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St Anthony found my late mother’s cross

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Cross

There is no way to explain this except that
St Anthony gave it back to me…
~

My mother passed away 35 years ago.  When I went back home for her funeral, on the floor next to her bed I found her cross.  She had never taken it off.

I picked it up and saw that the chain was broken.  I pinned it to my underwear for safe keeping.  When I returned to my home I had the chain repaired.  Now, I never take it off.

Recently, my husband and I traveled to a business convention on the West coast. I have photos of me wearing the necklace at this convention. On the plane on my way home I noticed the chain was broken and the cross was gone. I was so very upset, I felt like I lost my mother again 10 years later.

Back home I unpacked everything checking to see if it had fallen into anything. I called the place we had stayed, the airlines, etc., etc. I even contacted the people who had been with us.  I cried and prayed and cried and prayed to St. Anthony.

About a week later we went to our storage unit to get some dishes.  We figured that we had not been there for about 3 months. I was still crying and praying to St. Anthony.

As my husband opened the door we saw something very shiny across the room.  My husband moved a couch to get what it was and there, lo and behold, was my Mother’s cross!   There is no way to explain this except that St Anthony gave it back to me…

My whole family has always believed in St. Anthony and I even try to give him gifts of prayer etc…

Thank you,

–A.S.

St Anthony & fishesWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: shrine@franciscan.org or Call Colleen Cushard at: 513-721-4700.  Share your prayers with us and our online community at our Prayer Page.  You can donate to St. Anthony Bread or any of our ministries at our Donation Page.

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In the Land of “Soon Come”

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Author Barb Coyle holds her book, "In the Land of "Soon Come" illustrated by 14-year-old Taylor Kling.

Author Barb Coyle holds her book, “In the Land of “Soon Come” illustrated by 14-year-old Taylor Kling.

Love of Jamaicans led to book
~

“Barb Coyle is just one special lady.”  Those were the words spoken by Fr. Carl Langenderfer when I told him about Barb’s new children’s book; In the Land of “Soon Come”.   I could not agree more.  Barb is a person who volunteers her time and many talents to so many different projects that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of them.

Illustrations by Taylor Kling

Illustrations by Taylor Kling

Barb led mission trips to Jamaica for a decade with her students from Roger Bacon High School.  They built and painted houses, worked in the soup kitchen and ran a very popular vacation bible school. This is where she and so many others fell in love with the children of Negril, Jamaica.

In typical Barb fashion, she still felt she could do more.  She kept wondering how she could raise a lot of money to help Fr. Jim Bok with his work.   Her answer was to write the book she had only been dreaming about for years and to give all the proceeds to Fr. Jim.

Book EDIT 325The book tells how she unexpectedly found inspiration on those mission trips.  The story is told in simple language through the eyes of kids encountering this land of contrast for the first time.  Beyond the beaches and resorts, they discover the harsh reality of extreme poverty and the true beauty of Jamaicans who live with next to nothing but appreciate what they have.

All of the proceeds from her book go to support the mission work of her lifelong friend, Fr. Jim Bok, and the children of Negril, Jamaica.  Yes, all proceeds, not a part of the profits.

“Soon come” (the title comes from the phrase Jamaicans use to mean “wait”, “not now” or “be patient”.)

Read more about Barb’s story at Franciscan.org

Meet the author
~

Two book signings are scheduled:

  • 6-8 PM, Friday, May 20, at The Villas at Park Place Clubhouse, 7955 Beckett Road, West Chester, Ohio
  • 6:30-8:30 PM, Tuesday, May 31, a book launch/signing at Friars Club, 4300 Vine St., St. Bernard, Ohio.  Missionary Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, and illustrator Taylor Kling will join author Barb Coyle, who promises “a Jamaica-flavored event.”
  • To purchase In the Land of “Soon Come” ($15 per book), e-mail Barb Coyle at landsooncomebook@gmail.com with your shipping address. (Shipping is included in the price) Check or Paypal is accepted.
  • For more information about Barb and her book, visit her Face book page: In the Land of Soon Come Book.
Barb with long-time friend Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, in Negril, Jamaica.

