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

Being an avid baseball fan, it becomes obvious to me the parallels between the Season of Lent and Easter and baseball. Spring training usually begins in the middle of February, first when pitchers and catchers report to the spring training facility, and later on the rest of the players.  For about six weeks, intensive training takes place.  
This is seen not only in the playing of pre-season and exhibition games, but also in practicing and workouts.  It is important, after some four months of layoff, that the players prepare themselves for the beginning of the baseball season.
When spring training ends, usually at the beginning of April, the baseball teams head to their hometowns to begin the regular season, which will last until late October. The season will be deemed completed only when one of the teams wins the World Series in late October.

Spring training begins around the same time we celebrate Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, and pretty much parallels Lent.  And, as usually is the case, the opening of the baseball season often coincides with the celebration of Easter.

We may compare Lent to spring training as an intense time of preparation when we seek to discipline ourselves in the following of the Gospel.  We identify those aspects of our values and our lives which are not in conformity with the Gospel of Jesus Christ- the example of Jesus, so that we may prepare for Easter.
Our Lenten preparations may consist of many things- traditionally fasting, alms giving, and prayer.  We may choose to do other forms of penance, all hopefully accompanied by sacrifice and giving up things in our own lives.
All of these things are meant to remind us of what we should be doing each and every day of our lives as Christians and Catholics, so that, on Easter Sunday we can celebrate resurrection and new life- not only the Resurrection of Jesus but also our own resurrection and new life.

Much like spring training prepares baseball players for the rigors and discipline of a grueling schedule-162 games played over 180 days- all to reap the reward of a championship,  so Lent prepares us not only for Easter Sunday, resurrection and new life, but for our daily lives as Christians and Catholics. 

The discipline of Lent is not something that should automatically stop with Easter.  We should not discard the good things we have accomplished during Lent, or our efforts to become better Catholics, because Lent is over.  Rather, we should see Lent as a “spring training” for our own spiritual lives, and put those things into action every day.  

May the Lord bless all of us during the Holy Season of Easter, so that we can become new and grow in holiness. 

Happy Easter, brothers.  
News from the Convento San Francesco, Rome
Post Novitiate Program
Hello from Rome brothers!
Here in beautiful Italy spring has sprung! We have sunny days that are all above 15 degrees Celsius. The flowers are in bloom and we are able to breathe new life into our time here. At the end of February we ended our first semester and started our second. This brings new classes and new information for us to digest and learn. The Antonianum has been a real blessing, although we are still doing classes online. However, this year has been slightly different from this time last year. We were still learning how to navigate online and how to adjust to online classes. Now, we are quite the experts and the professors have been creative in what they are doing with us this year.
Here in our fraternity we are getting more creative with our weekly recreation. We are seeking to break the monotony of being here in the friary all the time. Starting this week we are now in a Red Zone here in Rome until after holy week. This means that there is a lockdown and we cannot go out except for health, and necessary reasons such as grocery shopping. This fraternity has been such a blessing during the pandemic because we have such creative friars here! We are blessed with a beautiful friary where we have a rooftop terrace and ample space inside for exercise (for example going up and down the stairs!). 
On Ash Wednesday we were fortunate to be able to celebrate with the friars at the Curia. We went for this special mass and embarked on our Lenten journey with a global vision of the OFM. The mass was presided by the provincial of the province of Assisi. In his homily he called us back to remember to walk with the Lord and to return to his love. With this in mind it was inspiring and uplifting going forward into Lent.
This month we were fortunate to celebrate two birthdays! One of our guardian Father Antonio and the other of our province-wide famous cook Daniela. During Fr. Antonio’s birthday celebration of 75 years young, we had one of the friars play a guitar and we sang about four different songs in at least three different languages! He enjoyed this special celebration very much and of course as a fraternity it was inspiring to celebrate such a special age with him.
Brothers, as always we are thankful and appreciative of your prayers as we journey through our formation. We wish you all a blessed and fruitful upcoming holy week.  
Peace and all good,
Br. Carl Green
Preparing for the OFM General Chapter
Renewing our Vision, Embracing our Future
"Arise...and Christ will give you light. "
Ep. 5:14
Prayers for General Chapter:

