This weekend I announced to the parishioners of St. Bonaventure’s that I will be leaving Toronto in August 2011 to begin a new friary life and ministry. [Listen to the homily]. My brothers in the Franciscan community have asked me to move to Syracuse, NY and assume the leadership of FrancisCorps, a young adult volunteer experience.
The thought of leaving St. Bonnies and Toronto makes me very sad. I have spent most of my adult life in Toronto and most of my 21 years of ministry as a priest serving in the Archdiocese of Toronto… as vocation director, formation director, editor of Companion Magazine and in parish ministry at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Bramalea and of course at the Franciscan Church of St. Bonaventure in Don Mills.
With a heavy heart, I offer this song to the friars, friends and parishioners in Toronto…
The thought of moving to Syracuse does not excite me very much. What I have heard from people who have lived in Syracuse that although it has a lot of snow and is often grey, it is a great community in which to live. I already know a few people there (besides the friars of course) and so I go with an open mind. My ministry will involve quite of time “on the road” doing recruiting and interviewing prospective volunteers. I’m a little anxious about driving around in the North East in the winter. Winter driving makes me crazy.
I am genuinely excited about FrancisCorps. It is a ministry of our Order which reflects our friars’ desire to work collaboratively with lay men and women. Its mission is to pass on to a younger generation the values and charism of Francis and Clare of Assisi to people who will live them out in the world. Volunteers are recruited to live in community, share in prayer and serve the poor in two locations; Syracuse, New York and San José, Costa Rica. Click here to watch a brief video about FrancisCorps.
This uniqe ministry will require me to begin a period of transition; learning about FrancisCorps and participating in its various events over the next 7 months. That means that I will be shuffling between Syracuse and Toronto quite a bit. Since there is a Costa Rica component of this ministry I will be taking April/May to go to Costa Rica and study a bit of Spanish… hopefully enough for basic communication. I will be back in Toronto for Holy Week with the parish and then again do the shuffle during the summer.
In August, or so, our Minister Provincial, Friar Justin Biase, will propose to Archbishop Collins, Friar Paul Lininger as the new pastor. Friar Paul in currently Executive Director of the Conference of Major Superior of Men in the United States. He has a PhD in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University in Maryland and has served as a very able treasurer for the friars. I am sure, that with the collaboration of our great parish staff, the support of the friars and the love of the parishioners who make St. Bonnie’s such a wonderful place.