Barb with long-time friend Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, in Negril, Jamaica.

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The Mystery of Mercy

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Fr. Larry Zurek, OFM, celebrates Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy in his talk, “The Mystery of Mercy”
~

When I returned home from being commissioned a Missionary of Mercy by Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday, on my door in the friary was a sign:

 MOM
Welcome Home Mom – M.O.M. – Missionary of Mercy
~

I’m sure my brothers meant it as a kind of joke, and yet, our Holy Father Pope Francis reminded us in the talk he gave us before Ash Wednesday, to really be mothers to those who come to confession.  He said that,

“I believe this is a time for Mercy.  The Church is showing her maternal side. Her motherly face to a humanity that is wounded.  She does not wait for the wounded to knock on her door, she looks for them on the streets, she gathers them in, she embraces them, she takes care of them, she makes them feel loved.”

Mercy, sisters and brothers, helps another person to remember who they truly are in the eyes of God.

Learn more about Pope Francis’ Missionaries of Mercy

Year of MercyNext in the series:
Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM:
Wednesday November 2 at 7:00 PM

Previous presentation:
Fr. John Quigley, OFM
“Mercy – The Force of God Awakens in Us”
Watch the video

Learn more about how the Franciscans are celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy at Franciscan.org
Fr. Larry celebrates Pope Francis' Jubilee Year of Mercy in his talk, "The Mystery of Mercy"

Fr. Larry celebrates Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy in his talk, “The Mystery of Mercy” at the St. Anthony Shrine

 

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Friars on the Move

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Br. Norbert Bertram (standing) visits friars Cyprian Berens, Valens Waldschmidt and their nurse at Little Sisters of the Poor

Br. Norbert Bertram (standing) visits friars Cyprian Berens, Valens Waldschmidt and their nurse at Little Sisters of the Poor

Br. Norbert is one busy friar
~

Br. Norbert has always taken time to visit with the senior friars.  It’s something he enjoys.  That’s probably why he is the perfect fit and is now “officially” overseeing the Office of Senior Friars.  This is in addition to his current responsibilities at the St Anthony Shrine as Sacristan, handyman and the person who lights the many candles for our benefactors.

Fr. Simeon is comforted by Br. Norbert and his caregiver

Fr. Simeon is comforted by Br. Norbert and his caregiver

“I am humbled that I have the opportunity to care for these good men who gave many years of service to the people of God and our community in so many different ways.  They bless me by their patience, prayer life and gratitude for the interest and care I give them.” say Br. Norbert.

It does take up a lot of Norbert’s time mainly because there are so many friars in two different nursing homes at this time.  Two at Little Sisters of the Poor and twelve at St. Margaret Hall.  Somehow, Br. Norbert manages to figure out how to get it all done.

That is in part because he is well supported by the generosity of Br. Bill Spond, Br. Phillips Robinette, Br. Marcel Groth, and Br. Ken Beetz who are always willing to transport friars to the doctor or other appointments when needed.  It’s a team effort.

Br Norbert will get a bit of a break later this summer when Br. Jerry Beetz will begin working closely with him helping to care for our retired friars.

REtired 3 EDIT 300~
Would you like to support our retired and infirm friars?  When you donate to the Franciscans you can choose Retired Friars under Use My Gift For: below the Donation Amount.

 

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The true spirit of giving

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Cincinnati Bengal's Andrew Whitworth and Dhani Jones signed footballs for the Friars Club Kids.

Cincinnati Bengal’s Andrew Whitworth and Dhani Jones signed footballs for the Friars Club Kids.

They put their hearts into helping
~

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

They are athletes who advocate for youth, activists who champion the underserved, families who persevere through tragedy to light the way for others. April 15 at its 44th Annual Community Dinner in Cincinnati, Friars Club said thank you to people like these who exemplify the spirit of giving.

