Wednesday, July 18, 2018

New Novices Received at Old Mission Santa Barbara


Group photo of novitiate class 2018-19: Row 1 (l to r): Josh Tagoylo (SB), Carlos Portillo (HNP), Richard Phillip (HNP), Nhan Ton (SH), Rafael Ozoude (SJB). Row 2 (l to r): John Neuffer (HNP), Steven Young (HNP), Andrew Aldrich (ABVM), Matt Ryan (SJB), Bernard Keele (OLG). Row 3 (l to r): Loren Moreno (HNP), Ian Grant (HNP), Salvador Mejia (SB), Andrew Dinegar (SB). Photo by Dick Tandy, ofm


On Monday, July 16, 2018—a typically balmy Santa Barbara morning—14 new novices representing all six of the US provinces involved in the R + R (Revitalization + Realignment) process were received into the Order. One of the group, Bernard Keele (OLG) received the Rite of Probation initiating his transfer from the Benedictines to the Franciscans. In addition, two men from Christ the King province in western Canada—not present-- are awaiting their US visas before they can join their US confreres in the program.

“We’re not at St. Peter’s in Rome, “ began Friar Jeff Macnab as he welcomed the diverse group of new friars—almost all of whom had just completed their postulancy year in Silver Spring, Maryland before moving to the present interprovincial novitiate location at Old Mission Santa Barbara (California). “We’re very relaxed here,” he continued as he looked around the intimate group of new and “old” novices, ministers provincial, formation team members, and others gathered in the Friars Chapel: “This is a family celebration—a family gathering.”

The sense of family was reinforced in the remarks given by Provincial Minister Jim Gannon of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ABVM) province. Following the proclamation of the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John (1:1-10), Father Jim mentioned that it reminded him of not one, but three separate generations of baptisms witnessed in his native Philadelphia. He began by mentioning the parish priest of his own childhood who, typically, immediately following the baptismal rite, would carry the infant in his arms from the rear of the church. The priest would then “present” the infant by placing it on the main altar, while he recited the Prologue, formerly known as the “last Gospel”. Fr. Jim shared that this same custom has been treasured in his own family for three generations now.

Fr. Jim challenged the incoming novitiate class members to work to understand more deeply the real meaning of the Prologue—“words full of grace and truth; grace upon grace, love upon love” and to apply its message to their own lives. “The Prologue of the Gospel of John is one of the most glorious foundational statements about Jesus Christ. Yet, we often skip over (it). John's story reveals two most fundamental affirmations about Jesus: Jesus is the presence of God's own life and that Jesus makes this life of God available to every human being.”

“For Francis of Assisi,” he continued, “ the Word became the core foundation of his renewed, revitalized life. The Word turned Francis of Assisi upside down and inside out. I firmly believe that no individual renewal or revitalization, no global renewal or revitalization of the Order of Friars Minor-- no national renewal or revitalization of the Franciscans in the United States will be successful unless we are committed to renewing our love for living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“Brothers, you are the next generation,” he concluded. “As you enter your novitiate year, enter deeply into the implication of the Prologue of John's Gospel. Enter deeply into the implications of the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh upon your life as a Friar Minor.”

During the actual reception of the new novices, each man was called by name and, along with two solemnly professed friars as witnesses, signed the Book of Reception. Bernard Keele (OLG) was welcome separately into “a time of probation” with the friars. Also in attendance were representatives of each of the six participating provinces, including: Provincial Ministers Jim Gannon (ABVM), Jack Clark Robinson (OLG), Ralph Parthie (SH), David Gaa (SB), and Mark Soehner (SJB). Friar Basil Valente represented Holy Name Province.

Afterwards, Provincial Minister David Gaa, of the Province of St. Barbara, presented each new novice with a journal of his own “to write and express your journey.” “. . . . Be attentive to the workings of the Spirit and (even) the days you resist the challenge,” he urged them.

The service concluded with blessings of and by this year’s interprovincial novitiate team, consisting of Friars Jeff Macnab (SB), Michael Blastic (HNP), and Michael Jennrich (SH), as well as Sister Susan Rosenbach SSSF.

The new novices include: Andrew Aldrich (ABVM); Ian Grant, Loren Moreno, John Neuffer, Richard Phillip, Carlos Portillo, and Steven Young—all of Holy Name Province; Nhan Ton (SH); Andrew Dinegar, Salvador Mejia, and Joshua Tagoylo (SB); Raphael Ozoude and Matthew Ryan (SJB); and Bernard Keele (OLG), formerly of the Benedictine order. Still to arrive are Adrian Macor and Theodore Splinter of the Province of Christ the King (western Canada).

Friar Charles Talley is the Communications Director of the Province of St. Barbara. He currently resides at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, CA.







Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Franciscan Advent

Advent’s vision and energy for fuller birth I find can be helpful for us as we engage our Franciscan future.  Image Advent as a mountain that God beckons us to climb.  And as we climb, let us free our imaginations to vision our future, the future of God coming into our present.

The expression of time as divided into “the already and the not yet” is for me the best understanding of eschatology.  The fullness that came and comes in Jesus is “the already”, the “not yet” is what we are called to.

To me, and I’m sure to you as well, no tradition, no spirituality holds a more future-making potential than one we were graced to become part of.  Europe never saw the likes of the Franciscan Movement.  It took hold as nothing else did.  Its power still resides in that tradition that we claim to be our heritage.

“…how beautiful the feet of those who proclaim good news…”   The human is God’s chosen dwelling place!  That is the good news that we bring to all we do and say!

As you are aware, in Mark, Matthew, and Luke, the eschatological is intertwined —or explicated within — the apocalyptic.  On the mountain of Advent God will show us not only the fuller birth that is open to us in this moment of our history, but God will also bring to our hearts places where apocalyptic images are so raw and pressing.  Think of Yemen, of Syria, and so many other places and situations that come to your mind so readily and so painfully.

We face our history!  We face it for we are one human family!  An image that sears my awareness is, “My country is at the center of every economic, environmental, and military disaster the world over!”

As Advent begins, Mark becomes our gospel companion.  Mark as no other caught the immediacy of Jesus.  May his immediacy catch us up too.  Mark’s Gospel is a primer on discipleship.  How fortunate and blessed we are to live in this communion of disciples!  In the immediacy, in the intensity of Francis’ following of Jesus may we join together as one.  Jesus calls us to collaboration.  A new Franciscan Movement awaits our collaboration.
                                                   

Friar Matt Tumulty has had the richness of living in two Provinces, Holy Name (NY) and Santa Barbara (CA).  He served for over 5 years as a missionary in Japan and worked with a Small Eucharistic Community for fifteen years in San Anselmo, CA. In Portland, OR he helped start Franciscan Enterprise which renovated abandoned houses with volunteers to house low-income families. He also once served as a co-pastor to a Lutheran/Roman Catholic joint community and ministered to the homeless and to migrants at the Arizona-Mexico border.  He is presently retired and living at Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, CA.



Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org

Thursday, November 2, 2017

All Souls Matter

A couple days ago, I went with a group from No More Deaths and Ajo Samaritans on a trip to leave bottled waters in the desert near Ajo, Arizona. After a few miles walking, someone from our group noticed a human skull underneath some bushes. We paused and spent some time in silent prayer. It was my first time encountering human remains in a corridor used by migrants to cross from Mexico into the U.S. Some of us in the group had previous encounters, but it is still had a big impact for them. As per the established procedure, we called the Sheriff Office using a satellite phone and waited until the deputies arrived. We also scoured the nearby areas to see if we could find more remains. We did find one more human bone, and also some clothing, shoes, backpacks, and a sleeping bag. It is possible that they had belonged to the person whose remains we found.

Hundred of migrants have died every year as they try to cross the desert into the United States. One estimate put the total number to more than 10,000 deaths since 1994. Aside from the political and legal debate about immigration, the fact is that these are human lives! Every human life is valuable, each one of them is created by God and loved by God.


Today, November 2, the Catholic Church commemorates All the Faithful Departed, also known as All Souls Day or Dia de Los Muertos. When I was living at Old Mission San Luis Rey, I saw for the first time the Hispanic tradition of celebrating the day with some kind of a vigil at the cemetery. On October 2, in the evening, families would gather around the grave of their loved ones. They would drink hot chocolate or champurrado, eat some homemade food, and share stories to remember that family member who had gone before them. It was truly a sign of the Communion of Saints! That night, death is no barrier for us, alive and death, to be spending some time together.

Back in the Arizona desert, as we were waiting for the sheriff deputies to arrive, we sat around this human skull that we just found, and started to open our backpacks to find whatever little food we had for lunch. We shared trail mixes, crackers, cheese, and hummus with each other. We shared stories about our lives. At first it felt like a disrespect to this sacred ground where the only appropriate mood seemed to only be a somber one. But then as I thought more about it, isn't this what the Christian paschal mystery is all about? We mourn the passion and death of Jesus, but we also then celebrate his resurrection, his victory over death, by breaking bread and sharing meal with each other. And just like that night on All Souls Day at the Mission San Luis Rey cemetery, we celebrated the life of this person who had died alone in the middle of the desert. Probably for the first time ever since his death, a group of people actually gathered around to remember him and celebrate his life.


