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St. Anthony's Breadbasket E-newsletter gives you an opportunity to learn more about St. Anthony of Padua and how he continues to inspire the Franciscan friars in their work today, especially among the poor.

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New Leadership Team

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On May 31st, elections were held at the Provincial Chapter meeting at St. Meinrad Abbey in Indiana. Our newly elected leadership team (from left) Councilors Br. Vince Delorenzo, OFM, and Br. John Barker, OFM; Minister Provincial Mark Soehner, OFM, Vicar Bill Farris, OFM, Councilors Fr. Bob Bruno, OFM, and Fr. Page Polk, OFM.  May “God give his grace” on our new ministers!

Fr. Mark and Fr. Bill are both in the process of moving to Cincinnati from Michigan.  We look forward to working with this strong leadership team and ask that you keep them in your prayers as they plan for our future as Franciscans and examine ways to revitalize Franciscan life in the US.

Past blog posts about Fr. Mark Soehner:
Fr. Mark’s Year of Mercy presentation and video
JoAnne Queenan’s article on Fr. Mark from 2014

Photos of the Provincial Chapter on Flickr

Current and past Provincial Ministers:

Newly elected Provincial Minister Fr. Mark Soehner (center) is flanked by former Provincials Fr. Fred Link, Fr. John Bok, Fr. Jeff Scheeler, and Fr. Jeremy Harrington

Newly elected Provincial Minister Fr. Mark Soehner (center) is flanked by former Provincials Fr. Fred Link, Fr. John Bok, Fr. Jeff Scheeler, and Fr. Jeremy Harrington.

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Pilgrims invoke St Anthony’s help.

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Marie is grateful for the intercession of St. Anthony.

I am sending this donation to St. Anthony’s Bread in appreciation for a favor from St. Anthony.

On Saturday, April 30, we were finishing up a pilgrimage of the Iberian Peninsula, including visits to Fatima, Burgos, Lourdes and Barcelona.  On returning from an excursion to Montserrat, my friend realized that she could not find her prescription sunglasses.  We all started praying to St. Anthony, but they did not seem to be anywhere in her purse or on the bus.  She figured she had left them in one of the shops we had visited prior to boarding the bus.  Our tour guide called a fellow tour guide who was visiting Montserrat that afternoon and asked that they keep an eye out for the glasses.

That evening we had our last excursion on the same bus.  As a final check I looked down between the seats and saw the glasses, which were in a white case, wedged between the seats and sticking out a little.  I’m sure that the glasses weren’t there when we originally looked.  They would have been so noticeable due to the contrast of the white against the dark colors of the seat cushions and floor.  Perhaps they were dislodged while we were driving, but I’d like to thank St. Anthony for the divine intercession.

With much gratitude to St. Anthony!

Marie in Pennsylvania

St. AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: 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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June 13 is the Feast of St. Anthony!

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Celebrate with the Franciscans!

June 13 is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua.  St. Anthony, one of the most popular saints in the Church, was born in 1195 and died in 1231.  He was only 36 at the time of his death.  Despite his relatively few years here on earth, St. Anthony accomplished much.  On June 13 we honor St. Anthony in a special way and thank him for his many intercessions in our needs.

St. Anthony relicAll day tomorrow at St. Anthony Shrine, 5000 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio there will be services honoring St. Anthony.  The listed times are all eastern daylight saving time.  For those of you outside of Cincinnati, you may want to join us in spirit and prayer.

7:30 a.m. Mass:  Fr. Mike Chowning, O.F.M., Presider
10:30 a.m. Mass:  Fr. Roger Lopez, O.F.M., Presider
12 Noon Mass:  Fr. Colin King, O.F.M., Presider
2:30 p.m. Devotions and Benediction: Fr. Frank Geers, O.F.M., Presider
7:00 p.m. Mass:  Fr. Clifford Hennings, O.F.M., Presider

Blessing with the St. Anthony Relic and distribution of
Blessed Bread in honor of St. Anthony after each service

I mentioned that St. Anthony lived a relatively short life.  But in that short life he accomplished what God intended him to accomplish.  Many others accomplished much in their short lives:  Jesus Christ (33), St. Francis of Assisi (45), St. Mary Magdalene (44), John F. Kennedy (46), Martin Luther King (39), Joan of Arc (19), Alexander the Great (32), Amelia Earhart (40), George Gershwin (38).  God has given each of us a limited number of years here on earth.  May St. Anthony help us to use the years we are given as wife, husband, mother, father, employer, employee to accomplish the most we can.  None of us will probably become famous, but each of us can have a significant impact on the small world in which we live and work.

Through the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua may God bless us abundantly.

St. Anthony Bread

St. Anthony Bread

Directions to the National Shrine of St. Anthony

St. Anthony Novena Prayers

Post your Prayer Requests or Pray for Others

Photos of past Feast Day Celebrations.


