Understanding OFR houses
Community is essential to our self-understanding as Franciscans. Thus, we gather in "houses", so that we may benefit from ongoing contact with one another. However, OFR houses are not friaries in the traditional sense, and it is important to understand how we use the term.
Perhaps, when you hear "houses", you imagine a single address where all the brothers and sisters live in the same complex of buildings, sharing the responsibilities for one piece of property, eating in the same refectory, gathering for the Daily Office in in a common chapel, each assigned to a single room in the dormitory — a fairly common vision and a traditional form for monastic religious life. However, that is not what we mean when we speak of "houses".
Following in the tradition of the earliest friars, we are not in any wise isolated in a religious compound — after all, Franciscans are not truly monks. We are out in the world, engaged in various ministries, coming together periodically to share our stories, to draw strength from our common life, to worship and pray and learn together, and to be sent forth again "to love and serve the Lord". Therefore, as OFR uses the term, a "house" refers to a local group of sisters and brothers who live in close enough proximity to gather regularly — a monthly local chapter meeting is the minimum — and form an identity as a subset of the larger Franciscans of Reconciliation community.
At least two Franciscans must be able to gather in this way to form an OFR house. Each house has its own character and charism. The ministries expressed vary with the gifts of the local members. Yet taken together, the various houses comprise the community known as OFR.
Community of St. Francis
Meet the Community of St. Francis
The Right Rev. Raphael Adams, ofr, is Guardian of The Community of St. Francis. A Franciscan his entire adult life, Fr. Rafe studied Philosophy at Quincy College and received a B.A. in Sociology from Loyola University, Chicago. He also received his M.S. from Rush Medical University, where he taught in the Occupational Therapy program for many years. As a practitioner Rafe has both worked at and consulted with numerous agencies, including Hines Veterans' Hospital and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.
The Rev. Liam Nioclás Kelly, ofr, is the Pastoral Developer of a parish that will be staffed by the Community of St. Francis. Born in Belfast, (Northern) Ireland, Nioclás came to Chicago to work at the Martin D'Arcy Museum at Loyola University as a Research Scholar/Professor (2002/2003) having completed his masters at the Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London) in medieval art & architecture. From 2002 until 2003, he also became a Research Scholar in the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Newberry Library of Chicago examining, translating and catalogueing Medieval liturgical manuscripts. He holds a B.Phil. in Aesthetics from St. Patrick's Pontifical University, a B.A. (Hons.) in Philosophy and Classical Studies from the National University of Ireland and a Dip. Theology from the Dominican Studium ratified by the Angelicum, Rome (Pontifical University of St. Thomas). In addition to these accomplishments, Nioclás does an excellent imitation of John Wayne.
Franciscans of Ft. Lauderdale
The Franciscans of Ft. Lauderdale is the OFR community in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This community staffs the parish of Sts. Francis and Clare at 101 NE 3rd Street.
Meet the Franciscans of Ft. Lauderdale
The Rev. Vincent Treglio, ofr, is the Guardian of the Franciscans of Ft. Lauderdale. Fr. Vinnie was born in Newark, New Jersey, and lived in East Orange until the age of 5, then moved to Livingston where he went to the public schools. He entered the Alexian Brothers community in September1964, was professed in 1967, transferred to Chicago.
In 1970 he graduated with a Associate of Science degree in Respiratory Therapy. He decided to leave the brothers to study for the priesthood. Joining the Benedictines in January of 1973, Vinnie spent his Novitiate in the Abby of St. Mary, in Morristown, New Jersey. After the Novitiate, he was sent to St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where he received his M.Div.
He was ordained in 1978 and spent time teaching and in parish work, joining the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, and staying with them until 1997, when he moved to Florida. He joined the Franciscans of Ft. Lauderdale, one of the founding communities of the OFR, in 2001.
Fr. Vinnie has served as a hospice chaplain and Manager of Bereavement Care for Vitas hospice for the last 15 years.
Br. Robert Cassizzi, ofr, is from the Philadelphia area, and began his college life at St. Mary's Seminary College, Catonsville, Maryland, while he was in the Trinitarian Order. He finished his graduate work at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia in Educational Administration.
Frederick William Elliott, n/ofr, novice and seminarian, is a retired library manager and former educator who taught gifted and talented students. He received his A.B. degree in religion — with distinction — from Dartmouth where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude. While at Dartmouth, William journeyed to Mount Athos, Greece, as part of an independent study project on Greek monasticism: the project earned him a special academic citation in which the evaluating professor noted that William’s report was “an inspired piece of writing, among the best I have seen at Dartmouth.”
William also holds an M.S.T. degree from The University of Chicago and an M.A. degree from the University of South Florida. He also studied French art, language, and literature while participating in Dartmouth’s foreign study program at the Université de Toulouse-le Mirail, Toulouse, France.
In partial fulfillment of the ECC “Guidelines for Receiving Candidates to Holy Orders,” William is attending the Episcopal Diocesan School for Christian Studies in Fort Lauderdale, where he is a full-time student. In the fall of 2011, he completed — with distinction — the Old Catholic History and ECC Ecclesiology Course provided by the St. Bonaventure House of Studies, an educational ministry of the Community of St. Francis, Chicago. William received six years of religious instruction from the Benedictines of Saint Mary’s Abbey while attending their college-preparatory school, Delbarton, in Morristown, New Jersey. At Delbarton, William served as glee-club accompanist. He was also a volunteer organist and acolyte at his local parish, St. Virgil’s, in Morris Plains, New Jersey. William is a member of the ECC Parish of Sts. Francis and Clare, Fort Lauderdale, where he currently serves as an acolyte and lector.
Prior to pursuing a career in library science, William spent several years in the real estate field in both the public and private sectors. He served as the real property administrator of a Florida electric utility and as president of an upstate New York construction and design corporation. William also holds a B.S. degree in interior design summa cum laude from Mercyhurst College. William’s passion is architectural renovation: the renovation of his 1940 Florida vernacular-style bungalow won first prize in the city of Fort Lauderdale’s design competition “in recognition of outstanding achievement for urban environmental design.”
Br. James Jana, ofr, a native Chicagoan, moved to Fort Lauderdale eight years ago. His background and talents are in the arts and education. James taught music and fine arts in the Chicago Public Schools from 1967 until 2004. For several years he was choreographer-in-residence at St. James Cathedral in Chicago. He spent a summer as a fool with The Fountain Square Fools, a Cincinnati based Jesuit mime troop. For two years he was in formation with the Conventual Franciscans, St. Bonaventure Province. As a member of Mount Carmel Parish, on Chicago’s northside, he was a lector and Eucharistic minister for Illinois Masonic Hospital AIDS ward.
Upon moving to south Florida, Br. James taught music and second grade in the Broward County Schools. He is an avid musician, artist and actor. He holds an MA in Education from Roosevelt University, has taken a variety of theology courses at Loyola University (Chicago) and has spent several summers at the Pacific School of Theology (Berkeley) studying liturgical dance and drama. Since 2004 he has also been a volunteer usher at the Broward Center for the Arts, where he enjoys telling people where to go. Last spring, he wrote and presented The Passion According to Simon, a stations of the cross meditation from the viewpoint of Simon of Cyrene. He currently is writing Jesse ben Judah's Story, a telling of the Nativity from a shepherd’s perspective. James loves to tell all sorts of stories!
Fr. Joseph C. Spina, ofr, is originally from Brooklyn, New York, where he ministered in various schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn – mainly in the areas of Junior High classes of religion and social studies. During these years he made his first contact with the Franciscans within the framework of the Brooklyn community as a professed member. All of his twelve years in the classroom were as a lay teacher. He was also the first male principal in the San Diego diocese of an elementary academy where he ministered for three years as a Brother of Charity.
Fr. Joe was ordained an Old Catholic priest in Kew Gardens, New York. He has been in south Florida since 1989 and is presently the pastor of The Parish of Sts. Francis & Clare in Fort Lauderdale. In addition to this ministry he is also the lead chaplain at Memorial-Pembroke Hospital as well as ministering in four retirement residences.
Joe and the local community are also involved in working with our four-legged companions – serving as chaplains to the Humane Society of Broward County as well as to Holly Dogs, a greyhound rescue service from various dog race tracks. This ministry is also enhanced by association with the Miami Marlins when they sponsor Bark at the Park when fans bring their dogs to a game. It’s a great way to incorporate faith commitments into the every day lives of those with whom we are privileged to extend our ministry.
St. Mary of the Angels
St. Mary of the Angels is the OFR community in Little Rock, Arkansas. The primary ministries of St. Mary include staffing and serving the San Damiano parish and serving the homeless of our city.
