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

Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays we have with overtly religious overtones.  Thanksgiving recognizes a dependence on something- or rather someone greater than ourselves for all the good things given to us in this life.   In our own tradition as people of faith, we give thanks to God for this bountiful land, for abundance of gifts He has bestowed on us,  for the fertility of our soil, for the success of  the work of our human hands, for the marvels of our technology, and for  the wonderful freedoms our country holds so dear.
To give thanks, however, is not simply a posturing of gratefulness. In our own lives, we would find words of thanks very empty if not accompanied by some grateful action.  Someone who says they are grateful but does not return this gratefulness cannot be considered grateful at all.  

The Old Testament sees the process of giving thanks to God as intimately linked with sacrifice.   We are called, not simply to give thanks to God for his wonderful gifts, but also to give  a portion of our bounty back to God in the form of an offering, a holocaust, or sacrifice.   In Hosea, God reminds us that  “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than holocausts.”  To give mercy is the greatest thanks we can give to God.

The words of Jesus remind us that we are all intimately linked together as brothers and sisters under a common God.  We are reminded that the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor, and who is our neighbor but those who are most distant and estranged from us? And so, the celebration of Thanksgiving poses some direct challenges to all people who believe in God and place their trust in Him.  It calls us, not just to give thanks, but to demonstrate our thanks by returning to God- and to His people- a portion of the blessing He has bestowed on us.

There are many reasons to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, and, in fact, every day.  But it would be arrogant of us to give thanks without acknowledging the many areas in our world where thanks cannot  yet be given. This Christmas season, as our nation and or world begins to return to some “normalcy” after the ravages of the COVID pandemic,  will be a time of great spending in our country. While we are spending millions of dollars Christmas shopping, will we watch the poor of our nation and our world languish? 
While we feast on plump turkey, delicious home-made stuffing, and sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, people in other lands and in our own nation will starve.  Some will even starve to death.  
While we argue over the best health plan which gives us the most coverage, will we watch another victim of disease die alone in the night because they could not afford insurance?
While we pray for peace, war continues to rage on.  Hatred and violence are at an all-time high.  People are slaughtered, beheaded, enslaved- many times in the name of religion. 
While we give thanks for the wonderful freedoms we hold so dear in our country, dissidents, protestors, and freedom-seekers around the world will be imprisoned and silenced.
While we turn up our thermostats to keep warm in our comfortable homes, people freeze to death in the streets of our cities.
While we strive for better education in our schools, we deny the children of illegal immigrants the right to education or health services.
While we feed our dogs and cats billions of dollars worth of pet food each year, we watch people scavenge through garbage pails for their next meal. 
We recognize the fact that we cannot solve all the problems of the world,  and that many of these difficulties are more complex than they seem.  But we must acknowledge our share of the guilt,  especially in a country that throws away more food than some countries consume.  And, as we look at all these problems in the face, when do the words “Love one another “ have any impact in our lives?

The proper way to celebrate Thanksgiving, and our gratefulness to God, is not simply by gorging on turkey and stuffing at our Thanksgiving dinners- it is by giving of ourselves to others.  Yes,  Jesus reminds us that “as long as you did it for these, the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.” 

Happy Thanksgiving. Blessed Advent!
Post-Novitiate Program
News From the Convento

