Spiritual Testament ~ Friar John

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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!

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Noel

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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.

Spiritual Testament ~ Friar Ed

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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

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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.”

Spiritual Testment ~ Friar Julian

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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

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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!’