Franciscan Friars
Province of the Immaculate Conception
Provincial Update - April 2021
Dear Brothers,

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally celebrated as Good Shepherd Sunday, because the readings point to the Lord as the Good Shepherd.  It is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  Vocations are of particular interest for us as religious, especially in these days when we see the scarcity of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  As Franciscans, we don’t   
need to be convinced that the church is in crisis as far as vocations are concerned.  I know from speaking to so many friars that many of us knew from an early age that we wanted to be a priest or a brother.  As time went on, we probably narrowed our discernment, eventually seeing the rule and life of the Friars Minor as an important part of our vocation discernment.

In those days, having a vocation was seen as a great honor for our families and friends.  Very seldom was anyone discouraged from pursuing a vocation, even though at times it meant great sacrifice on our own part, as well as our loved ones who would miss us so much.  For those of us who entered the seminary at a very early age, sometimes as young as thirteen years ago, it was a great sacrifice for our parents to see their young son leave home at such a young age.  But this sacrifice was seen as part of the great privilege and honor of having a priest or brother as part of the family.  

Eventually, society’s outlook on religious vocations changed.  Many are openly discouraged to pursue a vocation by family and friends.  Some were opposed very vehemently by their parents.  People asked them why they wanted to waste their lives.  Of course, much of this was during the scandals involving priests, and many people (including very devout Catholics) held the church in much suspicion.

Our church is definitely influenced by the attitudes of society.  We find Catholics becoming less and less religious, often looking with suspicion and even in some cases contempt on any religious institutions, with some people actually mocking religious beliefs as being primitive and superstitious.  In our scientific age, more and more people identify themselves as atheists or agnostics.

That sad part of all of this is as a church we no longer foster vocations.  We don’t encourage our children to consider this as a possibility.  We want them to be successful, to grow rich, and to have such “perfect” lives that they would not have to face any kind of sacrifice or want.  Yet we know that sacrifice is at the heart of our faith.

We certainly have to acknowledge that God has not stopped calling men and women to ministry and consecrated life.  And if He hasn’t stopped calling, then the problem is that people have stopped listening to that call and not opening themselves up to the will of God.   We can pray and pray every day for an increase in vocations.  But nothing will happen unless we open ourselves up to the possibility that our son, daughter, relative, or friend can be encouraged to give their lives to God.  Only when our attitudes change, and we look at it as a great honor for a family member or friend to enter the priesthood or religious life, will we be able to see truly an increase of priests, brothers, and sisters.  Let us all resolve to promote, foster, encourage, and pray for vocations to ministry in the Church, especially the priesthood and religious life.
P.S. I would like to ask all the friars of our province to get vaccinated for Covid-19 as soon as possible. Only when all our friars are vaccinated will we all feel safe eough to resume our regular provincial activities. I am sure most of you are aware that several of our houses have been greatly affected by the Covid virus. Since we live in fraternity, it is important that we not put our brothers in jeopardy- especially our elder brothers and those most vulnerable. We will then be able to resume provincial gatherings, such as chapters, retreats, regional days, and fraternal celebrations. Please make arrangements as soon as possible to get your vaccination. Thank you.
News from the Convento San Francesco, Rome
Post Novitiate Program
Happy Easter to all of you from Rome!
During this time our post-novitiate fraternity has been living the liturgical commemorations of the Church. We prepared ourselves spiritually with a nice retreat given by Fra Giovanni Rinaldi OFM, Secretary General of the Order. Through reflection, we delved deeper into some key biblical geography, on the characters surrounding the passion, helping us to really enter into the dynamics and spirituality of the Easter triduum. Together we had a beautiful and fraternal moment of reflection.
We then joined the fraternity at the General Curia, having observed all necessary precautions, in celebrating the different liturgies of the Easter Triduum. We served in different ways (with the readings of the different celebrations and also as acolytes).
Certainly, living within the confines of this virus and all that it has modified in normal day-to-day living has brought about a deep sense of sobriety.
Finally, we arrived to Easter Day, where we had the nice gesture of our formators who cooked for us. The following day, as is custom in Italy, we had our Easter Monday Pasquetta. It was a sunny day, so we put on a good barbecue on our terrace and it was an opportunity for some lighthearted fraternity, laughs and sharing the joy of the Risen Lord. 
Peace and all Good to all!
Br Daniel R. Luna, OFM
General Chapter 2021 Information
The General Definitory met on March 29, 2021 to reflect on the holding of the General Chapter that was convened by letter prot. N. 110186 of December 27, 2020.  The General Definitory carefully examined all the information provided by various officials of the World Health Organization at its headquarters in Geneva, by the heads of the Covid-19 Crisis Unit of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by the Visa sector of the same Ministry, by several Italian Ambassadors from various diplomatic offices around the world and by officers of the Border Police at Rome-Fiumicino Airport. All these institutions assured their willingness to collaborate in facilitating the administrative procedures for the Capitulars’ arrival.  Having received assurances about the health and safety guarantees for the participants, the general Definitory decided not to change the date of the Chapter, which will take place, as planned, from July 3 to 18, 2021.  The chapter venue, the Capuchin Friars’ Collegio San Lorenzo da Brindisi, has enough space inside the complex to ensure that the Chapter work can be carried out safely and fully respecting social distancing rules.  It is also surrounded by a vast private wood, where recreation and, for those who wish, sporting activities can be carried out.  This decision was made after consultation with the various Conferences of the order.  Some of the conferences expressed concern, given the current Covid-19 situation, apprehension about taking long airplane flights at this time, and the many regulations of the various countries concerning international travel.  There were assurances that the General Chapter will be held in strict compliance with health protocols and will be a sign of hope and openness to the future for all the friars and for those we are called to serve in the spirit of fraternity.   

