Father John M. Felice, O.F.M.
Homeless and Mental Health Advocate
Siena College is honored to have the opportunity to recognize the life of service and ministry of Father John Felice.
Father John was born and raised in Patchogue, New York. He attended public grammar school and Catholic high school. After completing his Freshman Year at St. Bonaventure University, he joined the Order of Friars Minor; he subsequently was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from St. Bonaventure. In 1969, he was awarded a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C. He was professed as a Friar in 1963 and was ordained to the Priesthood in 1968. Father John was awarded the honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, from St. Bonaventure University in 1989.
In 1969, Father John was appointed to the Vocation Office of the Franciscan Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. In 1973, he was elected Guardian and Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, serving in that position until 1982. In 1976, he was elected to the Provincial Council and served as a Definitor until 1982. In 1980, he, along with Father John J. McVean, O.F.M., cofounded St. Francis Friends of the Poor, a non-profit organization which offers permanent housing, with supportive services, to men and women with long histories of homelessness and chronic mental illness in New York City. Along with Father Thomas Walters, O.F.M., the two founders of St. Francis Friends of the Poor currently operate three "St. Francis Residences," offering services to almost 300 persons of this fragile population. In 1996, Father John was elected Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province, the largest province of the Order of Friars Minor in the United States, serving in that position until 2005. Upon completion of his second term of office as Provincial, he returned to his first love of working with the homeless mentally ill at the St. Francis Residences.
In recognition of his dedication to live a noble life of service to the forgotten of our society, in particular, those suffering from poverty, homelessness, and chronic mental illness, as well as his many contributions as a Friar within the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, including his support of the establishment of the Siena College Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy, Siena College awards Father John Felice, the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.