Silence: A story of faith and martyrdom

Fr. Jim Kent discusses the film, and the book, Silence, touching on the themes of Christian faith, witness, and martyrdom. The conversation highlights the struggle of the European missionaries to either renounce their faith or save the lives of the people they serve.

Franciscan Voice: Pope Francis, Mark Shriver, & Pilgrimage

Conventual Franciscan Friar Fr. Jim Kent discusses his impressions and thoughts on the new book by Mark K. Shriver, Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis. Free-ranging discussion goes from Central America, Franciscan and Jesuit formation, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, to reconciliation and the importance of pilgrimage.

Happy 50th Anniversary to Incarnation Parish!

Although it was founded officially on Christmas Day, 1966, Incarnation of Or Lord Catholic Church celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Sunday, January 15. But as Archbishop Joseph Kurtz reminded those marking the Anniversary at the 11 am Mass, the real Incarnation took place nine months before Christmas. Mary said to the Angel, "Let it be done according to your word," and through the working of the Holy Spirit, the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.

The Spirit was moving in the congregation: the Word proclaimed with authority, the joyful singing of the Glory of God, the boisterous sign of Christ's Peace, and the sharing of the Body and Blood of Our Lord.

Concelebrating with Archbishop Kurtz were the Pastor, Fr. Christian Moore, OFM Conv., former Pastor Fr. Jim Mudd of the Archdiocese of Louisville, and Fr. Jim Kent, OFM Conv., Minister Provincial of the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation.

After Mass, hundreds of parishioners and friends of Incarnation gathered in the Parish Hall for a delicious luncheon. Before and during the luncheon, people walked along the sides of the Hall reviewing pictures from the five decades of parish life.

Fr. Christian Moore and Fr. Jim Kent
Fr. Christian Moore and Fr. Jim Kent

Columbaria Blessed at Mount St. Francis

Though the day was overcast and rainy, many members of Fr. Terence Tobin's family, other friends, and Friars gathered at Mount St. Francis on Saturday, January 14th, for the blessing of the two columbaria that have been constructed at the Mount. Fr. Terence, who passed away in 2015, had chosen to be cremated and is the first Friar to be interred in the Friars' columbarium. There is a second one nearby reserved for family, friends, and benefactors of the Province.

Following Fr. Terence's interment and the singing of one of his favorite hymns, Fr. Jim Kent, Minister Provincial, blessed both structures.blessing columbaria

Everyone then gathered for lunch and a chance to share remembrances of Fr. Terence's life and ministry. His family told many wonderful tales about his generosity of spirit, love of puns, and adherence to his vow of poverty. They commented that they could never give him anything - if they gave him a new shirt he would find someone who needed it more than he did and give it away.

The family of +Fr. Terence Tobin with Fr. Raymond Mallett (center) and Fr. David Lenz (right)
The family of +Fr. Terence Tobin with Fr. Raymond Mallett (center) and Fr. David Lenz (right)

Fr. Terence spent more than 50 years as a missionary in Zambia. In spite of the distance, his family remarked that Fr. Pat (as they knew him) had a great relationship with all his nieces and nephews.

Read more about Fr. Terence's life by clicking here.

Ysleta Rededication Photos

Mr. Al Baeza shared his beautiful photos from the rededication of the Ysleta Mission on January 7th.
Check them out here:

Ysleta Mission Rededication – January 7


On Saturday, January 7th, at 10 a.m., the Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso, Texas, will rededicate the historic Ysleta Mission, home of the present-day Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish.

Ysleta Mission is considered to be the first (and oldest) mission established in Texas and the second oldest continually active parish in the United States. The Mission was founded in 1680 by Franciscan Missionaries and the New Mexico governor to provide temporary camps for Spanish and Tigua refugees fleeing from the New Mexico pueblos. In 1682, the Tigua people built a permanent mission from adobe. The mission was flooded in the 1740s and in 1829, and rebuilt each time. It was reconstructed on higher ground in the 1850s.

Fr. Miguel Briseno, OFM Conv.
Fr. Miguel Briseno, OFM Conv.

In 1991, Bishop Raymundo Peña of El Paso transferred the responsibility of the Mission to the Conventual Franciscans. Fr. Miguel Briseño, OFM Conv., is the current pastor.

Fr. Miguel offers a blessing as two new council members of the Tigua Tribe receive the canes that are signs of their office and authority. (photo 2014, courtesy of Al Baeza)
Fr. Miguel offers a blessing as two new council members of the Tigua Tribe receive the canes that are signs of their office and authority. (photo 2014, courtesy of Al Baeza)


We are children, we are family, we are God’s People

In his January 1, 2017, homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Pope Francis began the New Year by reminding us that “we are a people with a Mother; we are not orphans…Where there is a mother, there is unity, there is belonging, belonging as children.”

Remembering this can prevent the corrosive disease of becoming “spiritual orphans…having a narcissistic heart capable of looking only at its own interests. It grows when we forget that life is a gift we have received – and owe to others – a gift we are called to share in this common home.”

He finished by saying:

Jesus, at the moment of his ultimate self-sacrifice, on the cross, sought to keep nothing for himself, and in handing over his life, he also handed over to us his Mother.  He told Mary: Here is your son; here are your children.  We too want to receive her into our homes, our families, our communities and nations.  We want to meet her maternal gaze.  The gaze that frees us from being orphans; the gaze that reminds us that we are brothers and sisters, that I belong to you, that you belong to me, that we are of the same flesh.  The gaze that teaches us that we have to learn how to care for life in the same way and with the same tenderness that she did: by sowing hope, by sowing a sense of belonging and of fraternity.

