Praying, Eating, Experiencing God’s Love

Jesus says to come aside and rest for a while, and Franciscan Retreats supply the opportunity. With stories of his own experience as a retreat director, Friar Bob Roddy explains how in the course of a couple of days you can rest your body, refresh your soul, and feel God's loving presence. And sometimes something miraculous happens.

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A Year and a Day


by Friar David Lenz, OFM Conv.

Fr. David Lenz, OFM Conv.

On July 19, 2017, twelve men were invested in the Franciscan habit at the Conventual Franciscan Novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California. This simple tunic, shoulder cape, hood, and rope around the waist, as all the peasants wore at the time of St. Francis, becomes their garb.


The word habit comes from a Latin word habitus, to put on a way of life. Thus these twelve men begin their Novitiate process, lasting a year and a day.


In 1220, Pope Honorius III decreed that a novitiate should be established as a period of discernment. This odd year and a day calculation comes from the medieval practice of recognizing a run-away serf as free if he could reside undiscovered in one of the emerging cities for a year and a day. If a novice can persevere for a year a day away from his old life, he too becomes a free man in a new spiritual life.


It was my privilege to direct these twelve novices in a spiritual retreat beginning on the day following their investiture with the Franciscan habit. The scriptural passage for the retreat was the parable of the return of the Prodigal Son as accounted in Matthew’s Gospel. Reflecting on all the characters in this parable – the father, the elder son, and the prodigal son – we considered how we might see ourselves in all those mentioned in the parable.


After this reflection, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation was offered to all the novices. Thus invested in the sacred habit and graced as well by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the novices begin this discernment period under the direction of Friar Joseph Wood and Friar Maurice Richard. All of us can assist the directors and the new novices by our prayers during this year and a day journey.

Friars Maurice Richard and Joe Wood are in the front with ten of the novices standing behind.

Congratulations to Pedro, Alberto, and Calin!


Friday, July 21, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in El Paso, Texas, Alberto Bravo, Calin Vidaurri, and Pedro Lopez professed their temporary vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. These vows are sometimes referred to as First or Simple Vows - but as Fr. John Bamman points out in a 'pre-vow' interview, there is nothing simple about them.

These First Vows normally last three years. During this time, Alberto, Calin, and Pedro, will continue their studies while ministering and living in community as Conventual Franciscans.

The smiles on all the faces tell the story. "It's fun to be Franciscan!"

Check out these beautiful photos courtesy of Al Baeza!

The Joy of Franciscan Commitment

Fr. John Bamman talks with the three young men preparing to make their Simple Vows tomorrow (Friday, July 21, 2017.) This phase of formation normally lasts three years. During this time the Friar focuses on making a permanent commitment to the Conventual life. At the end of this period, the Friar professes solemn vows: a permanent, life-long commitment to Christ, the Church, and the Franciscan Order.

Twelve are Invested in the Franciscan Habit


Wednesday, July 19, twelve men expressed their desire to live for a year as Conventual Franciscan Novices and received the Franciscan habit. The investiture ceremony took place in the Conventual Franciscan Novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California.

Three of the Novices, Brandon Greene, Bobby Mahas, and Louis Lugo, are members of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation.

Fr. Jim Kent invests Brandon with the habit. Bobby and Louis are to the right.

During the Novitiate year the men will live in community, study Franciscan history and the Franciscan way of life, and, after a year of discernment, decide whether they will take their Simple (or first) Vows as Franciscan Friars.

Fr. John Bamman with Postulant Dan Hurst.

 As these young men move to the Novitiate the Province welcomes their new postulant, Dan Hurst. Postulancy lasts one year and is an opportunity to experience what it is like to be part of the Conventual Franciscan community.

Please keep these men in your prayers as they take their first steps as followers of St. Francis of Assisi.

My kids don’t go to mass – What can I do?

A Conversation with Friar Jude Winkler

Happy Feast of St. Bonaventure!


Today is the feast of Saint Bonaventure (1217-1274). He was a Franciscan Friar who became an instructor at the University of Paris (The Sorbonne) before being elected the Minister General of the Franciscan Order. His work in organizing the Friars across Europe and in the mission lands has earned him the reputation of being the “Second Founder” of the Franciscans.

Although he is one of the great Franciscan scholars, teachers, and administrators, it would be a mistake to forget that he was a Friar first and foremost. He was a devoted son of St. Francis, filled with the spirit of joy and love that has its source in God’s overwhelming love for each of us.

He was also a man of deep prayer. The following prayer to the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is one that we should all pray and share with others:

Lord Jesus, as God's Spirit came down and rested upon you, may the same Spirit rest upon us, bestowing his sevenfold gifts. First, grant us the gift of understanding, by which your precepts may enlighten our minds.
Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness.
Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the Enemy's attacks.
Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil.
Fifth, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts.
Sixth, grant us fear, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good.
Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love.

