Thanks for all you do
to make our work possible.
ABOUT THE ART:
T = Tau cross: A simple cross based on the Greek T. Francis used the Tau cross in his writings.
H = Two friars: A friar is a member of the Franciscan Order of men. Friar is a word meaning brother.
A = Stigmata: Marks corresponding to those left on Jesus’ body by the Crucifixion, said to have been impressed by divine favor on the bodies of St. Francis of Assisi and other.
N = Wolf of Gubbio: Francis was moved by their plight and wanted to do what he could to help the people of Gubbio. St. Francis was able to tame the fierce wolf of Gubbio.
K = Bird: Francis had much love for animals with special fondness for birds. St. Francis preached to the birds.
Y = Bible: Intimacy with God through prayer was the foremost priority for Francis.
O = Tonsure: the practice of cutting or shaving some or all of the hair on the scalp, as a sign of religious devotion or humility.
U = Rope-like cord: The belt of the poor, which Francis adopted. The three knots symbolize the three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience.
May your New Year be filled with Peace and Joy.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. ” John 1:1
Franciscan Media seeks to spread the Word that is Jesus Christ. All their publications, products, and endeavors aim to carry on the work of telling the wonderful message of Jesus in the substantial, yet easy-to-understand style of Saints Francis, Clare and Anthony.
A living sign of the
Father’s love in the world
Pope Francis has long made mercy one of the primary focuses of his papacy.
Because he has sought to reach those in the fold as well as those on the periphery, the pope declared that the Jubilee of Mercy will begin on December 8, 2015 (the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and conclude on November 20, 2016 (the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe).
It’s a special, holy year which will focus on the breadth of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Join our flagship ministry Franciscan Media
in celebrating the Year of Mercy.
Pope Francis has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016
One of our obligations as Franciscans is to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Each morning, part of that prayer is the Canticle of Zechariah, the prayer that John the Baptist’s father prayed at his son’s birth, as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. During the prayer Zechariah says, “He promised to show mercy to our fathers, and to remember His holy Covenant.” He also prays, “In the tender compassion of our Lord, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness, and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” An older translation translated the word “compassion” as “mercy.” You can find the whole prayer at Luke 1: 67-79.
Each evening we pray the Canticle of Mary, the prayer Mary prayed while visiting her cousin Elizabeth, also found in Luke (1:46-55). Like Zechariah, Mary recalls God’s great mercy when she recalls that “He has mercy on those who fear Him In every generation,” and “He has come to the help of His servant Israel, for He has remembered His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.
It has often struck me as I prayed these daily prayers how fitting it is that we begin and end each day remembering God’s great mercy. Mercy is what God desires to share with us, from beginning to end. We are surrounded by and sustained by mercy. Pope Francis has now invited the whole church to ponder God’s mercy for a whole year. He has proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016. The faithful are invited to make pilgrimages, celebrate reconciliation, can received indulgences, but most importantly to experience God’s mercy and share it with others. We are invited to go deeply into this most important gift of God, and to experience anew the compassion and mercy of our God.
Mercy is very dear to Franciscans, in fact in some ways, it is our vocation. An early life of St. Francis, called the Legend of the Three Companions, described our way of life this way: This is our vocation: to heal wounds, to bind what is broken, to bring home those who are lost. In other words to be merciful.
We friars thank you for your many expressions of kindness and mercy toward us, and we pray that this year will be a time when you come to know once again the mercy of God. We thank you for helping us proclaim this great gift, and for providing the support to continue healing, binding wounds, and welcoming people home. May God give you peace!
Fr. Joe Rigali, OFM
July 20, 1931 – November 27, 2015
The sitting room at Little Sisters overflowed with friends who were there for Joe. That’s because Joe was always there for them.
“He always had time to talk to people, always had that bright smile” was how one woman described the relationship retirees had with fellow resident Fr. Joe Rigali, OFM, at St. Paul’s Archbishop Leibold Home in Cincinnati. At the reception preceding Joe’s funeral on Dec. 5, it wasn’t his assignments they talked about. It was the connections he made along the way.