Greetings brothers and peace!  By now we are all settled into our daily routine of prayer and study at the Antonianum and this last month has really been a special time of grace for the guys here in Rome. We had the opportunity to help the Sisters (Ancelle di Cristo Re- Handmaids of Christ the King) with the olive harvest on the last Saturday of October. It was so good to work outside with our hands and we were fortunate to have great weather on our side. We worked so well together that we were able to finish all of the trees in one day! Afterward we enjoyed a meal with the sisters filled with laughter and of course food prepared with love. We are very thankful to the sisters for all the support they give us.
On the following Monday we went to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit the Sanctuary of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. St. Pio is very important to so many of us. His devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Passion of Christ remains an inspiration for all. We visited the very places where he lived and prayed. The bedroom where he slept is even on display just as it was when he lived there. It wasn’t the most neatly organized room I might add, which gives me hope! Beside praying before his tomb,  one of the most striking things was a room with glass cases, filled with letters from all over the world, which he had received in one year alone. The highlight of the visit to the shrine was the Mass in the large church. Fr. Antonio was the main celebrant, some of us served and read, and we all sat in the sanctuary together. It was so edifying to worship there, together with the many pilgrims who were present. 
    After our visit we headed to Monte Sant’Angelo which houses the oldest shrine to St Michael in Europe. To enter the shrine, which is at the top of the mountain, a deep cavern is entered by descending the stairs, worn by the steps of countless pilgrims. Not only does one sense the holiness of this place but also the history involved. Many kings, queens, popes, saints and people from all over medieval Europe have come to the shrine. Our own holy father Francis himself came here. Yet since he did not feel himself worthy to enter, he paused at the entrance and carved a Tau cross in the stone, which is still visible. 
     This month we also celebrated the birthday of our brother Oscar. It was an even more special celebration since he had come back to Rome just a few days before and we had been awaiting his arrival. Now we are all complete. The ten of us plus Fr. Antonio and Fr. Pierre, make twelve. 
     Thank you all very much for all your prayers for us. Please be assured of ours for you all as well. May the Lord bless and keep you all and give you his peace. 
Yours in Christ
Bro. Matthew Mancino
Helping the sisters with the olive harvest.
Visit to the Shrine of Saint Pio
Br. Oscar's Birthday Celebration

St. Christopher Friary, Boston
Memorial for the deceased

The annual remembrance for the deceased friars of the province was celebrated at St. Christopher Friary with the friars of the Boston area. During the memorial Mass the friars shared stories of each of those who passed from life this year. Following the Mass the brothers shared a meal before heading to St. Francis Cemetery where Michael DellaPenna led prayers and blessed the graves.

All those friars eligible to be delegates to next June's Provincial Chapter were mailed a letter and the 2022 Provincial Chapter Registration Form. In case you didn't get this information, please find a copy of the letter and the registration form. The deadline for submitting the Registration Form is December 19, 2021. You may use the form below to register by filling it in and returning it to the Provincial Secretary by December 19.

In preparation for our Provincial Chapter in June of 2022, I refer to our Provincial Statutes 
(PS-21) regarding Provincial Chapters:
1.     Solemnly professed friars (not ex-officio members of the provincial chapter) may choose to be delegates to it, with all the rights and duties that choice entails.  They should declare their intentions to the provincial secretary at least six months prior to the opening of the chapter.
2.     Rights and duties include the study of chapter materials, willingness to work on committees, and attendance at all sessions
With this communication, I extend to the solemnly professed members of the Province who are not ex-officio members of the Provincial Chapter and who enjoy active and passive voice an invitation to declare in writing their intention to be a delegate to our Provincial Chapter that will be conducted at Mount Alvernia Friary, Wappingers Falls, New York, from June 20 to 24, 2022. 
Your signed and dated declaration must be in the hands of the Secretary of the Province no later than December 19, 2021.  Please note carefully: no exceptions will be made for any reason whatsoever should you fail to honor this deadline date.  
December Birthdays
Take time to wish our friars a Happy Birthday!

Paul Rotondi- December 3, 1930 (91)
Peter Furgiuele- December 3, 1953 (68)
Armand Padula- December 4, 1930 (91)
Louis Troiano- December 10, 1930 (91)
Patrick Boyle- December 15, 1952 (69)
Vit Fiala- December 16, 1957 (64)
Daniel Morey- December 25, 1941 (80)
Albin Fusco- December 28, 1929 (92)


We have been informed that the 2022 Ordo is being delayed due to printing problems. We have already posted a PDF of the Ordo entries for the month of December (beginning with the First Sunday of Advent). If you don't have it or need to have it sent again, please let me know. I also have the printing mockup for the entire 2022 edition.

