About Friar Rick

Director, FrancisCorps

Reboot Day 1

So it’s been an interesting first day of the reboot. At breakfast and lunch the three of us made out own concoctions. I had a real funky mix in the am and then something with two beets and very RED!
For the evening meal we worked together to prepare our drinks. Besides the health benefits that may or may not come from this experience, the most fun is laughing with friars about it all.

Juice Fast

Last night at the friary we watched the film “Sick, Fat and Nearly dead”. It’s about a guy who decides to eat just fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days in order to “reboot” his body.

Well three of us decided to give it a try. We had our farewell to meat tonight (wings!) and then got our juicer ready and bought a huge load of vegetables. We tested a recipe of apples, carrots, celery and ginger. It tasted really good.

Tomorrow we start doing this for 4 or 5 days. Wish us luck!!!!

A sublime and ridiculous weekend

I’m here in suburban Maryland, just outside DC at our friary. FrancisCorps was just participating at post-graduate recruiting fairs at Loyola University, Maryland and The Catholic University of America. Last night got to visit with a high school classmate who lives in DC with her two wonderful daughters. It has been like over 20 years since we saw one another. It was good to see again how strong wise and faith-filled a woman Cathleen is. I am thankful that in her and my high school friend Mary I have two of the most principled and decent human beings. They are both women of great integrity. I realise now how much they helped shape who I am today, as a person and as a friar-priest. Thanks guys.

So…. from the sublime to the ridiculous. Right now I am in a quiet annex to the friary. It’s a lovely cottage. I have nothing to do that is scheduled. I could be tempted to go and explore parts of DC that I haven’t seen but I find it even more alluring to be somewhat quiet and home bound. I want to get to stuff I haven’t had time for since I started FrancisCorps; stuff like writing a post on my blog, writing some articles, doing laundry or getting my car washed.

So where do you get your car washed in Silver Spring? Google will know! Yesterday I found a place called Mobii The Auto Spa. It had a great website offering all kinds of services. I called up talked to Iani Perez and made an appointment for this morning.

My GPS got me there and I was kind of confused. It looked like a regular garage, except for a friendly guy who greeted me. It was Iani. At first I was a little disappointed. This didn’t look like an auto “spa”. But then I was quite amused. This young guy got me to come to his shop with marketing. His website is what made him stand out from the other car washes. Pretty smart. He told me The Deluxe Car Wash ($25) would take about 30 minutes. It’s a hand wash plus cleaning and vacuuming of the interior and trunk.

I went across the street to a deli for some breakfast and came back to a clean a shiny car. As Iani was finishing up and dressing the tires and fixing some minor scratches he found, he explained his dream for “the Auto Spa”. His father owns a body shop near by and he’s been working for three years to build up the business. The guy has a dream, ambition, great customer service, a good car wash product and a well executed marketing plan.

If you’re in DC and need a car wash — go and visit Iani.


First Canadian Conventual Franciscan Priest in 21 Years!

Friar Reto Davatz, OFM Conv. was ordained a priest today at St Raphael’s Church by Bishop Douglas Crosby the Bishop of Hamilton. Bishop Cosby ordained Reto at the request of the community represented by the Minister Provincial, Friar Justin Biase.

Bishop Crosby presided the ordination with grace and simplicity reminding Reto that the presbyteral stole is not so much a sign of authority as a symbol of the lost sheep he must carry around his neck in the manner of the Good Shepherd.

Reto is originally from Montréal, Québec and served as a guide for pilgrims at St. Joseph Oratory. Reto met the friars while studying philosophy at the Dominican College in Ottawa where he got his masters degree.

Reto has continued his formation as a friar in Washington DC and San Antonio Texas. He made his Solemn Vows as a friar a couple of years ago in Toronto at The Franciscan Church of St Bonaventure. He served as Deacon at St. Raphael and will continue as Associate Pastor.

