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.:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
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 Alex Cymerman, OFM Conv.
[There were no Vocation Directors, no “Come and See” visits and a limited number of printed things one could call, “Franciscan Spirituality.” If you wanted to see Franciscan life lived, it would have to be in the Franciscans who lived among us. We saw it in our parish priests, in the Franciscan Sisters who taught us in school, and even in some of our Grandparents who were Third Order Franciscans. If they weren’t saints, they were works in progress.]
When I saw my pastor about going to Maryknoll to be a missionary to China, he told me that what I really wanted was to be a Franciscan and go to our new mission in Japan. I said, “no, no, no.” He said, “yes, yes, yes,” and gave me a partial scholarship to St. Francis High School. What was my option?
It was a boarding school where we saw Franciscan life lived by our teacher-priests and brothers. They were in our classrooms, they celebrated our daily Mass, heard our confessions, coached our teams, cheered us up when we were homesick, and gave us a kick when that was in order. There were work projects around the school, directed by the Friars, in which we helped. They were ordinary men doing extraordinary things. It was good to be with them. And there was that huge stained glass window in the chapel showing St. Francis receiving the Stigmata. It was the first thing we saw each morning and the last thing we saw at night. After graduation, 12 of our class of 36 joined the friars.
Our directors continued the tradition of educating us by good example and wise direction. Somehow, St. Francis became so real to us, as did his values, and his determination to rebuild the Church according to the wishes of Jesus Christ. We were told to always seek out a priest or brother who was an inspiration in a life of prayer, in wisdom, apostolic zeal, and in carrying the daily crosses which mark a disciple of Jesus. Doing that throughout our Franciscan life was a form of continuing formation. It was always a gift to find those virtues in our fellow-students, our formators and teachers, and in the “retired” Friars who lived among us.
I was fortunate in my ministries to follow Friars who were prayerful and zealous. I always thought it my task to come into a parish and make saints of the people. What I learned was that when I got to a parish, the saints were already there, thanks to the ministry of my predecessors.
As I look back on my sixty-two years of Franciscan life, I can say that it wasn’t always easy, but it was always good. The Province invited me to work in the ministry of the education of our youth, Formation, and parishes, too. Now, in retirement, I have the privilege of living at our Novitiate, seeing a new generation of Friars striving to continue and renew what my generation began. Thankfully, I have a place to live and a reason to live.
Everything that I have is because of my life in the Order. I am so grateful for that.

“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart,
and glorify your name for ever;
for your love to me has been great.” (Psalm 86)

