Hello Everyone!

We are the new Vocation Team, Fr. Luis Aponte-Merced, OFM, and Fr. Larry Zurek, OFM.

We began our work in June 2015 when we took over the position held by Fr. Don Miller. We want to introduce ourselves and offer our availability to work and help those who are discerning a religious vocation in the Franciscan Order as members of St. John the Baptist Province.

Fr. Luis Aponte-Merced, OFM

I have been a friar for 29 years and an ordained priest for 12 years. I just finished nine years as Associate Pastor in two parishes we had in Peoria, Ill. I previously served in New Orleans for three years. This ministry gave the experience of working with young couples during their preparation for marriage and those preparing to become members of the Catholic Church, through the RCIA Process. I also worked in Hispanic ministry and the Cursillo Program. I hope to use these experiences in dong vocation work. I am very excited to start working as Vocation Director. I look forward to its challenges and opportunities to meet and help those who are discerning the possibility of a religious vocation. As always I place myself in God’s hands and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be able to do God’s will as I accomplish the vocation work I have been called to do.

Fr. Larry Zurek, OFM

This year marks the 35th anniversary of my investiture and first profession of vows as a Friar Minor, and 30 years as an ordained priest. All these years I have spent ministering in our parishes throughout the Midwest. I have served in Indianan, Michigan, Kansas, Texas and Illinois. As I leave this ministry to begin a new chapter in my life, that of working in the vocation office, I marvel anew at the goodness and love of the Lord. I believe these years were but a preparation for the grace-filled opportunities that await me. I eagerly look forward to having the privilege of sharing my love for the Franciscan way of life with young men who are considering a vocation with us. These are exciting times for us as Franciscans as we look forward to renewing our commitment to living the Gospel of our Lord , Jesus Christ, in the spirit of our father, Saint Francis.

We want to express our thanks to God and the Province of Saint John the Baptist for this call to help grow our Franciscan Family. We are ready and willing to help all those men who are ready to consider becoming a Franciscan Friar in the Saint John the Baptist Province. We pray for God’s blessing upon you. Peace and Good be with you.