Franciscan Friars
Province of the Immaculate Conception

Provincial Update November 2022

Dear Brothers,

It is no surprise that the ancient peoples looked upon November as the month of the dead.  Look at what happens around us during November.  The days get shorter, the nights grow darker and longer, the sun is lower on the horizon, the leaves on the trees decay and fall to the ground, cold winds blow from the north, and more and more, due to the weather, we spend much time indoors.  During the fall, many people like taking rides in the countryside to see the vibrant colors of the

changing leaves.  They are called “leaf peepers.”  But one thing we have to realize that the leaves are changing colors because they are dying.  Soon, they will fall from the trees and decay. 

The month of November begins with remembering the deceased.  Certainly Halloween, though still in October, is as the name suggest the Eve of All Hallows, when we remember all the saints.  This is followed by All Souls day.  During the course of the month, we have special observances remembering the dead.

Our own civil calendar follows the path of the sun and may of our feasts and holy days revolve around sowing and reaping of crops, the birthing of the animals of the flock.  Very often the feasts of ancient religions centered around what was going on in their own lives.  Easter, for example, is held during the spring, when the earth comes alive with grass, flowers, and fruits.  Easter marked the beginning of the growing season, as well as the time when the animals in the field would give birth. Christmas is celebrated at the darkest time of the year- marking a festival of light as Jesus, the light of the world, is born. Other feasts celebrate the gathering of the harvest.

This time of the year was looked upon as a time to honor the dead.  And it is a tradition that crossed over into the liturgical celebrations of the church, when we mark what in some countries is called the “Day of the Dead”.  All Souls Day is a

time for remembering those who have died, and it is good to remember how important these people were to us and continue to be to us.  All of us have been molded by those who have gone before us, whether it is our families, our relationships, or the friars of our province . 

This month, besides praying for those who have died, we also marked two funerals- Fr. Paul Rotondi and Fr. Ralph Paonessa.  Both of these men had a great influence on many of us- Fr. Paul, with his many years as a teacher, formator, and pastor, and who worked so diligently here at the Provincial Curia as our archivist and editor of the Provincial Chronicle.  Fr. Ralph- who had a great influence on my own life, inspired many through his years of ministry in Toronto as a pastor and spiritual guide.   

I am sure we can all think of many friars who have died but still hold an important place in our hearts and minds.  Some of them were our formators, some we lived with, some through their example led us to Christ and were an important part of our spiritual journey as Franciscans.  Some were friends.  Some of them still make us laugh and smile as we recall the stories so many friars like to repeat over and over.  Some may bring a tear to our eyes, as we realize how much we miss them. But all of them have played an important part in our own lives and in the life of our province.

I often like to reflect on the debt of gratitude we should show those friars who made great sacrifices and built our province.  I think of the first missionaries of our province- those who travelled to Central America or went to the far reaches of our country and Canada to minister to poor immigrant Italians working in factories and coal mines.  I think of the friars who ministered in our many parishes and schools, and the many sacrifices they made for the sake of others. 

As our month of remembrance concludes with Thanksgiving and the ushering in of the Christmas season, I hope that, wherever we may be, whether it is with family or friends or fellow friars, or perhaps simply in our rooms munching on a turkey burger- should bow our heads for a moment and thank the Lord in gratefulness for their lives and their devotion to God.

And let us also be grateful for our own brotherhood, for those who take care of us, and those who sustain us in life- our benefactors, relatives, and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, brothers.  