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
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 Julian Zambanini, OFM Conv.
When people ask me about myself, I generally begin by telling them I was born in Brooklyn! But I guess I started thinking about my vocation when I was in 7th grade, when our class was given the assignment to write a paragraph on what we would like to be, with a picture of that occupation. I wrote I wanted to be a, “teaching religious brother.” All I remember was a bit of pleased surprise on the part of the Court Street Franciscan, Sr. Casilda, and my parents. “Of course, he’s only 12 and still may change his mind.” And they were right.
At the end of 8th grade, I was offered the opportunity to go to St. Francis Seminary, Staten Island, for 4 years of high school. But fortunately, I received a scholarship to attend a local Catholic High School, V.I. (Vincentian Institute) in Albany NY, a co-educational — boys and girls the same building but separately taught by the Holy Cross Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy. It was the perfect excuse for not going to the seminary at 13 years old and one of the best decisions I have made. I had a great 4 years: the teachers, my friends, the football and basketball games, the dances … in the Marching Band and 2 Dance Bands …. All this time I stayed in contact with Conventual Franciscan Friars at my parish and at the end, although I still was looking to be a, “teaching brother,” I decided to go to St. Francis Seminary for 2 years of college. I remember my father saying, “If you like it stay, if you don’t think it’s for you, come home!” I have never regretted staying even though with the grace of God I gradually came to realize that the Lord was calling me to be a Franciscan, a Priest, and a teacher.
And the rest is history: a year of novitiate, taking my first vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, 2 years of Philosophy, making my Solemn Profession, 4 years of Theology at St. Anthony-on-Hudson, Rensselaer, NY … and Ordination in May 1965.
After Ordination, I was sent to make use of my M.A. in Classical Languages to teach Latin (my students would sing to me: “What is a nice guy like you doing, teaching Latin?”)! Religion and Journalism at Canevin High School (now called Bishop Canevin High School) in Pittsburgh, PA. Some of my time there was dedicated to being a Guidance Counselor, Newspaper Moderator, Lighting Technician for school musicals, Vice Principal for Curriculum, and Head Master while involved in the Province as President of the Formation Commission.
After 13 years in High School work, I was asked to pursue one of my first loves … to study Sacred Scripture and to be able to dig more deeply into the Word of God and St. Francis of Assisi’s experience of the Crucified Christ.
This began a new chapter in my life as a Conventual Franciscan Friar: studying at the Biblicum in Rome, working with our seminarians at the Seraphicum, being elected to General Central government of the Order as Assistant General for Formation and visiting the Seminaries of the Order in Western and Eastern Europe, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Central America, and U.S. During this time, I have met and lived with friars from all over the world at our International Seminary, who are now Teachers, Pastors, Missionaries, some Ministers Provincials, one Minister General and some Bishops. During my 37 years in Rome and Assisi, I came to appreciate different cultures, the differences in the Church, the dedication and love of men and women who gave their lives to help the poor and disadvantaged all over the world, some of them even being considered or already declared canonized Saints.
I certainly have learned a great deal in all these years … about myself, the Lord’s great love and his plan for each one of us, even though at one point when recognized that I would have to spend years in Italy, I finally said to myself, “Up to now you have followed your own will, now you have to do God’s will!” And thanks to my mother, father, family, friends, spiritual guides and to our Lord, his Blessed Mother and St. Francis of Assisi, I am still happy, after coming full circle and returning to the Friary I left almost 40 years ago. May the Lord guide you in your life decisions. Begin your journey by greeting all, the way St. Francis greeted everyone: May the Lord give you peace!

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
or call 718- 510-5822.

Vocation Corner

Presently, we have eleven men in various stages of active discernment for our Province.  Please pray for them as they continue to listen to God’s voice in their hearts.  They are good men who want to follow Jesus, according to His will.
In order to foster vocations, our friars are planning to institute a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries. Our friars plan to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories. Here, we present the Vocation Story of the Director of Campus Ministry at the Duke Catholic Center, Fr. Mike Martin, OFM Conv.:

Vocation Story ~ Friar Michael Martin, OFM Conv.
I was a regular teenager from a good Catholic family who went to school, had a part-time job and dated a girl who was really sweet. I had my future plans in mind, and life was good. My pastor was a good man who taught me how to pray and was passionate about Jesus. I met the Franciscan Friars Conventual at my high school which they administered, and they made a definite impact on me. They taught me about the Catholic faith and encouraged me to love Jesus and others – especially the marginalized. I was impressed by their common life, their service and their spirit, but I had plans of my own, even though there were times that I thought I might find that way of life compelling. My life wasn’t perfect, but it was good.
I had been told by people in the past that I would make a good priest or Franciscan, but I think I simply shrugged it off. Not that I thought that I couldn’t, but rather, I had other plans of my own. My senior year in High School, Fr. Marty Kobos, OFM Conv. asked me to meet with the Vocation Director of the Franciscans, and after a brief push back I acquiesced, given that at least I would be getting out of class. The meeting ended with me giving a gentle “Thanks, but No Thanks.” As time went on, I found myself having to work harder and harder to keep from thinking the thought of possibly being a Franciscan priest. The thought scared me, so better to just not think it. The longer I fought it, the more I realized that maybe it was worth at least considering. Not that there was some flash of lightning, nor some deep loud voice from heaven, but when I permitted myself to seriously consider the possibility of being a Franciscan priest, in the freedom to be open to it, I found a peace to embrace it.
I was uncertain what others would say or even if I would make it through the formation process. But I knew one thing for certain – I needed to try and I needed to try it right then. I knew if I waited any longer, I would be taken up with my other plans and this call would be slowly, but really quieted. There was grace in that realization! And while there have been difficult times over the 39 years since I made that decision, I have never regretted saying YES! I believe that I could have enjoyed being a husband and a father and could have excelled in business and led a fruitful and holy life. But I am certain that the path that the Holy Spirit has led me on as a Franciscan Friars Conventual priest has been and will continue to be the road for which I am on this earth. I was in no way as certain of that when I said yes to it many years ago – it wasn’t that clear. However, it has been in the saying yes to it daily that has brought clarity, purpose, and peace to my life in diverse spiritual, fraternal, and ministerial situations ever since. May God continue to give me the courage and wisdom to say yes today and for as many tomorrows as I am gifted.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
or call 718- 510-5822.

