News Header

NEWS of the Immaculate Conception Province May 21, 2010
Friar Antonio Nardoianni becomes U.S. citizen
Spirit of St. Francis evangelizing East Asia
Celebrating Our Centenary: St. Leonard of Port Maurice
Conference Presidents meet with General Administration
Friar Antonio Nardoianni becomes U.S. citizen 
BOSTON - In one of America's most historic locations - Faneuil Hall - Friar Antonio Nardoianni, became a citizen of the United States.
The solemn ceremony took place on May 20, as Friar Antonio joined with 410 other men and women who took their oath of citizenship.  Faneuil Hall, often called the "cradle of liberty" hosted this celebratory moment as new citizens gathered from literally all over the world.
The new citizens each pledged, "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
Friar Antonio takes the oath of allegiance
Friar Antonio takes the oath of allegiance
"We are a nation of immigrants," the judge reminded everyone
More than 400 gather to become U.S. citizens
Those gathered to become U.S. citizens
Spirit of St. Francis evangelizing East Asia
HO CHI MINH CITY (Agenzia Fides) - The models that can inspire us are Fra Giovanni da Montecorvino, Fr. Antonio Caballero, and the other thousands of missionaries who have borne fruit with the announcement of the Gospel in East Asia.
It was in this spirit that young professed friars of the Order of Friars Minor in East Asia met May 3-14 in Vietnam, at the OFM Major Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City. In total, there were 33 participants at this gathering: 10 from Vietnam, 9 from the Philippines (Province and Custody), 5 from S. Korea, 2 from Japan, 2 from Taiwan-Hong Kong, 2 from China, 2 from Myanmar and 1 from India.

The young brothers discussed the way forward and challenges to meet in order to make the Franciscan charism present in East Asia. Among the topics covered during the meeting were: ongoing formation, cooperation among different provinces, listening and fraternal dialogue, sharing the gift of the Franciscan vocation, evangelization.

Br. Paskalis Bruno Syukur, the Definitor General for Asia, accepted the invitation to preside over the Opening Mass and gave a special talk to participants of the meeting on "Bearers of Christ's Gospel." The encounter of the young friars concluded with a liturgical celebration and renewal of religious vows presided by Fr. Baltazar A. Obiko, President of the East Asian Conference (EAC) of Ministers Provincial.
Celebrating Our Centenary: St. Leonard of Port Maurice 
Centenary LogoBOSTON - One of the earliest pastoral commitments of the young Custody of the Immaculate Conception was ministry among Italian immigrants in Boston's North End.
St. Leonard Church, founded in 1873,is
the first Roman Catholic Church in New England built by Italian immigrants. Located in the historic North End of Boston, the church building sits at the corner of Hanover and Prince Streets on the second loop of Boston's Freedom Trail. St. Leonard's is known to many visitors for its Saint Anthony shrine located in the downstairs church, the oldest shrine dedicated to the saint in Boston. The beautiful Peace Garden adjoining the church provides a serene haven in which visitors can escape the bustle of Hanover Street.

Dante said that every stone of the walls of the city of Rome were sacred to him because these stones were silent reminders of the great achievements of the ancient Fathers of the city. We here at Saint Leonard's re-echo with equal pride the same sentiments as Dante, holding dear and sacred not only the walls of our church, but the zeal and courage of those early Franciscan friars, sisters and good people of the North End who, in the face of grave hardships and difficulties, laid the humble beginnings of our parish. From this tiny nucleus grew our parish as we see it today, growing as a tiny acorn to the mighty oak. Countless sacrifices are the price of success. Great indeed was the price that these early pioneers paid to see their labors among the Italian people of Boston crowned with success. Today this Church of Saint Leonard stands as a living and lasting testimony to their heroic work.

Exterior of St. Leonard Church
St. Leonard

Before the year 1870 there were very few Italians living in the city of Boston. However, in the few succeeding years the number of Italians arriving in Boston increased dramatically. Yet, though they had left home and country to find material success in a new world, these people, descendents of a nation that has always been loyal to the church, could not and would not be neglected spiritually. Hence, there arose a great necessity of attending to the spiritual needs of these people, who were complete strangers to the language and customs of this new land. Thus it was that in the year 1873, Archbishop Williams of Boston called upon the Franciscans of the Custody of the Immaculate Conception, many of whom had but recently arrived in this country, to minister to the spiritual needs of the Italian immigrants in Boston.
Fr. Angelo Conterno, O.F.M., was the first Franciscan to work in the new harvest. He was the first pastor of the newly founded parish. Immediately, Fr. Conterno made plans to erect a church. However, his plans did not come to fruition until later. In the month of February 1874, Fr. Joachim Guerrini, O.F.M., came to Boston to continue his work. Plans were already made to erect a church in the North End for Italians. In the meantime, a church on North Bennet Street, served for both the Italian and the Portuguese people. Two years later, a lot of land situated on Prince Street and measuring seventy four by thirty feet, was purchased for a little less than $9,000. The foundations were then laid for the first Italian parish in the United States. The following November, on the Feast of St. Leonard, it was solemnly dedicated by Archbishop Williams.

