Back in 2008, my friend Paul from St Anthony Messenger and I were privileged to be recipients of a grant to go to Assisi to learn about the life of St Francis. We were both very excited and set off on this journey in July. I met Paul at the airport. Our check in went smoothly and we proceeded to the gate. So far, so good.
After a few plane changes and what seemed like forever, we were finally in Rome. When we went to retrieve our luggage, mine rolled off but we waited and waited for Paul’s. No luggage. It was lost. He was told that they would have to bring it to him once they located it.
Not the best news, but it was not going to ruin our trip. We met up with the rest of the pilgrims and took the chartered bus to Assisi. A day goes by and Paul checks with the airlines to see if they have located his luggage. The response from the airline was no. That continues daily. Lucky for Paul, there were some great people on the pilgrimage that gave him a few shirts and some personal items to get by. He washed out his clothes daily.
On the day we were to return to Cincinnati, Paul still had no luggage. Our flight home had a layover in Chicago. Paul got a call that they found his luggage.
“I don’t get it. Where in the heck has that luggage been? You did not do anything different than I did”. Oh, but I did, I told Paul. I had my St Anthony luggage tag attached to my bag and said a little prayer to St Anthony before I turned it over to the airlines.
I gave Paul a luggage tag when we got back. He now faithfully secures his St Anthony luggage tag and says a little prayer before each trip. No problems since. Coincidence, I think not! Thank you St Anthony.
Colleen Cushard is Co-Director of Friar Works Ministry and MIssion
Fr. Don Miller, OFM, is the Vocations Director for the Province of St. John the Baptist.
Within the past few weeks, three of our younger Friars have been “guest bloggers’ on Fr. Don’s Blog. This is a good example of the joy that I receive as the Vocation Director. It is so rewarding to watch these men that I have mentored over the years grow into good Friars who have a passion for our way of life and for the Church. The bloggers: Br. Richard Goodin, OFM, Br. Roger Lopez, OFM, and Br. Colin King, OFM, are all studying theology in preparation to become priests. Actually, Brother Richard Goodin, OFM, will be ordained to the Deaconate this summer. It is good to hear from them as they express their thoughts and insights on the blog. I welcome their enthusiasm as well as their fresh thoughts and insights on many topics that interest them.
Below is a recent post by Br. Roger Lopez, OFM, who made his Solemn Profession last August.
Brother Roger Lopez, OFM, Reflects on Ways to Make Christ Present
Big love in small places: Weddings are a time of great joy and celebration. They remind us of the self-emptying love Christ has for His Church. I have recently attended two weddings, one for a cousin and another for a friend. My presence at weddings does produce a certain amount of confusion. People scratch their heads trying to figure out if I am a rogue Jedi Knight or a hobbit that has lost his way to the Shire. Family and friends normally set the record straight.
As the wedding reception progresses, I find myself talking to more and more people, most complete strangers. At first they are curious about my way of living, but the conversation normally turns to their own self-examination of moral living. I try to open my heart and listen to them, asking the Holy Spirit for aid and counsel. So many people reflect on a list of failures, attempts to love unselfishly that fall short. And in this, they see themselves unworthy of God.
And as I listen, I hear all the glorious ways they have and do love. The care for their children, financially support their Catholic grade school, call their despondent brother every week. Small acts of love, small moments of God grace. I bring these acts of love to the surface, saying, “In these small acts of love you witness God’s presence.” Daily we must reflect on the ways we prevented Christ from coming into our life, but also rejoice in the ways we invited Him in.
As you see, our young friars embody great wisdom. Visit Fr. Don’s Vocation Blog for more posts from these men.
In study after study, the positive benefits of sitting down to family meals have been demonstrated for children of all ages. Among them are better grades, healthier eating habits, closer relationships to parents and siblings, a feeling of belonging, the ability to resist negative peer pressure, and resilience in the face of life’s problems.
All of these outcomes of simply sharing family dinner on a regular basis gave St Francis Seraph Ministries the idea and motivation for the new Family Dinner Program in Over the Rhine.