“Fr. Joe was good to everybody,” said Bonita Greene, a resident who met Joe 40 years ago when he came here to visit his mother, Anna. “All he had to do was hear you had a problem, and he would talk you through it.” Admittedly, his appeal was more than spiritual. “I always asked him why he became a priest, because he was too handsome to become a priest.”
If this was a cross, Joe never complained. “He never seemed to complain about anything,” said Lawrence Renaud, a student at Thomas More College when Joe was in campus ministry. “Even when he was dealt a bad hand” – like news of terminal cancer – “he knew how to say something positive. He made lemonade out of lemons.”
Fr. Tom Speier, OFM, remembered Joe “sacrificing himself. He tried to retire four or five times. Every time he wanted to retire he would take another job nobody wanted,” like helping to rebuild St. Mary of the Angels Parish in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the death of beloved pastor Fr. Bart Pax, OFM.
It was Lawrence, a loyal visitor, who recently asked Joe, “You got any photo albums?”, then photographed 173 snapshots to create a slide show for the funeral. “I will miss his smile, his laughter, his friendship,” said Lawrence, one of many who struggled to keep their emotions in check.
Eyes red from tears, Stephanie Gartrell described the past year as Joe’s caregiver. Until the end, “He was always active, ready for anything we had planned. He was just a good, humble man, no different than anybody else.” Little Sisters like Mary Imelda, the supervisor on Joe’s floor, knew him better than most. “One thing you should write,” she said, “is that he was always grateful. He always said he was ‘peachy’.”
Glory to God
At the funeral it was homilist Fr. Fred Link’s job to tie this all together. His role, he said, was “not to extol the deceased, rather to extol the Lord Jesus, who has given our brother eternal life. When I came in church today and stood in front of the body, I saw another friar standing next to me and I said, ‘Luscious Lucius,’” the nickname fawning females gave Joe years ago. Fred then turned to see “the person next to me was not a friar; it was a Little Sister.” Ooops.
Fred wondered “as Joe went through his ministerial life, maybe that was a source of temptation for him. Most of us don’t have anyone to call us ‘luscious’. God certainly called Joe his beloved. We extol God today who chose Joe. If today’s celebration is to have any meaning or significance, it is in accepting once again our call to be bearers of the Good News.
“When I got the readings [Joe chose], I said, ‘Yes, yes, it’s Joe. He’s giving God all the glory.” What struck Fred was the passage from 2 Corinthians: “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”
“We’re weak and fragile,” Fred said. “Joe knew his limitations. I had in my last ministry [as Provincial Minister] a chance to see this side of Joe,” the side that revealed, “‘I don’t have it all together’, but he placed himself as an earthen vessel for God” to serve his people.
“God has been so good”
In a message Joe wrote to be read at his funeral, he echoed the Gospel reading from Matthew that begins with praise for the Father and ends with, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In this letter of gratitude, “Joe said, ‘God has been so good to me and blessed me in so many ways,’” according to Fred. “He celebrated even the fact that God was embracing him with Sister Death.”
A Provincial Chronicle from 1962 quotes Joe saying of the friars’ presence at Bishop Luers High School, “It is good for us to be here.” In his ministerial life, “Joe had perhaps 25 different ministerial assignments,” Fred said, adding, “There were those who would say he was not very dependable. But it doesn’t take longer than one or two years to affect people’s lives. I would think everywhere he was Joe would say, ‘It is good for me to be here.’”
The proof of that was in condolences Fred read from around the country, notes that revealed the impact of “this instrument of God, this earthen vessel who was anointed. He’s still with us in Jesus and he’s blessing us.”
Our prayer today, Fred said, “is that we catch Joe’s spirit and realize our awesome dignity and realize that wherever the Lord takes us, it is good for us to be here.”
Putting himself last
Celebrant Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM, shared that sentiment. “I lived with Fr. Joe for a short time at St. Leonard, and he was always incredibly gracious and hospitable. He was always generous in meeting the needs of others and placing them above his own, coming out of retirement to take on problematic situations. I’ve always seen him as a model myself, to emulate the virtues he projected.”
The sharing continued after Mass as residents, friars, and Little Sisters lingered at the slide show playing on the TV screen. They saw Joe proudly posing with his mom and dad; dancing with students; preaching in Jamaica; enjoying what would be his final birthday.
