The Roman Catholic Community of
Most Holy Trinity – St. Mary

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

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  Conventual Franciscan Friars at Trinity


Conventual Franciscan Friars of the St. Anthony of Padua Province began serving the parish in 1981. On May 1, 2014, the Saint Anthony of Padua Province merged with the Immaculate Conception Province; both provinces were geographically located on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.  The new merged province, under the title of "Our Lady of the Angels" became the heir to the work and ministry of the friars of the two former provinces.  Most Holy Trinity--St. Mary is now home to friars of the new province.

Click here to view the photos from the 25th Anniversary of the presence of the friars at Trinity


The San Damiano Cross

St. Francis of Assisi was praying before the San Damiano Cross, pictured here, when he received his calling from God; he had a vision in which the Crucified Jesus called out to him and said “Francis, rebuild my Church.” This crucifix is perhaps the most sacred icon of the Franciscan Order. At Most Holy Trinity, we lead our liturgical processions with the San Damiano Cross.

A Letter from Fr. Bonaventure Keller

An early sketch showing the parish's first and second churches.  This is a photocopy of the one sent by Fr. Bonaventure Keller, OFM Conv. to the Minister General in Rome in 1856 when the Conventual Franciscan Friars were first invited to minister at Trinity.  The sketch was uncovered by Fr. Timothy Kulbicki, OFM Conv. while he was doing doctoral research at the Order's archives in Rome, Italy in 1990.  The superscript is in Keller's own hand writing: he tells the Minister General about the invitation to the friars to possibly take charge of the parish.



Want to Learn More about Our Friars?

The friars of Most Holy Trinity -- St. Mary live a communal life according to the Rule of St. Francis and the Constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor, Conventual. The friars desire to live together “as a family.” They share their Franciscan life and spirituality by praying together and recreating together, by having common meals and  by supporting one another in their respective ministries.



Are you interested in learning more about the life of our friars?  Are you interested in becoming a Conventual Franciscan Friar?  Please visit the web site of the Conventual vocation directors of the USA, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland at:



You may reach our province vocation director at the following address, phone number and email:

Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.
190 Bedford Ave. #306

Brooklyn NY 11249 USA
Tel: 1-718-510-5822

See also the following web address:



Frs. Darek, Timothy, Santo and Russell were assigned to the friary together between 2006 and 2009.


Our Friars

        The Conventual Franciscan Friars of the Our Lady of rthe Angels Province (and formerly of the St. Anthony of Padua Province and the Immaculate Conception Province), now headquartered in Ellicott City, Maryland, began serving Most Holy Trinity Parish in early 1981 while Fr. William Vaskas was the pastor. Fr. Vaskas, a diocesan priest who had been the parish’s pastor since 1968, welcomed the youthful enthusiasm and needed help the friars brought. The first to come to Most Holy Trinity were Fr. Anthony Lesniak, OFM Conv., Fr. Ronald Roll, OFM Conv and Fr. Julio Martinez, OFM Conv.; these friars served as parochial vicars to Fr. Vaskas.

         Fr. Vaskas retired at the end of 1981 and was succeeded by Fr. Robert Kennedy, who sadly died less than a month after becoming pastor in January of 1982. Fr. John McGuirl was called upon to step in as the parish administrator after the untimely death of Fr. Kennedy. Fr. McGuirl served for less than two years; then the friars took over the administration of the parish. In August of 1984 Fr. Francis Lombardo, OFM Conv. came to Trinity and became the parish’s first Franciscan pastor.


Frs. Timothy, Santo and Mietek were assigned together at the parish and resided in the Most Holy Trinity Friary until August of 2014

After the creation of the Our Lady of the Angels Province in May of 2014, and the Friars' Chapter that year, the staff of our parish changed.  At the curent time, Fr. Pedro DeOliveira, Fr. Justin Biase and Fr. Mietek became the newest members of the staff of parish friars. 

