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Most Holy Trinity – St. Mary

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

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  The 25th Anniversary of the Friars at Trinity


Below are Fr. Russell’s Homily Notes from the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Friars at Most Holy Trinity. Fr. Russell was the main celebrant at the Anniversary Mass that took place at 3:00 PM on Sunday, January 29, 2006.

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Fr. Russell's Homily

1. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”
-What a up-front question that person in Jesus’ congregation put to him
-What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth is a question that we too put before the Lord in our lives.
-This is the question we put before the Lord when we are in the Process of Discernment

2. Today, it is such a joy to be celebrating this Eucharist with all of you, our Ministers Provincial, Michael and Justin, the visiting friars, candidates and clergy, our Dominican Sisters and visiting Franciscan Sisters and all of you.
-It is a joy to celebrate the fact that 25 years ago yesterday, we, the Conventual Franciscans, responded to the answer to the question that we heard in the Gospel

3. You see, our friars, 25 years ago, asked that question:
-We asked: What have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth?
-What do you want of us, Jesus of Nazareth? To what are you calling us?
-We were placing that question before God as a community, just as St. Francis did when he was wondering what God’s call for him was.
-St. Francis would ask God: Cosa vuoi che io faccia? What do you want me to do? And the response to Francis from the Cross of San Damiano was – Go, Go and rebuild my church

4. We had been asking that question to—and responding by rebuilding the church with different immigrant groups— poor Polish people, poor young men in schools, in different ministries with the sick and dying and with poor people in mission lands in Japan and Africa.
-But, we heard the call of our American Church
-We heard the call to work with a newer immigrant population---- the Hispanic population, the Latino people
-It was a call to be stretched
-It was a call to do something different with limited resources----we only had 2 friar priests and one friar seminarian who spoke Spanish.
-We kept asking the question: What have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth?
-The answer came— Go and serve

5. This new ministry was a trial for us----a trial to work in a differently collaborative way
-We came, not taking over the ministry as one of ours at first, but rather beginning a collaborative work with the Priests of the Brooklyn Diocese who had been here at that time for 140 years----The pastor was a Diocesan Priest, Fr. Vaskas
-We worked collaboratively with the Sisters of St. Dominic who had been here at that time for already 128 years
-We worked collaboratively with you the People of God, the people of this parish to know what this Jesus of Nazareth would have us do.

6. I remember a few years after we arrived, our province wishing to make a decision regarding if the friars should take over the administration of the parish
-Fr. Ron Roll came to a friars’ day to give a presentation at a friars’ day
-He had slides to show us
-I remember him showing us one of the Bodega across the street– The name of it was ESPERANZA
-He looked at us and said: That means “HOPE”.
-It was that stance of being filled with Hope and Trust in God’s goodness that impelled us to hear Jesus’ response to our question: What have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth?
-The answer was Go, rebuild the Church

7. We have been about doing that together with the Priests of Brooklyn, the Sisters of St. Dominic and all of you.
A. Has not this parish grown spiritually during the past 25 years? Our parish is known in the Diocese for its openness to others in the Hispanic community.
-We are the site, often time for many Diocesan celebrations, a collaborative, cluster school, our friars have been the coordinators of the cluster of parishes, etc
B. Has not our parish grown also in number? We see different people coming now– Latinos, Poles and now “new White people”— the new gentrification
C. And you people, rebuilt this temple—this Church, and returned it to its beauty and magnificence— for the greater glory of God and the purpose of deeper spiritual development.

8. This week, we received a letter from Fr. Michael, our Min Prov.
-About Jamaica, and that everything was great there, and that he always says how everything is Great. He then went on to tell of how we are sending “Three of our best friars there”
-I would bet you that he would say, along with us, that during these past 25 years, our Friars have sent 28 of our best friars here. Wouldn’t you agree?

-You have had the perfect friars----- perfect in the way that St. Francis would see them as Perfect.

There is a Story of St. Francis which I wish to share with you.

Reading: [Speculum Perfectonis/ Mirror of Perfection 85]
The most blessed Father, having in some degree transformed the friars into saints by the ardor of his love and by the fervent zeal for their perfection which fired him, often pondered on the virtues that ought to adorn a good friar minor. He used to say that a good friar minor should imitate the lives and possess the merits of these holy friars:
the perfect faith and love of poverty of Brother Bernard;
the simplicity and purity of Brother Leo;
the courtesy of Brother Angelo;
the gracious look, natural good sense and noble eloquence of Brother Masseo;
the mind upraised to God by Brother Giles;
the virtuous, constant prayer of Brother Rufino whose heart was fixed on God;
the patience of Brother Juniper, who was lowly and whose desire was to follow Christ on the way of the cross;
the bodily strength and spiritual courage of Brother John of Lauds;
the charity of Brother Roger;
the caution of Brother Lucidus who was unwilling to remain in any place longer than a month, for when he began to like a place, he would leave at once saying: “Our home is not here, but in heaven.”

-We have had the perfect friar here---- because we have had the Simplicity of Friar Anthony, the Joyfulness of Ron, the playfulness of Julio, the laughter of Larry, the preaching of Ken, the seriousness of Christopher, the dedication of Ross, the stick to it ness of Francis, the artistic ability of Dennis, the charity of Tom, the fun lovingness of Michael Dean, the musical ability of Fred, the prayerfulness of Sam, the studiousness of, Steve McMichael, the curiousness of Jose, the loving heart of Santo, the astuteness of Joe, the simplicity of Edwin, the cooking skills of Marcel, the support of Michael Mendola, the servant stance of Pedro, the desire for God’s will of Vinnie, the openness of Edgar, and presently: the commitment to the poor of Br.Vincent, the dedication to youth of Fr. Timothy, the commitment to service of Br. Michael, and me, your brother.

9. What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? We, will continue to ask the question, and answer the call. It is the question for all of us. Perhaps, you are to answer the call by joining the friars and adding to the life of perfection?
-Perhaps the answer lies in working collaboratively with the friars, sisters, priests of Brooklyn and the whole community, to continue making this parish a place which is a spiritual fountain of hope.
-Perhaps the answer lies in looking at the Life of St. Francis and allowing his example of following Jesus, poor, humble and crucified, to be the example of life for us.

10. Thank you for inviting us into your family during these past twenty five years
Thank you for coming into our Franciscan Family during these past 25 years

11. Let us walk together during these next 25 years, always seeking the answer to the question: What do you want of us of Jesus of Nazareth, and walking together as sisters and brothers in Christ.


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