With the advent of more immigrants the small church proved inadequate and the need for a larger church became more pressing. In 1885 the work of clearing the additional land bought for the site of the new church began. In November of 1891 the basement of the new church was opened for public worship, after having been blessed by Archbishop Williams. The number of parishioners then was close to 20,000. The upper church was built at the cost of $160,000 and was dedicated in November 1899. At the same time the friary on North Bennet Street was built. That brought to completion the present edifice, the famed Saint Anthony Shrine in the lower church and the main church above.
Interior of St. Leonard Church
St. Leonard Church

The first sisters, the Franciscan Sisters, arrived on June 13, 1902, and St. Anthony School was opened on September 17 with the enrollment of about 200 children in grades 1-3. At this time the school was housed in parish property on North Bennet Place. In the years following 1904 the building was constructed on North Bennet Street which was to house the parish school for the next 48 years. The school opened on February 12, 1907, with an enrollment of 400 children.

During the years after 1910 the restoration of the upper church was undertaken and the Franciscan Sisters moved into the convent on 31 Prince Street. The fatal influenza epidemic of 1917-1919 had left many Italian children in the Boston area orphans. The then Pastor, Fr. Anthony Sousa, founded the Home for the Italian Children in Jamaica Plain which remains to this day.
Perhaps one of the most memorable events of the parish's history occurred on May 1, 1926, when 10,000 people of the parish marched in procession from St. Leonard Church to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the death of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order. In 1926 the erection of the present convent on North Bennet Place was initiated. It was built at the cost of $90,000.
In 1927, a summer house was purchased at Nantasket Beach, St. Anthony's Villa, to provide recreational facilities for the youth of the North End. In the period which followed the religious societies flourished, particularly the Third Order of St. Francis, which rose to a membership of 2,000, the largest in the country. In later years the parish could boast of active dramatic societies, three different bands and a school where the enrollment went over 1,000 students.
So many good friars, sisters and members of the parish here in the North End and beyond spent their energies, talents and gifts-here. Dreams were realized. Ideas came alive. In the past couple of decades, the Parish has seen an influx of young professionals and graduate students moving into the area. They have taken their places in our parish by choice. We hope that this will be the beginning of a new life for the future of the parish.
The parish family of St. Leonard continues as a vibrant and vital part of the church in Boston. Its rich history, strong heritage and living legacy encourages all!
  • First Baptism: Rose Cuneo, daughter of Gaspare Cuneo and Teresa Cuneo,Oct. 5, 1873
  • First Confirmation: Archbishop Williams confirmed 52 boys, 56 girls, June 5, 1878
  • First Marriage: Pietro Guidi and Louisa Rappetto, Sept. 12, 1873
  • First Forty Hours Devotion in New England conducted at St. Leonard's
  • Devotions to St. Anthony in New England began here at the original Shrine of St. Anthony.
Conference Presidents meet with General Administration 
ROME - The Presidents of the 14 Conferences of the Order conducted their annual meeting with the General Minister and General Definitorium from May 17-19.
Representing the Conferences were:
  • AFRICA: Fr. Marcel Bakoma OFM (Prov. Verbi Incarnati)
  • ANGLOPHONA (ESC): Fr. Caoimhín Ó Laoide OFM (Prov. Hiberniae)
  • ASIA MERIDIONALIS, AUSTRALIA & OCEANIA (SAAOC): Fr. Paul Smith OFM (Prov. Sancti Spiritus)
  • ASIA ORIENTALIS (EAC): Fr. Baltazar Obico, OFM (Prov. S. Petri Baptistae)
  • BOLIVARIANA: Fr. Mauro Vallejo Lagos, OFM (Prov. S. Francisci Solano)
  • BRASILIANA (CFMB): Fr. João Inácio Müller OFM (Prov. S. Francisci Assisiensis)
  • CONO SUR: Fr. Jorge Gustavo Rodríguez OFM (Prov. S. Michaëlis)
  • CUSTODIA TERRAE SANCTAE: Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM (Custodia Terrae Sanctae)
  • HISPANO - LUSITANA (CONFRES): Fr. José Antonio Jordá Tomás OFM (Prov. Valentiae et Aragoniae S. Ioseph Spn. BMV)
  • ITALICA (COMPI): Fr. Francesco Patton, OFM (Prov. Tridentina S. Vigilii)
  • MEXICI ET AMERICAE CENTRALIS (C.A. CARAIBE): Fr. Saúl Orlando Flores Interiano OFM (Prov. N. D. de Guadalupe)
  • SLAVICA AUSTRALIS: Fr. Josip Sopta OFM (Prov. Dalmatiae S. Hieronymi)
  • SLAVICA SEPTENTRIONALIS: Fr. Czesław Gniecki, OFM (Prov. Immaculatae Conceptionis B.V.M.)
  • TRANSALPINA FRANCISCANA (COTAF): Fr. Jan van den Eijnden OFM (Prov. Ss. Martyrum Gorcomiensium)
 Some highlights from the General Minister's closing homily:
