I’m writing from beautiful St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada, up here on the eastern-most point of North America (hence the delay in posts this week). After a day’s worth of travel (mostly in a lengthy Newark layover), I arrived to this warm-in-spirit, cool-in-weather island and was greeted at the airport by three of my Franciscan brothers from the States. Shortly after my arrival, about an hour to be exact, a fifth friar arrived via Toronto and we headed into town. The last of the Holy Name Province friars to make the journey up to this spectacular part of the world arrived on Thursday afternoon, just in time for our dinner with the Archbishop of St. John’s and the diocesan clergy, family, and friends of our brother, Frank Critch, OFM.
We’re all up here to celebrate the diaconate ordination of our brother Frank. This is a very unusual situation in that such ordinations are generally smaller celebrations held in one of our East-Coast locations (mine was in Washington, DC last year), but Frank, a native of Newfoundland with many, many, many family and friends up here, was hoping to have some opportunity to share the joy of these important celebrations in the life of a friar and ordained minister with the people from home. Whereas in the United States along the East Coast it isn’t too difficult for someone to travel from, say, New York to Washington, DC, to travel from anywhere to Newfoundland is difficult and very expensive (I lucked out back in the Spring when these arrangements were being made — I had more than enough miles to book my flights for nothing, others had to pay thousands of dollars: hence the limited number of friars representing our larger community).
Because the costs are so exorbitant, it made sense to our Provincial and the local Archbishop in Newfoundland, to have his ordination to the diaconate at home and at a time and place when the hundreds of people would really want to make it, could make it. And hundreds of people did indeed show up!
The large church was packed, there were dozens of priests, and the five of us brother Franciscans present. The liturgy was very nice, as was the generous and local meal we had with the Archbishop and his diocesan clergy before the mass. Franks two older brothers also happen to be priests, the older of the two is a diocesan priest in St. John’s, and he headed the cooking crew for the great dinner — it seems that all the Critches are excellent cooks!
After the liturgy the Knights of Columbus and the Critch family held a large reception at the Knights of Columbus hall a few blocks away. There was a live celtic band, Irish step dancers, generous food, plenty to drink, and lots of laughs and hugs. The people of Newfoundland are the nicest, most warm, and generous people you can imagine.
I spoke with many of the family, friends, and guests, in part for an upcoming Dating God Podcast that will feature the story of this trip to Newfoundland and interviews with all sorts of people at the ordination; the folks here absolutely adore Frank and many have known him his whole life or for at-least 20, 30, 40 years.
This was an incredibly meaningful experience for so many, and to be a part of that on behalf of my brother friars in the states and to support my Franciscan brother and friend, Frank, has been extraordinary! Stay tuned for an upcoming podcast with so much more!