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

Happy New Year.  I think we all have to agree that 2020 was a year that we will never forget.  It was a time of great loss, many changes to the way we live, and immense sacrifices.  It was a year of being separated from one other, from family, fellow friars, and friends.  We have had to curtail our Masses and services, and do without many of the traditions, both fraternal and liturgical, which we for many years have cherished.  We have had to take extra precautions in our friaries and churches and ministries, and unfortunately, many of our ministries
have had to resort to drastic actions in order to preserve the health of all.
I have exhorted you before, and do so again, to make the best of this situation, until the time comes, hopefully soon, when the virus is no longer such a great part of our lives.  

Very often, with the new year, comes the making of resolutions.  These are difficult due to the uncertainty of the times, but one thing we can always resolve- and make every effort to attain, is our own spiritual growth and an increase in holiness.  

In a few weeks, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday and begin our Lenten journey.  This, again, is a great opportunity to work on those things which separate us from Christ and the Gospel- things which we may have become even more aware of due to the pandemic.  With the decrease in activity and a suspension of our ministerial “business as usual”, opportunities are created anew to evaluate our own lives, our goals, our dreams, our values, and the reality of our daily lives.  What a great time Lent can be to recapture the original innocence of our vocations- to see what it is about the life of St. Francis which attract us to the Franciscan Order, and to strive to be better friars and more devoted followers of the Poverello.

Our prayer is that 2021 will bring new opportunities for growth, and health for all our friars, family, and friends.  Please continue to be safe, look after one another in fraternity, and make the best of the situation.  God love you and bless you.  

News from the Province's Novices at San Damiano, Assisi

Note: We received this article from Friar Matthew Mancino, OFM, one of our four novices at San Damiano in Assisi. Our other novices are Friars Kevin, Nelson, and Dagoberto. The photo above is the novitiate community.

Greetings to you, brothers, and peace. 

We hope that your holidays were merry and bright! We celebrated Christmas here at San Damiano, embracing the spirit of Saint Francis in his adoration of the new-born Jesus Christ in the manger at Bethlehem. In preparation we had the pleasure of assisting in the celebration in a series of festive vespers with the chanting of the "O" antiphons. One of the things here that we are learning is how to chant the Divine Office. On Christmas eve, after the vigil Mass, we shared great fraternal camaraderie in the refectory, where there was singing in Italian, Spanish and English. We do have a very musical group which serves to animate not only our worship, but also the ordinary moments of every day.
     It was with great excitement that we were able to make an outing to Greccio; the site of Francis' reenactment of the nativity scene. We learned that there is more to the story than Francis just making a scene depicting Christ's birth. The Mass itself was, and is, a "birth" in itself, when Jesus becomes truly present in the hands of the priest during the consecration. Francis went out and gathered the neighbouring people, just like the angels announced the news of Jesus' birth to the shepherds. Then they all came to welcome Jesus, present in the Eucharist, in the very grotto at Greccio where we celebrated Mass during our visit. It was a very powerful moment.  
     Thank you very much to all the bothers for your prayers, and we wish you all the best for a peaceful and healthy new year.
                -Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis
                 The novices of Immaculate Conception Province
Novices practicing music.
Novices at Greccio
Our four novices visiting Greccio

News from the Convento San Francesco, Rome
Post Novitiate Program

Hello brothers and greetings from Rome. 

We are all hoping that the rest of you, despite the ongoing Covid situation, had otherwise wonderful and fraternal Christmas and New Year celebrations. 

We were able to unite in the Christmas Eve liturgy celebrated by our brothers at the General Curia where the General presided accompanied by all of us in attendance, brothers and laity. Afterwards, needless to say, we were warmly welcomed for a brief and safe “meet and greet” and made our way home. 

For New Years Eve, Daniela, our wonder-chef, made us an amazing (traditional) lentil and pork dish and then we got down to business with some serious rounds of bingo. It was a great time and Antonio had some pretty amazing gifts lined up that we could all use in the coming days. 

The brothers are now digging deep into their studies as their exams are right around the corner, the last of which will be close to the end of February. 

They are all doing well and I have been blessed in this new role as I accompany them towards Solemn Profession. They are all great candidates with a very promising future in the Order we so dearly love. I ask you to kindly keep them in prayer.

This month also we celebrated the feast of St Charles of Sezze, patron of our brother Carl Green and have included a couple of photos below. May the Lord continue to bless him, and all of us as we continue to journey together. 