Joe Lorenzo, OFM ( or leave a message at the Provincial Curia 212-674-4388.
Pope Francis Visits Assisi

Honors the Poor during Pilgrimage to the Portiuncola

Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli

November 12, 2021

In an emotional encounter in Assisi with people living in poverty, Pope Francis listened to the testimonies of a former homeless ex-convict who experienced a dramatic conversion after encountering a priest on the street, a Romanian woman in a wheelchair who has suffered from a chronic debilitating illness, and a refugee from Afghanistan.
The pope met with a group of more than 500 poor people from across Europe in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, a large church in the valley below the medieval hill town of Assisi that encompasses a small chapel, the Portiuncola, where St. Francis lived when he began the Franciscan Order.
In a brief speech, the pope underlined the importance of encountering the poor face to face and learning from their witness to hope at a time when those on the margins largely face indifference.
“It is time that the poor be given back their voice because for too long their requests have remained unheard,” Pope Francis said standing in front of the Portiuncula during the live streamed encounter on Nov. 12.
Pope Francis said that “meeting each other” was of the utmost importance, to “go toward each other with an open heart and outstretched hand.”
“For example, many people and many young people find a bit of time to help the poor and bring them food and hot beverages. This is very good and I thank God for their generosity. But I especially rejoice when I hear that these volunteers stop a bit and speak with the people, and sometimes pray together with them,” he said.
As the pope met with the poor in the basilica, he gave hugs, blessings, exchanged words, and even wrote a handwritten note to one of the men.
Each of the participants was given a gift of several items of winter clothing, a rosary, and face masks.
The pope heard testimonies from six people living in poverty, from Poland, France, Spain, and Italy. Some of their comments:
“During the following days, without knowing why, I was so happy that one of my companions said that I was crazy. I continued that journey of love of Jesus Christ … I understood that Jesus was alive, that he loved me, and that he was giving me a new life,” one said.
“There were times when I begged to live, but now I am a beggar for the mercy of Christ," said another.
Among the other witnesses who shared their testimonies was a young married couple from France, Thibault and Florence Jarry, who answered a call to live as missionaries among the poor in Aubervilliers, a commune in the northeastern suburbs of Paris. They spoke while holding their four-month-old son.
“Right after our marriage, we said a great ‘yes’ to mission in order to be sent out as a missionary couple of mercy,” Florence said.
“Here at the Portiuncula, St. Francis welcomed St. Clare, the first brothers, and many poor people who came to him. He received them simply as brothers and sisters, sharing everything with them,” the pope said.
“This is the most evangelical expression we are called to make our own: hospitality. Hospitality means to open the door, the door of our house and the door of our heart, and to allow the person who knocks to come in.”
The pope pointed to the great example of St. Teresa of Calcutta of humble concern for the poor.
“Mother Teresa, who made hospitable service her life, used to love to say: ‘What is the best welcome? A smile.’ A smile, to share a smile with someone in need does good to both people — to me and the other person. A smile as an expression of sympathy, of tenderness,” he said.
This was Pope Francis’ fifth trip to Assisi. His encounter with the poor took place as part of the Catholic Church’s celebration of the fifth annual World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on Sunday, Nov. 14.
Pope Francis was greeted by the Minister General of the Order, Friar Massimo Fusarelli, O.F.M, and paid a visit to the friary to meet with the local friar community.
On arriving in Assisi, the pope went to the Convent of St. Clare to greet the Poor Clare sisters, who gathered to pray with him.
At the end of his encounter with the poor in Assisi, he stopped to have lunch with a community of Poor Clares in Spello, a nearby Umbrian hilltown, before returning to the Vatican by helicopter.
“May this meeting open the hearts of all of us to make ourselves available to each other; to open our hearts to make our weakness a strength that helps to continue the journey of life, to transform our poverty into a wealth to be shared, and thus improve the world,” the pope said.
“Thank you to the poor who open their hearts to give us their wealth and heal our wounded hearts … Thank you all. I carry you in my heart. And, please don’t forget to pray for me, because I have my own poverty, and lots of it.”
Pope Francis greets the poor
Inside the Basilica
Pope Francis addresses the faithful
Pope Francis with the friars
Pope Francis in front of the Portiuncola
Pope Francis to Poor Clares in Assisi:
pray for the Church 
Speaking to the Poor Clares in Assisi on Friday, Pope Francis focused on the need for prayer so that the Church might not be affected by sin, stressing that God "only asks our humility to ask for forgiveness.”