“The St. Francis Seraph (SFS) Soup Kitchen has been providing meals to area residents since the 1980’s. But the guests are mostly adults. So this was a great way to expand our dinner ministry to Over-the-Rhine families too”, said Jane Rega, Executive Director for SFS.
We all get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the family dinner has many times been replaced with soccer games, fast food in the car on the way to dance class or texting and checking emails while eating.
The Family Dinner Program serves a nutritious meal in a pleasant setting. Each family makes a commitment to meeting on Tuesday evenings at 5:30PM for six weeks. During this time, the families sit down to a healthy, nutritious meal together. Each table is set by a member of the family using a diagram prepared in advance. Each table has a small vase of fresh flowers, real plates (not paper) and silverware.
Sister Phyllis Kemper, OSU, RN, and Sister Mary Jennings, CDP lead the program. They both have health, nutrition, and culinary backgrounds. With the help of a great team of volunteers, they have created an environment favorable to nurturing family relationships.
The evening begins with a prayer of gratitude by Larry Shearer, a staff pastor (volunteer pastor) at the Vineyard Community Church in the suburbs of Cincinnati. He and his wife Rhonda are both involved in the program. They met Jane Rega through their involvement in Over the Rhine’s Faith Alliance Group and are plugged into many churches in the area.
Volunteers help prepare healthy foods that kids will actually like. The night of my visit, there were vegetarian lettuce wraps prepared by Allison Burns, one of the SFS teachers; ground turkey tacos, rice and beans prepared by Mary Schroder; and fruit and a low fat dessert of yogurt, cool whip and strawberries made by Sr. Phyllis. One young boy told volunteer, Barb Coyle, that he’d never eaten turkey tacos but he really liked them and would like them again. They all tried the lettuce wraps which was a delightful surprise.
There was no lack of conversation at any of the tables. The kids were well behaved and enjoying themselves. Once everyone finished, they cleared the tables and as the kids had some play time, the adults learned about portion sizes as Sr Phyllis touched on obesity and child diabetes. Last week they learned about kitchen safety. Waikysha, a single mother said she could not believe what a nice night it was to sit down and actually have conversations about their day. “We don’t do this at home”, she said.
There is a lot of research out there including the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. This study found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.
Through the small lessons of table manners, kids learn to share and think of others. Just saying “please” and “thank you”, we are recognizing the humanity of our brothers and sisters.
As well as serving a nutritious meal in a pleasant setting, the program will provide helpful information about nutrition to encourage meal planning and shopping for the best possible ingredients on what will most likely be a very limited budget.
Housed in the Canticle Café (St. Francis Seraph Parish Hall), the Family Dinner Program can only serve 4-5 families each 6-week cycle. “It’s a challenge to do everything in one room.” according to Sr. Mary. “When the weather is good, we can take the children outside after dinner. That gives us some time to talk with the parents about nutrition, meal planning, and the other topics that are important for bringing what they learn here home.”
Our hope is that families will build on the foundation of their own family wisdom, be able to prepare tasty nutritious food for their loved ones and join the diversity of people who cook and share recipes and finally to benefit from the wisdom of elders and make mealtimes a special time for their families.
Last week on Facebook we asked our friends:
“What has St. Anthony helped you find?”
Here are a few responses out of the 128 comments:
My wedding ring…and I do believe it was a miracle because I KNOW I had it on at work and found it a few days later in my bed.
Many things!!!!! I love St. Anthony. He’s my favorite. I’m blessed I was born on June 13, St. Anthony’s Day, very proud to be named after him. He’s always in my heart
An unfailing prayer, I’ve FOUND !!!!
Everything! He has helped me find keys – important papers – shoes – my sanity – patience. St. Anthony rocks!
I visited the St. Anthony Shrine in Boston at the request of my mother-in-law, who had lost some very dear jewelry and who was in Florida for several months. I didn’t tell her what day or time I would go to the shrine. At the very time I was praying, she felt she needed to go look for the jewelry in a particular spot one more time, and she found it – we know it was St. Anthony!
