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
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.
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
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:
Franciscan Friars of the St. Anthony of Padua Province, 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 are currently assigned to the parish and
reside in the Most Holy Trinity Friary
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.
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 and Darek Barna.
A number of seminarian friars have also lived and
ministered in the parish during the summer-times over the years
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
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