October 13, 2010 // Local

Conventual Franciscans continue 800-year tradition with Dominican speaker

Father Anthony Gabrione, a Dominican priest currently studying at the University of Notre Dame, celebrates Mass in honor of his Franciscan “cousin.”

By Diane Freeby

MISHAWAKA — A centuries-old tradition continued earlier this month in Mishawaka, on the feast of St. Francis. Dominican priest Father Anthony Gabrione joined his “cousins,” the Conventual Franciscans, and celebrated Mass at the friary next door to Marian High School.
“We’re continuing the 800-year tradition of friendship between the Dominican order and the Franciscan order,” explained Brother Pascal Kolodziej, “which started back in the Lateran Council of 1215 when St. Dominic met St. Francis. St. Dominic envisioned one order to do apostolic work for the Church, but St. Francis had another idea.”

While the two religious orders would remain separate, the two leaders became very good friends from that day on, according to Brother Pascal.

“We continue that friendship today, 800 years later,” he explained. “On the feast of St. Francis we have a Dominican preach in our churches and chapels and oratories, and for the feast of St. Dominic they always have a Franciscan preach in the Dominican churches.”

The Oct. 4 Mass capped off two days of liturgical preparation and celebration. The friars began with a penitential day of fasting and abstinence on Oct. 3, joining the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration across the street for the traditional Transitus devotion to celebrate the passing of St. Francis into eternal life. Prayer continued that night with Eucharistic Adoration at the friary.

Twenty-five men filled the chapel for Mass the next day, including several visitors from the Franciscan house in Chicago. Father Gabrione, who is currently in residence and studying at the University of Notre Dame, talked about the virtue of poverty embraced by both the Franciscans and the Dominicans.

Referring to “Lady Poverty,” Father Gabrione said this virtue gives us a “radical focus” and “helps us clear the clutter of our hearts.” He added that poverty keeps us in the ever-present company of Our Lord.

“Lady Poverty was the only one with Christ when there was no room for Him at the inn and He was laid in the manger, in His public ministry where He had nowhere to lay His head, and on the cross when He was abandoned by all,” said Father Gabrione. “Lady Poverty was the only one who was there with Him. To know Lady Poverty is to know Him, and to know Him as a friend … it becomes a grace for us to know the Lord in every moment and to be with Him in every moment.”

Father Gabrione also explained the charism of St. Francis, noting that Franciscan poverty is not instrumental poverty.

“It is not a poverty to serve the poor or be in solidarity with the poor, although that can flow from it,” he explained. “The charism of St. Francis is a contemplative virtue, bequeathed forever to the Catholic Church.”

With eight young men currently in formation at the Franciscan novitiate in Mishawaka, Brother Pascal calls a vocation to the brotherhood the Church’s “best kept secret.” He suggests young men who think they have a religious vocation visit the Web site www.befranciscan.com.
“I think when a young man will study the life of St. Francis and see how Francis and a lot of the early Franciscans were all brothers; they see it as a viable option in ministry, in which they live a life of community. After living it for 36 years I’m still very much excited about it and I think it’s very blessed that God has called me to this life!”

Following Mass, Father Gabrione joined the Franciscans for a feast day meal of turkey and all the trimmings, prepared by Brother Pascal. Undaunted by the prospect of cooking for so many guests, Brother Pascal said he did have a back-up plan if the turkey didn’t work out.
“Plan B would be a cookout!”

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