I needed a receipt to prove that a part that was put on my car had gone bad before the 1-year warranty, but I was at a loss of where it could be. I prayed to St. Anthony and immediately I felt I had to look in this old cookie jar and there it was.
My cat Midnight had been lost for 12 days. Then one morning he just reappeared in my apartment. I believe St. Anthony let him in.
Many things. Just say, “Dear St. Anthony do your stuff.” He helps you every time.
My keys, phone and money LOL… let’s not forget my glasses
Glasses are usually on top of my head… LOL
I first learned of St. Anthony when I was boarding in a convent and lost my doll at age 6. The nun told me to pray to St. Anthony; “St. Anthony, St. Anthony come around, a ____ has been lost and can’t be found.” He always finds what I ask for and I have even converted some non-Catholics to pray to him. When they come to me and say he helped them, I always say be sure to say a prayer to him giving thanks. I have one of his candles that I light quite often in thanksgiving.
The best find was my christening gown that I thought I lost in a move. I cried when my grand daughter wore it. Now I need his help in finding a special rosary. Help me if you can!
Not a lost item, but the miracle of my son, Anthony. I prayed to St. Anthony while pregnant with a child my doctor said wouldn’t live. He’s now almost 9 years old and doing great!
Almost 1 item a day for as long as I can remember
A loving wife and family
I had just taught my 6 year old grandson this little prayer last week, not realizing my oldest son had lost his St. Michael’s medal my Mom gave him years before. While we were walking in my parking lot we spotted something shiny – it was my son’s medal he was looking for!
My patron found me and brought me back to the faith.
My blind, deaf dog, in the rain and it was dark. TY St. Anthony!
My camera… just this morning! Thank you, St. Anthony.
My maternal grandmother loved St. Anthony of Padua (there is another famous St. Anthony from whom this one was most likely named after – St. Anthony the Great who is better known in the Eastern Church, whom I also love) and my mother continued the devotion to St. Anthony (of Padua) and so I grew up knowing about St. Anthony’s prayers for all lost objects. I can’t recall how many things he has found but have always believed this: those ‘things’ he does not find for us are simply not meant to be and something we don’t truly need if they are not found. (Remember he is, after all, only our ‘intercessor’ before a “greater power” who ultimately grants us what we desire or need.) St. Anthony of Padua, let us not forget was called a “wonderworker” (thaumaturgos’ in Greek) not just for missing objects but for many miracles, healing sick and dying people as well as animals, and most of all restoring lost faith. Now my grandmother has passed away, as well as my mother, and recently my oldest brother whose patron saint was St. Anthony of Padua. I continue to find strength, comfort and a great friend in Heaven through St. Anthony of Padua. “Mirabilis Deus in Sanctis Suis” (“God is wondrous in His saints.”)
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How many young people dream of being a missionary when they grow up? When she could have been a world class soccer or tennis player, Mary Beth Gallagher, 48, of Ossining, New York, imagined herself living and working with needy children in a third world country. She lived into her dream in Namibia, Africa.
After graduating from Siena College, she cut her teeth doing mission work in El Salvador and Bangladesh. Mary Beth’s work in Namibia began as a Maryknoll Volunteer in 2005. Now, eight years later, she does not look worse for the wear! Her exuberance and vitality flows onto her charges. Her lifework is the Bernard Nordkamp Center in Katutura, Windhoek and the capital of Namibia in Africa which has the Atlantic Ocean on the west, Botswana on the east, Angola to the north and South Africa to the south.
Mary Beth’s project is situated in Holy Redeemer Parish and is located next door to the church. Friar Joe Hund, a Franciscan priest from St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati, is mission superior there and he describes Mary Beth in golden terms. “She helps our children by inspiring them with her actions and words. She instills solid Christian virtues. After working with her, our kids excel in math and English. Their sports skills skyrocket.” Father Joe reflected on Mary Beth’s good spirit and sense of humor. “She has brought about transformation in lost children who have been neglected or abused. She has boundless energy and will not give up on them!”