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Book raises $17,000 for Jamaican Missions.

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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.

I wrote in a previous newsletter that Barb had written a children’s book called In the Land of Soon Come.  The story is told from a teacher’s experience of hearing and answering God’s call after encountering Jamaica, a land of contrast, for the first time.  Although many people think of Jamaica as sandy beaches and sunshine, there is also the harsh reality of extreme poverty and those living with almost nothing.  “It’s a learning story intended to expose children to different cultures and lifestyle,” Barb says, “to create a missionary heart at an early age and help them see God is present in everyday life.”

BookOn April 30, 2016, fifteen hundred books arrived at her home.  Her husband, John, teased her that she did not have 1500 friends to buy them.  She started working on selling those books that day and has not stopped yet. There were two book signings and 6 local parishes allowed her to sell the books after Mass.  She made slide presentations at two nursing homes, a bible study group and an elementary school.

She received orders from all over the country.  One person bought 24 copies and gave them to her sister who taught second grade in a Catholic school in Indiana.  There was a woman in Myrtle Beach who sent enough money to buy three books but told her to keep two for the kids.

“My original goal was to raise $20,000 and I made a promise that I would not stop until every book was sold”, says Barb.  She is close.  As of today there are 220 books left.

100% of all proceeds are going to help the missions…that’s right 100%.   We are so grateful for all the incredible work that went into this effort to help the missions.

jim-edit-250“The Gospel cannot be preached without money,” says Fr. Jim Bok, O.F.M., Pastor of Mary Gate of Heaven Church in Negril, Jamaica, and the recipient of money generated by Barb’s book.  “Luke 1:1-3 tells that Jesus went from village to village preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and his company were the twelve and some women…who supported them out of their means,” Fr. Jim recalls with delight.  “From the very beginning of the preaching of the Gospel by Jesus and the Twelve there were benefactors behind the scenes supporting the preachers.”  As Fr. Jim sees it, it is very much the same today.  “Barbie has been a life-long friend and has seen the poverty and need in Jamaica.  Like the women in Luke’s Gospel, Barbie is behind the scenes helping us to proclaim the Gospel,” says Fr. Jim.  This money helps us send 200 kids to school every day.

If you would like to order a copy call Barb at (H) 513-521-4536 or (C) 513-703-0065 or send an email

A book(s) will be mailed upon receiving your address and information for personalizing copy. Books are $15 each and includes shipping.

Students and parents stand in front of Josey the school van with Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, outside St. Anthony's Kitchen

Students and parents stand in front of Josey the school van with Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, outside St. Anthony’s Kitchen

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In Praise of a Franciscan Friend Whose Legacy Reflected Her Life

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Barbara Sonnenberg

Barbara Sonnenberg

“I loved her dry sense of humor and her ability to engage you in intelligent conversation,” says Sister Ann Bartko, abbess of the Monastery of St. Clare in Cincinnati, of the late Barbara Sonnenberg.  “ I experienced Barbara as a woman with integrity who did not put on airs; she was true to who she was.”

Barbara was one of the most Franciscan people I have ever known. She was a Secular Franciscan in St. Margaret of Cortona Fraternity for over 50 years. She held every office there and many of them multiple times. Barbara served well on the advisory board of St. Anthony Messenger Press for many years.

After leaving generous gifts to two friends, Barbara gave the bulk of her estate to Cincinnati’s Poor Clare nuns and the friars of St. John the Baptist Province.

She was especially concerned about the senior friars, whom she sometimes joined at Mass at St. Margaret Hall, not far from her home. She brought Holy Communion to parishioners and Catholics in two senior residence facilities. Barbara brought Holy Communion to sick members of St. Mary Parish and assisted at countless funerals there over the years.

Before she retired from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, she served in several branch libraries and eventually headed the lending department at the main library downtown. Barbara was a great promoter of literacy and for several years tutored adults who were learning to read.

“Barbara and I shared a birthday, which bonded us,” says Natalie Schoeny, a longtime friend and fellow parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Hyde Park. “I am so honored to have known her and been a party to her dry wit as we volunteered together! She made the ordinary a bit more extraordinary as she would weave her stories of daily life. She often would say ‘Do you get it?’ or ‘that kind of thing,’ trying to get reactions worthy of her storytelling. She never wanted to be in the limelight, but to me she was the limelight, shining happily or sarcastically on many occasions. Missing her till we meet again!”

A Franciscan to the core, she felt very much at home whenever she was able to visit Assisi. Her sense of humor was very sharp but never mean; no irony ever escaped her. This picture, my favorite one of her, resulted from being coaxed into allowing her friend Natalie Schoeny to take it after a St. Patrick’s Day party.

I will miss my dear friend but her Franciscan spirit lives on, both in the life she lived and the legacy she left. She steadfastly avoided public recognition; she will certainly have something to say about what I have written here!