Blessings and peace from Rome, 

Pierre Farrugia ofm

Celebrating Friar Daniel Luna's Birthday
Celebrating Friar Daniel Luna's Birthday
Franciscans return to Traditional Site of
the Baptism of the Lord
On Sunday 10th January 2021, after 54 years and 3 days, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land once again celebrated Mass in the church of St John the Baptist at Qasr Al-Yahud, on the banks of the River Jordan, the Christian site where the Baptism of Jesus is commemorated.
The liturgy started with the procession of the Franciscans who, from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St John, arrived at the Franciscans’ land not far from the banks of the river, where the Holy Mass was celebrated. Before the celebration of the Eucharist, the parish priest of the parish of Jericho, Fr. Mario Hadchity, welcomed the friars and the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton. “We are delighted, on this special day, that the Custody of the Holy Land, with the help of God, after more than half a century, has been able to return to the Latin church of St John the Baptist,” said Fr. Mario. “May it be a place where all those who enter encounter the grace of God.” After kissing the cross and the incensation, the Custos made his solemn entrance,  personally opening the gates of the site, which had been closed for more than fifty years.
The celebration, presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, was attended by the apostolic nuncio in Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Mons. Leopoldo Girelli, the Italian Consul-General Giuseppe Fedele, the Spanish Vice-Consul Paloma Serra and  representatives of the Israeli military authorities. In the respect of the regulations due to  Coronavirus, about fifty people were present, divided into groups of ten and distanced from one another.

The Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land have owned the 135-acre site since 1632, but were forced to flee in 1967, when war broke out between Israel and Jordan.
Israeli authorities reopened the site to pilgrims in 2011, but demining of the area only began in March 2018, finishing in October of that year.
In October 2020, the keys were returned to the Franciscan friars, and they were able to begin the process of cleaning and restoration necessary to make it safe for pilgrims.
Before the Mass Jan. 10, the Franciscans processed from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. John to their land. Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, opened the gates of the site, which had been closed for over 50 years.
The last Mass offered at the shrine was on Jan. 7, 1967. “They were an English priest, Don Robert Carson, and a Nigerian priest, Don Silao Umah,” who said the Mass, Fr. Patton said in his homily Jan. 10. The priests signed their name to a shrine register which was recovered in 2018.
“Today, 54 years and 3 days later, we could say at the start of the 55th year since this register was closed, at the end of this celebration of the Eucharist, we will be reopening this same register, we will turn over the page and on a new page we will be able to write today’s date, 10th January 2021, and sign with our names, to bear witness that this place, which had been transformed into a battlefield, a minefield, is once again a field of peace, a field of prayer,” Patton said.
The Mass was followed by a second procession to an altar directly on the Jordan River’s bank, where the friars read a passage from the Book of Kings. Custos Fr. Patton then dipped his bare feet into the river’s water.
Leonardo Di Marco, director of the technical office of the Custody of the Holy Land said “urgent work was done to allow the place to be fit for today’s celebration of the Baptism.”
“We are aiming to reopen to pilgrims, who will be able to find places where to linger and meditate in a corner of prayer which will be created around the central church nestling in a garden of palm trees.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a limit of around 50 people attended the Mass. Bishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio in Israel and Cyprus, and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, was present, along with representatives of the Israeli military authorities.
The pastor of the parish of Jericho, Fr. Mario Hadchity, welcomed the friars to their land. “We are delighted, on this special day, that the Custody of the Holy Land, with the help of God, after more than half a century, has been able to return to the Latin church of St John the Baptist,” he said. “May it be a place where all those who enter encounter the grace of God.”

February Birthdays
Take time to wish our friars a Happy Birthday!

Philip Adamo - February 2nd - 91
Brennan Egan - February 3rd - 82
Ciro Iodice - February 4th - 78
Giacomo LaSelva - February 6th - 51
James Wells - February 8th - 65
Celestino Canzio- February 15 - 74
Lawrence Stumpo - February 20 - 90
Orlando Ruiz - February 20th - 46
Michael Della Penna - February 21st - 54
Robert Caprio - February 25th - 87
Christopher Gaffrey - February 27th - 43