Mary Beth is candid about what gets her jump started every day. “The children motivate me. They keep me going! I am the one having all the fun! I spend my days with beautiful children. I am charged by the love they give and get overwhelmed that some of these children come from dire, abusive circumstances. I get all the joy and happiness and laughter.” So many of the skills she learned as a girl have been paid forward as a popular film described. Her teaching, writing, soccer, swimming and tennis abilities have been shared with the children as have every other gift she has, guitar and game making included.
What Mary Beth isn’t telling us is that many of the children who come to her have intense special needs. 17% of Namibia’s children are orphans, most often from one or both parents dying of HIV/AIDS or AIDS related diseases like tuberculosis or pneumonia. That means 70,000 are orphans due to the epidemic. When parents die and leave the child in a state of abandonment, their life expectancy becomes reduced. In 1991, orphaned children could hope to live 61 years. In 2001 the prognosis fell to 49 years of life.
Mary Beth and her good work are well placed. Namibia has one of the highest rates of children at risk in the world. Children can be born with AIDS or contract it due to child abuse. Many of HIV/AIDS positive children there have not been diagnosed. 13 % of the 250,000 needy children in the country are vulnerable, but they are not orphans. If the parent or guardian is ill, from the chronic disease, the child becomes at risk.
Mary Beth describes her charges. “Some are lost souls who suffer from lack of food and abject poverty. “ Many times, at her own expense, Mary Beth feeds, clothes, buys supplies and provides educational opportunities. She builds on their fractured self esteem. Very seriously, she explains, “Many people from 18 to 40 have died from AIDS. It is not unusual for young people in Africa to have to care for themselves because they have lost their parents or other key members of their family due to this tragic illness. Sometimes it is complicated by the family member’s addictions to drugs or alcohol.
Mary Beth leads a simple life, but she doesn’t consider this as a sacrifice. Volunteers from the USA, UK, Europe and Canada assist her by giving themselves to the project for a couple weeks to several months. Each one brings talents and materials that enhance the program. When she doesn’t have exactly what she needs to help her students, she creates it by recycling materials to create games and other learning tools.
Several years ago students from Utah Valley University made a documentary called “Best Namibian Children” about her and her work. In a touching scene, one of her students is quoted, “I am a tall and handsome boy! I like myself!” He is so comfortable with himself and it is said in such an ingenuous way, viewers accept that it isn’t conceit, that truly, he has become a believer in himself. Perhaps that self esteem, self respect and achievement through learned new skills, will make him a leader tomorrow. Mary Beth gets all the credit for transforming that little boy from being a “lost soul” to having heightened self pride.
Our Everyday Hero, Mary Beth Gallagher, doesn’t envision her retirement for quite some time. Why leave a candy box when it is still full of delectable treats?
If you wish further information or want to volunteer check out the following:
Joanne M. Queenan has also written, The Boys on the Rock, Listening to the Voices of the Homeless, published in 2012
Join us for the Solemn Novena in Honor of St. Anthony of Padua every Tuesday April 16 through June 11 culminating with his Feast Day on Thursday, June 13
2:30 PM – Novena Prayers, Benediction, Blessing with the Relic of St. Anthony
7:00 PM – Mass, Followed by Novena Prayers and Blessing with the Relic of St. Anthony
Dates & Presiders for the Solemn Novena
April 16 – Fr. Jack Wintz, OFM
Author & Senior Editor of St. Anthony Messenger magazine
April 23 – Fr. Daniel Kroger, OFM
CEO of Franciscan Media, LLC
April 30 – Fr. Fred Link, OFM
Pastor of St. Clement Parish
May 7 – Fr. Thomas Speier, OFM
Sacramental Minister at St. Monica-St. George Parish
May 14 – Fr. David Kohut, OFM
Sacramental Minister at All Saints Parish
May 21 – Fr. Hilarion Kistner, OFM
Scripture Scholar and Editor of Homily Helps
May 28 – Fr. Pat McCloskey, OFM
Author and Franciscan Editor of St. Anthony Messenger magazine
June 4 – Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
Associate Postulant Director
June 11 – Fr. Joseph Ricchini, OFM
Spiritual Director and Counselor
The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua
June 13, - Fr. John Bok, OFM
Co-Director of the Friar Works office
Simplify your life with our estate-planning organizer
Few ordinary tasks express the Franciscan virtues of simplicity and self-sufficiency better than creating an effective estate plan. Simplify your life and the lives of those you love by requesting our free Estate Planning Organizer, available in hardcopy or a computer-friendly version.
