Aug 28, 2020 Br. Angel Vázquez, O.F.M., a licensed barber and Siena College graduate who spent the past year at St. Bonaventure, will profess his solemn vows as a Franciscan friar on Saturday, Aug. 29, during a Mass at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in downtown Hartford.
The 11 a.m. liturgy will be celebrated by Fr. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M., provincial minister of Holy Name Province, the community to which Br. Vázquez belongs.
Because of the limited number of guests permitted in the church due to the ongoing pandemic, the Mass willbelivestreamed and viewableon the parish’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Br. Vázquez, a native of Staten Island, New York, graduated in 2004 from Siena College in Loudonville, New York, with a degree in political science. Later, while working as a recruiter for the college admissions office, he completed his master’s degree in school counseling at nearby Sage Graduate School.
Br. Vázquez then moved to Tampa, Florida, and worked as a high school guidance counselor. His work as a volunteer with youth ministry programs at local churches reawakened thoughts about a religious vocation that Br. Vázquez had had during his time at Siena, the college near Albany sponsored by Holy Name Province, and he joined the Franciscans’ postulancy program in 2014.
He professed his first vows as a Franciscan in August 2016 in Burlington, Wisconsin, where he had spent a year as part of the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate. Since then, he has been involved in studies and ministry work, living mainly in Chicago and in Western New York. In each phase of his Franciscan formation, or training, Br. Vázquez considered “one of the coolest things is the vastly different environments and diversity of the brothers – all of which helped me develop as an individual and as a friar. Being around friars who come from all walks of life and different places around the world has helped me see things differently.”
In early 2019, he obtained a barber license and then worked at a barbershop on the north side of Chicago, using his education and experience as a counselor to minister to the people who sat in his chair – mostly children and the elderly from poor neighborhoods. Over the past academic year, Br. Vázquez completed a Franciscan internship at St. Bonaventure University, the more than 150-year-old college sponsored by the Franciscans. During this time, he set up a barbershop and gave haircuts to students, staff members and other community members. Until March when the pandemic hit, Br. Vázquez provided haircuts – and advice – free of charge.
“I use the simple act of a haircut to build relationships and mirror God’s love – helping people to see God and goodness in themselves while they are looking at their reflections in a mirror for 20 or 30 minutes,” he said.
Despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic forced the early closing of his SBU barbershop. Br. Vázquez, 37, says the experiences of his internship reinforced that his calling is a religious vocation with the Franciscans. The friar spent the last few months of the 2019-20 academic year working at The Warming House, a soup kitchen in Olean, New York, run by St. Bonaventure students.
This summer, Br. Vázquez participated in a four-week retreat at Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat in West Clarksville, New York, with other friars preparing to profess their final vows as Franciscans this year - including Br. Jay Woods, O.F.M., who will also profess his final vows in Hartford on Aug. 29.
After making his solemn profession as a Franciscan, Br. Vázquez will continue living at St. Bonaventure, serving as a resident minister and campus barber.
About Holy Name Province
Holy Name Province is the largest of seven entities in the United States belonging to the Order of Friars Minor. With ministries in 10 states along the East Coast, its nearly 300 Catholic priests and brothers serve in colleges, parishes, urban ministry centers and a wide variety of social service ministries, as well as in overseas missions.
The Order, founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, commemorated its 800th anniversary in 2009. Today, St. Francis, whose feast day is Oct. 4, remains one of the most widely known saints, revered for his affection for nature and care for creation.
Information about Holy Name Province can be found on HNP.org. News about the friars and their ministries can be found on the Facebook page of the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province.