News from the Convento San Francesco

Dear Brothers
Greetings and peace from Convento San Francesco. We are now settling into life here in Rome and our classes at the Antonianum. We have begun our various apostolates which continue to be a wonderful way for each of us to stay anchored in our vocation to encounter Christ in all people, young and old, and especially in the poor and marginalized. This month we celebrated the birthday of our brother Oscar! We joined together in a festive meal and gave thanks for Oscar and wished him much health and blessings. We have a new development in thatsome of us have begun playing in a weekly soccer match with the friars at the general curia. We won’t say who is winning (out of humility…or maybe embarrassment, we won’t say which). As always we thank you for your prayers and support and please be assured of ours as well. Peace and all good!
Br. Matt Mancino

Blessing of Provincial Graves at Calvary Cemetery

The province's three postulants, Jose Manuel Mejia Veliz, Luis Alejandro Solano Castillo

and Manuel Alejandro Chavarria Blanco, along with their directors, Fr. Orlando Ruiz and Fr. Octavio Salinas, from Our Lady of Peace Friary and Church, Brooklyn, New York, visited and blessed the graves of our province's friars in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York on November 5, 2022, the day the order marks the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed of the Seraphic Order. The Mass to rememeber the deceased friars was held the following Wednesday at Padua Friary in Manhattan.

Latest statistics published by the

Acta Ordinis Fratrum Minorum:

2022 Population of the

Order of Friars Minor

There are now 12,127 Friars

in 119 Countries in the


This September, the “Acta Ordinis Fratrum Minorum” published the statistical surveys of our Order worldwide up to December 2021, period 2020/2021. More than eight centuries ago, with the approval of Pope Innocent III, St Francis of Assisi founded one of the greatest religious Orders in Christianity, which remains large but has been divided into three branches: Order of Friars Minor (OFM), Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFM Conv) and Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap). 

Currently, the Order of Friars Minor has 12,127 friars in 119 countries. Of these: 445 postulants (not counted); 325 novices; 1,409 temporarily professed (931 with clerical option, 137 without clerical option, 341 without option); 10,395 solemnly professed (8,190 priests, 70 permanent deacons, 393 with clerical option, 1,633 lay friars); 3 Cardinals, 106 Archbishops and Bishops. During this period, the Order recorded 341 deaths.

We, friars, are distributed as follows: 1,303 in Africa and the Middle East; 2,958 in Latin America; 983 in North America; 1,548 in Asia and Oceania; 3,136 in Western Europe; 2,209 in Eastern Europe. 

Our Order is structured into 91 Provinces and 10 Autonomous Custodies, seven entities dependent on the Minister General; 17 Custodies dependent on the Provinces; 14 Conferences of Ministers Provincial and 3 Unions of Conferences (Asia/ Oceania: FCAO; Latin America: UCLAF; Europe: UFME). 

Franciscans International

Hosted by Province at

Saint Anthony Church, NYC

On Saturday, November 19, our province hosted the meeting of the Board of Directors and US based staff of Franciscans International.  Franciscans International (FI) is an international non-governmental human rights organization, established in 1989, in General Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Its staff consists of professionals of diverse backgrounds working to translate grassroots voices in human rights advocacy action at the United Nations level. FI seeks to promote and protect human rights and environmental justice. 

FI builds on more than 30 years of experience in human rights advocacy to address the root causes of injustices. We do so by bringing cases of discrimination and violence committed against individuals and groups living at the margins to the attention of the UN, and by influencing UN decision making and standard setting processes accordingly. 

According to their spirituality and values founded on simplicity, fraternity, peace, and care for creation, Franciscans very often live and work with disadvantaged groups and individuals, have their trust and are among the closest to their concerns. In doing so, many Franciscans are human rights defenders, and FI serves as their voice at the UN. 

The gathering was agreed to in a meeting of Fr. Michael Perry, O.F.M., former Minister General of the Order, who is now President of the International Board of Directors, and Fr. Provincial.  The meeting began with Mass at St. Anthony Church, with Fr. Mike Perry as the main celebrant, assisted by Fr. Robert.  Fr. Mike expressed gratitude to Fr. Provincial, as well as Friars Joe Lorenzo and Charles Trebino for organizing the day, and to Fr. Mike Corcione, Pastor of St. Anthony’s for making the church and hall available.  They worked with Fr. Benedict Ayodi, O.F.M. Cap, who is the Outreach Officer of Franciscans International.    In his homily Fr. Mike Perry quoted the words of the song “We are Called”, citing in particular the chorus of the song as a theme of Franciscans International: “We are called to act with justice.  We are called to love tenderly.  We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8).    After Mass the business meeting moved to the church hall and lunch was provided.  About 35 were in attendance.  

