Mercedarian Friars

6398 Drexel Road

Philadelphia, PA 19151

215-879-0594*

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For addition/removal from mailing lists or to request masses, please call our Development Office @ (215) 877-8800.*

Webmaster email: socialmediacoordinator.merced@gmail.com

Meet the Mercedarian Friars

Want to know more about the Mercedarian friars?  Click on the images of some of our Friars to read more about their vocation story and why they love being Mercedarian.

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Fr. Pascuale Rosca, O. de M.

St. Rocco's Parish, Cleveland, OH

I entered the Religious life in Nemi, Italy in the Fall of 1949. Being only 15 at the time, I felt a bit lost; however, there were two religious who came to my rescue... Read more.

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Fr. Anthony Fortunato, O. de M.

St. Peter Nolasco Residence, St. Petersburg, FL

My vocation to the religious life was inspired by three ladies: Angelina Di Leo in Torchio, my dear mother; Carmela Torchio e Fortunato; and my dear aunt Giuseppina Torchio  Read more.

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Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M.

Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, Philadelphia, PA

One of the most important tasks I can share with you is my vocation story! It has been a special journey to the priesthood and consecrated life in the image of the Mercedarian model. Read more...

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Fr. Kenneth Breen, O. de M.

Our Lady of Mercy, Leroy, NY

While my journey, as for us all. has many parts which would have to include building blocks in St. Richard's grade school, Borromeo High School Seminary...Read more...

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Bro. Matthew Levis, O. de M.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia, PA

For me it all started at the age of 16 when my grandmother told me that when I was eight years old I told her I was going to be a priest. At 16 years of age I had no desire to be a priest and I laughed at my grandmother. It was my intention to get a girl, go out on some dates and eventually get married....Read more...

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Bro. Raymond Colombaro, O. de M.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia, PA

My present life as a Mercedarian friar has its roots in the Third Order ~ the lay branch of our religious family.  Looking for a more in-depth spirituality than my local parish was offering, I trolled around the internet looking for Third Orders in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia....Read more...

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Fr. Daniel Bowen, O. de M.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Cleveland, OH

I was born and raised in Mayfield Heights, an eastside suburb of Cleveland, Ohio; the middle son of the three boys born to Albert and Jean Bowen. Many of you may be surprised to learn that I am a convert to Catholicism. Read more...

 

Fr. Pascuale Rosca, O. de M.

St. Rocco's Parish, Cleveland, OH

I entered the Religious life in Nemi, Italy in the Fall of 1949. Being only 15 at the time, I felt a bit lost; however, there were two religious who came to my rescue -- Fr. Rocco Rosca, my uncle, and Fr. Carmine Travisano. Their guidance and encouragement was a great help. Personally, they were very simple and strong Mercedarians who always advised obedience to their superiors and dependance on God. These two friars were always inspired and guided me in the pains and joys of growing as a young religious. Rightly so, they were there for my profession of vows and for my ordination to the priesthood. They both helped me fulfill my hopes, dreams, and plans.

When I was transferred to the United States in 1965 in order to serve at Our Lady of Mount Carmel-West in Cleveland, OH, Fr. Vincent Caruso was there with his simplicity and priestly piety. Following the implementation of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's, Fr. Vincent was an excellent teacher and model for the religious and the People of God of obedience to the Church and devotion to the Blessed Mother.

In 1976, I was transferred to the Parish of St. Rocco's where I have served to this day. 

In all of these religious, I experienced the love and witness of Jesus Christ and to the Blessed Mother and the Holy Eucharist, and in how to best serve the people. 

 

Fr. Anthony Fortunato, O. de M.

St. Peter Nolasco Residence, St. Petersburg, FL

My vocation to the religious life was inspired by three ladies: Angelina Di Leo in Torchio, my dear mother; Carmela Torchio e Fortunato; and my dear aunt Giuseppina Torchio.  These ladies took me to church every Sunday and, as a matter fact, encouraged me to become an altarboy. This is also thanks to the attention and kindness of the Pastor Don Antonio Gallo who gave to me the first 3 Sacraments of the Catholic Church in the same Church of the Assumption of Mary in Rocca Imperiale, Cosenza..