Vocation Corner

Presently, we have eleven men in various stages of active discernment for our Province.  Please pray for them as they continue to listen to God’s voice in their hearts.  They are good men who want to follow Jesus, according to His will.
In order to foster vocations, our friars are planning to institute a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries. Our friars plan to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories. Here, we present the Vocation Story of one of our Parochial Vicars serving in an Archdiocese of Baltimore, three parish Pastorate – Fr. John Ruffo, OFM Conv.:

Vocation Story ~ Friar John Ruffo, OFM Conv.
It was early in grammar school when I was first attracted to the priesthood. I’m not really sure why. I guess I felt that our parish priest was special and “Wouldn’t it be cool to be like him?”.
One year, at a “vocational day” at our school, representatives from various walks of life came to speak to the 7th and 8th grade students: one singing the praises of the Army, another the rewards of a career in medicine, another the benefits of higher education, and so on. The priest who spoke to us that day happened to be a Franciscan Friar Conventual, and like every curious child I picked up all the free literature Father offered to us.
Sometime later, I read through the information I’d collected that “vocational day” and noticed that most of the brochures had contact information. Prompted by curiosity (or was it the Holy ?) I wrote to the Conventuals expressing my interest in the friars.
At first I didn’t understand all the difference between Religious Orders and the many different kinds of priests and Religious. When I finally had to ask my own Diocesan pastor’s permission to enter the seminary, he pointed out very quickly that the local Diocese needed priests too!
Thankful for my pastor’s signature, I entered the Franciscan Friars Conventual minor seminary in September of 1961, at the ripe old age of 14.
When did I decide to actually become a Franciscan friar? It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular day or event. The day I made vows, 50 years ago now, or was ordained a priest, 44 years ago now, were certainly grace-filled moments reflective of my ongoing commitment to St. Francis’ way of life. I see my vocation more as a process I live, a decision reaffirmed every day, rather than as a particular ceremony that gives public testimony to that evolving commitment.
In my years as a friar I’ve ministered in two countries, five states, and seven dioceses. I’ve enjoyed parish ministry, campus ministry, Franciscan formation ministry, and a stint as vocation director in Canada. I’ve always believed that I am where I am because God wants me to be there, according to His plan. I continue to enjoy living and ministering in community with my Franciscan brothers.
Being a Franciscan Friar Conventual is a blessed calling. As I said ‘yes’ to Christ’s invitation to follow Him in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi in my own personal past, with His grace I’ll continue to do so in my future. Then, as I come nearer the end of my life I’ll still be able to learn what my vocation means and become new again, even as I grow old.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
or call 718- 510-5822.

National Vocation Awareness Week

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 4-10, 2018.  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 4-10, 2018.

From the NVAW Prayer Resource:
Prayer to Saint Junípero Serra 
y Ferrer, O.F.M.
O sincere and humble Saint Junípero Serra,
we ask for your intercession
that those called to serve our Lord
through priestly and religious vocations
might do so with the same
obedience, zeal, and humility
you exhibited as a priest,
brother, teacher, and spiritual father.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

Our friars have been sharing with you their own vocation stories through a series of News Posts. In order to foster vocations, our friars have also instituted this “Vocation Corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries. In the next months, be sure to check back on our website to read even more Vocation Stories.

Vocation Story ~ Friar Russell
Vocation Story ~ Friar Jim
Vocation Story ~ Friar John
Vocation Story ~ Friar Mike
Vocation Story ~ Friar Julian
Vocation Story ~ Friar Alex
Vocation Story ~ Friar Matt
Vocation Story ~ Friar Reto

Vocation Corner

Presently, we have eleven men in various stages of active discernment for our Province.  Please pray for them as they continue to listen to God’s voice in their hearts.  They are good men who want to follow Jesus, according to His will.
In order to foster vocations, our friars are planning to institute a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries. Our friars plan to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories. Here, we present the Vocation Story of the Vocation Story of our Senior Friars Director in Seaside Park, NJ – Br. Jim Moore, OFM Conv.:

