Franciscan Friars
Province of the Immaculate Conception
Provincial Update - December 2018
Christmas Blessings

Many years ago, Saint Francis of Assisi, our founder and father, gathered the townspeople of Greccio, in Italy, to re-enact the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. There, in the midst of a stable, complete with farm animals and all the trappings of that first Christmas, Saint Francis reminded everyone of the miracle of Bethlehem: the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The narration of this event reminds us that the infant Jesus appeared in the arms of Saint Francis, and this miracle has been the catalyst of the custom of setting up a Christmas crèche in our homes and churches.
Throughout this holy season, with all its activities, our Catholic faith should continue to be the focus of our Christmas celebration. Our desire, as always, is to remind others that at the heart of this time of grace is the love of God, a God who comes down to earth to live among us and to show us the way to salvation.
This year, as always, I ask you to participate in any effort to bring holiness to a season becoming more and more secular, and to be a partner with friars, family, and friends in bringing the message of love to this world. I assure you, not only of a special remembrance in my Masses and prayers during the Christmas season, but a special intention on Christmas Eve and Day.
May this season of love fill your hearts with the peace of the child Jesus in the arms of our Blessed Mother and may the Holy Infant be your protector and guide.

God love you and bless you always. 
Fr. Robert Campagna, OFM
Provincial Minister
The First Nativity Scene:  Saint Francis of Assisi in Greccio, Italy by St. Bonaventure

"Three years before he died, St. Francis decided to celebrate the memory of the birth of the Child Jesus at Greccio, with the greatest possible solemnity.  He asked and obtained the permission of the pope for the ceremony, so that he could not be accused of being an innovator, and then he had a crib prepared, with hay, an ox, and an ass.   The friars were all invited, and the people came in crowds.  The forest re-echoed with their voices and the night was lit up with a multitude  of bright lights, while the beautiful music of God's praises added to the solemnity. The saint stood before the crib and his heart overflowed with tender compassion; he was bathed in tears but overcome with joy.  The Mass was sung, and Francis, who was a deacon, sang the Gospel.  Then he preached to the people about the birth of the poor King, whom he called the Babe of Bethlehem, in his tender love.
A knight called John from Greccio, a pious and truthful man who had abandoned his profession in the world for love of Christ, and was a great friend of St. Francis, claimed that he saw a beautiful child asleep in the crib, and that St. Francis took it in his arms and seemed to wake it up.  The integrity of this witness and the miracles which afterwards took place, as well as the truth indicated by the vision itself, all go to prove its reality. The example which Francis put before the world was calculated to rouse the hearts of those who were weak in faith, and the hay from the crib, which was kept by the people, afterwards cured sick animals and drove off various pestilences. Thus God wished to give glory to his servant Francis and prove the efficacy of his prayer by clear signs."

December 2018

Update from the Novices

Friars Jack, Carl, and Daniel preparing a "Thanksgiving" turkey dinner.
Novices taking care of the grounds and working in the kitchen.

We received this update on the Postulancy Program in Caledon, Ontario, from Friar Pierre Farrugia, OFM.  

Dear brothers, 

Christmas is with us once again! In particular, this is a special Christmas for us given we have the postulants here bringing that additional cheer that comes with the season. We just wanted to share with you some of the wonderful decorative work the postulants have worked on during this time. Some things we were able to muster out of our basement and others we found at the centre, but it was a joy for them to piece all of it together and continue adding to the ambiance of a true home at the friary.

The postulants are enjoying their advent season and getting used to the change in breviaries and liturgical settings etc. We have been invited to several Christmas parties due to the groups we help out with and their main apostolate here at the centre. I can confirm that they are truly loved by all the groups of people whom we encounter and minister to and have already gained the support of many people even in the little time they have been with us now since September. Soon, they will leave for their Christmas break and then will return for a few more months to be with us before heading over to Rome and then to Assisi, God-willing.

All of us here at this fraternity wish to take the opportunity and extend to all of you a blessed and very merry Christmas and superabundant graces in the new year to come, 2019. Should any of you like to visit us, please do not hesitate to contact us. Merry Christmas! 


Pierre Farrugia O.F.M.

Photos of the Christmas decorations are below:
News from Convento San Francesco
F riar Robert Campagna, OFM, Provincial Minister, conducted his visitation in Rome earlier this month, visiting the Convento as well as the novices at San Damiano in Assisi. He was accompanied by Provincial Vicar Friar Patrick Boyle, OFM. While in Rome, they celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Convento, and renewed the vows of simply professed Friar Victor Treminio, OFM. Photos of the event can be found below.
Friars Patrick, Victor, Robert, and Antonio.
Friar Victor renews vows.
The brothers enjoying a festive dinner.

