About Friar Rick

Director, FrancisCorps

B16: No to fossilization of traditions!

Life at the friary here in Syracuse does have some interesting perks. One of these perks is getting the New York Times every day. A few days ago I was reading the Time’s coverage of the Pope’s Chrism Mass homily (April 5, 2012). It presented the homily as a shockingly direct rebuke to some priests in Austria who were daring to challenge the authority and teaching of the Church. Here is how the NYT characterized B16’s homily:

Striking a characteristically inquisitive yet uncompromising stance, he asked whether such moves were aimed at “true renewal,” or “do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?”

I have to admit that if I was one of the priests who had started this movement and heard the Pope directly speak about me at the Chrism Mass I would probably be soiling my pants about now. And yes, it was a rather direct message. If you’ve never actually read any of B16’s (or Joseph Ratzinger’s) writings you would not know that he often does write in a very simple and direct fashion. He can be quite surprising in his questioning and reflection.

But the problem I have is this. I did not only read the NYT that day. As is my custom, I begin every day with an online review of much of the news: Reuters, CBC, CTV, LaPresse, Toronto Star, Twitter, New.va, Whispers in the Loggia,  and I had already read the Pope’s entire homily online.  I was shocked by how biased a presentation the news reports were making of the homily.  Yes B16 was quite direct about the intentions of people challenging the Church.  Here’s the main passage about this:

Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord. Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church? We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this?

BUT… that’s not all he said. Read some of the rest:

But let us not oversimplify matters. Surely Christ himself corrected human traditions which threatened to stifle the word and the will of God? Indeed he did, so as to rekindle obedience to the true will of God, to his ever enduring word. His concern was for true obedience, as opposed to human caprice.

Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.


The Church is not about inertia or the fossilization of traditions! Wow. Really, Pope Benedict said that? Yes, he’s a much more complicated person than most imagine and not easily stuffed into a neat little box. He makes me nuts when he wears his fiddle-back vestments and lace of the Tridentine liturgy but he equally makes the extreme traditionalist crazy by refusing to turn back the clock on the vision of Vatican II.

So, a word of caution. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers. Read many sources and find out the truth for yourself!

Reboot Day 2

Ok this was not the most pleasant of days. I was hungry and tired. Didn’t even try my morning walk.
I’m sick of this juice already. My mother called to warn me about all the sugar I was drinking especially from the beets. Hmmm. True enough. Anyways, I almost lost it last night when one of the friars was cooking Dahl. The fragrance filled the house. Tonight our friary cook, whose cooking seems to improve with every day if this fast, made a amazing looking meat loaf and rice balls.
Anyways. I held fast. Tomorrow is supposed to bring energy. We will see.
Vamos a ver!

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 :)