Sam Nasada, OFM received his Master of Divinity degree from the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, CA this past summer. He is currently part of a new initiative of the Province of St. Barbara: a small intentional community near the Arizona-Mexico border that is focused on contemplation and helping those in the margins. He hopes that this experience will help in his formation to become a priest who will not be afraid to, borrowing a term from Pope Francis, "smell like his sheep".

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org


Sunday, October 29, 2017

“The Slathering of Oil” A Reflection on the Dedication of the Conventual Church of Our Lady of The Angels

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix pours Chrism Oil onto the altar of the
new Conventual Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Franciscan Renewal Center
(also popularly known as "The Casa"), Scottsdale, AZ

This reflection was originally published in OFM.FYI, the newsletter of the Province of St. Barbara.

Friar Michael Weisshaar (d. 1996) used to welcome Friar Regis Rohder (d.1983) at the Casa’s front door in the early Seventies with a peck on the top of his head and a giggle: “Kiss a relic!” His parking lot is now a shrine. We buried relics under the floor of a new sanctuary there. Our senses were filled with the smell of chrism and flowers and billowing sweet incense. It is not easy on the Catholic imagination to undo what we witnessed on Francis Day at the Casa this year. Recent decades have seen so many sacred buildings of our country closed and abandoned to “profane use.” But as a bishop slathers chrism across the mensa of a new altar and permanently stains the walls with it, something changes inside of us.  Something often messy is dedicated as well. Vestments and new altar cloths were ruined with permanent oil stains, ruined like all of us, and dedicated at the same time, perhaps, to a humanity made more sacred.

I didn't want to concelebrate; to sit in habit among the friars felt enough. A question by a Lutheran pastor I studied with at the Chicago Theological Union lingered across my thoughts: “I don't understand you Catholics. If the Lord Jesus was not worried about spilling his Sacred Blood on the garbage dump of Calvary, why are you worried about spilling the blest chalice on a “chrismed” altar? “ But we are. Obsessed sometimes. And sometimes we appear “picky” about the proper rites for dedicating things. But these things “baptize” a building of stone and steel with water and oil and sacred Word. It was good, too, to be among the friars, hearing Bishop Olmsted applaud our kind of Franciscan church-building and rebuilding. Even with our personnel issues, he noted, the three Phoenix Franciscan centers continue to invigorate his diocese. After all, the friars have sought to do “good church” here since our Marcos Di Niza first trudged through this desert looking for gold… more than three hundred years ago.

At that moment of slathering the walls and altar table, we were all one. Not liberal or conservative church people any more. All of our diocesan leadership were there: the bishop, vicar of clergy, vicar general, chancellor and deans… and even a few the “New Franciscans” of the Phoenix diocese. We have done battle recently on the question of what face of the Church do we want project in central Phoenix. Here, we the “older” Franciscans who brought the Gospel to Arizona so many hundreds of years ago became a temporary sea of brown. Our way leans more often toward the human, the messy and the proximate. This seemed to charm as well in the context of ancient rites.  In some important way, in the slathering oil, the illuminating of the walls and the dressing of the altar, we were just the Body of Christ, doing business.

The anti-Trump demonstrations just a month ago left the friary and the century-old Basilica of St. Mary’s full of tear gas. We friars had stepped away from the crowds that evening to pray vespers and to anoint Fr. Luis for his surgery the next day. It was a wild juxtaposition - the chanting rage of the crowds at an inhumane national administration and the slathering of oil. We friars there “did church” and attended to the crowds from our front steps. To “church” is a verb, after all. Maybe by doing it well on the steps we reduced the violence in those angry streets. The moment became intimate, graced and blest. Slathering and chanting kept coming to mind as the bishop anointed that altar of Our Lady of Angels.

Our guests did not seem to be bothered by the Casa hand waving and “alleluia” signing. We were just the Body of Christ doing its thing - epiclesis. Dedicating spaces and lives by invoking the Third Sacred Person of the Trinity.  Calling on the Spirit to enter our world and heal its violence and self-centeredness. To present a human face of Church, that is our vocation here.

We friars don't build new buildings often anymore. The recent history of St. Barbara has been in the adapting of old ones to new purposes. But here we saw a building changed from being an impressive piece of architecture to a sacred place for worship. I remember the words over the doors in the old St. Anthony Church in San Francisco:  Ecce Domus Domini Firmiter Edificata/ This is the House of God firmly built!  Or better yet, this is the House of the People of God - on the road, living messes and messy lives. Trudging along on our way to Jerusalem and Calvary. Together.

Friar Michael Weldon is a Friar of the St. Barbara Province. Ordained a priest in 1981, he has served as vocation director, pastor, theology school professor, author, and consultant for parish reconfiguration process.  In 2014, he began his current assignment as Rector and Guardian of St. Mary’s Basilica, Phoenix, AZ and Adjunct professor of Pastoral Studies at the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, California. 



Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org