2017-10-04 / Front Page

St. Francis Prep Welcomes Franciscan Brothers from Africa

Brother Leonard Conway, O.S.F. works with staff and students from St. Francis Secondary School in Lare, Kenya.


Brother Leonard Conway, O.S.F. works with staff and students from St. Francis Secondary School in Lare, Kenya. On September 28, St. Francis Prep welcomed Brothers Gerald and Bernard, O.S.F..  The two Franciscans arrived from Lare, Kenya, where they work at St. Francis Secondary School.  The school is run by the same order of brothers that originally founded St. Francis Prep in 1858.  Prep’s President, Brother Leonard Conway, O.S.F., first met the brothers when he travelled to Africa during the summer of 2013, and he is very much looking forward to the visit, and Prep’s guests being able to share as much as possible about their Kenyan students and their school with their American counterparts.

The relationship between the two schools began when Brother Peter Rody, O.S.F., who was minister general of the Irish Franciscan Brothers, visited America for the 150th Anniversary of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn.  He approached Brother Leonard about helping St. Francis Secondary School, and according to Brother Leonard, “the rest is history.”  Over the years, the St. Francis Prep community has raised funds to provide the Kenyan students bicycles, as many students were walking many miles to and from school, desks and chairs, a new school van, a water tower for drinking water, and textbooks and school supplies.  Prep alum, Dr. Joseph Pantaleo has also traveled to St. Francis Secondary School with his collegaues to provide dental and medical services.

When Brother Leonard visited Africa in 2013, he felt it was a very, “moving and spiritual experience.  The brothers were very prayerful and fraternal.  The students always smile and are grateful for everything.  The Lare community was very poor, but happy and friendly.”  Brother Leonard will be returning this summer, and has even said, “don’t be surprised when I retire, I may go there!”

Brother Leonard hopes that during the visit, Prep’s students will learn more about the culture and life in Kenya, and that they will learn to appreciate what we have and be more sensitive to those in need.  According to Brother Leonard, the mere visit and conversation, will show students, and all of us, the importance of Franciscan values.  During classroom visits, students will learn more of the Franciscanism charism from the visiting Brothers, and this will be very motivational for students.  For Brother Leonard, spending time with them in Kenya was what, “got me hooked!”

During their time here, Brother Gerald and Brother Bernard will visit Prep, St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, and Camp Alvernia in Centerport, plus sight-see in Manhattan and Washington D.C..  They will also visit St. Francis College, and the various friaries of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn to meet with their American Brothers.  The centerpiece of the visit will be the Mass celebrating the Feast of St. Francis on October 4th at St. Francis Prep.  During the Mass, Brother Leonard, as well as Brother Robert Kent, O.S.F. will be recognized for their 50th anniversary (or Jubilee) as Franciscan Brothers.  The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop James Massa, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

The Mass will begin at 8:30 at St. Francis Prep, 6100 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Fresh Meadows.

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