Two friends reminisced about their last visits with Joe. “He didn’t go around like a sick person,” said one man. And the other agreed, “He was such a good guy, wasn’t he?” No one could argue with that.
This article first appeared in SJB NewsNotes December 10, 2015
Photos ©2015 Toni Cashnelli
Fr. John received this St. Anthony story from
fellow Franciscan friar J.J. Gonchar
The ‘Finding of the Lost’ was similar to what happened to me some months ago.
I had lost my house key. I searched everywhere for it but no luck. I searched my bedroom thoroughly more than once, for I might have dropped it there. I told myself that I would not worry about it, that St. Anthony would find it for me. My trust, however, was not that rock solid.
One day I began to look around again just in case. Lo and behold, there it was on the floor at the end of my bed, right out in the open. I could have sworn that I looked there more than once. To me, that was a miracle.
I’m not sure if it is naturally possible to look and not see what is really there. Be that as it may, I was and still am most grateful to St. Anthony. He has come through for me more than once.
May God be continually praised in and through him.
We’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: firstname.lastname@example.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.
Concert is a celebration of religious life
It’s the second full rehearsal for “Wake Up the World!” a concert to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life. More than 120 members of 16 religious communities in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati – including 21 friars – have donated their time and talent to the event, named for the apostolic letter in which Pope Francis sought to affirm and energize men and women in religious life.
Most of the year’s other activities – prayer services, seminars, open houses – are educational, informative. This hour-long concert is meant to inspire, to stir the soul, to communicate the joy of devoting one’s life to the Lord.
It’s the job of Fr. Fred Link, OFM, to pull this together. And he’s loving every minute of it.
He found 20 of his own brothers willing to help. “I’m humbled by the turnout and energy of the friars,” he says. Secretary Fr. Dan Anderson, OFM, part of a logistics committee, is writing a narrative for the program. Br. Gabriel Balassone, OFM, was asked to sing Ave Maria. Br. Gene Mayer, OFM, is coordinating refreshments.
The free concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016 at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, 325 W. 8th St. in downtown Cincinnati. Attendees are invited to a reception in the undercroft.
Learn more at the ‘Wake Up The World’ event page.
Read the full story in the SJB NewsNotes December 3, 2015
Photos ©2015 Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM
Prepare for Advent and the Holiday season with thoughtful books and gifts from our ministries
Advent prepares our hearts to receive Christ. Franciscan Media is your resource for inspiration and holiday gift-giving.
Love Is Our Mission: Pope Francis in America by CNS, USCCB, and Franciscan Media
The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent by Richard Rohr
Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek
A Franciscan Christmas by Kathleen M. Carroll
Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing by Amy Wellborn, illustrated by Ann Kissane Englehart
The Puppy That No One Wanted by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey
A gift subscription to St. Anthony Messenger magazine
~ ~ ~
The Franciscan Monastery Gift Shop in Washington, DC, offers everything from books and movies to hand-crafted objects from the Holy Land. Your purchases at the Holy Land Franciscan Monastery Gift Shop helps support the Franciscans in their mission of serving the people of the Holy Land and preserving the shrines of the Holy Land.
At the Sarah Center in Cincinnati, OH, women discover self, share healing, and create beauty. Their Holiday Sale features hand crafted jewelry, quilts, handbags, paintings, decorative items and more all made by Sarah Center Artists and Local Vendors.
Friday, Dec 4th – 4pm to 7pm
Saturday, Dec 5th – 4pm to 6pm
Sunday, Dec 6th – 11am – 4pm
The Sarah Center
1618 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 651-1532 www.facebook.com/SarahCenter
St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, PA, operates a small gift and book shop to help subsidize the retreat ministry.
In addition to religious books, statuary and other religious items, the shop features food products and other items such as beer soap, Holy water soap, fruitcakes from Franciscans in Ava, MO, Trappist candy, mugs, biscotti, caskets and urns all handmade by monks, hermits, friars and religious sisters from all over the country. The gift shop is open every day. Hours vary, so call ahead if you plan to visit.