 

When I first started to discern my vocation, I wanted to become a Diocesan Priest; however Mary was asked me to go to her Order of Mercy. My uncle, Fr. Ferdinando Fortunato, a dear and holy Mercedarian, was already stationed and working in our Convitto Villa Mercede in Orvieto, Terni, just north of Rome. During a vacant in August of 1952, he come to Rocca Imperiale and, through his example, I changed my mind fast and decided to become a Mercedarian Friar.   So, instead of going to  the minor seminary in Potenza, I went to Nemi, a little borgo village that along Lake Nemi and entered the Novitiate for the Mercedarian Friars there. 

 

The rest of my story with the Mercedarians has been a great fun time first in Nemi, then Rome, where I studied at the Lateran University.  Then in 1964, along with 3 other Mercedarian friars, I came to the United States. I lived with the Franciscans for 4 years while studying Theology and Education. Following my ordination in Frascati, I lived and worked in all the Mercedarian Houses of Vicariate of the United States, teaching in a high school, working in our parishes, and serving in our formation houses --first in Niagara Falls, N.Y. and later in Philadelphia, PA

 

Surely I am very very happy being a Mercedarian friar and priest. Would do it all over again? Why not?With Jesus and his Mother Mary as my models...I cannot go wrong at all...

Fr. Eugene Costa, O. de M.

Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, Philadelphia, PA

One of the most important tasks I can share with you is my vocation story! It has been a special journey to the priesthood and consecrated life in the image of the Mercedarian model.

I'll begin with the first echoes of my vocation. From the earliest of recollection I always wanted to be a priest.  Why? To save souls and my own! As a young boy, I loved playing at being a priest, saying the Mass and giving benediction. (In fact, I would alsways be the priest, but my brother had to be the altar boy!) My parents thought it was only a passing phase, but as the years went on, they knew it was my passion.

As a teenager, I went to weekly benediction and was discerning with periodic days of retreat and recollection at the Divine Word Seminary in Duxbury, MA. Moreover, keeping close to the altar, I was an altar boy.  When I graduated high school my hope was to be a priest and that was my goal. But how? I went to my pastor, Msgr. Norton. He told me to apply to the diocesan seminary--the college division being Cardinal O'Connell Seminary in Jamaica Plains, MA. Msgr. Norton gave me the okay and a few weeks later, I received word that my application had been approved. Before I left, my parents told me they were happy on if I was happy--"There is no shame if you can't cut it. Remember, you can always come home."

I was happy in the seminary, but little by little, I realized that something was missing--something was empty. I didn't realize it at that moment, but the missing piece was community life--a family aspect. I continued on and finished two years in the diocesan seminary before I was promoted to the major seminary of St. John's in Boston, MA. However, I still felt that emptiness which had pervaded me for years. My journey felt ambivalent, and I had to ask myself tough questions: Where would I go? Should I continue? What is the next step?  The months that followed were agonizing, and after much prayer, consultation, and thought, I decided the diocesan priesthood was not for me--My parents thought that it was the end of my idea to be a priest, but to their surprise, I desired to become a member of a Religious Order.

My journey then took another twist--which community should I join? The Holy Spirit was so necessary for my choice, especially in the interviews I made with some communities. I knew they weren't for me. I came upon a unique ad in the Pilot (the Archdiocesan newspaper) for the Mercedarian friars. It was complete with works of mercy. How I wanted to work and be an ambassador of compassion for those enslaved. So I applied with some apprehension--Could this be the community for me?

One of the happiest moments of my vocation story was when I heard that I was accepted in the Order of Mercy. Fr. Esper told me by phone--not just in a form letter. Wow! It ws then I found my niche and was truly happy. That emptiness was no longer present and my newly found community was my home. 

My life has had its ups and downs, but I consider it my wonderful joy to be a Mercedarian. What a tremendous love story it is!

 

Fr. Kenneth Breen, O. de M.

Our Lady of Mercy, Leroy, NY

While my journey, as for us all. has many parts which would have to include building blocks in St. Richard's grade school, Borromeo High School Seminary and life-changing revelations shared with me during my CSU college years by my best friend from High School about the Magisterium in the Successor of Peter, the Real Presence and the revelations of our Lady of Fatima. It was also our family's pastor, Fr. Tom Cullen, sharing his life experience trusting in the Lord and confidence that our Lord is in charge and we should trust to go on the journey as Abraham did.  