English Speaking Conference Vocation Directors Meet in Dublin
From November 5 to 8, 2018, the Vocation Animators of the Provinces of the English Speaking Conference (ESC) of the Order met in Ireland. Friars from Canada (from newly merged Holy Spirit Province), Ireland, Malta, England and the USA were hosted by the Irish Province at the Adam and Eve friary for the meeting. The group discussed both ESC matters and the US provinces’ voting to merge. There were also discussions about working together for the mutual promotion of vocations; addressing the recent Church scandals; and, connecting with the millenials and Generation Z discerners, etc. It was productive and fraternal, with special speakers Friar Francis Cotter of the Irish Province and Margaret Cartwright, Director of Vocations for Vocations Ireland.  Friars Pat Lynch (the Irish vocations director), Friars Niall O’Connell the guardian, and Aiden McGrath the Provincial Minister, warmly welcomed friars. Also, Sacred Heart Province Provincial Minister Tom Nairn was there representing the ESC provincial ministers. Friar Conrad Fernandes, OFM, our own Vocation Director, was in attendance.

English Speaking Conference Provincial Formators
Meet in Italy
Oct. 29-Nov. 4

Members of the English Speaking Conference of Secretaries of Formation met in Rome from October 29 to November 4.  The gathering was planned to be spiritually renewing as the secretaries reconnected with their Franciscan roots. The meeting was held at the General Curia.   Topics discussed were the need for future formators and their training; the possible need to extend the postulant year for certain men; how to best utilize psychological testing.  
The secretaries visited St. Isidore’s College  and the Antonianum, both in Rome, and attended the general Papal audience at the Vatican.  The group then went to Assisi, where they visited the various shrines of the Order, including San Damiano, the Basilica of St. Francis, the Portiuncula, and the Sacro Convento.  Our own Friar Ronald Gliatta, OFM, who is the Chairperson of the ESC Provincial Formators, organized the conference and was given high praise for the conference.  The official newsletter of the conference can be viewed below in PDF format.

Click here for PDF of Formators Meeting
Formators in Assisi

News from


Vietnamese Ministry . S t. Jane Frances Church in Toronto has a thriving ministry to the Vietnamese Catholics of Toronto. Currently, Fr. Peter Hoang Can Thai, OFM, and Friar Pierre Nguyen van Quy are celebrating a Saturday Evening and Sunday Mass with more than one thousand people attending. Recently Fr. Robert, our Provincial, met with the Provincial Minister of Vietnam, Friar Ignatius Nguyen Duy Lam, OFM to discuss the future of the Vietnamese ministry in Toronto.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Our Canadian brothers celebrated the Province's Patronal Feast by getting together at St. Francis Church on December 10. The festivities began with a preprandium, followed by midday prayer at noon, and a festive lunch, with good conversation and music.
Photos below.
Eightieth Anniversary of the
Founding of St. Anthony of Padua Church
Trail, British Columbia
December 25, 2018 will mark the eightieth anniversary of the establishment of the now-defunct St. Anthony of Padua Church, Trail, British Columbia, which was founded and staffed by our province.  Our friars staffed the parish for eight years, from 1938 to 1946. The founder and pastor of the church during those eight years was Fr. Settimio Baló, OFM.

During the 1930’s, the Italian community west Trail expanded, which made it necessary to establish a parish for the Italians.  The church was built to serve the predominantly working class Italian community, and the first Mass of the new parish was held on Christmas eve, 1938.    In January of 1943, disaster struck when the church was razed by fire.  A new church was built with the same design as the original.   The following friars of our province served the parish under Fr. Settimio during the eight years of the province’s ministry:  Friars Eugene Cottone, Victor Cesario, Nicholas D’Antonio, Frederick Fusco, and Augustine Ciuffo.   The parish was later staffed by the Friars of the Western Canadian Province of Christ the King (now part of the new Province of the Holy Spirit).  
Trail is about 6 miles north of the USA border, and over 350 miles from Vancouver. It sits on the banks of the Columbia River. Many Italians came to Trail seeking employment, first in the local mines and for the railroad, and then at the large metal smelter established by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (Cominco Ltd.), one of the largest zinc metal refiners in the world.  The Italians settled in an area called “The Gulch”, and many were devoted members of St. Anthony’s.   Currently, 20 percent of the residents of Trail are of Italian decent.  St. Anthony’s was later merged with another parish in Trail, and recently, the former church building was sold.  
Our Lady of Pity in the Bronx to become site of Affordable Housing Project.