Merry Christmas!

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us...Is 9:5

The light of the Savior's coming dispels the night.

Let all the earth rejoice in everlasting day!

May the joy of Christ's birth be with you.

Peace and all good!

St. Joseph and the Heroes

Homily for the Last Sunday of Advent, December 18, 2016
by Friar Nicholas Wolfla, OFM Conv.

Aside from the Hardy Boys and Brains Benton, I remember the first real novel I read. It was a book about Merlin by Mary Stewart called The Crystal Cave. For an eight year old boy, this was a huge book, that wasn’t dumbed down, that was written for an adult audience (I’ve since re-read it and its two sequels many times). It was wonderful and took me to places that I never thought existed, with people of legend.

After that, I started reading almost anything I could put my hands on. Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Treasure Island, The Invisible Man, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Time Machine, Conan, Tarzan, and the list goes on and on and on. To this day I’m likely to read two or more books a week, pure fiction but pure fun.

The one thing that all of these had in common, and still do for me, is that these books opened up the possibilities of what could be. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, and Gene Roddenberry among others showed me the unknown, showed me what we could be and what we could do, and most importantly engaged us within those realities, many of which have come true. Each of these authors wrote about a hero who braved the unknown and walked through paths untaken; faced dangers, moments of laughter, moments of love, moments of wonder and magic; and ended up in a new place in life, a new life, or a champion of their worlds.

These authors saw what Joseph saw: that to stay in the past, to not embrace the unknown, to idealize the status quo, is not life giving, but is death. Joseph, although betrothed to Mary, was actually considered to have been legally married to her. Her transfer to his clan for living had not yet occurred, but she was considered, for practical purposes, already his property and wife. The dowry would have been exchanged, the promises given, the contracts done – she was his.

Then she has to admit to Joseph that she is pregnant and not only that she tells him that the Father is God, that she is carrying God’s son. You can imagine how that had to go over. And Joseph was faced with one of two possibilities: (1) Denounce her and have her put to death by stoning as prescribed by Judaic Law; or (2) To quietly divorce her, allow her to leave under the cover of night, and begin a new life, under a lie, that her husband was dead or some such thing. Joseph, being the upright and truly righteous man he was, chose the latter. He chose to let her go.

But then a messenger of God came to Joseph and gave him another choice: to either fall back on the status quo and deny the mystery of God; or to enter into the greatest unknown, to put his trust in God, to open his heart fully to that miracle of God’s grace, and walk through the door of adventure, the door of change, and the door of wisdom, to enter that which was unknown and universe-changing, to take the first step on events that forever changed reality.

Painting by Gerard Van Honthorst (1592-1696)
Painting by Gerard Van Honthorst (1592-1696)

I imagine Joseph thought about it for a while, realized that the world he grew up in and the reality he knew wasn’t as it should be. That to not choose the unknown would be stagnating and not productively prophetic. So Joseph, like all great heroes of legend, stepped through that door of the unknown, afraid, unsure, terrified if the truth were known, but he began a journey that would bring us Jesus.

You know, I’ve heard many theories of Advent, and they are all true: a time of preparation, a time of making things straight for the King, and a time of anticipation. And I would suggest that it is also a time of fear for us, a time when we have to face the fact that we as a people and as individuals have never been ready for the coming of Christ, and that sometimes we have chosen to stay in the stagnation of the tried and true in our lives instead of embracing the newness and adventure of Christ.

I would suggest that Advent is a time of challenge, where we have to face where we are, and look into the void of where we are called to be. It is a time to examine where we put our trust: is it in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or is it in ourselves and what we know, and where we want to stay? Do we want to simply live out our lives in the humdrum, or take a step into the unknown adventure Jesus calls us to? Do we ignore the changes around us, or do we, with our God, MAKE the changes around us? Do we truly become the heroes in our God-written story, or do we choose to remain a backdrop? Only we can make that choice.

Joseph chose the better part. Joseph chose to leave behind the old, the tried and true, and walk in God’s light, not his own light. Joseph became the foster father of Jesus, and in so doing not only loved him as his God, but loved him also as his own son. Joseph provided the home for the ultimate change in this world. Joseph provided a home for peace, justice, divine love, and divine sacrifice. Joseph entered the unknown. And look what it gave us.

So my question: do we want to live in the past, to continue to live under the rule of “the way its always been?” Or do we want to walk through that doorway? To embrace the adventure? To trust God and His plan for this world? Are we willing to become the loving, just, and righteous heroes of the story God wants of us? Click to read more Because it is only in doing so that we will sail under the seas, fly through time, defeat the dark lord, bring home the treasure, explore the caves with Injun Joe, and embrace the love, which is the true magic of the season.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

¿Acaso no soy yo tu madre? ¿No estoy aquí? (Am I not your mother? Am I not here?)

The words of the Blessed Mother are as true and as timely today as they were when she spoke them to St. Juan Diego centuries ago on a little hill in Mexico. She is our mother, and she accompanies us on our journey, always pointing us toward her Son.

She is the one who brings us together, those from the “old world” and “new world.” Cultural, language, and political boundaries only seem to separate us. Truly we are all one: we are all Americans, we are all brothers and sisters, we are all members of the Body of Christ.

May we all gather together under the protective mantle of our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and seek her intercession as we pray for the unity and peace that is God’s gift to us, if we are willing to receive it.

Prayer card designed by Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv., for his ordination to the priesthood.
Prayer card designed by Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv., for his ordination to the priesthood.