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.
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
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
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
-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.
-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
-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
-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
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
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
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.