St. Francis wrote that preparing a will is one of the first duties of a person living in the world. But leave it to St. Anthony to help you find a way to get it done. You can instantly access our basic introduction to estate planning in our clear and concise video series, Estate Planning Help. The series takes you through the pros and cons of probate, wills, living trusts, advance health care directives, and other basic estate planning tools.
To receive your organizer, contact Colleen Cushard at 513-721-4700 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or download the organizer at www.stanthony.org by going to Estate Planning Organizer under Support the Friars.
Once you have met your obligations to yourself and those you love, consider remembering The Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province in your estate plan.
Colleen Cushard is Co-Director of Friar Works for the Province of St. John the Baptist.
His Life Revolved Around People
Sharing a memory of Fr. Noel William, OFM, Fr. Dan Anderson, OFM, prefaced it with, “He’s been pretty old for a pretty long time.” Of all the comments at Noel’s funeral on Tuesday – and there were many – this was probably the most telling. Noel was a senior for decades before his death on March 23 at the age of 97. That’s the friar most of us knew, a gentleman and a gentle man who never let aging rob him of his charm, his wit or his dignity. In recent years Noel also became a symbol, a yardstick against which milestones are measured. He was a friar for 78 years, more than half the history of the province.
In his prime Noel was a teacher, a chaplain, a retreat master, a pastor, a band director and a pioneering missionary in the Panhandle Missions of Oklahoma. He took to preaching so he could emulate Fr. Daniel Linfert, whose fire-and-brimstone sermons inspired this youngster from Brookville, Ind., to become a friar. But wherever Noel was and whatever he did, his life revolved around people, even in his last nine years of retirement and wheelchair confinement at St. Paul’s Archbishop Leibold Home (Little Sisters) in Cincinnati.
Stuck in his bed, “He would say again and again, ‘I want to be with the people,’” said Fr. Joe Rigali, OFM, Resident Chaplain at the home. And they wanted to be with him. “He attracted all ages,” said Mother Francis Gabriel King, lsp, Mother Superior at Little Sisters. “There was something in him that drew them,” from fellow residents Leland and Mary Ann Schneider, who doted upon Noel, to Postulant Ramon Castellon, whose weekly ministry brought him to the nursing home. “He always had that bright smile,” said Ramon, describing their brief friendship as “very beautiful.”
“He certainly had a pastor’s heart,” said Provincial Minister Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, who celebrated the funeral Mass at Leibold Home. Fr. Loren Connell, OFM, remembered how Noel helped him through a rough time. “I was in a difficult spot,” he said. “Noel called me on the phone and said, ‘We can’t take care of it right now, but we will. Hang in there, Bud.’ I am grateful for what he did for me.” Jeff shared a memory on behalf of Fr. Henry Beck, OFM. “When Henry was in the seminary he lived at St. Lawrence in Lafayette,” where Noel was pastor. “Every night Noel asked Henry, ‘Well, Bud, what kind of trouble did you get into today?’” It was the plainspoken pastor’s way of showing his concern.
Caregivers at the nursing home spoke fondly of Noel. “He never complained about his health,” said Mother Francis, even when his frailty precluded the treatment of broken bones he suffered in recent years. “No matter how sick he was, he would want to get up,” said Tracy Jones. “He always had that smile and a little sparkle in his eye that made you want to be near him,” said Rebecca Del Vecchio. “He always made sure his appearance was good,” said Tracy, who one day caught Noel primping and asked, “Father, why are you looking in the mirror?” He responded, “Because I’m good-looking.”
