Nine area Catholics professed as Secular Franciscans

Above, from left: David Shick, Joan Monti, Deacon Phil Rzewnicki, Anna Rzewnicki, Jeanne Casciere, Michael Oeser, Lynn Oeser, Ben Whitehouse, Gladys Whitehouse, Fr. Steve Kluge, Alexandra Rommel and Lee Cunningham.

Nine area Catholics declared their permanent profession to the Order of Secular Franciscans during the Liturgy of the Word Saturday, June 27, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh.

Officiating were Father Steve Kluge, OFM, spiritual assistant to the Padre Pio fraternity, and Lee Cunningham, OFS, fraternity minister. Lynn Oeser, a member of the formation team, assisted at the profession.

The profession had been postponed from May 16 because of COVID-19 restrictions. Father Kluge referenced the pandemic in his homily.

“If we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we will get through this no matter how long it lasts. The world needs more Secular Franciscans to be the hands of Christ. You are more courageous than you know because you are saying ‘yes;’ you will be Christ in the midst of all this suffering,” he said.

The Rite of Profession follows three years of formation and discernment of the Franciscan life and represents a permanent commitment to living the Gospel life as St. Francis of Assisi did.    

As a group, the new Franciscans represent three parishes in the Diocese of Raleigh:

  • St. Francis of Assisi, Raleigh: Jeanne Casciere, OFS; Joan Monti, OFS; Alexandra Rommel, OFS; Dave Shick, OFS; Gladys Whitehouse, OFS; and Ben Whitehouse, OFS
  • Holy Cross Catholic Church, Durham: Anna Rzewnicki, OFS; Deacon Phil Rzewnicki, OFS
  • St. Matthew, Durham: Mike Oeser, OFS

Because of social distancing restrictions, only the newly professed and the presiders were at the ceremony. A celebration hosted by the Padre Pio fraternity will be held at a later date.

Secular Franciscans are members of the third branch of the Franciscan family founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. The Padre Pio fraternity is a member of the Brothers and Sister of St. Francis Region that includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. For more information about the Secular Franciscans, visit the Padre Pio Fraternity website: