Secular Franciscans honor agencies serving the poor and marginalized

The Secular Franciscan Order’s St. Joseph Fraternity celebrated 150 years in Utica on Sunday, June 6, and marked the occasion by honoring two agencies that serve the poor and marginalized – Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen and the Rescue Mission of Utica. Fraternity Minister Katie Koscinski, SFO, presented the organizations with the fraternity’s inaugural Mother Marianne Cope Award.
“This is bittersweet,” said Deacon Gil Nadeau, director of West Side Kitchen, because “we just lost one of our volunteers,” Tony Weber, who died May 28 at the age of 87.
Tony had a strong prayer life, spending time in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel every week, he said. Tony came to the soup kitchen Wednesday nights, where “he made thousands of sandwiches.” Tony lived a Franciscan way of life, preaching the Gospel by example, like so many of the volunteers, Deacon Nadeau said, “So we dedicate this award to Tony Weber and all the volunteers who never ask for recognition.”
Rev. Bill Dodge, executive director of the Rescue Mission, said he was “awed and humbled” to be accepting an award from Franciscans that is named after Blessed Mother Marianne. He mentioned how Mother Marianne went out of her way to provide amenities to her leprosy patients and treated them with dignity.
The day began with special recognition for the 150th anniversary during Sunday Mass at St. Joseph-St. Patrick’s Church. Father Adam Keltos, OFM Conv., the banquet speaker, concelebrated Mass with Father Richard Dellos, pastor, who praised the Franciscan fraternity’s service and made note of special guests that included secular Franciscans from around the state and the Rev. Dodge and his wife, Laura.
Father Keltos, the keynote speaker, encouraged secular Franciscans to study and live their Franciscan Rule of Life. “It’s not long,” he said. “It’s just hard…” because “it means living the Gospel.”

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