Meet our Student Friars

Men Currently in Formation

Read about the backgrounds of our men currently in formation. They are in Holy Name’s postulant, novitiate, and post-novitiate programs.

Friars in Post-novitiate Formation

Edgar Alberto, OFM

Originally hailing from El Salvador, Edgar served with Holy Name Province as a Franciscan Volunteer in Philadelphia, PA. before joining the Franciscans of Holy Name Province. Before coming to the United States, Edgar initially served for a year as a missionary with the Apostoles de la Palabra in El Salvador. Upon moving to the United States, he became a parishioner of Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, NC, where he was involved with the young adult ministry and served as a weekend Lector. He first came to know the friars at Immaculate Conception and was welcomed warmly by the friar community there. It was this community of friars who encouraged Edgar to pursue his life-long interest in religious life.

Michael Specht, OFM

Coming to us from Merion Station, Pennsylvania, Michael enjoys a close history with the Franciscans. His late uncle, Wulstan Gleason, OFM, inspired Michael’s family with his life of service and prayer in the Franciscan life; and Michael is one of eleven members of his immediate family to attend St. Bonaventure University. He came to know the friars at the St. Bonaventure University campus and Mt. Irenaeus while studying at St. Bonaventure University, and he has volunteered with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry in Camden, NJ. Additionally, Michael enjoys close friendships with his St. Bonaventure classmate, Jason Damon, who is now a friar in post-novitiate formation with Holy Name Province; and with Richard Phillip, a novice with HNP who served with Mike at the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry. “The Franciscans have been all around me,” Michael says, “and I realize that I have a Franciscan heart, and feel called to discern a life with them as a Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province.”

Carlos Wagner, OFM

Carlos came to know the friars through the recommendation of his parish priest in Staten Island, where he settled after moving to the United States from Colombia. After reaching out to the Vocation Ministry Team, Carlos connected with the Friars at St. Francis Friary on 31st Street and engaged with the various ministries there. He also connected with the friars at St. Mary’s Friary in Pompton Lakes, NJ. Carlos is particularly attracted to the missionary spirit of the Franciscans, their life of prayer, and their commitment to fraternity.

Ian Grant, OFM

As resident of North Brunswick, NJ, Ian comes to the friars at the suggestion of his spiritual director, who recommended that he open a dialogue specifically with the Franciscans. Before beginning Postulancy, Ian worked as an office manager for the Diocese of Trenton and as a case manager at the Anchor House — an agency whose mission is to work with abused, homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth — where he helped children and teens who were deemed victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking. Ian feels a connection with the Franciscans’ life in community as they seek to bring the Church to those who need it most. He is especially inspired by the friars who, among the community they serve, walk in the footsteps of Christ in active service to the poor. In addition to his work and ministry with the diocese and Anchor House, Ian served with his parish’s RCIA and religious education teams, teaches Confirmation prep, and served as a Eucharistic minister.

John Neuffer, OFM

John came to know the friars through internet research and subsequent visits to our parishes in Raleigh and Durham, NC. As regular parishioner at Holy Family Church in Hillsborough, NC, John served as a sacristan, a leader for elementary religious education, and as IT support for the parish. Before joining Postulancy, John worked professionally as a systems analyst and product manager for Fidelity Investments in Durham. After having spent some time with the friars of Holy Name Province during Postulancy and Novitiate, John is inspired particularly by the friars’ focus on social justice and community living. 

Richard Phillip, OFM

Before beginning postulancy, Richard completed a year of service in Camden, NJ with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry – FVM. Richard initially came to know the Friars of Holy Name Province through their ministry at St Francis Inn Ministries in Philadelphia. After working in the healthcare industry for several years, Richard has been particularly inspired by his work with the Franciscan Volunteers, with whom he serves at the Camden “Last Stop” AA/NA Club House. He also served with his parish’s youth ministry, prayer group and homeless outreach ministry (the Sandwich Ministry). Richard is especially called to the Franciscans’ sense of community and direct service to the poor.

Carlos Portillo, OFM

As a former resident of the Silver Spring, MD, area, Carlos was introduced to the friars through his participation in the many ministries at St. Camillus Church. Before joining the Postulancy Program, Carlos worked as the food services director at Sunrise Senior Assisted Living Center. Carlos is especially attracted to the Franciscans’ social justice work, accompanying the poor — and particularly immigrants — on their journeys. Inspired by the charism of St. Francis, Carlos has considered religious life for some time and hopes to answer the question, “what does God want of me?” as he continues his discernment. 

Steven Young, OFM

As a former resident of Canton, MA, Steven discovered the friars of Holy Name Province through the writings of Daniel P. Horan, OFM and the ministries at St. Anthony Shrine, in Boston. Initially attracted to the life of St. Francis, Steven finds particular inspiration in his message of simple living, kinship with the rest of creation, and peace for all people. He is also drawn to the friars’ focus on fraternity and community as part of their ministry. As an active member of St. John the Evangelist Church in Canton, Steven served on the leadership team for the young adult ministry. He also served as the Christian Education Assistant at St. Stephen’s Church in Canton as a means of exposing him to the reality of professional, ministerial work. Steven looks forward to bringing the various elements of his vocation journey together as he pursues a vocation with the friars.

