Category Archives: Franciscans

Conventual Franciscans meet in Chapter, prayers please

You may be wondering why I am asking you to send up some prayers for the Conventual Franciscans. This week two east coast Conventual Franciscan provinces are meeting in a provincial chapter to discuss matters pertaining to their life as Franciscans. A chapter meets every four years. This week the two provinces on the east coast of the USA are deciding by vote the merger of their provinces, no insignificant matter. May the Holy Spirit guide and protect the discussions!

The Conventual Franciscans arrived in the USA in the 19th century to work with the German and then Polish immigrant peoples You can read more their history here The Conventual Franciscans History.pdf. Fast forwarding through particular histories, about four years ago, the then Minister Provincial Father Canice Connors introduced the idea of merging the two east coast provinces, Immaculate Conception and Saint Anthony of Padua, into one; each province has about 100 men in each so we’re not talking about hugh numbers of men coming together like, for example, what the Jesuits are doing at the moment (they’re moving 10 provinces into 5). This merger will change the face of Conventual Franciscan life in the friaries and in the many dioceses where the friars serve in the East, especially in some New York and Connecticut dioceses.
You can also follow developments of the world-wide Conventual Franciscan movement on their website.
The witness of of the Franciscans is necessary for us today and we ought to sustain them by prayer and fraternal relations in their deliberations, today and in the days/years to come. As Pope Benedict mentioned in his Regina Caeli address of April 5, we need to be heralds to the world of God the Father’s great plan for the restoration of man: of God’s love for man and woman, our resurrection with Christ in glory. In baptism all Christian people are called to announce and to live the divine love; the charism passed down to us from Saint Francis through the Conventuals ought to do the same.

St Francis at table detail.jpg

Let me end but calling to mind Holy Father Saint Francis’ words to the Friars at the end of his Rule of life which I think may be appropriate for all of us to consider in for our prayer for the Conventuals (and for ourselves):
O most beloved brothers and sons forever blessed, hear me, hear the voice of your Father:
Great things we have promised;
greater have been promised us.
Let us observe the former;
let us aspire to the latter.
Pleasure is short;
punishment, everlasting.
Suffering is slight;
glory, infinite.
Many are called;
few are chosen.
Retribution for all.
Brethren, while we have time, let us do good.
May the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, Saint Joseph, Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, Saints Anthony of Padua and Maximilian Mary Kolbe, pray for a favorable outcome of this week’s chapter.

Shrine of St Anthony in Ellicott City, MD –breaking for spring

St Anthony Shrine3 Ellicott City.jpgEaster week is time for spring break this year, especially after a very busy Holy Week schedule. And getting away from the ordinary was required. Like all graduate students on break, I went to visit friends at a Conventual Franciscan friary in Maryland.

One of my friends there is Friar Brad, the Father Guardian (and formation director) of the student brothers and postulants. My other friend Friar Gabriel who’s originally from the New Haven, CT area and preparing to profess vows and to follow more intensely the Franciscan way of life. Besides preparing for priesthood, Gabriel and I share a number of common things in life; the important part of the visit was seeing him in situ and understanding his religious life as a Conventual friar (the group first founded by St Francis of Assisi). Being among the friars was restful and delightful. I wasn’t there too long but I did get to Washington, DC, Georgetown, WTU and the Shrine of St Anthony, Ellicott City, Maryland. Sadly, the cherry blossoms were gone by the time I bounced on the scene.

Marian shrine Ellicott City.jpg

A ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Friars, the Shrine of St Anthony is a place of welcome of pilgrims come from far and near for a period of prayer. The Shrine is located in the farmlands of Howard County in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Situated on about 200 acres, you know you are in farmland by sight and scent: the working farms dot the landscape. As good stewards of the land, the friars rent a good portion of the land to the University of Maryland for their learning. Architecturely the shrine will remind you immediately of Tuscan architecture with the tile roof, gardens, stone and wood work. I had an immediate sense of home. The friar’s chapel has an exquisitely carved set of choir stalls. As a spiritual “program” the friars provide a horizon for reconciliation, healing, spiritual direction, meditation and contemplation. Outdoor shrines are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Maximillian Kolbe and the Way of the Cross all which capture the theological imagination and propel the retreatant or causal visitor to work on holiness. The shrine chapel staff provides a regular schedule of the Mass, confession, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Vespers. There’s also Tuesday’s Novena of St Anthony and 3 healing Masses a month. 

St Anthony altar St Anthony Shrine Ellicott City.jpg

On the 800th anniversary of St Anthony’s birth the friars received a gift of a reliquary of St Anthony from the Italian province of Conventual Franciscans enthroned in a walnut-tree house. Historically St Anthony lived and preached in a walnut tree house.
cloister garden Ellicott City.jpg

Franciscan winemakers cheer the heart

barrel of friar wine.jpg

In October I posted a
piece on the Franciscan Friars’ wine making hobby
. Franciscan Friar
of the Renewal
Brother Giuseppe Maria Siniscalchi had an idea a few years ago
to make homemade wine when he wasn’t hitting the theology books. The friars do more than study, serve the poor, run the Catholic Underground— they cheer the heart with their wine which is a very human thing to do. This is the
second year for Our Lady of Cana wines. Perhaps this may be a new franchise for the friars!!! I’m looking forward to a 3rd year of winemaking. AND I am willing to be the wine-quality control guy.

