For any graduate of Archbishop Curley, the idea of being a “friar” has special meaning. For a select group of our alumni who have chosen to dedicate their lives to the Franciscan order, it is a life-changing title. Br. Nick Romeo, OFM Conv. ’04, joined the Franciscan Friars right out of high school, still seventeen at the time. “For the past fourteen years I’ve been with the community, doing the whole friar thing.”
After joining the Friars following graduation from Curley, Nick first moved to Philadelphia for a period of Franciscan formation called “Postulancy.” During that two-year period, he began his undergraduate work at La Salle University, before spending a year in Mishawaka, Indiana for his Novitiate. Novitiate is the first year in which a man holds the title “friar.” “It’s a year-long retreat, in which you learn more about living in community, your vows, prayer, and Franciscan spirituality. The friary in Indiana was about a fifteen minute drive from Notre Dame, so we would go to campus on Sundays for sung evening prayer; this was a highlight of my time there.” Nick recalls the most formative experience of his Novitiate year being his ministry work in hospice care. “It challenged me immensely, to step outside of my comfort zone and learn to engage with people.” In July 2007, at the end of his Novitiate year, Nick professed his vows for the first time. He spent the next two years in San Antonio completing his Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies at Our Lady of the Lake University, where he graduated in 2009.
His first full-time assignment following graduation was at St. Francis High School in Buffalo, where he lived and ministered for nine “awesome” years. “I started working in the library and teaching Honors Freshman Theology. I then became Campus Minister, a job I had for the past eight years. Everything about my time at “Frannie’s” was amazing. It formed me into the man I am today, and it is where the term “friar” transformed from being something I do, to being someone I am.” Nick made his solemn profession, his three vows of a life-long commitment: poverty, chastity, and obedience, in 2011. While working at St. Francis, he also completed graduate school at Boston College, earning his Master of Education in Religious Education in 2016.
When asked what interesting experiences his life as a friar has brought him, Nick replied: “Join the friars, see the world. I’ve visited the friars’ mission in Jamaica, attended language school in Bolivia during the summer of 2008, spent a month in Italy while on retreat in preparation for my solemn vows, traveled to Paris, Madrid, and Peru on Spring Break trips over my years at St. Francis, and also spent five summers in Boston." Nick was recently reassigned to teach at Curley after the Friars’ last Provincial Chapter, and is currently teaching juniors and seniors in the Theology department. “I love, love, love my seniors! After nine years of teaching freshmen in Buffalo, being able to interact with the upperclassmen in the classroom is quite refreshing.” Nick also enjoys some of the nostalgia of teaching at Curley. “I walked into the CORD office to visit Ms. Jose and it was like stepping back in time. The hallways and stairwells still feel the same, and at the opening of school Mass when I served as a Eucharistic Minister the stage even smelled the same.” Nick mentioned that the faculty and staff have also been great to work with since coming back.
When asked how Curley prepared him personally and professionally for the world after high school, Nick replied, “Well…I’m a friar, so I would quite literally not be the person I am today were it not for my four years at Curley. This is the place where I found my vocation. It’s the place I fell in love with Christ, the friars, and theology. So the decision that a 13 year-old version of myself made to attend Curley turned out to be a pretty good one. I think my time here also helped me become a better version of myself. I kind of did high school wrong; if I could relive my high school years, I would do a lot of things very, very differently. In particular, I’d bother to actually spend the time and energy necessary to really buy into the brotherhood piece. I’ve run into some of my old classmates over the years and I often leave the interaction pretty upset at ‘Past Nick’ for not getting to know the guys in my class when I had the opportunity. That lesson became an important one during formation as a friar.”
To a young man considering Curley for his high school education, Nick had this to say: “I won’t just give a blanket, blind, endorsement to come here. I know we’re supposed to have some sort of sense of being competitors with the other Catholic schools in the area. I will always give a blind blanket endorsement of Catholic education (I’m a product of 22 years of it), but the particular institution is about culture and fit and a million other intuitive and intangible things that differ depending upon the person. I visited all of the high schools in the area and shadowed at four of them. I chose Curley for reasons that are kind of ineffable; it just felt right. It felt like home, like a place I had always attended. I’d say if Curley is the right fit for a young man, he’ll just know it.”
If you are interested in contacting Nick, you may do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org