See. Experience, Proclaim.  There you have it, my dear brothers, the sequence of every missionary and evangelizer.  Proclamation cannot be separated from experience just as being a missionary cannot be separated from being a disciple.  We have a vocation to experience and this entails a mission to proclaim; and a mission to proclaim, in turn, entails a vocation to experience.  Not one can be without the other.  We need to quit the dichotomies that lead us to an existential schizophrenia.
Because we are called to restore the gift of the Gospel (cf. BGG 11) as center focus, we can say for that purpose that - in light of the final document of the Chapter of Pentecost of 2009 - it is necessary to place the Lord at the center of our existence as the "integrating principle of our lives and fraternities" (BGG 12).  Only an authentic experience of God can put us in motion (cf. BGG 11).  On the other hand, we cannot be evangelizers and missionaries without being witnesses.  This exacts, moreover, allowing the Word to dwell in us, allowing the Gospel to transform us (cf. BGG 5), to be touched by it and walk rooted in it, for only "a life marked by the dynamism of the Gospel becomes an ir­repressible passion for the Kingdom" (BGG 28).
It is only then that fraternity will appear as a prophetic fraternity, a signal fraternity (BGG 7) "called to proclaim what it lives" (BGG 7) from the logic of the gift (BGG 9) to those near and far, inter gentes and ad gentes (cf. BGG 13-21).  Dear brothers, we need to light the fire in our hearts, in our eyes, and our feet unless we want to die of cold or malnourishment.  We need to energize our life and mission.  Yet, this can only come from the Gospel when we embrace it as the Good News for ourselves as the measurement and criterion of our life and options.  Only in this way can we be disciples and missionaries.  Only in this way can our message become credible.  Only in this way can we be witnesses in Jerusalem and even unto the ends of the earth.  
We are in the world, yet not of the world.  While reminding us that we must have a positive outlook on the world, the General Chapter of 2009 also asks us not to suspend our critical judgment of the world (BGG 15).  As we well know, our future passes through the ability to offer an alternative life different from what the world offers.  The passion with which we must live our present and the hope with which we must open ourselves to the future, are both asking of us Gospel quality of life.  We need to watch over ourselves and the brothers entrusted to us, so that this quality of life doesn't weaken due to an activism devoid of reflection or by conforming our way of life to that of the world.  We cannot be like salt that has lost its taste.  We cannot be darkness in the midst of darkness.  Our mission, instead, is to be lamps that shine in the darkness and be bearers of life in the midst of death.  Let us keep vigil!  Let us be watchful!  Let us revitalize our way of life and renew our persons, and then our mission will be renewed. 
Through the Spirit whom we await on Pentecost, but who, in fact, is already here at work in us and through us, we will muster up missionary strength and ardor.  These will cause the closed doors to open, so that our fears should turn into Gospel boldness.  Our differences will no longer divide us and through the logic of the gift we will bear witness to him whom our ears have heard, our eyes have seen, and our hands have touched (cf. 1Jn 1:1-2). 
- Come Holy Spirit, give us the sacred gifts of love, joy, peace, and understanding.
- Come Holy Spirit, protect us from the fruits of the flesh, i.e., idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, rancor, rivalry, division, and envy.
- Come Holy Spirit, guard us in the name of Jesus; consecrate us in his truth, and protect us from evil.
- Come Holy Spirit, give us lasting joy and keep us united.
Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with the FIRE of your love. 
General Definitor Francis Walter, General Vicar Michael Perry and ESC President Caoimhin O'Laoide
Conference Presidents Meeting 2010
Quick Links
The Vocation Office will hold a Discernment Retreat Weekend next month.  Please advertise the weekend in your bulletins, websites and other publications:
May 28-30:
St. Leonard Friary, Boston, MA
Contact Vocation Director Tom Washburn for details.
* Please note the date has changed from earlier publication due to scheduling conflicts.
Prayer for Vocations 
 O Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the Americas
and Queen of the Order of Friars Minor,
we ask you to inspire humble and chosen souls
for a  life in Christ and in the spirit of St. Francis.
Motherly care,
foster vocations to our Order and to our Province,
so that seraphic love, labor and sacrifice
will ever flourish in this land dedicated to your protection.

Vocation Logo
Province of the Immaculate Conception · Order of Friars Minor · 2010
[email protected] ·