Before going to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi to meet the poor on Friday morning, Pope Francis visited the Poor Clares, where he met privately with the cloistered nuns serving the Church in prayer.

In his speech he asked the Franciscan nuns to pray for the Church so that it may not be corrupted by sin, calling on them to be attentive contemplatives. Pope Francis said attentiveness to the Lord requires having peace of mind, serenity of the heart and serenity of the hands, lest we miss Him when He passes by. It is not watching the world pass by and chatting from a window, but being aware of what is going on with a pure mind, thinking well and not badly of people, he remarked.

The Holy Father went on to say that this attentiveness further requires a "serene heart", which implies going back in memory to the origin of religious vocation, to the reason of God’s call, that is to love and let ourselves be loved, he remarked.
There is also the serenity of the hands: hands must move not only to pray, but also "to work," Pope Francis said, recalling St. Paul’s words in his Letter to the Thessalonians: "Whoever does not work, must not eat".
When mind, heart and hands do what they have to do, consecrated people may find a balance which is “full of love and passion”, making it easy not to miss what the Lord tells us when He passes by, Pope Francis stressed

Hence he pointed to the core of the Poor Clares’ contemplative work: “You carry on your shoulders the problems of the Church, the pains of the Church and also - I dare say - the sins of the Church, our sins, the sins of the bishops, we are all sinful bishops; the sins of the priests; the sins of consecrated souls ... And bring them before the Lord”, he said.

Reflecting on sin, the Holy Father noted that the real danger in the Church is not being a sinner, but allowing oneself to be corrupted by sin, to the point of seeing sin as "a normal attitude" and not feeling the need to ask for God’s forgiveness. Pope Francis therefore called on the cloistered nuns to pray that corruption might not affect the Church, stressing that God "only asks our humility to ask for forgiveness.”

Concluding his speech, Pope Francis asked the Poor Clares to think and pray for the elderly, who are often considered "disposable", for those families struggling to make ends meet so they can bring up their children well, and for young people and children exposed to so many threats and dangers in today’s world.
Finally he asked them to pray for the Church, in particular for priests and bishops so they consider themselves pastors and not “heads of office”.
Pope Francis' Gift to the
Friars at the Portiuncola:

Nativity in the Light
On the occasion of his visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, on 12 November 2021, in preparation for the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis donated to the community of the Friars Minor of the Porziuncola, a special nativity scene made by Carlo Baldessari, a Modenese artist, who began his activity as a sculptor by recovering crystals from the glass factories and kilns of the area, from the master glassmakers of Murano and even from fragments of tempered glass of cars being demolished.

Baldessari's careful study is capable of reusing, recovering and reinventing; ancient and modern converge in a single direction - that of light as a spiritual experience.

The "Nativity in the Light", composed of five sculptures illuminated to highlight the beauty of more than 9,000 fragments of recycled glass, combines the symbolic meanings linked to the nativity- to light, to hope, to the most important challenges of the modern world such as attention towards the environment.

The crib has the intention of letting visitors immerse themselves in the mystery of the Lord's Birth, as redeemed children through the light of Christ, carrying a message of hope in this difficult historical moment.