Jason Damon, OFM

Jason graduated from St. Bonaventure University in December 2015 with his BA in history, a minor in political science, and the honor of being named the “Ideal Bonaventure Man.” He was very active in a variety of ministries on campus, participating frequently in the morning or evening prayer gatherings with the St. Bonaventure Friars. After graduation, he worked as a full-time ministerial volunteer  at Mt. Irenaeus, the Franciscan Retreat Center in West Clarksville, NY. At his home parish of St. Joseph’s in Holland, NY, Jason worked on the liturgy committee and served the Church as a Knight of Columbus and as a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. He learned about the Friars through his time at St. Bonaventure University and is deeply inspired by the Friars he has met there. He desires a life and vocation with meaning, “to wake up every day with the goal of helping people.”

James La Grutta, OFM

James worked with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry in Camden, NJ, where he served throughout 2016. James came to know the Franciscans of Holy Name Province through his time as a student at Siena College, where he earned his bachelors in political science in May 2011. James is most inspired by the Friars’ direct work with the poor and disenfranchised, particularly in a fraternal setting. “I have always experienced a strong sense of welcome and compassion when encountering the Franciscan Community,” says James, “and I have always felt right at home” with the Friars.

Luis Manuel Rosado, OFM

Equipped with a professional background in paramedics and having worked for Essex County in New Jersey as an EMT, Luis received his associate’s degree in criminal justice from the School of Criminal Justice in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, after receiving his certification in emergency medicine from Ponce Technical School in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Before moving to the Orlando, FL, area, Luis Manuel remained an active parishioner at St. Aloysius Church in Newark, NJ, where he served as a maintenance worker and sacristan. Luis volunteered to be a medical assistant after the Haiti earthquake by attending to patients, delivering babies, and assisting in the emergency room. Luis learned about Holy Name Province through online research and is attracted to the Franciscans because of their ministerial outreach and their fraternal community spirit.

Jim Bernard, OFM

Jim earned his graduate degree in banking and finance at Stonier Graduate School of Banking after earning his bachelor’s in financial planning at Grove City College. Prior to his acceptance to the HNP Postulancy program, Jim worked for the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he served as vice president and director of member services operations. Jim served as an active member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, where he served as a Eucharistic minister and lector five times a week, was a member of the RCIA team, and was a regular volunteer with the Franciscans Deliver ministry. Connected closely to the friars at 31st Street and their ministries and prayer life, Jim continues to deepen his understanding of the friars and the multi-faceted ministries throughout the Province as he continues his studies at Catholic Theological Union.

Steve Kuehn, OFM

Born in Annapolis, MD, Steve served our country in the U.S. Navy and earned his bachelor’s in systems engineering at the United States Naval Academy followed by his master’s in business administration at the University of Maryland. Steve has worked as a flight student, navy aviator, disclosure analyst, and catapult officer with the Navy. As a member of St. Brigid’s Parish in San Diego, CA, he was active in a variety of ministries: packaging meals with Sacred Heart Coronado, Neighbors in Need with St. Brigid, Young Adult ministries, Bible Study, prayer groups, and Connection to Christ small groups. He learned about Holy Name Province from a friar’s blog and is drawn “first and foremost [to] the fraternity and brotherhood of the friars in imitating and serving the Lord through the example set forward by St. Francis”.

Aaron Richardson, OFM

Aaron, a native of Long Beach, Calif., has a degree from George Mason University in Virginia, where he was active in the young adult charismatic group and served as a youth minister at his parish in Arlington, Va. Before entering the program, Aaron worked in human resources for a large consulting firm.

Angel Vázquez, OFM

Angel, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., graduated from Siena College. While working as an admissions counselor there, he completed his master’s degree in school counseling at nearby Sage Graduate School. He moved to Tampa, Fla., and worked as a high school guidance counselor before applying to join the program.

Solemnly Professed Friars in Ongoing Studies

Javier Del Angel De Los Santos, OFM

Born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Javier graduated from the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. He received his Master’s Degree in Communication and Socio-cultural Studies at ITESO. He worked for 13 years in the corporate world in the fields of organizational development, change management and coaching in Mexico, U.S.A., Canada, and South Korea. In 2010, he spent a year in Israel and Italy studying biblical archeology, exegesis and theology. That same year, he also founded The Center for Biblical Studies “Xaire” in Mexico City. The Center was dedicated to the researching of, teaching and training in biblical sciences. Javier is currently working toward a Master of Arts in Theology with a concentration in Biblical studies. As a student friar, Javier continues to pursue his passion for Biblical studies: he founded the Bible Study Group for the Hispanic-Latino Community at St. Camillus Parish, in Silver Spring, MD. He also travels giving biblical workshops, lectures, conferences, and he writes a weekly biblical commentary on the Sunday Gospel, focusing on the interaction between faith and social action.

Why I Chose the Franciscans

Hear some of our friars speak about why they decided to become a Franciscan.

Daniel Horan, OFM

Cidouane Joseph, OFM

Erick Lopez, OFM

Paul O’Keeffe, OFM

Reflections of Friars in Training

Br. Casey Cole, OFM, who recently professed his Solemn Vows, focuses on his studies and honing his ministerial skills in “Breaking in the Habit.”

Learn About Our Student Friars

Read about the backgrounds of our men currently in formation. They are in Holy Name’s postulant, novitiate and post-novitiate programs.