To be prayed at Morning and Evening Prayer

Intercession (Morning Prayer)

O Lord, touch our hearts and awaken us (cf. Acts 12:27) from our slumber
by renewing in us a fresh zeal and wholehearted dedication to your will:
- Let us love you by living the gospel with an ever more intense and active
love and in perfect joy (Fioretti) with all your creatures (cf. Canticle of the Creatures and Col 1:16-17).
You have revealed yourself in love, O Lord, you who are our mercy, grace
and salvation; awaken all our sleeping hearts to your extraordinary grace (2 Cor 9:14)
- and called to be light for all men and women, make us ready, through the
mission you have entrusted to us, to give glory and honour to your holy name (cf. 1st Letter to the Custodians 243) and join you in the glory to which you have called us (1 Tim 6:12).

Intercession (Evening Prayer)

O Lord, you never tire of enlightening all your children (Eph 3:9) that they
may be more abundant in goodness and peace:
- Arouse in us a joyful fervour to walk as children of light (cf. Jn 12:36) and illuminate the earth with the radiance of your splendour (Rev 18:1).
O Lord, source of light (Mt 17:2-3), shining in the darkness (cf. Jn 1:5), the light of all peoples, guide our steps on the way of love (2 Jn 1:6):
- speak to us on the way, explain the Scriptures to us once more, and inflame our hearts (cf. Lk 24:13 ff.), enabling us to preach your word by the example of our lives (1 Celano XV: 37).

April Birthdays
Take time to wish our brothers a Happy Birthday!

Fr. Guy Vellardita - April 3rd - 90
Br. Joshua Critchley- April 3rd - 27
Bishop Joseph Bonello - April 4th - 60
Fr. Octavio Salinas - April 6th - 68
Fr. Alphonse Ferreira - April 9th - 87
Bishop Roberto Camilleri - April 24th - 70
Br. Marco Antonio Gomez- April 26th- 30
Fr. Jules Wong - April 28th - 78
Br. Gabriel Aceto - April 29th - 72
Br. John Sidoti - April 30th - 25

The JoyJ Initiative Enters its Seventh Year of outreach to the homeless at St. Anthony’s NYC

The Many Challenges of Ministry in a World of Covid-19

The JoyJ Initiative was founded at Blessed Sacrament Church in Manhattan, New York City in early 2013, but it wasn’t until May of 2014, almost seven years ago, that our St. Anthony Church in Soho established the second chapter of the Initiative.  Since these humble beginnings the JoyJ Initiative has flourished.  Today, there are thousands of volunteers, serving tens of thousands of needy and homeless people.  Hundreds of thousands of items have been distributed, and there are now eleven chapters in New York City, chapters in New Jersey, Georgia, Missouri, and California, and International Chapters in Colombia, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, and Italy.  Homeless outreaches have been organized for schools, colleges, corporations, alumni associations, and other organizations.  

The advent of the COVID-19 virus, however, presented special challenges to the initiative.  The number of homeless and needy people has exploded, and the JoyJ Initiatve continues to provide aid and comfort to those in need.  There have, of course, been great adjustments. The virus has eliminated the one-on-one interactions that took place on our streets and in our parks and were such an important part of the outreach. However, these limitations presented new opportunities in working with other similar organizations. During the year 2020, JoyJ reached almost 70,000 individuals.  During this past year, JoyJ has partnered with other organizations serving the needy, in delivering food and supplies to shelters that provide critical service to those facing homelessness.  Some organizations they’ve partnered with are Covenant House NY, Jericho Project, Walton House, Jewish Board Shelters, Feed the Frontlines NYC, and the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing. JoyJ’s partnership with St. Anthony’s and the enthusiastic response of so many parishioners and local residents has truly been inspiring and a great blessing. 
Letter of
Minister General
Br. Michael Perry
on the
First Anniversary of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic
March 11, 2021