The work can be admired inside the Sanctuary of Santa Maria degli Angeli, in the Pius X room of the Porziuncola Museum until January 9, 2022.
Friar Massimo Fusarelli, O.F.M., Minister General, with Holy Land Friars

The six-day visit to the Holy Land by the new Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, Fr. Massimo Fusarelli, O.F.M., and the Vicar General of the Order, Fr.Isauro Covili Linfati, O.F.M.,  started on Wednesday October 20, 2021. The successor of St Francis of Assisi visited for the first time since his election in July the Holy Places staffed by the Franciscan Friars.  
According to the busy program, the Minister General started  his visit in Jerusalem with his solemn entry to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, welcomed by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, O.F.M.
On the morning of October 21, he presided at mass in the Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher and later met the young friars in formation in St Savior’s Convento. The next day, all the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land gathered to meet the Minister General who, in the afternoon, took part in the usual Via Crucis through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The next day, Fr. Massimo travelled to Bethlehem to the Basilica of the Nativity and the procession to the grotto with the friars of the Custody. The Minister General also went to Galilee to the Basilica of the Annunciation, Mass in the upper basilica and the visit to the other shrines on Lake Tiberias.
During his stay, the Minister General met the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M.; the Apostolic Delegate His Excellence Mons. Adolfo Tito Yllana; and brothers and sisters of the Franciscan family in the Holy Land. Fr. Massimo will also took time to visit some projects for the local Christians, in which the Franciscans are engaged, such as the Piccirillo Center in Bethlehem and the Terra Sancta School in Jerusalem. 
“We feel the responsibility that the Church has entrusted to us in the Holy Land very strongly,” the Minister General told the magazine Terrasanta. “We have to consider the Holy Land as a medal that belongs to us. It is a gift that has been given to us and which we must take great care of in the first place, in continuing to offer this vocation and this service to the friars. As Minister General, I want to commit myself to offering these services in the visits to the various provinces of the Order.”
In the interview, Fr. Massimo also wanted to express his support to the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land in Syria and Lebanon, which he will soon be visiting. “I can see the commitment of the friars, their attachment and their fidelity to the people entrusted to their care. What can I say? Thank you on behalf of all of us. You are the living example of the Good News that we want to announce.”
The visit came to an end on Sunday October 24. "Over the past few days, I have had the confirmation of all the work that the friars minor do here and the importance of this mission,”  Fr. Massimo commented at the close of his visit. “This is only the beginning of knowledge of and strong accompaniment for this beautiful and fragile place, which needs all our help as Friars Minor."
The visit was coordinated by the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration and the West Bank’s Etzion Brigade, in cooperation with the Israel Police and the Border Police, who coordinated and accompanied Fr.  Massimo's visit to the two holy cities over the weekend.
“We were happy to coordinate and host [Fusarelli] in Jerusalem and coordinate his entry into Bethlehem,” Lt. Col. Tali Croitoru-Aharon, head of the Coordination and Liaison Directorate in Bethlehem, said.
“We attribute great importance to the observance of religious worship even in these complex days, in light of the coronavirus,” Croitoru-Aharon said.  She added that unlike last year, Christmas celebrations in the West Bank city would be held as usual.
“Therefore, we have made great efforts in coordination with the Israeli tourism and health ministries to open Bethlehem for tourists from the beginning of November, with the intention of bringing a significant boost to the tourism industry, which will lead to improving the economic situation in Bethlehem,” Croitoru-Aharon said.
Israel’s borders are set to reopen starting November 1 to tourists who are vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from the disease.
In conclusion, Fr. Massimo stated, “This is indeed the first official visit I have made to a province, and not just any province, but to the Custody of the Holy Land, the ‘pearl’ of our missions.”

Father Alberto Gauci
A Leader with a Purpose

This article appeared in Notices Sin Limites,
a news media company in Honduras.