The last friar of the OFM Conv. to be ordained was yours truly in 1990.








Future Pope on his way!

During the Eucharistic Congress of Quebec in 2008 I wrote a post about a bishop from the Philippines who set the congress on fire with his speech. That was Bishop Luis Tagle. The post was called: Meet the Future Pope. Well today, in what I think is a remarkable move, Pope Benedict has appointed the young bishop as Archbishop of Manila. This is huge! He will now surely become a cardinal and who knows… pope one day. You heard it here first :)

Watch the catechesis he gave at the Eucharistic Congress.

FrancisCorps beginnings

So, I haven’t really fallen off the face of the earth, no worries. It’s just been kind of busy with the transition saying goodbye to my friars, friends, co-workers and parishioners in Toronto and then saying hello to my new home and ministry in Syracuse, New York. There’s lots to say for sure.

At the moment I’m in Costa Rica with our new volunteers who will begin their volunteer work on Monday. I return home tomorrow. I promise to write more. In the meantime I want to share a video that was sent to me by Carolyn, one of the Costa Rica volunteers. We were at the Cathedral in San José today and looking a beautiful window of the story of the woman at the well, mentioned that it was one of my favourite Gospel passages. Carolyn then mentioned this rap that I’ve attached.  This “spoken word” captures everything that I like about that passage in the scripture.

If I can live this in my ministry I will be a very happy man, and blessed friar and a good priest.

Lady Gaga remix

While working on my homily for Pentecost Sunday I came across this video. Don’t ask. It’s a take on Lady Gaga’s Born this way, which I happen to like as a song. Anyways… this is really a fun video… and I’m posting it half seriously… ’cause it is the truth,… but also with a grain a salt. Just enjoy it for what it is :)

A Trad’s response to my post

My nephew’s wife recently responded to my last post that included a section about the ExtraOrdinary Form of the Mass. I think she makes some valid and interesting points, and since I don’t allow for comments on my blog I’ve decided to repost her post. Visit her blog.

double standards in the church

 As you may or may not know, there was a document recently released by the Vatican which clarifies certain points of the Motu Proprio Pope Benedict XVI wrote a few years ago – the letter which liberated the celebration of the Latin Mass from the clutches of bishops, basically.

Fr. Z’s commentary on this new document

The original Motu Proprio

So yesterday I read a blog entry by a priest which comments, in part, on this new document. This priest happens to be my husband’s uncle, but expresses what I’ve heard elsewhere as well. It upset me. The priest doesn’t take comments on his entries, so I ranted to Tony, who encouraged me to blog about it.

So first let me say that I am replying simply to this way of thinking. I am discussing how it made me feel. I do not claim to know how this priest would actually deal with these situations in real life.

But getting right to it – the problems I have are the double-standard and the dismissive tone.

By double-standard I mean that the pro-NO crowd tend to be extremely nitpicky when it comes to “letting” people hear a TLM. In his own words: “It seems that basically anyone, anywhere can walk into any church with any priest and expect to be allowed to celebrate this form of the mass. The only condition is that they can’t be associated with any persons or groups that challenge the legitimacy or validity of the normative or ‘ordinary’ form of the Mass as most of us know it. In my mind, that would exclude a lot of people, including some cantankerous cantors, who I know are all about mocking the Mass and the way we celebrate the Eucharist in our parishes.”

In other words, if you think the NO is objectively inferior – less clear, less beautiful, less edifying, less correctly Catholic in its approach and spirituality, than is the TLM, not only are you wrong, but you lose the right to hear a TLM. You may only hear a TLM, in effect, if your preference is purely, professedly aesthetic. You might believe wholeheartedly in the Creed, the Catechism, you might tithe to the penny, pray, have a generous and prudent number of kids, lead Bible study, fast twice a week, and love God and neighbour, but if you fail on this point, too bad; you’re not Catholic enough to be accepted.

