – Instructor, Friar Chris Dudek, OFM Conv. – Campus Minster & Instructor, Br. Emmanuel Wenke, OFM Conv. – Instructor) (Our friars serving at the Shrine of St. Anthony include Fr. Ericson de la Pena, OFM Conv. – Director, Fr. Hilary Brzostowski, OFM Conv. – Shrine Associate, Br. Douglas McMillan, OFM Conv. – Shrine Assistance, Fr. Thomas Lavin, OFM Conv. – Chaplain at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School & Shrine Assistance, Fr. Angelo Geiger, OFM Conv. – Shrine Assistance, Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. – JPIC Commission Chairman & Shrine Assistance and Fr. Emmanuel Oposika Acquaye, OFM Conv. – Shrine Assistance.)

Last week, Friar Russell was once again invited to our ministries served by our friars of St. Anthony of Padua Friary, in Durham, NC. There the friars are very present to promoting vocations to our way of life. He was able to meet with seven men from Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill while he was there. We pray that the witness of the friars and the Holy Spirit inspires them to continue discerning Religious Life. (Our friars of St. Anthony of Padua Friary are Fr. Brad Heckathorne, OFM Conv. – Guardian, Continuing Formation Commission & Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Duke Catholic Center, Fr. Bart Karwacki, OFM Conv. – Pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church, Fr. Bill Robinson, OFM Conv. – Parochial Vicar & Associate Campus Minister at Newman Catholic Student Center Parish ~UNC Chapel Hill, Fr. Michael Martin, OFM Conv. – Director of Campus Ministry at Duke Catholic Center, Fr. Nicholas Spano, OFM Conv. – Pastor & Campus Minister at Newman Catholic Student Center Parish ~UNC Chapel Hill.)

We pray that the spirit of St. Francis inspires others to follow Jesus, as Francis did. Please keep encouraging vocations.

Vocation News

Our Lady of the Angels Province Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv. presented a “Vocation Talk” at our pastoral ministry of Our Lady of Mercy Church (Winston-Salem, NC), on January 23, 2019. He was joined by Sr. Maria (Peaches) Dela Paz, OSF, of the Sisters of  St. Francis of Philadelphia. They spoke to the grade school student, as well as to grades 6-8, the Edge Program, Grades 7-8, and the Youth Ministry Program grades 9-11.
Friar Russell professed his Simple Vows in 1979, his Solemn Vows in 1984 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1988. Since then he has served in several pastoral and formation ministries, as well as a pilgrimage leader for the Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs. Since 2014, he has served as the Our Lady of the Angels Province Vocation Director.
Sister Peaches is a second-year novice. Before entering the sisters, she worked as an academic advisor at a community college in Tacoma, WA. After graduating from St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, NJ, Sister spent two years teaching high school on the Pacific islands of Micronesia through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. This experience was a stepping stone in her discernment journey. She is spending 6 weeks Our Lady of Mercy Church, where she will be planning a reflection series for the Outreach committee and Vocations awareness events, while working with the youth group.

For more information on Vocations,
please visit: https://www.olaprovince.org/join-us/ 

Vocation Cornet

In order to foster vocations, our friars have instituted a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries, with plans to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories.

Vocation Story ~ Friar Donald Grzymski, OFM Conv.
My vocation was discovered as a high school student at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore, and now 50 years later, I’m in my fourth assignment at Curley, and my cumulative 21st year as a teacher and administrator at the school. Surely it is not the norm to keep returning to the same place, but it does give a unique perspective, and the ability to know many people over decades. It has been a blessing.
Those we serve in ministry, wherever I have been, are really good people, and care about us as both individuals and as a community. Many years of my ministry have been around young people, and it’s rewarding to see them searching for the good, and for God. The media seems to report so much sad news, but in ministry we also see so much good news.
Surely the brotherhood we promote at Curley (the school uses the phrase “where brotherhood begins,” and the message of brotherhood is regularly spoken of by the students) reflects the brotherhood of the friars, for we friars do care for one another, support one another and share our lives, our struggles and our joys. People do appreciate the message of the Good News and receiving it with a Franciscan spirit. When we can discover and follow our vocation the Lord helps us along the way, and our brothers do as well.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life, visit our Vocations page for more information information including how to contact Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv., our Province Vocation Director.

Vocation Corner

In order to foster vocations, our friars have instituted a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries, with plans to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories.

Vocation Story ~ Friar Dennis Mason, OFM Conv.
Just as I was ready for high school the Friars came to my home town and opened a school where I and some friends enrolled. The Friars challenged us to be our best and were compassionate when we struggled. The thought of a vocation from my earlier years was re-awakened and I entered the Order after graduation. That was fifty years ago. As in anyone’s life, there have been difficult times, but never any regrets. Prayer, acceptance and support, shared among the Friars and among the people we serve, have been cornerstones of life and ministry for me. Years ago, I sensed God’s call and still sense it today. So, I keep listening and keep giving thanks for the Franciscan life God gives me.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life, visit our Vocations page for more information information including how to contact Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv., our Province Vocation Director.

Vocation Corner

In order to foster vocations, our friars have instituted a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries, with plans to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories.