His humble room reflects his humility, simplicity and greatness, but the works he has performed are in the world that he considers a second home. He's friendly, kind, but above all a spiritual guide who is admired in the Olancho department. His name, Alberto Gauci, a Franciscan priest who works with equal passion in construction work works as well as his pastoral mission. In his homilies he never forgets to talk about service and love for one another, considering that in Honduras what he needs is some attention from government authorities. In Olancho he is known as the priest of "clean hands", to whom no one is afraid to give him help because since he arrived he has been transparent in each of the projects he has executed. He was born on July 7, 1947, on the island of Malta, where he is the oldest of five brothers.
“As a child I was naughty, I wasn't a good student. I often skipped school, since I preferred to go fishing. What motivated me to enter the seminary was the biography of Saint Francis of Assisi." He was ordained on March 14, 1971 in his beloved country of Malta.
“I never imagined nor dreamt that I would be in Honduras. I came to Honduras in obedience to the example of saint Francis of Assisi It was a difficult change, an experience not easy because of the change of culture, customs. I knew no words in Spanish. I didn't know tortillas nor the mangoes." For him no experience has been  too difficult, for him there is nothing impossible. The strength of the Franciscan charism fills his spirit every day. His visits to the market in search of food for the elderly makes him very happy, and in his ministry, his life is wonderful.   
He tells us he does not possess any goods,  and he is faithful to his vow of poverty. Even his vehicle is owned by the Catholic Church. Besides, the people of Olancho taught him to live with little. With a soda and a pack of cigarettes, the day goes smoothly. He has no bed, sleeping on a mattress on the ground is the best bed God gave to the poor. In reality he spends the day looking for support to sustain his projects.
Among his major projects are:
1. The home of the children (St. Mary of the Angels),
2. A nutrition center,
3. A bakery,
4. Home of the elderly (Paz y Bien),
5. The Penalty Farm of Olancho,
6. Home “Fray Guillermo Salgado” for HIV infected
7. Juan Ramón Brevé Stadium.
For Fr. Gauci, Olancho is unique. "The inhabitants of this department are different from the rest of the country: they are more suspicious, they are distrustful of strangers, but their idiosyncrasies are unique. They are sincere. If an Olanchano trusts you, he loves you and gives you his heart and soul."  

Friar Conrad Fernandes, OFM has been granted a six-month leave of absence for personal reasons. Effective December 1, 2021.

Friar Joshua Critchley, OFM. His ordination to the transitional diaconate is scheduled for Saturday, December 18, 2021 at St. Anthony of Padua Church, New York City, at the 5:00 PM Mass. Ordaining bishop will be Most Rev. James Massa, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Rector of St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie.

Each year at the end of October, just in time for Hallowe'en, Friar Patrick Boyle, O.F.M., Vicar Provincial, shows us his wonderful artistic talents with his window displays of jack o' lanterns in the windows of the Provincial Curia. This year was no exception.
Friar Charles Gilmartin, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar Vince Elsen, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)
Friar William Cardy, OFM (Sacred Hart Province)
Friar Gerald Steinmetz, OFM (OL Guadalupe Province)
Friar Elrich Sampson OFM (Sacred Heart Province)
Friar Flavian Mucci, OFM (Immaculate Conception Province)

Recently Deceased Family and Friends
Joyce D'Amodio (Relative of Friar Joseph Lorenzo, OFM)
Wayne Arambasick (Brother of Friar Dennis Arambasick, OFM)
Sr Rosaleen O'Halloran,R.S.H.M. (Former teacher at St. Anthony NYC)
Lina Masucci (Secretary at St. Francis, Caledon)
Gino Antonelli (Friend of Friars at Catskill NY)
Leo J. Gaffrey (Uncle of Friar Christopher Gaffrey, OFM)

Let us pray for our infirm friars:
Friar Joseph LaGressa, OFM
Friar Guy Vellardita, OFM
Friar Aubert Picardi, OFM
Friar Vincent dePaul Ciaravino, OFM
Friar Dennis Wheatley, OFM
Friar Daniel Morey, OFM
For our Infirm Family and Friends
For all those suffering from the Corona Virus
For our Friars and family members who are ill.

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