Fraternity History - page 3


  • January-December

We began to focus (already) on a 10/4/03 celebration to be held at St. John of the Cross. We wanted something really big and were prepared to invite a Franciscan "of note" to make it a treasured event. Donna Haro volunteered to lead the project and small committees were gradually established to handle various aspects of the event.

Our Minister, Helen Caldarone placed much emphasis on the new Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

The highlight of February was a visit by Fr. Richard LaCorte, our former Spiritual Assistant, currently assigned to the Diocese of Fargo, ND in the town of Lidgerwood.

Gene Caldarone re-introduced us to our Fraternity Ministry - monthly donations to the poor via St. Helen's Neighborhood Apostolate Pantry. He suggested we might eat fewer times in restaurants and use the savings to purchase canned goods for the Pantry. St. Helen's Pantry feeds many poor people in the outlying areas of Vero Beach, such as Gifford and Winter Beach but also in Vero Beach itself.

Also in February, John & Elaine Matthews and Fred Schaeffer attended a Chapter of Mats at San Pedro Center in Winter Park, Florida, which covered new 4-volume set, Saint Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, written/edited by Br. Bill Short, OFM, Fr. Wayne Hellman, OFM Conv., and Fr. Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap. Unfortunately, Fr. Regis was ill but the other two Franciscans were there and it was very interesting. Our March 2003 issue of the Canticle (elsewhere on this site) has a report on that Chapter.

Also, the meeting time on the 2nd Sunday of each month, was changed to 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm to alleviate parking problems incurred at St. Helen's due to the Noon Mass.

At the April meeting, we had a ceremony marking the half-way point in Peter Askin's candidacy. We also reviewed Donna's progress for the Oct. 4th event.

On May 3rd, 2003, at St. Lucie Church (Port St. Lucie, Florida), we celebrated the Profession of Andrea Cardoza, and Peggy Rysdyke to full membership in the Fraternity. Fr. Tom Murphy was present and it was a grand celebration.

May 2003 was a joyful meeting moved to the third Sunday in May to allow mothers to celebrate Mothers Day on the 2nd Sunday with their families.

In June, Jennie Donlin volunteered to take care of our library. We prayed much for world peace, particularly in the Middle East. Since July and August are months where members are often away on vacation, there was nothing special about the meetings except that attendance was high and our meetings are always animated. There are no dull meetings in our Fraternity!

In September 2003 we tried something different. Using Fr. Benedict Groeschel's "Oratory of Divine Love" format, we're using this and the corresponding SFO Rule article for ongoing formation for professed members. That was actually vary interesting.

Our October 2003 meeting was the time for the Visitation of the Regional Council. Fr. Tom Murphy, OFM celebrated Holy Mass in the Chapel of St. Helen's Christian Living Center for us all, and Pam & Deacon Ric Nagle, SFO, were here also representing Carlos Calderon, SFO (Regional Minister) who was unable to be here due to a family emergency. As always, it was a very amicable, typical Franciscan, meeting and it is always great to have Fr. Tom, and the Nagles with us.

Our October 4th, 2003, program in pictures

Our Fraternity is 10+ years old!  Our first meeting took place in April 1992, but the meeting at which we elected Officers and named the Fraternity took place on  April 18, 1993. At that meeting, our brother, Ben O’Neal, SFO, representing Our Lady of Lourdes Fraternity, as sponsor, supervised the election of the following officers: Fred Schaeffer, Minister; Helen Caldarone, Vice-Minister; Jean Kurtz (RIP), Secretary; and, Cecile Morelli, Treasurer. The meeting was held on April 18, 1993, the day of beatification of Sr. Faustina. Although the name of the fraternity was drawn by lots (secret ballot), it surely is more than coincidence that this fraternity’s name is Divine Mercy Secular Franciscan Fraternity.

We thank God for all the Grace we have experienced for our fraternity is healthy and vibrant.  Most of us realize that the deceased co-founder Jean Kurtz, SFO, and also Trudy Thomas, SFO, continue to contribute to our Fraternity in their intercessory prayer from Heaven. Their earthly journey has ended but their journey with Jesus for all time is ongoing.

The November 2003 meeting came and went. We prayed that God appoint us a Spiritual Assistant, and we prayed for Julie, Fr. Brian et al. (See below)

On November 16th, at St. Lucie Parish in Port St. Lucie, Fr. Brian Horgan, Pastor, presiding, Julie McHugh became our 21st Professed Member. Her profession took place in a regularly scheduled Mass and we are extremely grateful to Fr. Brian for his generosity, in defraying expenses for the reception that followed. It is always very special when those being professed are shared with an entire congregation. This does not happen frequently. Thank you, Julie for your generosity and prayer. We welcome you are our sister in Saint Francis.