My dear Brothers,
May the Lord give you peace!
On March 11, 2021 the world will mark one year since the World Health Organization declared Sars2-COVID-19 a global pandemic. On that date, there were 118,000 verified infections, and 4,291 verified deaths from COVID-19, with 114 countries reporting the presence of the virus. As of February 26, 2021, there have been nearly 112,000,000 confirmed infections, and nearly 2,500,000 deaths from COVID-19, with 192 countries now directly affected by the pandemic. What also is clear is the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has upon our poor brothers and sisters and upon the world’s poorer nations.
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that everyone of us in the Order knows someone who has become infected, and perhaps someone who has died. It is difficult to verify exactly how many of our beloved Friars have died as a result of complications from COVID-19, but the numbers are significant. Fraternities have been quarantined. Individual Friars have been isolated in hospital or in Provincial or Custodial infirmaries or in other care facilities. Family members have been infected and, sadly, some have died. A significant number of ‘survivors’ of COVID-19 are reporting long-term effects, including exhaustion, respiratory difficulties, heart abnormalities, and other difficulties for which they are now under medical care. One cannot even begin to fathom the psycho-social impact of the pandemic due to fear of contagion, social isolation, and the triggering of other long-standing mental health conditions. They affect not only those unknown to us; they affect our lives as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic is rewriting the history of the world, and, more importantly, the history of each of our lives, the life of the Order, and the Church. We do not know the full weight of collateral ‘damage’ that might come as a consequence of the pandemic, but we already are sensing increased challenges that touch every aspect of our lives, our institutions, and our evangelizing presence in the world today. It is my prayer that each of you has been able to take sufficient time to reflect on the impact of the pandemic on your life, on the other brothers in the fraternity, on your pastoral and missionary work, and on the lives of those whom we have been called to serve.
As we draw near to March 11, 2021, the first year since the official declaration of the Sars2-COVID-19 pandemic, I invite all of you, my dear brothers, to join with the universal Fraternity of the Order for a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three ‘methods’ find precedence in the Sacred Scriptures and offer an opportunity for those who embrace them to enter into a spirit of conversion of mind, heart, and action (Cf. Joel 1:14ff). Find attached to this letter two prayers that have been composed as a response to the pandemic. They are prayers calling upon God to hear the cry of God’s people and to come to our aid. In the spirit of fasting proposed by the Prophets (Cf. Is 58:6-7) and by Jesus (Cf. Mt. 6:16-18), the focus clearly is on a radical change of heart and mind and is also linked with acts that contribute to the liberation of God’s people by uniting our efforts in one great act of solidarity, something so much needed in our world prior to and as a consequence of the COVID pandemic. This is the focus of Pope Francis’s message in Fratelli Tutti when speaking about the need for the entire world to undergo a radical conversion (Fratelli Tutti 32,55). Finally, I urge you to take time to talk to one another and express how the COVID pandemic has affected your personal life, your involvement with the fraternity, your missionary engagements, and other challenges you are facing. It would most appropriate if the local fraternities could celebrate the Eucharist together on this day of prayer. The moment of dialogue could take place in a special house chapter or during the time for the homily at the Eucharist.
May we unite as the one universal brotherhood on this occasion the first year since COVID was declared a pandemic. Let us call upon Mary, Mother of the Seraphic Order, and all of the saints of the Order to intercede to God on our behalf, and on behalf of all of humanity. May the gift of our fraternity be a source of constant support and encouragement as together we face an uncertain future. May we reflect the love and mercy of God who is always present with us, most especially during these most difficult times, inviting us to stand up and lift up our heads, to see that we are not alone (Cf. Lk. 21:28).
Let us pray for all who continue to suffer the direct physical consequences of COVID-19. Let us pray, also, for all those who are affected socially, spiritually, and economically. And let us remember all of our brothers and sisters who have passed from this life and who now enjoy fullness of life in God’s kingdom.
Rome, March 1st, 2021
Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant


Before the revolution in Cuba, there were 104 friars in seventeen communities spread in various parts of the country. Today, there are six friars: four from other countries (Mexico, USA, Guatemala and Ireland) and two Cubans; one who made his solemn profession in 2020 and was ordained a deacon at the end of January 2021, and an 80-year-old who returned to Cuba in 1960 as a priest, just after the Revolutionaries came to power. There are three simply professed Cuban friars studying in the Dominican Republic, and there are a number of young men interested in the Franciscan way of life. The friars live in two fraternities in the capital of Havana.
The Cuban presence is a semi-autonomous delegation of the Arántzazu Province (Spain) since June 2020 and also part of the Custody of Our Lady of Hope (with two other countries: the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).
Cuba is not the easiest of missionary locations, as attested to by the experience of numerous congregations who have found it difficult to find suitable candidates willing to come and stay for a reasonable period of time. Yet, there is always hope that friars from different entities will feel called to the challenge of this mission. For now, our vocation is one of presence and accompaniment of the people (many of whom have suffered decades of religious intolerance and whose trust need to be regained). Besides parish ministry, we want to get to know the needs of the local church to offer popular missions in the different parts of the country. One specific dream is to open another presence outside Havana and eventually take back a historically significant presence which still belongs to the Order, where friars over the centuries moved out on missions around the country.
The future of the Franciscan OFM presence in Cuba depends mainly on an increase in local vocations, but there will also be a continued push to promote Cuba as a missionary destination. Anyone reading this article is invited to consider coming to Cuba. Those interested could request the orientation document aimed to help friars discern this particular vocation by emailing Br. Francisco Gearóid Ó Conaire at
St. Christopher Friary, Boston News

Receiving the COVID vaccines came with a sigh of relief for all of the friars at St. Christopher. With a fully vaccinated house we were once more able to invite a speaker for our monthly Day of Recollection. The Lenten reflection was offered by Fr. Joseph Gaudet, a diocesan priest who is a retired member of the St. James Society. Joe spent many years in Peru and Ecuador as a missionary. He currently resides at Regina Cleri in Boston (the archdiocesan retirement residence for Boston priests).

At the March House Chapter we tried something new. Besides our typical “housework reminders,” liturgy tips, and other business, we always try to have a discussion item. Unfortunately, the same guys are usually the ones who discuss, a typical issue in any group. This month we used an activity that illustrates how many former teachers we have in the house. We became newspaper editors. Each friar took headlines of theological issues: systematic, liturgical, pastoral, and social justice. Some of the headlines were provided and others were developed by the individual friar himself. The friars each shared the headlines and the placement of each, the more important stories in places of prominence and others stories they wanted to “bury” in the center of the paper. As corny as it may sound, it allowed the friars equal time to highlight what issues were most important to them. Topics of social justice were most represented on the front page.

As the spring returns the friars are looking forward to some social activities outside of the friary. Everyone is ready for some recreational events now that vaccinations are in place and restrictions are slowly lifted. First on the agenda is a harbor cruise. As the guys get older, some of these activities become a bit harder to plan. We don’t all have the balance that we once had, but movies, the theater, and, of course, dinner at a restaurant are all on the “to do “list. A report of our progress will be upcoming.

Birthday Celebration of Friar Flavian Mucci, OFM
Prayer Requests

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)
Friar Dan Piasecki, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)

Recently Deceased Family and Friends
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)
Gloria Cassese (First Order Affiliate)

Let us pray for our infirm friars:
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Back home after hospital stay for Covid)
Friar Giacomo LaSelva, OFM
Fr. Daniel Morey, 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 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