To order any of these items, give Brother Mark a call at 1-610-258-3053, extension #34, or speak to the secretary in the front office. You may also place your order via e-mail at email@example.com and we will get back to you for all necessary information. Shipping charges are added to the items ordered and you can pay by credit card or check.
The Franciscan Friars and staff of the Province of St. John the Baptist wish you a Blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas!
Passion for peace, a heart for the poor
Accepting a prestigious award, Br. Al Mascia did something very predictable: He turned the attention elsewhere.
He thanked those who came to the awards dinner, including eight friars, his mother Mary and his cousin, Toni Ann Petersen. He praised those being honored in other categories. He mentioned by name each group that donates supplies for his outreach efforts.
Dozens of the 400 attendees at the Oct. 14, 2015 Awards Dinner of the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit were there because they know Al. “This is the most people who ever came to support an honoree in the history of the dinner,” said Lucinda Keils, a colleague in ministry.
No one seemed surprised that Al was receiving a Community Service Award. “He is loving, hospitable, caring, compassionate,” said Brendan Shaffer, OEF, an Episcopal deacon. “He’s a spirit-filled man who lives out his Christian faith, who puts his faith into action.”
In the audience at Shriners Silver Garden in Southfield, Mich., were members of a religious and cultural coalition that promotes change through understanding. It included Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Catholics and Buddhists, all aspiring to the ambitious objective expressed by Al. “At the end of the day,” he said, “we are a family of religions working together to help bring assistance and healing to those no matter their creed, and daring by our example to move beyond mere tolerance of one another to friendship and, God willing, abiding love.”
Even if you consider them cockeyed optimists, you have to admire their resolve. The world is a troubled place, always has been, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. That theory inspired Al to co-found the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace with Jewish troubador Steve Klaper and his wife, Mary Gilhuly, a Catholic artist. They figured that preaching is more palatable if it’s set to music or committed to canvas, and that outreach means just that: You go out and find the people in need.
Introducing Al at the dinner, Mary described his ministerial journey in Detroit, from the Canticle Café warming center at St. Aloysius to his bicycle cart ministry, from his tuneful collaboration with Steve to their decision almost five years ago to create an interfaith institute promoting peace and service.
A donated Dodge Sprinter van made their outreach mobile. “With it,” Mary said, “Br. Al could travel as far as a tank of gas would take him, serving ice cream at church festivals in Detroit, hot soup to shelters in the tri-county area, warm clothing on the streets and healthy SnackPax to young children experiencing food insecurity at home.”
Acknowledging his gratitude in an acceptance speech, Al shifted the focus to “we”, as in, “We depend upon the kindness of both friends and strangers in order to perform our compassionate acts of community service.” While those who help “really get the part about feeding hungry children and serving the desperately poor, what isn’t so easy for some to understand is why we place such an emphasis on our work and services being ecumenical and interreligious to the core. Tell me, how else are our human virtues and ethics to grow? How else will we be freed from the terror, fright and fear of those we do not understand without attempting to understand them?”
Mary put Al’s ministry into perspective.
“It’s not enough to do good things for others,” she said. “Hopefully, we all do that. What sets a ‘do-gooder’ apart is when he/she inspires others to serve as well. That’s the stuff that creates a legacy.
“That’s Brother Al.”
This story first appeared in the SJB News Notes October 22, 2015
Photos © 2015 Toni Cashnelli
St. Al’s street ministry in Detroit
Joking, jostling and trading football cheers, volunteers pile into a van in the alley behind St. Aloysius Church in Detroit.
“Go Blue!” shouts Michigan fan Ann O’Flaherty. “Go, Irish!” returns Joe Thilman – no mistaking that reference. At 7:45 on a frosty morning in Detroit, people have no business being this cheerful. Yet here they are, clad in aprons that read, “St. Aloysius Neighborhood Services”, heading to the site of their street ministry. OLG postulant Andrew Koon, the newest member of this merry band, pulls his wool cap over his ears and joins in the banter.
Br. Ed Gura hands up the last box of bologna and cheese sandwiches, hops into the front seat and signals the driver. “Why aren’t you wearing a coat?” someone asks. Ed shrugs. He’s serving hot coffee today; that will keep him warm.