So, a thought experiment: A group of 30 Filipinos, mostly in their 20s through 40s, approaches a pastor to request a separate Mass in Tegalog. All of them either fornicate or contracept, save two of them. Do you think the pastor will object on these grounds? No. Will they be questioned in detail about their beliefs and practices in the hopes of finding something off, on the grounds of which the pastor can deny them their preference? No.

So why are trads being persecuted? Article 19 says “The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church” – not quite the same as this blogger’s paraphrase.

I guess I’m an outlaw to his mind. Gosh, I even has SSPX wedding missalettes! I financially supported the SSPX! The scandal! What a bad Catholic I obviously am!

Sarcasm aside – what bothers me is that I think those of us who have reservations about the NO, and who prefer the TLM, act in good faith – for love of the Catholic Faith. What we do, we do for love of our Faith. Can the same be said of the hypothetical fornicating Filopinos? Do they fornicate out of love for the Faith? Well, I’d have trouble buying that, personally. Does that mean they ought to be denied a Mass in their language? No. We’re all on the same road together, all sinners, all wrong and blind in some way, probably.

I know this priest can be incredibly gentle and inclusive with people who are not quite full-on in their practice of the faith – in this entry, for example – so really – why the double-standard? Where is the gentleness and inclusivity for Trads?

The other thing that bothered me was, as I mentioned, the dismissive tone. “Much ado about nothing”? Are the concerns of every minority so unimportant to you? This issue is very, VERY important to a particular group of people, minority though it may be.

St. Piux X, pray for us.

Rain, earthquakes and cockroaches!

Peet shoe dryer

Well, it’s a rainy, rainy Saturday afternoon. When I say rain, I mean RAIN. It’s all part of winter here in Costa Rica. It seems you have to be ready at any moment for the rain. I’m pretty well equipped with water-resistant hiking boots, waterproof jacket and of course a decent umbrella… or paraaguas as it’s called here. On the recommendation of one of the FrancisCorps volunteers (Tom) I got a shoe-dryer that keeps your shows from getting moldy in the wet weather. I’m sure some of the volunteers are going to think I’m a woose! Jordan!

As if the rain isn’t enough, yesterday we had an earthquake. That’s not that unusual in Costa Rica, but this one was stronger than most. Reports state that it was either a 5.9 or 6.0 grade. The saving feature was that it was relatively deep in the ground, some 70km, so it had less of an effect. I was on the second floor of the friary in the tv room when the earthquake hit. It’s kind of an open concept loft kind of space that is open to the living and dining room below. Well, it took me a few moments to figure out what was going on and then quickly got out of the building. Fortunately there are no reports of serious damage or injury.  All of our FrancisCorps volunteers are fine (well, as fine as they were before the earthquake!)

The honeymoon about being here is also pretty much over. I’m more than half-way through my time learning Spanish and I realize how little I know. It’s kind of frustrating. One of my good friends, Tony, a Marist Brother living and ministering in East Timor told me that when you first learn a new language there’s a natural high at the start when you start learning new words and verbs. It is quite liberating. But then, you get to the point where it becomes hard again as you try to speak correctly. On the other hand, I was in chapel the other day and starting laughing because as I was praying the psalms I realized I knew what they meant and I recognized the tenses being used. That was kind of cool.

The walking to school is also proving to be tedious at times. I had pictured in my mind a nice urban saunter through San José when in fact the journey is through a few pretty grimy areas. And most of the 35 minutes it takes, I’m rushing to get to school on time or back to the friary for lunch (our main meal). Thankfully last week I was able to eat later and took the time to get a haircut and stop into some stores and talk to people.  The other thing that really had me down for a while is that although I’m walking about 7km a day… I don’t seem to be losing any weight! I don’t know. I’m not eating that much! A very kind visiting friar, Jimmy McCurry said: “Just make it your goal not to gain any weight.” I can live with that.