Province Photo Montage Prepared for General Chapter

The Provinces of the Order have been asked to submit a two-minute video or slide show, featuring the province's fraternity and ministry with the theme "Restoring God's Church: Fraternity and Mission." This will eventually be posted on the order's web page. Below is the photo montage from our province, put together by Friar Joseph Lorenzo, OFM, Provincial Secretary and Communications Director for the Province. After clicking on the link below, press the arrow to the left at the bottom of the screen to view the video montage.

May Birthdays 
Take time to wish our friars a Happy Birthday!

Courtland Campbell - May 6th - 66
Alexis Anania - May 18th - 90
Dennis Wheatley - May 21st - 71
Richard Donovan - May 26th - 69

The Way of the Cross: A Short History
by Greg Friedman, OFM, Provincial Secretary  of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province

When I guide Holy Land pilgrims through the streets of Jerusalem on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, we usually share the crowded streets with pilgrim groups from around the world, people of other faiths going about their business, tourists from cruise ships and merchants standing outside their shops, doing business. We’re part of everyday life in the Old City.  

I remind the pilgrims that—except for the differences of 20 centuries—Jesus’ ordeal of carrying the cross on that first Good Friday through streets crowded with people was similar: Some may have known this man being led leading to execution; some were his anguished followers; others could have cared less. To many, Jesus was just a curiosity. 

The route we take, and which the Franciscans follow every Friday, at three o’clock in the afternoon, has been established for centuries, but scholars dispute its accuracy. We believe the location of Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus are authentic, but today’s route of the Via Dolorosa may not be Jesus’ path from the place of sentencing to the place of crucifixion and burial. And we know as well that some of the events in the 14 stations aren’t found in the Gospel at all. Christians from the earliest days no doubt visited the site of Calvary and the Tomb. A formal route, with set “stations,” came much later. 

In the fourth century, a Spanish nun, Egeria, describes in her diary how pilgrims followed a route in and around Jerusalem to places associated with the Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. In succeeding centuries, various routes and processions are recorded. In fact, European pilgrims took the practice home, so their fellow Christians could reproduce it. 

After Pope Clement VI gave the Franciscans the care of the Holy Places in 1342, a ritual procession began at “Mount Zion,” outside the city walls, where the friars had their headquarters and commemorated the Last Supper. It continued on to include the House of Caiaphas, the palace of Annas, the Mount of Olives and the Pool of Siloam. These devotions went beyond the events of Good Friday. A later route began at the Holy Sepulcher and included the Garden of Gethsemane. Because Jerusalem at the time was under Muslim rule, the friars led pilgrims in the hours before dawn, so as not to disturb others. 

The sole focus on the events of the Passion only began in the 15th century, but early routes didn’t include the model of our present-day 14th stations. It was pilgrims coming from Europe, who were familiar with a version of the Way of the Cross popularized in well-known devotional books, who eventually led Franciscan guides in Jerusalem to begin leading the Way of the Cross largely familiar to us! 

A Canadian friar working in the Holy Land, Blessed Frederic Janssoone, promoted the custom of the Friday afternoon Via Dolorosa. The Franciscans—with young friars in formation usually leading the prayers by megaphone—begin near the Franciscan biblical school, and process through the streets to the final five stations within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We’re usually crowded and rushed, as we weave through the streets so we can finish within the time limits imposed by the Status Quo, the agreement which preserves order among Christians serving together in that great church, which shelters both Calvary and the tomb of Jesus. 

For a friar, the conclusion of the Via Dolorosa sometimes permits a quick “official” visit inside the shrine over the Tomb, to venerate the place where Jesus was buried and rose from the dead. 