It was the second dinner at Friars’ new facility but there were several firsts:

  • Honoree Andrew Whitworth of the Cincinnati Bengals and former teammate Dhani Jones autographed footballs and basketballs and posed for pictures with some very excited Friars Kids. “I believe in what they do here,” Andrew said.
  • Attendees browsed items offered for a silent auction before the dinner, then took part in a spirited after-dinner auction hosted (with gusto) by Chanel 12’s Bob Herzog.
  • The awards went high-tech, with video intros of honorees flashed on twin screens in the basketball courts, transformed into a dining room with artful lighting and décor.
Executive Director Anne Timmons

Executive Director Anne Timmons

“The whole atmosphere was very different,” says Annie Timmons, Friars Club Executive Director. “People told me [afterward] that it was a lot of fun, the best dinner they’ve been to.” A generous crowd – nearly twice the usual attendance – helped Friars raise about $80,000 for its athletic and Learning Center programs.

Introduced by Chanel 12 news anchor Rob Braun, who was returning for his 35th dinner, Annie previewed the awards presentation. “I would describe all of our honorees as ‘superheroes’,” she said.

Through his BigWhit 77 Foundation, “Andrew Whitworth has been a role model for many young kids,” Annie said of the Player of the Year. Friars Award winner Jeanette Altenau, TriHealth’s Director of Community Relations, is “a caretaker of the community.” And receiving the Francis Award were the parents of Lauren Hill, the courageous teen who spent her final months raising awareness about pediatric brain cancer and raising millions of dollars for research before she died.

At the lectern, Jeanette turned the attention to others like “the Franciscans, who impart their heart and soul” to ministries like Friars Club. Lauren’s Mom Lisa encouraged the audience to “find something to fight for.” And Andrew deflected the applause. “This is such a cool opportunity to be here,” he told the crowd. “You may think I’ve inspired kids, but you inspire me.”

Spoken like a true superhero.

Originally published in SJB NewsNotes by Toni Cashnelli

More photos on our Flickr page

Program Director Parrish Ozias with Friars Kids

Program Director Parrish Ozias with Friars Kids

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Parade is a walk of discovery

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“At the Old Ball Game!”
~

Fr. Stephen Cho from South Korea

Fr. Stephen Cho from South Korea

At noon on Opening Day, Fr. Stephen Cho is glued to his smartphone, thumbs churning out tweets and Facebook posts. By now, most friends know he will walk in the 97th Findlay Market Parade with brothers from St. John the Baptist Province. It’s a new experience for Stephen, a Korean friar who is living at St. Francis Seraph Friary while he learns about religious publishing at Franciscan Media.

When it’s time to gather for the parade, he hoists a PVC pipe over his shoulder – it will hold up their banner – and follows a group heading north in Over-the-Rhine to their assigned spot in the lineup.

Wordlessly, Stephen takes in the carnival surrounding him: clowns, kids, floats, bands, flags, bicycles, horses, dogs and cartoon characters with giant heads. Asked if they do this in his homeland, he shakes his head no. “Asian culture doesn’t parade,” he says, “especially in South Korea.” Not that it’s unknown. “Decades ago, when excellent results [were] achieved in the Olympics or world championships,” the government would honor the winners with a parade. In 2014, South Koreans flocked to the processions led by Pope Francis during his visit to Asia.

With or without parades, Koreans are passionate about baseball.

Br. Chris Meyer

Br. Chris Meyer

When countryman Shin-Soo Choo played a season with the Cincinnati Reds, the folks back home followed his every move. Then, says Stephen, “He went to Texas. Free agent.”

Stephen isn’t the only rookie on this team. Br. Chris Meyer, preparing to leave for the missions in Jamaica, also responded to a call for participants. He’s hoping to rack up some miles on his pedometer and work on his tan. “It’s my first time in the parade,” he says, “and may be my last.”

Passing time

While they wait for the signal to start, friars chat with their neighbors in the parade, including a woman who trains miniature horses and brought four of them with her today, their manes dyed the colors of cotton candy. Petted and photographed, they are stars of the backstage show.