 

This story lead me to take a trusting leap to find out information of our Order when I saw the poster in the back of my grade school church, St. Richard's, which was placed there by our vocation director at that time, Fr. Jerome,  The theme was the Apollo mission and 'No Greater Love.' Longing and wondering about Love, this was the step that introduced me to our Order and later on another sign that only our Lord could arrange led me to trust and begin a journey that I continue to Trust is all in His wonderful Hands to live out No Greater Love.  Let's have that same confidence that our Lord knows what He is doing and cast off into the deep to live No Greater Love. 

 
 

Bro. Matthew Levis, O. de M.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia, PA

For me it all started at the age of 16 when my grandmother told me that when I was eight years old I told her I was going to be a priest. At 16 years of age I had no desire to be a priest and I laughed at my grandmother. It was my intention to get a girl, go out on some dates and eventually get married.

Within a few years I started to take more interest in church related activities. I had always been an altar boy and sang in the choir regularly. I soon began to lector and when needed, I ushered at mass. Eventually I even became a religious education teacher. With all of these activities I really never thought much of entering religious life. Mom and dad always encouraged the religious life as did my uncle who was also a priest, but I still did not hear God’s call for me.  When I was in ninth grade, my religion teacher who was a sister always nagged me about being a priest. She told me to look into it, that I had a vocation. To get her off my back of course, I told her I would. That solved the problem for a week. When after, she asked if I did look into it and I could not lie to the good sister so I said no. Then she started nagging me again. Not long after that, my pastor came to me and handed me an envelope. He said to call the number inside and talk to them.  So I figured I better do it because this time it was the priest who told me to do it. 

As I began to foster my vocation, I was a little uncomfortable because I did not want to be a priest. But I still wanted to live in community.  My mother suggested to look into the brotherhood.  When I looked into the community that my pastor told me to, I realized that there was a whole new world waiting for me to explore. It was a matter of finding out which community best fit me. After looking into three to four different communities and actually entering two of them, it was determined that they were not the right communities for me.  My age was working against me so I decided that I would try one more time and if this did not work, I would approach my local Bishop and ask to take private vows.

How I found this community is quite simple. I opened up the Catholic Digest to the back where all the ads are for religious life and pointed to the biggest ad on the page. I really never read the ad. I then called them to find out more about them only to realize that it was a perfect fit. This order is The Order of Our Lady of Mercy.

When I was accepted into the Mercedarians, I call my grandmother to share with her the good news. When I told her the first thing I heard was her laugh.

Bro. Raymond Colombaro, O. de M.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Philadelphia, PA

My present life as a Mercedarian friar has its roots in the Third Order ~ the lay branch of our religious family.  Looking for a more in-depth spirituality than my local parish was offering, I trolled around the internet looking for Third Orders in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Eventually, I came upon a site for the Mercedarian Third Order whose members met at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy.  I made a phone call and eventually met one of the two friars who were the spiritual directors of the group.  This friar, namely, Brother Matthew Levis, O. de M. kindly introduced me to the various members of the local chapter in September 2002.  I began coming to Masses and other liturgical events, meetings and fundraisers sponsored by the Third Order, all of which were held at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy.  Later that autumn, I made first promises as member of the Mercedarian Third Order.  In May of 2003, those promises were finalized.  As with every vocation story or life experience, there is the combination of comfort and challenge that comes with the territory.

 

By early December 2004, I found myself in a painfully untenable living situation and had recourse to the friars at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy.  The Superior of the House, Father Matthew Phelan, O. de M. graciously invited me to live at the Monastery as a guest until I could get on my feet.  Living in closer quarters with the friars became a pre-postulancy “program” of sorts, a mutual and “come and see” situation.

 

In February 2005, I contacted the friar who was the Vocation Director of the Vicariate of the United States, Father James Mayer, O. de M.  He recommended that I prayerfully consider becoming a member of the First Order as a Brother.  Among the postulants living at the same time at the Monastery was [now] Father Scottston Brentwood, O. de M. who gave me wise counsel during those early months of discernment.