Today the Franciscans have created a wonderful audiovisual experience for pilgrims. The program unfolds the history of Jerusalem and invites modern-day pilgrims to identify with the countless people before them who have walked the streets of the city as Jesus did on that first Good Friday. To you, our brothers, and friends sharing our audiovisual Way of the Cross we extend the same invitation. 
Link to You Tube :
Easter Letter of
Minister General
Br. Michael Perry

The Message of the Empty Tomb

My dear Brothers,
I take this solemn occasion to wish each of you a very blessed and holy Easter!
As we heard in the Easter Gospel from St. John (Cf. Jn 20:1-9), three friends and followers of Jesus had three very different experiences of the event of the empty tomb: Mary of Magdala, Peter, and the famous, Johannine ‘other disciple’. For Mary, she arrives ‘while it is still dark’, one of the central theological themes present in John’s Gospel, the struggle between light (righteousness) and darkness (all that is not of God). There is little doubt that she continues to grieve the loss of her Teacher and friend. This is most probably the reason she has returned to the tomb, to mourn Jesus’ death, and to seek answers to the questions haunting her mind and heart. What she sees, however, provokes a deeper reaction, one of fear, the fear that those with evil intentions have stolen the body of Jesus. It is this, perhaps, that drives her to rush back to the company of the disciples and inform them about what she witnessed.
The ‘other disciple’, “the one whom Jesus loved,” is the second person to arrive at the tomb, rushing ahead of Peter. Perhaps because he (or she) was younger, he waits outside of the tomb, respectfully awaiting the arrival of the senior partner. Only after Peter’s arrival and entry into the tomb did this ‘other disciple’ dare to enter the hallow space. When this ‘other disciple’ finally enters the tomb, something occurs in his life. There is a recognition that God is doing something great in and through Jesus – “he saw, and he believed” – but it was not yet clear just what these events meant, and what difference they would make in his/her life.
Many biblical scholars suggest that this ‘other disciple’ represents each of us who are followers of the risen Lord Jesus. Like this ‘other disciple’, perhaps we also find ourselves at different moments in our lives rushing in search of answers to lifelong questions, ones that have become even more apparent in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps we, like the ‘other disciple’, have come to perceive in the emptiness, fear, and isolation provoked by the pandemic something different in our lives, our world, something that is calling for a deeper conversion, a greater truth, a more profound justice and peace in order that we might truly ‘see and believe’. In what does this seeing and believing consist? Perhaps, it is the conviction that God is here, hope is near, the love of God in Jesus, a love that extends to all people and all of creation, is stronger than the threat of the pandemic, the threat of illness and death!
The third witness to these events is Peter, the one who denied knowing Jesus during his trial, condemnation, and crucifixion. Perhaps his silence is the result of his feelings of guilt, shame, and total inadequacy. These feelings oftentimes provoke silence. He was but one of the many disciples and friends who had abandoned Jesus at his darkest hour. There is no confession of faith by Peter, as was the case of the ‘other disciple’. Rather, he gathers information and then returns to the “locked room” where he and the other disciples and friends of Jesus took refuge. It is likely that they discussed together what they had seen and heard. However, the emptiness of the tomb, its message, had not yet penetrated the thick, protective shields that Peter, Jesus’ disciples and followers, and that we often construct to protect us from that which we perceive as a danger, a threat, that which provokes fear, confusion, anger, and even despair.
My dear Brothers, it would have been more consoling for me to have spoken about the second part of Chapter 20 of the Gospel of St. John, which, according to many scripture scholars, was added at a later moment almost as if to redeem the impenetrable events of the suffering and death of Jesus by demonstrating to the disciples the living presence of the resurrected body of Jesus. However, I believe this first ‘encounter’ with the empty tomb provides us with an important instrument for reflecting on our lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, darkness has covered the earth, much like that in the primordial times prior to God bringing order out of chaos (Gn. 1:2). Together with all of humanity, we have experienced the threats of chaos and emptiness provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have found ourselves isolated, devoid of physical contact. We have had to put on ‘shields’ to protect us from the unknown but ever-present lurking danger of an unseen organism capable of doing great harm to us – physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, economically, and in all other ways. As we prepare to be vaccinated in order to protect ourselves, we also recognize that there is still too much unknown about the virus to allow our guards to be let down. The dark night is not yet over.
The message of Easter is one that brings hope and inspires courage to all who profess faith in the beloved Son of God, Jesus. The empty tomb does not provide us with answers. Rather, it creates a space in which we might ask difficult questions. It provides a place where we might come face to face with all that causes us to fear, all that urges us to choose isolation from God, from one another, and even from ourselves in place of choosing pursue paths towards authentic fraternity with God and with one another. In the end, the promise of the resurrection provides us with hope. However, this hope is not only the result of something that comes from outside of us, from belief in the power of God’s grace and love. It is, in the end, the result of a decision we make within our minds and hearts to welcome and embrace the One who has embraced death in order that He might lead all of us toward an authentic experience of what it means to be alive. The resurrection of Jesus presents us with a radical choice — to live daily in the power of God’s love that is stronger than the cruel, enslaving effects of injustice, racism, hatred, violence, and a spiritual wasteland. Or to live in the indifference, fear, and hopelessness offered by all that opposes righteousness, holiness, goodness, and truth.
May the love and peace that Jesus offers to all who place their trust in Him fill us with joy and strengthen us in our resolve to embrace the way of the cross, the way of the Gospel, to embrace even the empty tomb. Like Mary Magdala, the ‘other disciple’, and Peter, may we come to experience what it truly means to be alive in Christ Jesus.
Blessings of Easter joy to you, my dear Brothers, and also to you my dear Poor Clare and Conceptionist cloistered Sisters. Let us continue also to pray that God’s loving grace might be poured out upon our General Chapter.
Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021
Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant
Fr. James Goode, OFM, from Solid Ground Ministry, Bronx, NY, to Mary Manning Walsh Home, 1339 York Avenue, New York NY, effective immediately

The Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception officially announces, as of Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the closing of the Solid Ground Ministry, formerly located at St. Clare Friary, Manhattan, and at Kittay House, Bronx, New York.  With the retirement of Fr. James Goode, O.F.M., director of the ministry, all operations will cease.  We thank Father James for his many years of service to the community, as well as all those, who by their good work, sacrifices, and donations, made this ministry possible.  
St. Christopher Friary, Boston

The brothers at St. Christopher Friary renewed vows after Evening Prayer on April 16, according to custom. The friars of the house and Gabriel, who is visitng, have a combined total of more than 465 years of vowed lifed. Aubert alone accounts for 150 of those years, although he reports that he is looking to get married. 
Our Lady of Peace, Brooklyn
Our Lady of Peace, Brooklyn
Our Lady of Peace, Brooklyn
Our Lady of Peace, Brooklyn
St. Thomas Aquinas, Derry
St. Thomas Aquinas, Derry
St. Thomas Aquinas, Derry
St. Thomas Aquinas, Derry
Blessed Sacrament, Manchester
Blessed Sacrament, Manchester
Blessed Sacrament, Manchester
St. Anthony NYC
St. Anthony NYC
St. Anthony, Catskill
St. Anthony, Catskill
Holy Week in Central America



Friar Richard James, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar James Hoffman, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)
Friar George Musial, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)
Friar Eric Sampson, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)
Friar Ben Innes, OFM (St. Barbara Province)
Friar Javier Reyes, OFM (St. Barbara Province)
Friar Amedeo Nardone, OFM (Immaculate Conception Province)
Friar John Bavaro, OFM (Immaculate Conception Province)

Recently Deceased Family and Friends
Joseph Castro (Maintenance Supervisor at Provincial Curia)
Maria Caprio Sicuso (Sister of Fr. Robert Caprio)
Catherine (Kitty) Branch (Sister of Fr. Louis DeTommaso)
Patrick D'Cruz (Brother of Fr. Michael D'Cruz)

Let us pray for our infirm friars:
Friar Peter Hoang Cao Thai, OFM
Friar James Goode, OFM

For our Infirm Family and Friends
Janice DiLillo (Cousin of Fr. Robert Campagna)

For all infected and affected by the virus.

For our friars in skilled nursing and rehab facilities:
Friar James Goode, OFM
Friar Albin Fusco, OFM
Friar Isaac Calicchio, OFM
Friar Daniel Morey, OFM
Friar Philip Adamo, OFM
Friar Lawrence Stumpo, OFM
Friar Clement Procopio, OFM

Please pray for all friars, families, friends, and benefactors,
living and deceased.
For medical personnel and first responders.
For those in our nursing homes and hospitals.
For families separated from their loved ones due to quarantine.
Please print out a copy of this newsletter to share with those in your community who do not have email. We hope that every friar in our province will have access to the Newsletter and that a printed copy will be posted on your friary bulletin board.
Thank you
The Management
Province of the Immaculate Conception, New York NY
125 Thompson Street
New York NY 10012

Please send any articles, news items, or photos to
Friar Joseph F Lorenzo, O.F.M.
Provincial Curia
125 Thompson Street
New York NY 10012
Cell: 917.337.9833
Office: 212.674.4388 Xt. 113