Vocation Story ~ Friar Reto Davatz, OFM Conv.
I was 22 when I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology, at which point I decided to pursue a Master’s in philosophy at a Dominican-run school in Ottawa, Canada. I was active in the spiritual life there, even as I digested the works of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. I was a border there and in my room, before falling asleep, the image of my celebrating Mass would sometimes come to mind, and I happily entertained those thoughts. Taking my cue from a favorite saint of mine at the time, St. André of Montreal – I had a great esteem for the Catholic priesthood and religious life as I understood it then. As for my enjoying the thought of me being a priest, holding up the host at the altar at Mass, I thought this a mere personal imagining of no real significance or potential consequence.
One day I mentioned these day-dreams (or were they pray-dreams?) in passing to one of the students living at the college whom I had known to have himself contemplated a vocation. He said to me that sometimes God speaks through our hearts in that way. I guess I decided that he might have a point even though, at the time, it seemed hard to believe, but I went with it and chose to periodically pray in the chapel specifically to know God’s will in this area. After a certain amount of time had passed, I one day spontaneously, began thinking about the great distinction of diocesan versus religious or consecrated life. Is there one that I would favor, even just off the cuff? Yes, came the thought (or the inspiration?), the family type set-up of religious life seemed to make more sense for me at some fundamental level.
Then, down the line, I arrived at another such point where the question seemed an even more difficult one to my mind. If it were my call to live in a religious community, which one would I pick? But God was to pick it and I was to discover its fit. And so, it was that the Franciscan Order that somehow sparked something after I had gone down a short list in my head of major religious orders. In doing so I had thought that I might start by ruling some of the bigger orders out until I got to that one, barely remembered name of an obscure order/congregation where probably intended me to go. I stopped, however, after going through only a few names and got ‘stuck’ on the name Franciscans. Then, as I subsequently read up on St. Francis of Assisi and the order he founded, of which I knew next to nothing I found, I quickly realized that what I was reading seemed to fit me to a T (or should I say- a Tau?). I found a match and was ready to take this as a clear indication of something which I might have to take some sort of action.
And so, I pledged in my mind and to God that if I saw a vocation add posted somewhere, I would make the call. I was enthusiastic all along and more and more I believed that this was truly a dream come true: God’s dream for me would be the greatest dream ever. Some weeks later, I saw a poster on a bulletin board in the church attached to the college where I studied. The poster advertised a weekend vocation retreat and invited young men who might feel a call to this life to visit the Conventual Franciscan Friars in Toronto.
It was actually the moment after stepping off the bus, after my return from the come-and-see weekend, that I got the loudest and clearest signal from God. It became clear in my head, heart and spirit that I had found my home and my family forever. For the next few days there were feelings of peace, of joy and of knowing I had just met my future brothers.
This last element had always been important to me. I had missed not having brothers as an only child. I had friends and parents who would talk to me when I was growing up but my brothers I was only to find years later-in religious life. Although, as far as I can remember, I did not have an explicit attraction to priesthood as a young child, I remember asking for a sibling very early on.
My vocation director would visit me periodically as I completed my degree. There was always great excitement for me in seeing him and anticipating the day that I would actually set foot in the friary where I would spend my two years of candidacy (now called postulancy and lasting one full year). My parents were to leave me there, 10 hours from home and in a new country (the U.S.) but that sense of the rightness of my choice stayed with me and never left. I loved the life and grew a lot in the challenging environment of fraternity and initial formation that were to be the next 8 years of my life.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
or call 718- 510-5822.

Vocation Corner

In order to foster vocations, our friars have instituted a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries, with plans to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories.

Vocation Story ~ Friar Matthew Foley, OFM Conv.
My name is Friar Matt Foley and I’m the new Director of Campus Ministry at St. Francis High School in Hamburg, NY. I am originally from the Boston area and I come from a large Irish Catholic family. I am the second of seven children. My parents worked hard to provide us with a Catholic education. When I was in high school, I figured out that I was going to go to college in Washington DC, study politics, and attend law school.
I attended the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC and it was there that I met the Franciscan friar who served in the Campus Ministry Office. He encouraged me in my discipleship and to pray more. I started to attend daily Mass and adoration. His goal for me was holiness, not to be a priest or a friar, or a husband and father, but instead to figure out what God wanted me to do and then do it to the best of my ability.
I started to meet more of the friars and they impressed me. They were men who loved God and those who they served. I was even more impressed seeing them in community: praying together, ministering together, even teasing each other. I felt that it was with these men that God was calling me to minister to his people.
I graduated from CUA and I started in our formation program. Each year has brought new blessings and challenges. I have learned a lot about God, the Church and myself. There have been numerous opportunities that I would not have experienced were I not a friar. I have been blessed to work with young people, teaching them and preparing them for the sacraments, working with the poor in the United States and Honduras, being immersed in the Hispanic culture and Bolivian church and the Franciscan family. I worked with the sick and dying at hospice and as a hospital chaplain. I have received a fantastic theological education, which has deepened my relationship with God and how I pray. Each of these moments, I have been blessed to share with my brothers. They are and continue to be there to pray with me, laugh with/at me, or they are there when I need an ear to listen.
All these experiences have made me the friar I am today: for better or worse! I am grateful to God for his goodness to me by giving me brothers.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
or call 718- 510-5822.