The other interesting thing I have noticed is how Catholic this place is. At church there are so many young people. I don’t know if it’s because of the friars or what. The same is true of the Order’s vocations… the guys are young and very enthusiastic. It’s quite impressive. Speaking of churches.. I’m helping out this weekend (and last weekend) at a small chapel near the airport that offers the areas only English mass. Last week there were about 50 people. It was kind of cool.

Church wise… well the things that really have my attention are three:

First of all, most Canadians would probably not have heard this, but there’s a big problem with the Church in Philadelphia… USA! The civil authorities are going after some 30 priests who they consider to be abusers after the Archdiocese apparently ignored the problems. There’s a lot of confusion. However the woman who was the head of the Church’s review board for such cases wrote a powerful and important article. It’s a little long… but really, really worth reading to understand what went wrong in Philadelphia and also the problem that exists in the whole church! Here is a powerful excerpt:

The solution to the sexual-abuse scandal rests on being honest, acting promptly and transparently, being open to constructive criticism, and being committed to protecting minors. If Philadelphia’s bishops had authentically followed their call to live the gospel, they would have acted differently. Instead, they succumbed to a culture of clericalism

Here is the link to the whole article: Commonweal article on What went wrong in Philadelphia.

Another interesting development is about Liturgy. The Holy See has issued an instruction on how the permission to use the Tridentine Form of the mass, aka “The Extraordinary Form”. It makes clear a lot of questions people had. It seems that basically anyone, anywhere can walk into any church with any priest and expect to be allowed to celebrate this form of the mass. The only condition is that they can’t be associated with any persons or groups that challenge the legitimacy or validity of the normative or “ordinary” form of the Mass as most of us know it.  In my mind, that would exclude a lot of people, including some cantankerous cantors, who I know are all about mocking the Mass and the way we celebrate the Eucharist in our parishes.

Anyways.. here’s a video report about. In my mind it is much ado about nothing. This is not something people want or are interested in. People want good music, preaching that connects to their lives and a community that cares about their kids, is inclusive and reaches out to the marginalized.

In contrast to all the hype about the ExtraOrdinary form of the Mass, we in Canada are supposed to be preparing for the Revised Roman Missal (which isn’t really a missal but a sacramentary, because it doesn’t contain the readings… but hey, why get technical about these things. It’s like saying the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated. Ok, whatever).

We are supposed to be implementing the Revised Missal in November. The National Liturgy Office in Ottawa was supposed to start putting out resources in the first week of April. We are halfway through May and nothing has appeared. Strange? Recently I’ve discovered that our National Liturgy Office employs only about 3 people. I know money is tight, but you think our bishops would give Liturgy some priority and some resources.  The other thing I noticed in preparing resources for our parish is that the Bishops have commissioned some music to go with the Revised Missal. Interesting thing about these 4 new Mass Settings is that 2 of them are by members of the National Council for Liturgical Music, who presumably would have chosen the Mass Settings. I don’t know, but to me, it doesn’t really pass the “smell test” of transparency and accountability. Refer back to the “Philadelphia” issue!

Nothing has come out of the Archdiocese of Toronto either to assist with this major event in the life of the Church. There is a musicians workshop for which I have mandated all of our parish musicians… but nothing more. It seems that after the Priests’ Seminar workshops the Archdiocese lost its steam. Who’s on top of this issue? When will we have time to review material, prepare ourselves and then offer it to our parishioners? In the summer? Nothing much new happens in parishes in the summer.  My plan, at this point, is to offer a workshop for parish ministers and other interested persons in June with contraband resources from an undisclosed country that has great liturgy training publications. ;P

Well, it’s still raining cats, dogs, parrots and cockroaches here in Costa Rica! (Don’t get me started on cockroaches. They are big and sometimes they fly! I had 7 of them in my shower one night. Not pretty. And I REALLY don’t like bugs.] Better get back to my studies. I have to review the irregular verbs. They’re causing me trouble. Hasta luego.