Vocation Story ~ Friar Jim Moore, OFM Conv.
Fifty years ago this September 5th, God blessed me with a special gift of vocation: Religious Brotherhood. It was on that day in 1968 that I entered the Franciscan Friars Conventual to begin my life as a Religious Brother. My ‘call’ first came to me as a member of a wonderful Irish-Italian family in Syracuse, NY where I was a ‘brother’ to my four siblings! Along with my parents, they were the first to teach me about the joys and struggles of ‘brotherhood’ and community/family living. At the same time, I also credit my elementary and secondary school teachers, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. These Religious women were wonderful role models and witnesses of ‘community living’ and ministry. I believe it was this call to community that drew me to the life of St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan community.
As a Religious Brother, I consecrated myself through the profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and I have lived a wonderful life of communal prayer and witnesses to God’s love and presence in my life by serving in a number of creative ministerial opportunities. Thanks to the support of my brothers in my Franciscan community, I have been a high school teacher, a vocation director and a formation director. For our Franciscan community, I have served on our Leadership Team and been a university campus minister and a spiritual director. I was also fortunate to be the founder of a year-long, non-profit volunteer service program for young adults (FrancisCorps). God has certainly been good to Jim Moore! Religious Brothers are called to be brothers to Jesus, and therefore deeply united with Him in brotherly service to others. I hope and pray others join me in this amazing vocation. To me, St. Francis of Assisi is the perfect example of Religious Brotherhood. He is my role model, my friend, my brother.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life,
please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
or call 718- 510-5822.

 

Vocation Corner

Presently, we have eleven men in various stages of active discernment for our Province.  Please pray for them as they continue to listen to God’s voice in their hearts.  They are good men who want to follow Jesus, according to His will.
In order to foster vocations, our friars are planning to institute a “vocation corner” in the bulletins of our parishes, schools and other ministries. Our friars plan to fill those “corners” with personal vocation stories. Fittingly, we begin this series with the Vocation Story of our own Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.:

Vocation Story ~ Friar Russell Governale, OFM Conv.
As a High School student growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I felt the desire to serve God and God’s people. I wanted to help others to grow and live better. This was prior to the existence of the internet, so as I prayed and considered the possibility of becoming a priest, I began to cut out ads from our Diocesan Catholic Newspaper and send them to different Religious Orders to obtain information about them. That was “surfing” in the 70s.
I received quite a bit of mail and upon receiving the information from the Franciscan Friars Conventual, I was moved by their simplicity of life and the number of young men who were joining them. I decided to visit the seminary in Massachusetts and the Novitiate in Maryland. The joy, youth and excitement of the friars— young and old — attracted me.
As I discerned, I thought, “Let me give it a try for a year!”
That was 40 years ago. God continued to touch my heart with His love and allowed me to receive the gift of a Franciscan vocation. Now, I have the blessed joy to accompany young men who are discerning, as I was back then. Living the life of the vows, fraternity and Sacrament allows me to fulfill that initial desire to serve God and His people.

If you are interested in Franciscan Life, please contact me, Fr. Russell, Vocation Director at:
vocations@olaprovince.org.,
www.franciscans.org,
@conventuals1223,
or call me at 718- 510-5822.

 

+Fr. Ignatius Maternowski, OFM Conv.

Fr. Ignatius Maternowski, OFM Conv.

Fr. Ignatius Maternowski, OFM Conv. circa 1942.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ proclaims: “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John I 5: I 3 ).” These words were literally taken to heart by a young Franciscan priest and US military chaplain, Father Ignatius Maternowski, OFM Conv., who was killed during the Invasion of Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Mater Dolorosa school 1930

School children in front of Mater Dolorosa School, circa 1925.

Fr. Maternowski was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts on March 28, 1912. After graduation from Mater Dolorosa Parochial School in 1927, he attended St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, NY, where he was a member of that school’s first graduating class in 1931. He entered the religious Order of the Franciscan Friars Conventual, and professed his first vows as a friar in 1932. After pursuing further studies, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Thomas O’Leary of the Diocese of Springfield on July 3, 1938, in the chapel of Saint Hyacinth College and Seminary, Granby, Massachusetts. He began his ministry as a parish priest, and then, once his ability as a preacher was recognized, his superiors assigned him to preach parish missions and retreats.