A few blocks later they park across the street from the Rosa Parks Transit Center, where a couple dozen people are already forming a line. On a day too chilly for standing still, folks shove gloveless hands in the pockets of their ill-fitting coats or flap arms and stomp the ground for warmth. Dorian Bellinger alights from St. Al’s van with a boom box, sets it on the sidewalk, slips in a Motown CD and turns up the volume.
As the Supremes caution, You Can’t Hurry Love, Ann and Andrew unload boxes of sandwiches, shampoo, lotion, hair conditioner and toothpaste. Ed opens the back of the van and reaches for coffee cups. “What’s your pleasure today?” he asks a woman in line, as though she were a customer at Starbucks. “Can I get hot chocolate?” she asks. “Have a good day, my friend,” Ed tells her, handing over a steaming cup. “In the mind of God are constant thoughts of you.”
As the queue begins to move, Dorian holds up a hand: “Can we take one second to praise the Lord?”
Most breadlines remind you how hard life can be.
This one helps you forget. Amidst the music and camaraderie, it’s more like a party at which every guest knows everyone else. “We’ve been friends for five years,” says a grizzled guy named Lloyd, throwing an arm around Joe.
“I’m wondering what’s become of Phil?” Ed asks Ann’s husband, Dennis, his compatriot at the coffee station. “I haven’t seen him in a long time.” Richard, the next guest in line, holds up a cup. “The usual?” Ed says. Richard nods and smiles. “I’d like a little coffee with my cream and sugar.” The jokester behind him steps forward and announces, “I’ll take a latte.”
Most of these folks are regulars, says Ann, an 11-year veteran of St. Al’s street ministry. “It’s a mix of people,” says Ed, who with two years of experience at this calls himself “the new kid on the block.” Some are homeless and come directly from rescue missions like COTS, the Coalition On Temporary Shelter. “Some have places to live but are low-income,” including a number of seniors.
“This is sister Chris,” Ed says, pointing to a woman sporting a jaunty striped cap. “She always wants her coffee with cream and sugar. One day she’s gonna surprise me.” A middle-aged man named Anthony thanks Ed for the coffee and reveals, “I’m going to Hawaii,” then confides in a stage whisper, “I have my summer house in Detroit.”
It’s been “humbling”
Dorian sets a box on the sidewalk beside the food table. “I’ve got some pants and shirts I want to give out,” he says, sparking a flurry of activity. Joe greets each person in line with, “Good morning, good morning,” occasionally adding, “Go Irish!” Ann immediately counters, “Go Blue!”
Postulant Andrew, who hails from California, south of Palm Springs, looks cold and is cold. He chose St. Al’s as one of his ministries because “it would push me to my limits and challenge me.” So far, “It’s been a humbling experience. We have a lot to learn from people on the streets.” After three weeks at this, he says, “People are starting to look familiar. I just don’t know their names yet. All are needy, some not as much as others. Some people we give more than two sandwiches because of the way they’re living.”
A hand-written note on the window of the van reads, “God never promised us a convenient life.” On this stretch of sidewalk, at least for a moment, the cold and the cares are forgotten.
The philosophy of ministry is obvious: Joy is contagious. Pass it on.
Help and hope
“They’re so happy to see us, so thankful,” says Ann, explaining why she’s here every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. You’re sharing more than coffee and sandwiches, says Dorian. “The biggest thing you share with them is love. It makes them hopeful. People need to be loved.”
Each coffee customer receives a special greeting. “I like that smile,” Ed tells an older woman. “Keep smilin’!” When people need to talk, he leans in and listens intently, responding with a few quiet words or a pat on the shoulder. Everyone who wants one gets a hug.
An hour after they started, St. Al’s volunteers have dispensed eight gallons of hot beverages and distributed 150 sandwiches. Dorian picks up the boom box as his colleagues fold the table and pack the leftover toiletries.
“You guys ready to blow this pop stand?” Ann asks.
“Good job today,” Dorian says. “God bless.”
Learn more about St. Al’s in Detroit at: www.stalsdetroit.com
This story first appeared in the SJB News Notes November 12, 2015
Photos © 2015 Toni Cashnelli