In a previous Newsletter, we reported that the demolition of Our Lady of Pity Church, our former parish in the Bronx on 151 st Street, had begun.  Now the Archdiocese of New York, through the Association of New York Catholic Homes, has announced that the beloved church will give way to affordable housing.
In a recent community meeting, community leaders and residents were informed that the site has a potential to accommodate 212 units spread across two buildings. According to documents obtained by the online news website Welcome2TheBronx , the proposal would be for two buildings: one located at 151st at the site of the former church and a second building on other side of the block on 150th Street. The buildings would share a common courtyard with one rising 8 stories and containing 88 units and the other rising 9 stories with 124 units.
The Archdiocese would have to request a zoning change from its current R6 zoning to an R7A zoning which would trigger Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) requiring a percentage of the units to remain permanently affordable.
Current proposals are for studio units to three bedroom units for households making 30% to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
A Pre-Application Statement has been submitted to NYC Planning in August 2018 and on October 10th, the development team presented their proposals to City Planning.
Next steps in the process calls for several environmental studies on the impact such a development would have on the neighborhood.  Provided everything goes smoothly, the expected completion date of the Our Lady of Pity Affordable Housing Development, as it is currently known, would be for sometime in 2022.
Our Lady of Pity was founded by immigrants from the Island of Ponza, located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 20 miles off the western coast of Italy, between Rome and Naples. During the meeting it was mentioned that the church bell would be preserved and incorporated into the new buildings and it was recommended that an inscription should be placed somewhere within the new development, in Italian, to commemorate the Italian community from Ponza.
No renderings of what the development will look like are currently available as an architect has yet to be engaged.
Church and Friary
Interior of Our Lady of Pity
St. Christopher Friary News
The fall of Ordinary Time was not uneventful at St. Christopher Friary. Roland turned 84 and Michael Dominic turned 61.  The friars celebrated the Feast of St. Francis, as Br. Damian Johnson and his cousin Michael, OFM joined us for the Transitus and pizza. John Bucchino, Joaquin Mejia, Alfonse Ferreira, and Antonio Nardoianni joined us for the Feast of St. Francis, along with Frs. David and John from the St. James Society. 

Two personnel transitions took place this fall. Friar Joe Nathan of the Singapore Custody lost his visa and so returned home in October. “Nature abhors a vacuum,” so Joe’s leaving was met with Ronald Gliatta’s arrival as a member of the community. 

All Souls and All Saints were celebrated in customary style. The friars remembered all our deceased and had a special area with candles for the deceased friars and loved ones of the year. After Mass and lunch the friars travelled to St. Francis Cemetery for the annual blessing of the graves. 

We did not forget Halloween. No costumes were required for our scary bunch!  The brothers enjoyed a gathering where they had a light collation followed by a house versions ofJeopardy and Wheel of Fortune with cash and prizes worth ones of dollars or less.

November 2 began the Franciscan Fast for Christmas. Noting that our friars’ ages and health diagnoses do not lend themselves to fasting, and that some of our friars would need to increase their eating to qualify for a fast, our local minister still imposed a strict fast of no “junk food,” except the obligatory Reese’s cups, peppermint patties, muffins and baked goods, desserts, anything one buys themselves from the outside, and anything leftover from feast days. A very strict fast, but the friars will endure.  

Thanksgiving was celebrated in grand style. James and Michael prepared the meal for those who did not journey to family or friends. A traditional meal of lasagna, followed by turkey and trimmings was served, followed by friary made chocolate pudding pie, cherry tarts, pumpkin pie, and lemon meringue pie. It was a great respite from the fast.

Advent brought the joy of a new season. The friars have decided to celebrate the season with chanted solemn vespers each Sunday evening, followed by a gaudeamus.  At the time of this writing, we are planning for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which will be celebrated with Mass, evening prayer, and a dinner at a local restaurant. Fr. Roderick Crispo will be joining us for our celebration.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe will also serve as our house Christmas party. Mexican themed food will accompany our traditional “Yankee Swap,” and the opening of other presents. Fr. Giles Barreda, who resides at Marion Manor Skilled Nursing Center, will join us for the festivities. Brother James has done a great job decorating our house in anticipation of the upcoming season and has shared his excitement for this season of joy. 