In residence at Trinity are Friars Russell Governale, Nich Spano and Greg Spuhler


An Historical Footnote

           Coincidentally, it is believed that Father John Stephen Raffeiner, the parish’s first pastor and the first Vicar-General of the Brooklyn Diocese,  desired to turn over the administration of the parish to Conventual Franciscan Friars as early as 1856. Although no province of the Order had yet been erected in the United States, a number of European friars had been ministering as missionary priests in various places in the country since September of 1852.  Fr. Bonaventure Keller, OFM Conv. and Fr. Joseph Brunemann, OFM Conv. had worked since 1854 among German immigrants in the newly formed Diocese of Brooklyn; these two friars have been called “the founding fathers of the Conventual Franciscan Order in the Unites States.” Both were well acquainted with Fr. Raffeiner. In October of 1856, Fr. Bonaventure wrote to the Order’s Minister General in Rome informing him that the friars might be invited to take over administration of Holy Trinity parish, as it was then called. Included in his letter to the Minister General was a sketch showing the first rectory with the first and second church buildings (all still being used at the time). Fr. Bonaventure wrote: “This is the church that the Vicar-General eventually wants to give to our Order.” The offer to take Trinity was not accepted by the Minister General, most likely because of the lack of available friars. One hundred and twenty five years after Fr. Bonaventure wrote that letter, the friars came to Trinity, apparently fulfilling the wish of the parish’s founding pastor.


Friars Who Have Lived at Trinity

The following friars have ministered and/or lived at Most Holy Trinity since the community first arrived in 1981 (in the order they came):

Friars Anthony Lesniak, Ronald Roll, Julio Martinez, Ken Ward, Ross Syracuse, Larry Thorton, Edwin (Christopher) Lucas, Francis Lombardo, Dennis Grumsey, Michael Dean, Thomas Merrill, Russell Governale, Fred Wise, Stephen McMichael, Sam Savage, Jose Eduardo Medeiros, Vincent Imhof, Santo Cricchio, Timothy Dore, Edwin Mendez, Vincent Vivian, Joseph Kerwin, Michael Mendola, Marcel Sokalski, Pedro de Oliveira, Vincent Rubino, Edgar Ramirez, Michael Toczek, Darek Barna, Mietek Wilk, Michael Lasky, Nick Spano and Greg Spuhler.

A number of seminarian friars have also lived and ministered in the parish during the summer-times over the years

Thank you friars!




The Franciscan Knots and the Tau Cross

There are three knots on the Franciscan Cord; they represent the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.  The Tau Cross, formed by the Greek letter "T" was a favorite of St. Francis; it recalls a passage from chapter nine of the Prophet Ezekiel in which the chosen are marked with the sign of a cross.  During the lifetime of St. Francis, Pope Innocent III referred to the passage from Ezekiel as he opened the Fourth Lateran Council; he stated that all who are marked with the sign of the Tau will share in the Passover of Christ.  St. Francis adopted the Tau Cross as his own monogram and as a symbol for his community.



The Franciscan Shield

The Franciscan Shield depicts two crossed arms superimposed over the TAU Cross (see the explanation of the TAU above). The first arm represents Jesus Christ; the second arm represents Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), the founder of the Franciscan Order. The sleeve that covers the arm of St. Francis represents the Franciscan habit worn by the saint and his followers. Each hand is marked with a small cross; these represent the wounds Jesus received while suffering the passion and death. It is believed that St. Francis experienced these same wounds in his own flesh (a special grace called the “stigmata” that has been experienced by some saints in the history of the Church). The two arms on the shield form mirror images of one another; it is said that St. Francis of Assisi was very much like Jesus in his own life; for this reason he has been called “the Mirror of Christ,” hence this representation of the arms on the shield. Typically (although not here) the arms are depicted coming out of clouds; this would represent the belief that St. Francis of Assisi now enjoys eternal life with Jesus in heaven.




A favorite expression of St. Francis of Assisi was the Latin phrase “Pax et Bonum.” The saint would greet others with these words, translated as “Peace and all good” in English. “Pax et Bonum” is now used as a motto for Franciscans throughout the world.  May peace and all that is good be yours!

Peace and all good!    --    Friede und alles Gute!    --    Pokoj i dobro!    --    Paz y bien!



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Click here to Learn about the Locations of Conventual Franciscan Burial Places in the New York City Area



The friars of Most Holy Trinity -- St. Mary belong to the Our Lady of the Angels Province, USA.  Visit the province web site at:




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Last Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 1:36 PM

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