The December 2003 meeting and Christmas party was held at the home of Eugene and Helen Caldarone, SFO in Vero Beach. Although we have not mentioned it, the Inquirers and Candidates meet always a half hour before any meeting do follow through with their studies of the Order and our way of life. And this month was no exception. A slate of Officers was presented by Nominating Committee Chairperson Peggy Rysdyke, SFO. A Chapter of Elections is scheduled for the January 2004 meeting. Then, Donna Haro, SFO, gave a wonderful talk on "Miracles." She really dug into the history of Miraculous occurrences and also spoke of the well known Eucharistic Miracles in Italy in earlier centuries. The Christmas goodies followed and before breaking up we prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer, in common. A Merry, Holy Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year as well.


  • January (Chapter of Elections)

We received a nice Christmas card from Marguerite Bonner, SFO, a seasonal resident who frequently attended meetings from the very beginning of our fraternity. She writes: "Hi Folks, I'm undecided about getting down to Florida this year. I have my house up for sale. If it sells, it'll help make up my mind. I enjoyed being with you at the meetings and quite happy with the success and growth of the chapter. Good luck and God Bless you all. Then we received a card from Nick and Dorothy Todorich, SFO, who are also seasonal residents who have visited with us from time to time. They write: "We're spending our first winter in 9 years in Pa. The M.S. Society asked me to come back to work. So I decided to help out." Dorothy speaks of Nick's health problems. Please pray for them, they are our brothers and sisters in Saint Francis.

The following Officers were elected: Helen Caldarone, SFO, Minister (3rd term); Fred Schaeffer, SFO, Vice Minister; Jennie Donlin, SFO, Secretary; Sarah Hardy, SFO, Treasurer. For the first time in our Fraternity, the Director of Formation (Gene Caldarone, SFO) became an elected position, as are the two Councillors-at-Large (George Thomas, SFO and Marguerite Rysdyke, SFO)

February. Ceremony of Introduction and Welcoming (See RITUAL p9-10) for Skip and Hope Leet took place. In March, many of us watched "Perspectives" (Mar. 21st and 28th, 2004), sponsored by St. Helen Parish on Vero Beach's Local Channel 10 - WWCI-TV. Helen Calderone & John Matthews appeared on the first show, Helen & Fred Schaeffer on the second.

The March and April meetings did not present anything special. The final “Perspectives” show was aired in April, with Donna and Fred. These shows are all about our Fraternity and the SFO!

In early July 2004, we welcome back Fr. Richard P. LaCorte, SFO within our midst, our Spiritual Assistant. Since he was professed in Barrenspot, St. Croix, USVI as an Isolated Tertiary on April 24, 1981 and therefore, at this time is not connected to any fraternity, we asked Pam Nagle, and through her Fr. Tom, if Fr. Richard would be allowed to join our Fraternity. Normally a Spiritual Assistant is not encouraged to be a member of the fraternity he serves, but in his case an exception was made and so, since July 13, 2004, he is no longer “Isolated.” We all need the support of our Franciscan communities and so we’re glad. We praise God for His Grace in finding us a Spiritual Assistant and dear friend. Fr. Richard received the Profession of the original founding members on October 4, 1994 in the name of the Church and the Franciscan Order. Fr. Tom wasn’t able to be present that day.

We were supposed to have a Day of Recollection September 8th at San Pedro, but Mother Nature had other plans. On September 5, 2004, a Category 2 Hurricane (“Frances”) came ashore at Sewall’s Point – Vero Beach was in the Northeastern Quadrant and so we were hit hard. As if this wasn’t enough, two weeks later, on September 21st, Hurricane Jeanne, a Category 3 type, also making landfall at Sewall’s Point, did considerably more damage. Damage went from the Palm Beaches all the way into Brevard County and points North and East. In Indian River County about 8000 people became homeless, and many thousands lost employment. During August and September combined, four large hurricanes hit our State of Florida. We met in August by we do not recall anything special. All our members suffered some damage. Several lost their homes. The September meeting was held but was poorly attended for obvious reasons.

October 2004, we were all present at the meeting. Fr. Richard talked about St. Thèrèse of Lisieux, in particular about her writings on Purgatory. He had a printout for all of us, and Fred placed it on the website, as well. It was a very convivial meeting where we followed our usual format of business and talks before the refreshment break, and the Liturgy of the Hours and/or other prayers in the Chapel of the Christian Living Center, after the break. We look forward to the Profession of Ed O’Donnell and Kathleen Van Buskirk, on October 17th, 2004 at the new St. John of the Cross parish (74th Ave.) at the 11:00 AM Mass, with our Spiritual Assistant, Fr. Richard LaCorte, SFO, presiding.



This history is now complete through October 2004. We need a historian to finish this project through the present!






A Gift of a New Life
A Biography
by Fred Schaeffer, OFS 2019

Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

Divine Mercy Fraternity

Vero Beach, FL


Term expires: 2/10/2022

Fred Schaeffer, OFS

Helen Caldarone, OFS

Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS

 Jack Reddy, OFS


Formation Director: 
Donna Haro, OFS



 Joanne Giordano, OFS


Acting Spiritual Assistant:
Deacon Richard Blake, OFS


Webmaster & Contact:
Fred Schaeffer, OFS

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