 

After consulting with the Lord, a few close family members and friends,                 I completed the application paperwork and my Mercedarian postulancy began in earnest on August 22, 2005- the memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  As with every vocation story or life experience, there is the combination of comfort and challenge that comes with the territory. Religious life is no different!

 

My “classmate” throughout religious formation was [now] Father David Spencer, O. de M.  As Providence would have it, Father David took the pulpit and was the homilist ~ nearly twelve years after our postulancy began ~ at my Mass of Solemn Profession on June 29, 2016.

 

Fr. Daniel Bowen, O. de M.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Cleveland, OH

I was born and raised in Mayfield Heights, an eastside suburb of Cleveland, Ohio; the middle son of the three boys born to Albert and Jean Bowen. Many of you may be surprised to learn that I am a convert to Catholicism. With Father Francis Van Bergen, I completed my RCIA catechesis and was baptized, confirmed, and received first Holy Eucharist (a.k.a. received into the Church) on Easter Vigil 1994 at Saint Gregory the Great Parish, South Euclid, OH. I will never forget that glorious evening, and that is also why the Easter Vigil Mass is still my favorite of the year. Sadly, like so many who do not take their faith seriously or take it for granted, within a few short years of that great occasion I had stopped going to church.Thankfully, our Lord never gave up on me. He kept sending to me, through many friends and situations, invitations to return to an active faith relationship with God. Finally on Easter 2003, empty and alone, I finally woke from my selfish brokenness, and simply let God love me. Following a youth retreat I made in the summer of 2003 where I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after many years of not going, I was set free and returned to the regular reception of the Most Holy Eucharist.

 

Following that great renewal of my faith in 2003 I began to see the importance of always putting my faith and faith community first in my life.This renewed love of my relationship to Jesus Christ and the Church He founded caused me to desire to become involved in the many wonderful opportunities at my home parish. These opportunities to give back to God for all He has done for me included becoming a member of the Holy Name Society, Catholic Men’s Fellowship, serving as a Lector, an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a volunteer at the pizza-sausage booth during my home parish’s annual summer festivals, and as a daily communicant (the profound blessings of going to Daily Mass really should be known by all). It was later in that same year and through my growing love of God and neighbor that I began to experience and eventually respond to a call to the priesthood and religious life.Following two years of discernment in August 2006 I left my career, possessions, friends, and family and entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. 

 

It was on July 9, 2008 in the Chapel of Saint Raymond Nonnatus in Mercygrove, Le Roy, NY that the Church received my first simple vows to God and to the Order of Mercy of chastity, poverty, obedience, and redemption. These vows are called “simple” in that they are temporary and are required to be renewed annually. These vows are renewed for a period of three to nine years to allow ample time to discern the calling, after which one professes solemn, perpetual vows which are permanent and life-long. In May 2013, after completing six years of philosophy and theology studies for the priesthood, I was granted a Masters of Divinity, and a Master of Arts degree from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. God is so good!

 

While in Philadelphia I resided with my brother friars at The Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy which is the House of Studies for our religious community here in the United States. It was then that I was given the assignment of Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Mercy – St. Brigid Parish, and moved from Philadelphia to Le Roy, New York. 

 

While being Director of Religious Education there I continued my discernment with the Mercedarians, and my calling to the holy priesthood. It was there, on May 6, 2014 at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Le Roy, New York that I professed my solemn, perpetual vows to God and to the Order of Mercy of chastity, poverty, obedience, and redemption. I was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Edward Grosz, the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo in November 2014. And then, finally, by the grace of God, on Saturday, August 15, 2015 – the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I was ordained a priest in my home parish of Sacred Heart of Jesus (formerly Saint Gregory the Great) by Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, Ohio. 

 

My entire journey thus far is all the most wonderful of gifts and I really cannot put into words all that my vocation means to me, other than to say that I am eternally grateful. I love being a Mercedarian religious priest. I thank God for everything, our Blessed Mother, the saints, and I thank all my beloved friends in Christ, for all the prayers and support that allows me to be a good, faithful and holy priest, a servant to God’s servants, joyfully helping to free the captives, and assisting them to embrace all that our Almighty God desires for us. May we always bring the joy of the Gospel to everyone we meet."