Roaming the streets with his camera, Fr. Frank Jasper is approached by parish people and other folks who admit they’ve left the Church. Emboldened by his habit, “They just come up and start talking about how they like the Pope,” he says.

Once the banner pole is assembled, friars Tom Speier, Tim Sucher, Pat McCloskey and Carl Langenderfer gather for a stirring rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, videotaped for social media. Although some words escape him, good sport Stephen gamely follows their lead.

Reds Banner

Friars Gene Mayer, Pat McCloskey, and Stephen Cho

When it’s finally showtime, he picks up one end of the banner for the 16-block trek down Race Street, past Fountain Square, and onto Fifth Street to the stopping point, the Taft Theatre.

From the outset it’s obvious that Chris, like fellow marcher Tim, is a natural. Chris works the crowd, high-fiving a row of kids parked at the curb, and initiates a twirling dance move that spins the banner 360 degrees. The crowd loves it. Tim is everywhere, clasping outstretched hands and dashing from one side of the street to the other with the rallying cry, “Go Reds! Let’s hear it!”

Sharing the joy

Content to carry the sign for much of the way, Stephen is captured smiling in every photo.

By parade’s end, Chris has logged 10,000 steps on his pedometer. More important, “I enjoyed it,” he says. “So often we’re in our own friaries, and here we are in this public view, and we really get to hear how much we’re loved and respected. It’s a great opportunity to share the joy friars bring. It was a very positive experience.” Next year, he says, “I think we should work on our routine. We’ve got to spice things up,” maybe by doing the limbo under the banner?

Stephen says he was glad to see how “friars have been sharing life with the people of Cincinnati for more than 100 years of existence. I was proud to be a Franciscan in the middle of Cincinnati made one,” united in a spirit of exuberance and good will.

Before long, he pulls out his phone and starts thumb-chatting.

As Pat had predicted, “It’ll take him more than one tweet to describe this day.”

More photos of the day on our Flickr page.

Originally published in the SJB NewsNotes.

Fr. Tom Speier and Fr. John Bok enjoy a sweet ride thanks to our friend Roger Pierson and his 1954 Packard

Fr. Tom Speier and Fr. John Bok enjoy a sweet ride thanks to our friend Roger Pierson and his 1954 Packard

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A Special Bond

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While on home leave from Negril, Jamaica, Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, always eats at Gold Star Chili with Jeff Rapking

While back in the States from Negril, Jamaica, Fr. Jim always visits with Jeff.

Jeff Rapking loves Roger Bacon High School
and they love him too
~

Jeff makes sure the cafeteria runs smoothly

Jeff makes sure the cafeteria runs smoothly

Jeff Rapking leads the way to the cafeteria at Roger Bacon High School.

It’s as tidy as an Army mess hall, and Jeff is largely responsible.

“When the lunch starts, I start,” he says, proudly describing his duties with the custodial staff, from managing trays to sweeping the floor, from cleaning tables to straightening chairs. “I love to work here,” he says, fisting his hands at his sides and smiling so broadly he squints.

Jeff is lucky to be here, and they’re lucky to have him. Many people with special needs face a lifelong struggle for acceptance. Jeff, whose world is limited but not defined by disabilities, is trusted, loved and respected at Roger Bacon. “The Bacon family, that’s his family,” says Barb Coyle, the school’s former Outreach Director and a longtime friend.

“It’s a good example of how a community embraces one of their own to provide a place where they can thrive” instead of falling through the cracks, says Paul Zlatic, Assistant Principal. “There is a real sense here that everyone has value. We’re a diverse school – rich, poor, black, white. Jeff is just another great piece of that.”

It’s been that way for 33 years, ever since Jeff was hired by friar Jim Bok during his days as Principal. “He has a special place at Bacon in the hearts of a lot of folks,” says Fr. Jim, one of Jeff’s favorite people in the world.

