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A Friar’s Notes
Happy New Year!

Fr. David Convertino, OFM
Executive Director of Development

How many times have we repeated Happy New Year over the past week? Sometimes, we don’t get the reactions we were expecting. It happened to me when I encountered one of our hundreds of guests at our Franciscan Breadline on New Year’s Day.

“It’s a new year and I’m still homeless and unemployed. Nothing new or happy about that, Father, said Mark, a homeless guest.

Before I could respond, Thomas, who is a regular, jumped into the conversation: “Fr. David, those words mean a lot to me. And, I think, for all of us, the Breadline brings happiness to our lives every day of the year. Happy New Year to you, too, Fr. David.”

Thomas made me realize why we should say Happy New Year to everyone, no matter what their situation. But he also made me realize that these words ring hollow without action.

It has been a difficult year for all of us in some way. Maybe we

are dealing with personal tragedy –  the illness or death of a loved one, a child struggling with addiction, or someone who has fallen away from the faith. Breadline guests have their daily struggles with poverty, homelessness, hunger and unemployment. For migrants, there has been untold sufferings. And wars have torn apart families and taken innocent lives. Violence, political upheaval, and climate disasters are happening in our country and all over the world. It’s hard to argue when someone says there’s nothing happy about the New Year.

But with every New Year, we have the chance to start anew – and 2024 is no different. We need to bring a sense of hope to those overcome with grief by the loss of a friend, or faced with daily misery because they don’t have life’s basic necessities. We are obligated to make their lives, and the world, better by doing something to help – something real and concrete, whether by our Franciscan generosity, or by volunteering, or even by simply listening to someone.

You have been so generous to the Franciscan Friars and those we served in 2023 – more than 2 million children, women and men. We could not have done it without you. We expect these numbers to increase this year. With your help, the Friars can offer the possibility of a fresh start – and a sense of hope that things can get better – to those who are alone, homeless, poor, and in need. These are the people the Friars encounter and serve every day of the yearfeeding, clothing, sheltering, and offering spiritual assistance to all those who come to our Franciscan doors for help.

As sisters and brothers to one another, the New Year is a wonderful time to cherish our connections with others, celebrate our shared humanity, and strive for a world filled with kindness and understanding. Let’s start off 2024 right. Help us give the poor and desperate hope for the future. Help us put the happy in Happy New Year for them. Your prayers and Franciscan heart help the Friars bring dignity, respect, and loving care in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi to all who seek our help.

We have some new and exciting things happening this year with the Franciscan Friars and for all those we serve. We hope you will continue to join us and be a part of our care for the poor because, together, we make this world a better place for everyone. With deep gratitude for your generosity and kindness, the Friars pray that 2024 is filled with hope, health, love, and countless moments of joy for you and your loved ones. From all of the Franciscan Friars to all of you, we wish you a Happy and Blessed New Year!

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