Diocesan News

Events celebrate ordination of Father Innocent, Franciscan Friars

Story by Tess Wahlmeier

LINCOLN (SNR) – The Montgomery twins Scott and Rusty, as they were known growing up in Lincoln, have much more in common than their identical DNA and their triplet sister, Katie Havlat.

Both are living out their vocation with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFRs). Father Innocent (Scott Montgomery) was just ordained this past month in New York City, and Brother Angelus (Rusty Montgomery) will, God willing, be ordained a deacon next year and a priest the year after.

To celebrate his ordination, Father Innocent is returning to his hometown of Lincoln for a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. John the Apostle Parish in Lincoln Sunday, June 19 at 2 p.m. All are invited to attend, and a reception will follow.

The CFRs are also hosting a “Catholic Underground” event at North American Martyrs Parish Friday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. Afterward, there will be a social for all who want to meet the friars.

“If people want to see what the friars are all about, there’s going to be 15 or 20 of them,” Havlat said.

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal were founded in 1987 by eight Franciscan friars, and today number more than 120. They have several friaries in New York City, as well as New Jersey, New Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Great Britain, and Ireland. Their primary mission is “a wholehearted embracing of Jesus Christ and our Holy Father St. Francis.”

“Through our commitment to prayer and contemplation,” their Constitutions state, “the study of Sacred Scripture, and our fidelity to the Church and the Sacraments, our fraternal life, and our generous service to others, especially the poor, we receive nourishment necessary to live out our lives as sons of St. Francis in the Capuchin tradition.”

In the spirit of the New Evangelization, the CFRs live out the faith through serving the poor, evangelizing, and faithfully living out the evangelical counsels. Some of their events draw more than 1,000 people, particularly the Catholic Underground events which occur monthly in New York City. 

Catholic Underground is a cultural apostolate of the CFRs that embodies the new evangelization through Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, music, poetry, and visual arts. Havlat said Father Innocent is excited to bring Catholic Underground to North American Martyrs. 

The June 17 holy hour will start with Eucharistic Adoration, beginning with a welcome from Father Innocent and music provided by several of the friars.

“They have friars who are very musically talented, and so they do a holy hour with Exposition and beautiful music and have confessions,” said Michael Riordan, a friend of the Montgomery family.  “It’s a holy hour, friar style.”

In many ways, the CFRs are responding to the call of Pope John Paul II, who said at a World Youth Day Mass in Toronto in 2002: “The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God’s love. It needs witnesses to that love. It needs you to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”

The friars “are just a great group of men,” Havlat said, “a very charismatic group of guys, very outgoing, very genuine, very nice, loving, holy men.”

After his ordination celebrations, Father Innocent will go back to New York City, where he resides at St. Crispin Friary in the Bronx. One of his primary duties is working at St. Anthony men’s shelter, particularly in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. He also is the coordinator for the volunteer house, where young men who are discerning a vocation often go for a few months to volunteer at the shelter and continue discernment.

All are invited and encouraged to attend both events to celebrate Father Innocent’s ordination or to learn more about the friars.

“Religious life will not only survive but will flourish when it is firmly planted in the heart of Christ, who is the heart of the Church,” said Father Glenn Sudano, one of the founders of the CFRs. “This means nothing less than: a clear identity, total fidelity, ardent devotion, daily prayer, and sacrificial service, especially to the poor. This is what young people are seeking. This is the secret for any community intent on authentic renewal. Young eyes need to see something bright and beautiful.”

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