Mount Alvernia Cemetery

Mass and Blessing, Wappingers Falls, NY


Take time to wish our friars a Happy Birthday!

Peter Furgiuele- December 3, 1953 (69)

Armand Padula- December 4, 1930 (92)

Louis Troiano- December 10, 1930 (92)

Patrick Boyle- December 15, 1952 (70)

Vit Fiala- December 16, 1957 (65)

Albin Fusco- December 28, 1929 (93)


Fr. Paul Rotondi, O.F.M.

November 9, 2022

Our brother, Fr. Paul Rotondi, O.F.M., passed to his heavenly reward on the morning of Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at the age of 91. Fr. Paul died at Mary Manning Walsh Home in New York City, where he was residing for the past month. He was a member of the Padua Friary community.

Fr.Paul was born in Jersey City, NJ to Michael and Concetta (Rizzica). He entered the novitiate in 1948, was simply professed in 1949, professed solemn vows in 1952, and ordained a priest on June 24, 1956. After ordination he attended Fordham University, receiving an M.A. in English. For several years he taught at St. Francis Seraphic Seminary, Andover, MA where he held several positions in the formation program. In 1967 he was transferred to St. Anthony Friary, Catskill, as Master of Novices. He also served as Provincial Prefect of Formation and Provincial Definitor. Fr. Paul had several parochial assignments, among them pastor of St. Louis Church, Fall River; St. Anthony Church, New York City; St. Rose of Lima, Meriden, CT; and St. Ladislaus Church, New Brunswick, NJ. In recent years Fr. Paul served as Archivist and Editor of the Provincial Chronicle while residing at Padua Friary, New York City.

His funeral was held on Saturday, November 12, 2022 at Saint Anthony of Padua Church, in Manhattan. Fr. Robert Campagna, OFM, Provincial Minister, was the main celebrant, and Fr. Romano Almagno, OFM, preached.

Interment was at Mount Alvernia Mausoleum, Wappingers Falls, New York.

May he rest in peace. 


Fr. Ralph Paonessa, O.F.M.

November 11, 2022

Our brother, Fr. Ralph Paonessa, O.F.M., passed to his heavenly reward on Friday, November 11, 2022, at the age of 86. He was a member of the community of Immaculate Conception Friary in Toronto. Fr. Ralph was born on March 26, 1936, in Winchester, Massachusetts. He was received into the Franciscan order on August 15, 1954 and professed his first vows on August 16, 1955. He made his solemn profession on August 16, 1958, and after completing the formation program and seminary studies, was ordained a priest on June 15, 1963. Fr. Ralph ministered for many years in our parishes in the Archdiocese of Toronto, serving as Pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Parish and St. Lawrence, Martyr. He also served the province as President of the Canadian Foundation and Provincial Definitor. In other assignments, Fr. Ralph served at Christopher Columbus High School in Boston, Vice Master of Novices at St. Anthony Friary in Catskill, and most recently as chaplain of Villa Colombo in Toronto. Fr. Ralph's viewing was held on Wednesday, November 16 from 2:00 to 8:00 PM at Saint Jane Frances de Chantal Church, North York, Toronto. A wake service was held at 7:00 PM. His Funeral Mass was held on Thursday, November 17 with interment at the Friars' Plot in Holy Cross Cemetery, Toronto.

May he rest in peace.