“One of  the guys”

“There is such a purity and honesty and sincerity to him,” Paul says of Jeff. “It’s easy to be drawn to that.”

Barb Coyle and Jeff at this year's Opening Day Parade with staff from Franciscan Media

Barb Coyle and Jeff at this year’s Opening Day Parade with staff from Franciscan Media

Barb was running Bacon’s Community Outreach Program when she met Jeff. “He was always popping into my room. If something was driving me crazy, he would show up with his smile and innocence and joyful spirit and it just rubbed off. Everything makes him happy.” Ask him why and Jeff says, “I’m all the time in a good mood.”

Crazy for sports, he’s a fixture on the sidelines at Bacon’s football and basketball games. “He will offer players a high five,” Paul says. “Many times he rides with the football team” to away games. “He’s just another one of the guys.”

In Jim’s years at Bacon, “When kids were around, I never ever saw or witnessed anybody mocking Jeff. There was always a genuine respect for him on the part of the students. I think all the kids there knew that Jeff loved Roger Bacon and everything about it.”

One year when he competed in Special Olympics – winning gold in the softball throw and 100-yard race – the school held an assembly in Jeff’s honor. “Kids were high-fiving him all day,” according to Barb. “I am a good runner,” Jeff says shyly. “I’d love to go around the track more times.”

“He is solid gold”

Polar Bear PlungeEight years ago when awards were given for milestone service at RB, Jeff received the sole standing ovation for his 25 years. In 2007, Bacon students organized “Jumping for Jeff”, a Polar Bear Plunge into a freezing swimming pool to raise money for Special Olympics.

“Jeff means a lot to the kids,” says St. Clement Pastor Fred Link, who for years was Jeff’s walking buddy around St. Bernard. “They very much respect him. He is solid gold, just goodness, as tender-hearted as they come. He brings out the best in folks.”

It’s hard to say no to Jeff, says Barb. “He loves his Cincinnati Reds and goes to a lot of games,” courtesy of teachers, students and alumni. Each season, Paul says, “I usually go to at least one game with him, sometimes two.” Barb once managed to wheedle tickets from Reds owner Bob Castellini when she wrote to him explaining that Jeff had never been to Opening Day.

Barb and Jeff at a Reds game

Barb and Jeff at a Reds game

“We had great seats,” she recalls. “We went to the parade and game. His favorite player, Joey Votto, hit a home run. On the way home I asked him what was the most exciting part of the day, thinking it would be the home run. Jeff started clapping his hands. He said, ‘I loved the clowns and the bands.’”

This should not have surprised Barb. “Jeff was always a huge fan of the Roger Bacon band,” Jim says, and especially fond of Wes Neal, who in 37 years led the band to numerous state and national titles. “Wes was really nice to him. Every Friday night at football games Jeff would be right with them, marching along.”

Friends forever

More than sports, more than bands, “Jeff loves Fr. Jim,” says Paul. “He gets so excited whenever Jim gets into town” for a home visit from the missions in Jamaica. “Jeff will talk about it for weeks leading up to it,” anticipating their usual outing to Gold Star Chili. “If I ever came to Cincinnati and Jeff found out and I didn’t see him,” Jim says, “he would be hurt.”

They’ve known each other for 40 years, since Jim was a cleric theology student. “I was going to law school at night and teaching at Roger Bacon during the day.” Outside the school, “I used to hear what sounded like a siren; it was this little boy, Jeff, riding his bicycle” and making a racket. “He and his family went to St. Clement Church. He was developmentally handicapped, going to Bobbie Fairfax School” for children with disabilities. From the day they met, “We were always friends.”

Jeff on the steps on Roger Bacon HS

Jeff on the steps on Roger Bacon HS

After ordination, as Principal at Roger Bacon, Jim got a call from Jeff’s school. “They had programs where they would place kids in internships” in preparation for the real world and asked if Bacon could take Jeff. Jim said, “We’d be delighted; what is he capable of doing?”