The eighth centenary (1220-2020) of the Franciscan Protomartyrs’ death, 16 January 2020 – 17 January 2021, focused primarily on St Anthony’s church in Terni (Italy). The Apostolic Penitentiary granted a plenary indulgence for the year. However, one could say that the whole “Way of the Franciscan Protomartyrs” is an open-air shrine of the five saintly Friars Minor who, following St Francis’s example, followed in the footsteps of Jesus by living according to the Gospel up to the shedding of their blood.
The centenary program was well-structured and packed with initiatives, but in January 2020 no one knew that the coronavirus pandemic would soon arrive in Italy, with the consequent lockdown. Thanks to the Narni Lions Club, meetings were planned in Coimbra. The diocesan delegation’s trip to Portugal of eight people – the Bishop Giuseppe Piemontese, the guardian of the Sant’Antonio friary in Terni, Br Danilo Tremolada, some religious and lay people – was cancelled two days before departure. A plaque prepared for the occasion to give to the Bishop of Coimbra is still waiting for more favorable times to be delivered. In this case, as in others, we soon learnt that alongside the martyrdom of blood reserved for some, there is the no less bloody but equally fruitful martyrdom of patience!
While respecting the antivirus norms, liturgies, meetings, pilgrimages, and other events helped us to discover that the martyrs are truly those who have taken on Jesus’s form of life. A Eucharistic love that passes from gratitude for gifts received to generosity to the point of giving one’s life for one’s brothers and sisters. Moreover, they testify that love and sacrifice are called to work hand in hand if the former is not to become pure fleeting emotionalism and the latter frustrating activism. When love expresses itself in sacrifice, and sacrifice is moved by love, we are faced – in the words of Dostoevsky – with the beauty that saves the world; thus, we can say that love alone is credible.
Like Brother Francis of Assisi, the Franciscan Protomartyrs went to the land of non-Christians to proclaim the Gospel. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Rule of the Friars Minor is the first to dedicate a section to those who go among the unbelievers. In 1220 the Friars Minor Berardo da Calvi, Accursio and Adiuto da Narni, Ottone da Stroncone and Pietro da San Gemini were killed in Morocco. At the sight of their torn bodies, the Augustinian Canon Fernando da Lisbon decided to put on the Franciscan habit taking the name Anthony, with which he is venerated today as a saint not only in Padua but all over the world.
As the eighth centenary of the Franciscan Protomartyrs’ death draws to a close, the centenary of St Anthony’s arrival in Italy is just beginning.
(The full text is available in Italian at
Br Pietro Messa ofm
Pontifical Antonianum University

Timothy Kulakowsky has left the postulancy program in Caledon, Ontario

Gloria Cassese
First Order Affiliate
Secretary at the
Provincial Curia
January 17, 2021
Gloria Cassese, 94,  an affiliate of the First Order in our Province,  passed to her eternal reward on Sunday, January 17, 2021.   Gloria served our province for over fifty years until her retirement, working in a variety of capacities, especially as secretary at the Provincial Curia in New York City.  Gloria began working for the province during the provincialate of Fr. Charles Tallarico, O.F.M., and is the sister-in-law of our deceased brother and former provincial, Fr. John-Marie Cassese, O.F.M. She retired at the end of December, 2009, and was honored at a dinner at Monte's Restaurant, attended by family, friends, and many friars.

Funeral arrangements were:
Viewing and Wake: Thursday, January 21, 5-9 PM
Powell Funeral Home
67 Broadway, Amityville, NY 11701   631.658.0097
Funeral Mass:   Friday, January 22, 9:30 AM
Our Lady of Lourdes Church
855 Carmans Road, Massapequa Park, NY 11762  516.541.3270 
Interment 11:30 AM Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton NY

We ask the friars  to remember Gloria in our Masses and Prayers.  In addition, we ask each friary to offer the Eucharist  twice in her memory.
Heavenly Father, we commend to your mercy our sister, Gloria Cassese, and all who have embraced Sister Death and we thank you for the gift of their lives. United in faith and prayer, through the intercession of our Immaculate Mother Mary and our holy Father Saint Francis, keep us ever steadfast in your love as we strive for your vision of a world made new.  

Below are some photos of her retirement party.
Friars Paschal and Antonio with Gloria
Gloria and her family

Gloria and Fr. John-Marie
Fr. Provincial, Chef Pietro Mosconi (owner of Monte's) with Gloria
Scenes from Around the Province

Christmas in Catskill
Christmas photos sent in by Matthew Luvera, music director at the friary, who did a great job in decorating the friary.
Strange Visitor at St. Anthony's
Prayer Requests

Friar Jack Wintz, OFM (St. John Baptist Province)
Friar Benedict Taylor, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar Steve Malkiewicz, OFM (Assumption Province)
Friar Albert Manheim, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)
Friar Andres Felix Rivero, OFM (St. Barbara Province)
Friar Roderick Crispo, OFM (Immaculate Conception Province)
Friar Andres Felix Rivero, OFM (St. Barbara Province)
Bishop Capistran Heim, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar Conrad Harkins, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar Joseph Zermeno, OFM (St. Barbara Province)
Friar Valerian Vaverchak, OFM (Holy Name Province)
Friar Richard Duffy, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)

Recently Deceased Family and Friends
Gloria Cassese (First Order Affiliate)
Alexa Chaney (Former Business Manager of St. Pamphilus)
Maria Elena Middleton (Niece of Fr. Louis Troiano-18 years old)

Let us pray for our infirm friars:
Friar Conrad Fernandes, OFM
Friar Jim Villa, OFM
Friar Ronald Gliatta, OFM
Friar Joseph Lorenzo, OFM
Friar Amedeo Nardone, OFM

For our Infirm Family and Friends
Marie Caprio Sicuso (Sister of Friar Robert Caprio)

For all infected and affected by the virus.

For our friars in skilled nursing and rehab facilities:
Friar Amedeo Nardone, OFM
Friar Albin Fusco, OFM
Friar Isaac Calicchio, OFM
Friar Daniel Morey, OFM
Friar John Bavaro, 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 all those affected in any way by the coronavirus.
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