With grapes handpicked and materials donated by friends, and
help from the other friars, Brother Giuseppi made a great barrel of wine. Of course, nature did her part and God His… For the
last six months the wine has matured –and we’ve been eagerly waiting for the maturing process to work– in a basement corner in an oak barrel. The
wine now sufficiently mature, today was the time to bottle.

Deacon James
Ferreira, Ken Riello (a 1st yr Dunwoodian) and yours truly set out to watch,
assist and taste the fruit of the earth. James was most kind in bringing some
great bread, cheese and soppressata.

fr Giuseppe & JFerreira ciphening.jpgfrs John Paul & Ignatius bottling.jpgfr Bonaventure corking2.jpgPAZ & fr Charles satisfying a thirst.jpg

We had great fun bottling nearly 275 bottles of wine. James, I hear, has a case of wine for his first Mass in May! AND this event was SO Catholic!

fr Charles praying a blessing.jpg

Always thinking liturgically, the
soon-to-be-priested, Friar Deacon Charles blessed the new wine using this
, but here is another version of the blessing of wine:

The Blessing of Wine in Honor of Saint John the Evangelist

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Pray Psalm 22 and then the Our Father

V. And lead
us not into temptation.

R. But deliver us from evil.

V. Preserve thy servants.

That trust in thee, my God.

V. Send them aid, O Lord, from heaven.

R. And from
Sion watch over them.

V. Let the enemy be powerless over them.

R. And the son
of evil do nothing to harm them.

V. And should they drink anything deadly.

May it not hurt them.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.

Holy Lord,
Father Almighty, eternal God! Who didst will that thy Son, equal to thee in
eternity and substance, should descend from heaven and in the fullness of
time take temporal birth of the most holy Virgin Mary, so that He could seek
the lost and wayward sheep and carry it on His shoulders to the sheepfold, and
could cure the man fallen among robbers of his wounds by pouring in oil and
wine– do thou bless + and sanctify + this wine which thou hast vintaged for
man’s drink. Whoever partakes of it on this holy solemnity, grant him life in
body and soul. By thy goodness let it be to him strength in the pilgrimage to
prosper him on the way, that his journey may come to a happy termination.
Through the same Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ,
Who didst call thyself the true vine and thy holy apostles the branches, and
didst desire to plant a chosen vineyard of all who love thee, bless + this wine
and impart to it the power of thy benediction.+And as thy beloved disciple John,
Apostle and Evangelist intercedes for them that partake thereof, grant them
security from all deadly and poisonous afflictions and constant good health of
soul and body. Who lives and reigns forever.

R. Amen.

Let us pray.

O God, thou
gives to man bread to eat and wine to drink — bread to nourish the body and
wine to cheer the heart. And as thou didst confer upon blessed John, thy
beloved disciple such favor that not only did he himself escape the poisoned
potion, but could restore life to others so overcome; do thou grant to all that
drink this wine spiritual joy and eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
thy Son, who with Thee, lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one
God, forever and ever.

R. Amen.

Friars of the Renewal profess vows today

May the Lord grant you His peace!

Great news echoes in the heavenly courts: 16 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal novices professed temporary vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) today at Saint Antoninus Church (Newark, NJ). Newly elected Community Servant (Fr. Provincial) Father Mariusz Koch received the vows. A reception followed at the novitiate of the Most Blessed Sacrament Friary also in Newark, NJ. Bishop Emmanuel Cruz, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark was present. Here are some pics of the community.

CFR novices 2010.jpg

The Friars also invested 10 new men as novices on Saturday. Names are always fun, especially when you think, “where did they get that name from?” Read the new names:
Br Frantisek Marie Chloupek, Br Vittorio Maria Pesce, Br Jude Thaddeus Boyden, Br. Tobias Marie Redfield, Br Simeon Mary Lewis, Fr. Maximillian Mary McGoldrick, Br Seamus Mary Laracy, Br Mark-Mary Maximilian Ames, Br Angelus Immaculata Montgomery, Fr Felipe Immaculee Casadia.
May Saints Francis and Clare bless the new friars abundantly!

From athlete to religious life

Holum3.jpgA few weeks ago Yahoo sports posted a story that caught my attention (but I am only now getting around to posting it, sorry) about a former world-class speedskater now on a journey to the vowed life as a Franciscan Sister of the Renewal.


Kirstin Holum, now Sister Catherine, stands out because she was once a high-profile athlete with promise now (she was at the 1998 Olympics in Japan) she’s devoting her life to Christ and the Church in a new race outlined by Jesus, Saint Paul, Saint Francis and the Church.
Prayers for Sister Catherine’s perseverance and for the Sisters of the Renewal.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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