“Maybe he could clean tables in the cafeteria, that kind of thing?” they suggested.
Jim readily agreed. “He came and he never stopped working there.”

Love and support 

Jeff’s diligence is legendary. “He’s so conscientious about the work he does,” Paul says. “He takes it very seriously when a fork or spoon gets into the garbage.” After lunch Jeff patrols the tables, arranging the chairs in perfect alignment. “He always does a sweep of the grounds to make sure things are kept up.”

Satisfied that all is well at school, Jeff will head home, one street over from Bacon, to walk his dog, Rusty. “Jeff has a wonderful mom and a sister who provide a lot of support,” says Paul. “Together we kind of make sure he’s doing well.”

Apart from the televised sports he devours, “His world is very limited,” Jim says, “and Roger Bacon is a significant part of his world.” During the summer, when he helps prep classrooms for the school year, “Jeff gets depressed,” Barb says, because he misses the students.

“I love everybody here,” Jeff says. “I still miss Fr. Jim the most,” and wishes he weren’t so far away.

“Jeff is as innocent as a child, but he can get sad,” Fred says. “When somebody dies, he really grieves and doesn’t understand it.” He has his challenges, “no doubt about that. But he sure is devoted to Roger Bacon.”

In fact, says Jim, “You could consider him one of Bacon’s biggest boosters.”

Originally published in the SJB NewsNotes

Fr. Jim and Jeff outside the Newport Aquarium in 2007 for the "Jumping for Jeff" Polar Bear Plunge organized to honor Jeff and raise money for Special Olympics

Fr. Jim and Jeff outside the Newport Aquarium in 2007 for the “Jumping for Jeff” Polar Bear Plunge organized to honor Jeff and raise money for Special Olympics

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Mercy – The Force of God Awakens in Us

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Fr. John Quigley, OFM, celebrates
Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy
~

“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.  These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith,” quotes Fr. John reading from Pope Francis’ Misericoriae Vultus or Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

Those unable to attend the presentation due to location or schedule conflict asked us to record the presentation and we so we did.  Hope you enjoy it.

Fr. John shares his thoughts on exploring the mystery of God, the vast ocean of God’s love for us, forever.  The great hope that we will be loved forever.  Click on the video to watch.

Year of MercyNext in the series:
Fr. Larry Zurek, OFM:
Monday April 11 at 7:00 PM
Fr. Larry’s presentation will be video taped and available for viewing soon.

Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM:
Wednesday November 2 at 7:00 PM

Learn more about how the Franciscans are celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy at Franciscan.org.

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Four days of prayers to St. Anthony

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Earring on Pussywillow

Impossibly lost?
Not when you ask St. Anthony for help!
~

Thank You St. Anthony!

I have a cross and earring set that I made several years ago.  The first time I wore the set was on a four hour shopping trip.  When I got home I was minus one earring.  I was so upset, I prayed to St. Anthony for four days. 

 I thought, “This is impossible to find.”

The fourth day I was putting food out for my birds.  I was so surprised to see it on top of a pussy willow branch. 

This was impossible. 

How did it get there?

Sincerely,

    Jennie in Pennsylvania

 

St. AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too.
Use our Contact Page or Email: shrine@franciscan.org or Call Colleen Cushard at: 513-721-4700.  Share your prayers with us and our online community at our Prayer Page.  You can donate to St. Anthony Bread or any of our ministries at our Donation Page.

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Speed Dialing St. Anthony

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St. Anthony Speed Dial

A fast-track to St. Anthony’s prayers
~

I call upon St. Anthony so often the he is on my speed dial.  He is after all, my friend.  After finding several things for me, my husband said,

“That friend of yours is always in your corner.”

Thank you for your prayers and good deeds.

God Bless You,
Sharon

St. AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: shrine@franciscan.org or Call Colleen Cushard at: 513-721-4700.  Share your prayers with us and our online community at our Prayer Page.  You can donate to St. Anthony Bread or any of our ministries at our Donation Page.

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