Granby chapel 1930

Chapel of Saint Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby, Massachusetts where Fr. Ignatius was ordained a priest in 1938.

After the outbreak of World War II, Fr. Ignatius responded to the need for service as a military chaplain. In July, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and later volunteered to become a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. After rigorous training with fellow troops, he attained the rank of Captain, serving God and country loyally for 23 months. Deployed to Ireland and England in readiness for the battles that would re-claim the freedom of Europe, he offered one final Mass for his troops, and administered General Absolution on the eve of the Normandy Invasion.

Fr. Ignatius Maternowski training

Fr. Ignatius Maternowski during paratrooper training.

In the early morning hours of D-Day, Fr. Ignatius parachuted with a large number of troops into occupied territory, the hamlet of Guetteville in the town of Picauville. An American glider had crashed nearby. There were many casualties. Immediately Fr. Ignatius began ministering to the wounded paratroopers and glider victims. Realizing that a suitable aid station would be needed, Fr. Ignatius calculated a risky strategy: attempting negotiations with his German counterpart, in the peaceful hope of combining their wounded together in one common hospital. Walking between enemy lines unarmed, with helmet hanging from his belt, and wearing his chaplain’s insignia and a Red Cross arm­band, he bravely went to meet with the head Nazi medic. As he returned through the no-man zone to the American side, he was shot in the back by an enemy sniper – becoming the only US chaplain to be killed on D­Day. He was 32 years of age, in the 5th year of his priesthood.

His dead body lay visible on the road for three days, because the enemy refused to allow it to be moved. On the 9th of June, US soldiers from the 90th Infantry Division recovered it, and removed it for burial near Utah Beach. In 1948, his remains were returned to Holyoke for a solemn Mass in Mater Dolorosa Church, and interment in the Franciscan Friars’ plot at Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in South Hadley, MA.

Friars in Granby honoring Fr. Ignatius Maternowski

A Memorial Plaque was hung at Fr. Ignatius’ Alma Mater, the now closed St. Hyacinth College and Seminary, in Granby, MA, bearing the names of 15 graduates who went into the service as chaplains. Here, friars remember Fr. Ignatius, pointing to his name on the plaque.

In the Franciscan book of memories it is written of him: “He was an exemplary priest, a dynamic preacher, but most of all, he was truly an apostle and friend of the soldiers entrusted to his spiritual care.”

Fr. Ignatius Maternowski, of Holyoke, Massachusetts, stands as the first Polish-American priest to give his life in service to our country in World War II, and as the only US chaplain to die on D-Day in the Normandy invasion. He was posthumously awarded a “Purple Heart” by the US government. His name is commemorated on memorials in Holyoke, MA; Athol Springs, NY; Arlington National Cemetery, VA; London, England, and Normandy, France.

Fr. James McCurry at Omaha US Military Cemetery (1157x643)

Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., Minister Provincial of the Our Lady of the Angels Province, at the Normandy American Cemetery at Omaha Beach (Cimetiere Americain de Normandy), where the graves of 9,387 soldiers, a chapel, memorials and garden can be visited to honor the courage, skill and ultimate sacrifice made by those who are laid to rest there.

As the world celebrated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing on the coast of France, Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv., the Minister Provincial of the Our Lady of the Angels Province, spoke at a ceremony in the hamlet of Guetteville commemorating the death of Franciscan Friar Father Ignatius Maternowski, OFM Conv.

Reconciliation was  on the minds of all as a large contingent of German soldiers laid a wreath beneath the Fr. Maternowski Memorial, during the service.  The German ambassador had already sent a special spray of flowers from the German government.  Further tributes were paid by wreath-layings from the French, British, and US military representatives.  Flag-bearing honor guards of French and US military stood at attention throughout the ceremony.  The largest delegation of military personnel in attendance came from the US Army Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne.  Members of the US Air Force coordinated a flypast  tribute of C-130s.

Fr. Alex with Fr. ignatius picture

Friar James McCurry holds the American flag while Friar Alex Cymerman, OFM Conv. holds a photograph of Fr. Ignatius Maternowski close to his heart during a service at Fr. Ignatius’ grave in Mater Dolorosa Cemetery, Holyoke, MA, 2013.