These days are a bit more hectic than usual, but the friars are all in good spirit. The elevator seems to serve as the nerve center for communication, with our daily spiritual thought, excerpt from the rule, horarium, and, of course, our joke of the day. The chocolate advent calendar has added a small incentive to be the first one on the elevator each day.  The friars wish everyone a blessed advent and joyous Christmas and continue to remember you in their prayers.
The elevator at St. Christopher Friary-
the information nerve center of the fraternity.
Memorial candles for deceased friars and family.
Friar Ronald Gliatta, OFM is now at St. Christopher Friary, North End.
The following assignments are effective January 7, 2019:
Friar Joseph Powell, OFM to St. Francis Centre for Religious Studies.
Friar Aziz Eissa, OFM to St. Peter's in Woodbridge
Friar Peter Furgiuele, OFM to St. Jane Frances de Chantal, North York

New address for Friar James Goode, OFM:
Kittay House, The New Jewish Home
2550 7X Webb Avenue,
Bronx NY 10468

From the Province's Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)
We received this from Friar Courtland Campbell, OFM, Province JPIC Director.

Friar David Buer attended the School of Americas  SOA Watch  Border Encuentro in Nogales a couple weeks ago. Here is his reflection: (photo courtesy of Sr. Judy Bourg, SSND)
Some of us had heard that there might be a civil disobedience action at some point on Sunday. So after the very powerful and emotional litany of names of those who had died in the desert or had been tortured or killed by U. S, trained troops, folks began to cross a newly installed fence by the border patrol. Very solemnly, prayerfully, those risking arrest began planting marigolds. They each had a little trowel to dig into the rocky soil. They brought bottles of water to water the plants. Then they laid down, holding a cross, each with the name of a person who had died. And they laid still, as if they had died.
After about five minutes, I wanted to join them, so I climbed the short fence and knelt to pray. Although I've been volunteering with Samaritans since 2005, putting water out in the Arizona desert, only once have I encountered human remains, about five years ago. But it was shockingly dramatic. There were four of us tired after a long day of putting out gallon jugs of water. I saw the remains first, pointed out to everyone what we had just found and all four of us went right to our knees to pray. That scene came to my mind, kneeling there by the actual border fence.
I decided I would stay there until the authorities told us we had to leave. There was a slight risk of arrest. But as it turned out, the border patrol and other authorities left us alone for 20 minutes until our action was concluded. As we got up I was happily surprised to see that the woman to my right, was an old friend of 35 years from the St. Louis Catholic Worker, Loretto Sister Mary Ann McGivern, SL
U.S. Monastery Transmits Christmas Holy Land Experience to Washington DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. - With a diapered baby Jesus doll in her arms, the woman named Mary descended the steps and walked toward an opening marked “Bethlehem” where she put the figurine on top of a bale of straw as Franciscan friars and other priests in brown habits and white cassocks sang all around.
The baby Jesus doll appeared as if it were looking above at a star next to oil lamps that dangled above its head, much like a baby crib mobile.
The moment marked the commemoration of the birth of Jesus in a setting that seeks to replicate, not just the events that happened some 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land, but also the Christmas commemorations that take place in modern-day Bethlehem.
But the setting is nowhere near the land of the birthplace of Jesus. Less than a mile away, the white resplendent dome of the U.S. Capitol stands tall in the Washington skyline, just about four miles from the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, where the ceremony takes place.
In a season full of wonky Washington cocktail parties, the Franciscans aim instead for a more modest and spiritually meaningful way to mark the birth of Jesus.
The monastery, high on one of the few hills in the nation’s capital, is a perfect place for those who can’t make it to the Holy Land to witness the real thing, said Franciscan Father Greg Friedman, a friar at the monastery who also is a frequent visitor to the Holy Land and has led pilgrimages there on many occasions.
“My experience of Christmas at the Franciscan Monastery is influenced by my experience in the Holy Land,” Friedman said. “The only part of Christmas I’ve experienced there is the celebration of Epiphany, but I’ve made a number of visits to the Church of the Nativity, and to the sacred space beneath it, the cave where Jesus was born. We’re blessed here in Washington, D.C., to have a pretty exact replica of that cave.”
Walk toward the Bethlehem grotto at Washington’s monastery and near the manger you’ll find a 14-point silver star with the words “Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est” (“Here Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary”), a direct copy of the one pilgrims touch in Bethlehem.
Part of the mission of the monastery is to provide an opportunity to pilgrims, and others, to physically see the places important in the life of Jesus in case they’re not able to make it to the Middle East. That experience includes seeing the place in the West Bank where many believe Christ was born.
But Christmas also gives the Holy Land Franciscans a chance to put on display part of their spiritual heritage, which includes the Christmas-time practice of decorating creches, an activity first attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans. This year, the monastery has a display of over 100 creches from the Roger and Marguerite Sullivan collection.
In the past few years, the Franciscans in Washington have made the effort to involve the area’s immigrant community, which has helped them diversify their Christmastime activities.
They now include Simbang Gabi, a Filipino Christmas tradition that begins with a series of nine pre-dawn Masses in preparation for Christmas, as part of their celebrations. They also have added a popular feature by including three immigrant women who worked as midwives in their native countries to join the friars in a procession before and after Christmas Eve Mass. The women dress in the vibrant clothing traditional to their home countries, which contrasts with the toned-down brown hues of the Franciscans’ habits.
“People love it. It’s better than the Three Wise Men,” said Father Jim Gardiner, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, who has celebrated some of the Christmas Eve Masses at the monastery in the past and will do so again in 2018.
One of the women, the one named Mary, has carried the baby Jesus around the interior of the monastery’s main church dotted with replicas of places important to Christianity, including Calvary, the tomb of Jesus, and the underground Bethlehem grotto, where the baby Jesus figure is set to rest on top of the hay following midnight Mass.
“Why would I walk around the church with a replica of the baby?” when there’s a Mary in the house, said Gardiner.
The women set the baby Jesus in front of the altar during Mass. He then gets picked up at the end of Mass and is taken to the grotto as the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ is read.
“It would replicate what happens (in the Holy Land) but with a little twist,” said Gardiner. “On Christmas Eve here at the monastery, at the end of midnight Mass we process down into ‘our Bethlehem,’ and I’m transported back to the actual place in the Holy Land, where I’ve been blessed to visit,” added Friedman. “I become a pilgrim again!”
And it ends with the joy that the Franciscans hope will make others discover the true meaning of Christmas, which has nothing to do with material gifts.
“As I hear the Christmas story retold there, I am challenged to allow God to be reborn in my own life, with all the implications of that birth. Everything we do here at Christmas brings that back, brings it to life for me,” Friedman said.
Article by Rhina Guidos, Dec. 16, Catholic News Service.
January Birthdays
Take time to wish our friars a Happy Birthday!