November Memorials for the

Deceased of our Province

Deceased Friars of this past year

Fr. Daniel Morey, OFM - December 3, 2021

Fr. Dennis Wheatley, OFM - December 11, 2021

Fr. Aubert Picardi, OFM - January 20, 2022

Fr. Isaac J. Calicchio, OFM - February 5, 2022

Fr. James Goode, OFM - March 4, 2022

Fr. Stephen Galambos, OFM - September 9, 2022

Deceased Parents of this past year

Silverio Antonio Ramirez Delgado

Father of Friar Daniel Ramirez Luna, OFM

NYC Region Remembers our Deceased

On Wednesday, November 9, the friars of the New York City region gathered at Padua Friary in Manhattan to remember the deceased of our province. Fr. Robert Campagna, OFM, Provincial Minister, was the main celebrant, and Fr. Joseph Lorenzo, OFM, Guardian of Padua Friary, was the homilist. During the Mass, the friars were reminded of two important events- the death of Fr. Paul Rotondi, a member of the Padua community who passed that very morning, and also the 84th anniversary of the death of Fr. Richard Fagan, OFM, who died as a result of an early-morning fire in that very friary.

On November 4, 1938, Fr. Richard, 27 years old, was an associate of Saint Anthony Church and at the time Padua Friary was the parish rectory, as well as the provincialate. In the early morning, a fire broke out in the friary. At first he escaped the building, but twice he re-entered the friary to rescue two other friars who were trapped. Fr. Richard himself was eventually trapped by the flames and badly burned. He leaped through a window and landed on the roof of the settlement house next door. He was brought to Columbus hospital where he died five days later on November 9.  

In a letter written shortly after the fire, Fr. Anicleto Silvioni, O.F.M., the Provincial Minister, and Fr. Virgil Liucci, O.F.M., Pastor of Saint Anthony’s, both of whom escaped from the building, wrote: “What happened to our Monastery and Church on the morning of November 4th is known to all: a horrible tragedy that will not easily be effaced by time. The Monastery was destroyed. Three lives lost. Two of these were religious- Brother John Chiazza, sexton, faithfully serving Almighty God and His Church to the best of his ability. And our well known and loved Father Richard Fagan, whose acts of Mercy and Charity extended from the babe in the cradle to those breathing their last on the death bed. He was indeed an Apostle, Missionary, and Martyr of Christ. No one can ever deny his keen interest in our parochial activities, and the outstanding heroism which culminated with his untimely death. Truly a lasting Memorial of unselfish Christian love and sacrifice in the history of St. Anthony’s Parish.”  At Fr. Richard’s funeral, attended by thousands of people, most of whom had to stand outside on the street,  there was given the quote from John’s Gospel 15:13: There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

For our friars in skilled nursing facilities

Friar Regis Gallo, OFM

Friar Albin Fusco, OFM

Friar Lawrence Stumpo, OFM

Friar Phillip Adamo, OFM

For the friars who have recently died

Friar Ralph Paonessa, OFM (Immaculate Conception Province)

Friar Paul Rotondi, OFM (Immaculate Conception Province)

Friar Bernardine C. Kessing, OFM (Holy Name Province)

Friar Stephen Galambos,OFM (Immaculate Conception Province)

For the friars who are sick

Friar Courtland Campbell, O.F.M. (Hospitalized)

For our infirm family and friends:   

Dennis Russell (Brother-in-Law of Fr. Robert Campagna

Melissa McDonald (Niece of Fr. Robert Campagna)

Pray for all those infected and affected by the caronavirus. 

For all our friends and family who are ill.

For our recently deceased family and friends:

Aidan Licari (Former Friar of our province)

Evelia Marinero (Sister of Fr. Rafael Fernandez, OFM)

George Mucci (Brother of Fr. Flavian Mucci, OFM)

Luz Elvira Pelaez (Aunt of Fr. Orlando Ruiz, 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.



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
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 Secretary/Communications Director
125 Thompson Street New York NY 10012
Cell: 917.337.9833
Office: 212.674.4388 Xt. 113