The 91-year-old US Army Sergeant Major (ret.) Rock Merritt, a veteran of the 508th PIR, placed a floral tribute in honor of his fallen comrade.  Rock recalled how word of their chaplain’s killing had spread like wildfire among the men of the 508th, inspiring their resolve to press on to victory.

Among the participants in the commemoration of Fr. Maternowski at the Gueutteville ceremony was Monsieur Louis Marion and 3 other villagers, all of whom witnessed the events of D-Day 1944.  The 89-year-old Louis was one of the local eyewitnesses to the shooting of Fr. Maternowski, and he gave testimony about the final moments of the chaplain’s life.   He placed a floral tribute in homage to the “priest whose blood has sanctified our village.“  The other three women were teenagers at the time, kept indoors by their frightened mothers as the fighting raged outside their houses.  They recalled their mothers telling them about the dead priest lying in the road.

At the ceremony’s conclusion, “Taps” was played by an Army bugler, followed by the national anthems of the United States and France.  Everyone stood at attention, united as one – army, air force, and marines; privates and colonels; American, German, French and British; D-Day veterans; village survivors; civilians of all walks of life.

Concluding his remarks in Guetteville, Fr. McCurry recalled that “When he landed on French soil in the village of Guetteville on the 6th of June (D-Day), Fr. Ignatius was not wearing his Franciscan robe, he was garbed in the uniform of a United States Army Captain. Fr. Ignatius had one thing in common with his Franciscan brothers from the 13th century, he was motivated by Charity, Love for freedom, and Love for justice.”

Fr. Ignatius Maternowski memorial in France

Memorial in Guetteville, France, commemorating the charity and heroism of Franciscan Friar Conventual Fr. Ignatius Maternowski on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

To read the official account of Fr. Ignatius’ heroism on D-Day as it is presented beside his memorial in Guetteville, France, click here.

The Franciscan Friars Conventual invite you to support the Cause of Fr. Ignatius Maternowski towards sainthood by your prayers and support. 

To share stories of Fr. Ignatius’ life or intercession, please use the form below.

 

Meet the Friars ~ Fr. Gerald Waterman, OFM Conv.

This image adapted and altered to his likeness by one of Friar Gerry’s former students. It was taken from the “God Luv Ya” friar used in our Companions of St. Anthony ministry.

Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Gerald Waterman, OFM Conv. hails from Bridgeport, CT and in 1973, at the age of 18, entered the Novitiate. He professed Solemn Vows as a Franciscan Friar Conventual, in 1981 and in 1985 was Ordained to the Priesthood, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Albany, NY.
Throughout his three decades in ministry, he has served all over our province (in seven states to be exact) in parishes, formation and the promotion of our missions. His past two assignments have been in college campus ministry. From 2005-2016, Friar Gerry served the students of Elon University and he is currently serving those of Syracuse University and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

One of the favorite events enjoyed through the Catholic Center is the Thursday Night Dinner. Friar Gerry kicks off these evenings with 7:00 p.m. Mass with the group and then joins them for fellowship and food. Free and welcome to all students of all faiths, each of these Thursday Night Dinners include a well balanced meal featuring comforting foods such as Eggplant Parmesan, Pasta & Meatballs, Mediterranean Chicken, Mac n’ Cheese, Pulled Pork BBQ, Vegan Burgers and Chicken n’ Biscuits. Several times each semester, the participants add to this night of fun, with a bit of service to those who go without in the local community. After Mass and a great meal, the students, faculty, staff and visitors line up to make sandwiches for the local Samaritan Center, an interfaith effort of community members who are committed to serving the hungry and those in need in Central New York in order to promote their welfare, dignity and self-sufficiency. Read More
This tradition began well before Friar Gerry began serving as Campus Minister for the Catholic students of SU and SUNY ESF. There has been a home for Catholic students there for well over 100 years and the students enjoy a vibrant community, with devoted staff and Student Leadership. For the eight years prior to the arrival of Friar Gerry, they were under the nurturing spiritual guidance of the late +Fr. Linus DeSantis, OFM Conv. and August 2016, the diverse Syracuse community of students, alumni, parents, and friends have embraced Friar Gerry and he enjoys serving for and with the Catholic Orange and SUNY ESF communities.