Meet the St. Mary community
Sr. Sarah Maria Ball, ofr, has been a member of the San Damiano parish since its inception in 2006. She became a professed Franciscan in the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans in 2008 and then answered the call to help the OFR get started within the Ecumenical Catholic Communion by signing on during the founding Chapter of 2010. Sarah is active in the work of the San Damiano parish, serving as a Eucharistic Minister and acolyte for services regularly. Her Franciscan vocation involves several diverse areas in addition to this work. With three teenagers still at home, she is deeply involved in ensuring there are local and national ministry opportunities for youth in serving the poor. She is expanding the work of San Damiano with an ecumenical focus by inviting other parishes of the local Episcopal diocese to participate in another youth trip to serve the poor of South St. Louis in the spring of 2011. Sarah also works with the local Homeless Coalition in Little Rock on projects and legislative initiatives focused on improving services for the poor of this area. Sarah works for Acxiom Corporation, a technology firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas, as an Account Manager for a large bank. She is married to Fr. Fred Ball, ofr, and helps him keep track of everything from four children, the parish, and our "tent-making" job duties, to fostering the growth and development of this most beloved vocation in the little way of our brother, Francis.
Sr. Ellen Annette (Nan) Plummer, n/ofr, is the Guardian of St. Mary of the Angels. She has been a member of the San Damiano parish since 2009. She is active on the parish council and in music ministry. She began her Franciscan journey that same year, became an OFR novice at the founding chapter meeting in St. Louis in October 2010, and made her simple profession at the General Chapter in Chicago in 2011. A former art museum director, Nan is a senior devlopment officer at Arkansas Children's Hospital and teaches nonprofit management part-time at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She volunteers for the local public radio station and at St. Vincent Infirmary and keeps up with her husband Jim Spencer; two demanding shih-tzus; and three adult children, two grandchildren, and an aging mother, who live in four different Northern states. She loves to sing at Mass and with the UALR Community Chorus.
Fr. Fred Ball, ofr currently serves as the Minister General of the Franciscans of Reconciliation. He began his Franciscan journey in 1989 with the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. He was first ordained in 1979 and became a priest with the ECC in 2007. Fr. Fred and his wife, Sarah, started what became San Damiano parish in their home in Lent 2006. He holds a Ph.D. in liturgical theology, with his research specifically focused on the Eucharist, and is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy. He also enjoys giving retreats and quiet days, doing spiritual direction, leading tour groups, horseback riding, and flyfishing. Fr. Fred and Sarah, have four children — Wesley, Katie, Mary Clare, and Hannah.
Franciscan Community of John XXIII
Meet the Community of John XXIII
Fr. Bob Blattner, ofr, is the Guardian of the Franciscan Community of John XXIII. Fr. Bob was ordained a Franciscan Priest (OFM) on June 5, 1971. He had previously lived from 1969 until 1971 with the Protestant Brothers of Taizé, France. He has been a teacher on all levels of education including Graduate School here in St. Louis, Mo. He is the Founding Pastor of the Sts. Clare and Francis Ecumenical Catholic Church here in St. Louis and current Pastor of John the XXIII Ecumenical Catholic Community in St. Louis, Mo. Fr. Bob is the proud father of three grown children and one adorable granddaughter.
Matthew Duffin, n/ofr, is a career Chef and an aspiring organic farmer. He has been in the Order since early 2011, but has walked with the spirit of Francis his whole life. As a Chef and farmer Matt brings the Franciscan Spirit of peace and joy enjoying the beauty in all of Creation. He daily attempts to bring this to his work. He was admitted to the Novitiate on October 5, 2011, at the first General Chapter of the Order.
Sr. Jacopa (Carole) Jerome, n/oef is an associate of the Community. She is currently a novice with the Order of Ecumencial Franciscans and lives in the Catholic Tradition with us in community. She is an accomplished writer professionally and a dedicated Healing Touch Practictioner as well as a Reiki Master. She has spent many visits to Assisi which she considers "home" and in throughly imbued with the spirit of Clare and Francis. We are proud to have as part of our community.
Tony Kalbac, n/ofr, is from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has treated people of all ages. The youngest patient was four years old, the oldest was in their eighties. He worked for 25 years in two different private psychiatric hospitals. He began his Franciscan journey began at the age of 16, when he made personal vows and decided to enter the Franciscan order. After high school he entered seminary at the insistence of his parents although his heart was with the Franciscans. This resulted in him leaving the diocesan seminary. He began an odyssey of exploration of different faith traditions and made a difficult decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church. He carried a hole in his heart and spirit but deepened his relationship with God. Three years ago, while dining with Fr. Bob Blattner, he was invited to explore joining the Franciscans of Reconciliation. Shortly thereafter, Tony began a medical journey replete with potential loss of life. His faith was his bedrock throughout his illness. He made application while struggling to regain his health. He took vows and began his Novitiate in July 2011. He aspires to make his first profession of formal vows in October 2012.