“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me…”


Jorge Taborda, whose wife was deported to Colombia, is trying to remain in the United States with his two sons. He and his wife have lived in the US for nearly 20 years, working, paying taxes, and raising their family. Jorge is staying with our Friars in New Mexico while trying to normalize his situation.

As the immigration issue continues to be debated in the United States Congress and in each of the 50 states, it is easy to be caught up in arguments and statistics.

The Most Reverend Oscar Cantu, Bishop of Las Cruces, participated in the news conference and presided over Mass.

But there are human faces in each case, and families hidden behind the stacks of numbers. As Christians, as Catholics, as followers of St. Francis of Assisi, we heed the words of Jesus Himself in the quote above, and answer the question He poses at the end of the story of the Good Samaritan: “Who was neighbor to the injured man on the side of the road?”

Below is a statement from one of the Friars of our Province, Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv., Director of our retreat center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico. We affirm his words, support his actions, and pray that all involved will work to resolve this particular challenge.

And we pray fervently that there will be an overall resolution to the challenge of integrating all immigrants as we create a society where all of human life is cherished and protected.

Holy Cross Retreat Center is a ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation.

For many years as part of our mission statement, besides welcoming thousands of people each year for prayer and retreats, Holy Cross Retreat Center has offered a place to stay for people from out of town who are receiving medical treatment, occasionally for someone who needs a temporary stay, and in other special circumstances.   From mid-November till mid-January 2017, we also welcomed 67 adults and 77 children who were refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.  They were victims of violence or extreme poverty and arrived with almost nothing.  With the help of five volunteers we provided a room, meals, clothes, toiletries, assistance arranging travel to family members, and a safe pleasant atmosphere.

As a Franciscan ministry, Holy Cross Retreat Center is called to offer hospitality to the most vulnerable among us and to those seeking a place of peace and prayerful serenity.  St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of our Order, left behind a comfortable life as the son of a wealthy merchant to live the Gospel as a poor man and to serve the poor personally.  He also showed compassion in caring for the lepers, those most alienated by society in his time.

The Old Testament speaks of immigrants 92 times and the New Testament says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)  The actions of Jesus were grounded in his faith and he often reached out to the sick and the hungry and those alienated because they were from a different region.  Jesus alsogave us the example of the Good Samaritan who cared for the man left along the road by robbers without asking where he was from or even who he was, providing him with healing and hospitality.

Pope Francis encourages us to reach out to those on the margins and to show mercy.  He has appealed for the needs of the refugees at Lampedusa, and provided housing, food, and a welcome to the homeless people in the area of the Vatican,  He reminds us of the dignity of each person  and how God calls us to extend our hearts to those in need.

We are proud to offer Franciscan hospitality to Jorge while he fights to stay united with his two sons.  As we have welcomed many others, we welcome Jorge to have a place of comfort, support, and peace.  It is our faith tradition and our desire to offer hospitality in his time of need, and to call for respect and the unity and dignity of families.   The Catholic Bishops of the United States published a pastoral letter entitled “Strangers No Longer” promoting respect for immigrants, and many statements since then calling for immigration reform and ministry to those affected by the struggles.  I would like to thank Bishop Cantu for his presence and the support of the Diocese of Las Cruces.  We encourage other Catholic institutions and communities to extend hospitality and their prayerful support to those on the margins.

Thank you.


Pilgrim House Celebrates 100 Years of Hospitality


In the spring of 1917, the Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin, Ohio agreed to build and staff a Pilgrim House at the Church of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. The Sisters managed the Pilgrim House into the 1990s. The Pilgrim House and Retreat Ministry are now integrated into the overall pastoral ministry of the Shrine overseen by the Friars. Br. Randy Kin, OFM Conv., is the current Director of Retreat Ministry at the Shrine.

On June 24, 2017, at the 5:30 p.m. Mass, we will celebrate 100 years of retreats and pilgrims at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.  Please join us for this 100th Anniversary Mass as we celebrate the good work begun by the Sisters that continues today!

The Franciscan Sisters of Tiffin, Ohio, ministered to many pilgrims at the Shrine - particularly at the Pilgrim House.
Brothers Randy Kin, Ian Bremar, and Angelo Catania prepare for pilgrims at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.

June 25th Open House at Holy Cross Retreat Center


Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, is celebrating 60 years of retreat ministry in 2017!

Join us Sunday, June 25th, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for an open house. See the renovations in the retreats rooms, the atrium, and the large conference room. Make sure to visit the Chapel with its newly installed stained glass windows. At 3 p.m. we will have special recognition for Donna Hollis, who has retired after working for more than 16 years in the retreat ministry at Holy Cross.

Other events coming up this year include:

September 2-3 - the Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts with 80+ artists, food, beer and wine garden, live music on two stages, and remembrances of previous festivals at HCRC

September 24 -  outdoor Mass with reception to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first retreat (which took place September 27 to 29, 1957.)

We hope to see you there!

Beautiful skies at Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, NM