He loved to laugh, “and I loved making him laugh,” said Br. David Crank, OFM, whose care for Noel was an important part of his ministry as Director of Senior Friars. “He was a happy friar.” What struck Dan was “how alive he was – right up to the end.” In conversation, Noel would mention current events or things he was reading. When he was assigned a role in last year’s Transitus observance, Dan solicitously asked, “Do you know what you’re doing?” To which Noel responded, “I’m old. I’m not dumb.”
Homilist Fr. Cyprian Berens, OFM, traced Noel’s journey as a friar: his days at Roger Bacon as band director; his assignment to the minor seminary; his missionary work in Oklahoma and his spiritual bonding with Mother Frances Cabrini; his successful pastoring of parishes in several states; the soup kitchen he founded for the poor in Louisville. “There is much to celebrate in this life just ended,” Cyprian said. “We may never know how much he achieved for the Church.”
One example: “A few years ago a group of volunteers came here from Coldwater, Ohio, to offer their services to our residents. By some human magnetism they were drawn to Fr. Noel, and they wanted to know about his ministries, his birthday, his prayer life.” The following year, they all returned to celebrate Noel’s birthday. “They could see the Gospel life in a man with no veneer, no charming performance, no carefully projected personality. This good priest plainly cared for them, they cared for him, and that, too, is evangelization.”
Loren remembered the first provincial meeting Noel was unable to attend because of ill health. “It seemed strange this old guy wasn’t there,” he said, voicing the “end of an era” sentiment that pervaded the funeral. And in the days to come, the absence of this old guy will indeed seem strange.
Toni Cashnelli is the Communications Director for the Province of St. John the Baptist.
Excerpt from, Lent With the Saints: Daily Reflections, © Greg Friedman, OFM
Acts 10:34a, 37—43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians: 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9
In 1984 singer Tina Turner had a comeback hit with her recording of “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” Years later I drew a lot of smiles when I began an Easter Sunday homily with the song’s title. It’s a question that explains the Easter Gospel, John 20:1-9, which tells us that Peter and the “disciple Jesus loved” came to the tomb early on the first day of the week after hearing Mary Magdalene’s report of the empty tomb.
The Beloved Disciple arrives first but waits until Peter enters and sees Jesus’ burial wrappings neatly folded. Peter doesn’t understand what he sees. But the other disciple is moved to an act of faith. He’s the disciple whom Jesus loved, and love leads to faith. That’s what love has to do with it!
The characters in John’s Easter story show various stages of belief. Mary Magdalene believes when she is prompted by the Lord himself, when they meet in the garden near the tomb. Peter gets to wipe out his denials of Jesus with three affirmations of love when he encounters Jesus on the seashore (John 21). Doubting Thomas, a fourth character in John’s resurrection story, needs visible proof before he will believe (John 20).
I can find myself in all of these gospel portraits by John. Sometimes I want proof, like Thomas, or I need forgiveness, like Peter. I pray that my faith can be that of the Beloved Disciple, who understood what love has to do with it.
Look back on your Lent. How has your faith grown during this time?
Risen Lord, thank you for sharing your life with us. May love move us to faith, as we renew the promises of our baptism today. Amen.
Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, is a media producer and author of Advent With the Saints: Daily Reflections. He is host of American Catholic Radio, a program syndicated on Catholic radio stations nationwide. In 2009 his film Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in faith With Francis and Clare appeared on PBS. Fr. Greg is also pastor of an inner-city parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Please join us this week at St. Anthony Shrine.
7:30 AM Morning Prayer
7:30 PM Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Adoration to follow until
10:00 PM Night Prayer and chapel closes
7:30 AM Morning Prayer
1:30 PM Solemn Liturgy for Good Friday
5:00 PM Stations of the Cross
8:00 AM Morning Prayer
5:15 PM Evening Prayer
8:30 PM Easter Vigil
10:00 AM Mass of the Resurrection
St. Anthony Friary and Shrine
5000 Colerain Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45223
May the peace of the Lord be with you. Happy Easter. He is risen!