Fr. Michael Della Penna, OFM, Ph.D. kicks off the Serra Club of Philadelphia’s new communications outreach during this July celebration of St. Junipero Serra. This special month in St. Junipero’s history – his July 1 liturgical feast day and the anniversary of his establishment of the Franciscans’ first mission at San Diego on July 16 – suggests multiple touch points in St. Junipero’s life for Father Della Penna to tap in his remarks on Tuesday, July 19.
Father Della Penna is an ordained priest in 1999 in the Archdiocese of Boston, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Immaculate Conception Province, and pastor of St. Leonard of Port Maurice Parish in Boston’s North End since January of 2020. Before returning to Boston and his home parish, Father Della Penna served as director of the Valley of the Angels Orphanage in Guatemala for 11 years after having worked as Director of Ongoing Formation for his province. His assignments have also included serving as a retreat director in Toronto, definitor for his province, and director of Formation in Rome. Father Michael, as his parishioners refer to him, has also led many pilgrims to Medjugore with the Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs.
He says he’s “basically a missionary at heart,” but Father Michael’s parishioners know him as a gifted homilist-teacher, often referencing and finding inspiration in Saints Francis, Clare, and Anthony, and with a particular enthusiasm for preaching on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Father Michael has been building a youth and young adult ministry at St. Leonard, promotes the Young Catholic Professionals Boston, ministers to local men in recovery, welcomes the St. Joseph’s Home for Artisans as a parish ministry, and the Pure in Heart program.
Father Della Penna earned his baccalaureate degrees in psychology and philosophy, a Master of Divinity degree from Weston Jesuit, and his licence and doctorate degrees in Franciscan Spirituality from the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome. He is the author of The Crucified Knight: The Spiritual Odyssey of St. Francis of Assisi According to Henry of Avranches (2014).
The topic of Father Michael’s remarks for the Serra Club of Philadelphia’s July 19 meeting is “Living Junipero Serra’s Inspiration Today: We Are All Missionaries.”
All are welcome to join the business meeting that begins at 12:30, leading into Father Michael’s remarks expected at 12:55.