Robert Campagna - January 2nd - 72
Vincent de Paul Ciaravino - January 2nd - 78
Bruce Czapla - January 8th - 68
Dominic Poirier - January 8th - 76
Joseph Lorenzo - January 25th - 69

From the Provincial Medical Claims Office
New Medicare Cards
Many of the friars have been concerned that they have not received the new Medicare Cards that are being issued by the government.  Antoinette DeVico, of our Medical Claims Office, would like to remind all the friars that the dates for the new cards to be issued run from April 2018 to April 2019.   As of this date, most of the friars have not received their new cards, but these should be arriving in early 2019.  Medicare cards are being mailed on a geographic basis, and it is hoped that by April, all 60 million beneficiaries with have their new cards.  The new cards were mandated by Congress in order to protect recipients from identity theft, since the old cards had social security numbers on them.  The new cards will now have an eleven character Medicare identifier that contains both numbers and letters. 


2019 InterProvincial OFM Retreat

"And The Lord Gave Me Brothers..."
January 14-18, 2019 Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale Arizona
February 4-8, 2019, San Pedro Retreat Center,
Winter Park FL

Friar Richard Rohr, OFM
For full information, click below

Prayer Requests

Friar Carl Graczyk, OFM (Assumption Province)
Father John Reiss (Former member of the province)
 Priest of the Diocese of Youngstown. October 5
Friar Bede Fitzpatrick, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar Jeremiah McGinley, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar Christian Reuter, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)
Bishop Fiachra O'Ceallaigh, OFM (Province of Ireland)
Former Provincial and Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin

Recently Deceased Family and Friends
Noora Green, mother of our novice, Friar Carl Green, who recently passed into eternal life.
Eric Mejia , brother of Friar Joaquin Mejia, OFM, who recently passed into eternal life.

Let us pray for our infirm friars:
Friar Giacomo LaSelva, OFM
Friar Albin Fusco, OFM
Friar Daniel Morey, OFM
Friar Amedeo Nardone, OFM
Friar Armand Padula, OFM
Friar Primo Piscitello, OFM
Friar Fabian Grifone, OFM
Friar Flavian Mucci, OFM
Friar Claudio Moser, OFM
Friar Charles Soto, OFM
Friar Clement Procopio, OFM

For our friars in skilled nursing and rehabfacilities:
Friar Philip Adamo, OFM
Friar Giles Barreda, OFM
Friar Lawrence Stumpo, OFM
Friar Daniel Morey, OFM

For our infirm family and friends:
Ann Seidita , sister of Curia secretary Rosemary McKenna
Maria Tagani (daughter of St. Francis Centre staff member)

Please pray for all friars, families, friends, and benefactors,
living and deceased.
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.
St. Anthony Friary
24 Harrison Street/ PO Box 487
Catskill NY 12414
Cell: 917.337.9833
Office: 518.943.3451 xt. 314


Section dividers from