Fr. Pat McCloskey, OFM, is the Franciscan Editor of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

St. FrancisOnce 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. 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. To receive your organizer, contact Colleen Cushard at 513-721-4700 or at or download from our website.

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Exciting news from Fr. John!

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“Actions speak louder than words;
let your words teach and your actions speak.”
–St Anthony of Padua

We are excited to bring you some great news from an anonymous benefactors whose actions are speaking louder than words.  Like many of you, he loves St Anthony and wanted to do something special this year to help the poor and also honor St. Anthony.

He is offering a matching grant for anyone who makes a gift of any amount to St Anthony Bread for the poor from Tuesday, May 16 through Tuesday, June 13, 2017… the feast of St Anthony.  He is willing to match ALL gifts made for the poor, dollar for dollar up to $10,000 during those dates.

If you’ve been thinking of making a gift, this would be a great time to do so.  Your gift is doubled.  100 percent of these gifts will be used for the poor.

StA Bread donation 300Your gift of $25 becomes $50, $100 becomes $200…you get the picture.

Please take advantage of this generous offer by responding to this Matching gift challenge. Make sure to click on St Anthony Bread for the poor.   Thank you for letting your actions speak for you and for the poor.

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Br. Gabriel sings Jesus the Lord

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“Let all creation bend the knee, to the Lord”

The beautiful hymn, Jesus the Lord, by Roc O’Connor, SJ, has been sung by many choirs and soloists but this rendition by bassist Br. Gabriel Balassone, OFM, is truly a stand-out.

GabrielRecorded in 2014 at the St. Anthony Shrine when Br. Gabriel was a mere 81 years old, his deep voice expresses the song’s prayerful message of the Paschal Mystery.

Susan Quirk, the pianist for the St. Anthony Shrine, a long-time friend and collaborator with Br. Gabriel accompanies him.

Other stories and videos about Br. Gabriel:

A Voice at St. Anthony Shrine – July 9, 2013

Working in harmony – March 2, 2017

O Holy Night – recorded December 2014

Jesus the Lord
, (c) 1981, Robert F. O’Connor, S.J. And OCP, 5536 NE Hassalo, Portland, OR 97213. All rights reserved. Used with permission.



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The Breath of God Within Us

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universe-1044107 EDIT 600“Yahweh”

Fr Jim Van VurstIt is amazing how the revelation given us by God in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, says so much in so few words. In fact, though Genesis is 50 chapters long, it is really the first three chapters that are the most important.

In Chapter One, the revealed word of God tells of God as creator first of the entire universe.  Science has been exploring the universe and will continue to do so until the end of time. It’s no wonder that scripture says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.” (Ps. 19:1) We are so fortunate to live at a time when, with space exploration and unbelievably powerful telescopes floating in space, we can view God’s creation. And we are learning more and more each day.

But much more important than material creation, God is described as the giver of life. It begins with the lowest forms and continues to the very highest … the first human beings.  And it is here in the most simple yet astounding imagery that we read this significant statement: “Then God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7) Eve, taken from the rib of Adam, comes to life. And both are made in God’s image and likeness. And as with the whole account of creation described in Genesis, we know it is the underlying truths rather than a literal understanding of the details of creation as recorded in Genesis that are important. That is especially true of the image of God breathing life into the nostrils of Adam. It is so powerful and direct that it leaves no doubt God is the origin of all life.

baby-1531060 CROP 250But what is most striking is what happens at the beginning of a human being’s life at the moment of birth. An infant leaves the protective womb of its mother and takes (inhales) its first breath which it must do in order let out a “cry of new life.” That little phrase, “takes a new breath” is significant because it seems a perfect image of God’s own first breath in the account of Adam’s creation. Some might say “big deal” and brush that first moment of life aside. But as it breathes in, the newborn is in a way “taking in the breath of God” described in Genesis as God breathed life into Adam.

You might be curious as to how many breaths a human being takes in and breathes out in one’s lifetime? On average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. The person who lives to 80 will take about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime. Who could count? The body/person will be alive as long as he or she can continue breathing.

But then at the end of life there is a last breath that is exhaled and the person completes his life on earth. In other words, that last breath is the last time a person will say through his breath, “Yahweh”, i.e. God.

Even with all the physiology we can study about the process of breathing on the part of every human, it is astounding to think that each breath in (“Yah”) and each breath out (“weh”) proclaims our heavenly Father’s name.

creation-of-man-1159966 CROP 225 x 191+You can share your prayers with us and our online community at our Prayer Page.
+Pray for others who have also posted their needs and concerns at View Prayer Concerns.
+St. Anthony was devoted to prayer to the Lord, read his words at St. Anthony Prayers.

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Book recommendations from Franciscan Media

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Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life
Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi

Recalling his own Holy Land pilgrimage experience, Monsignor Peter Vaghi explores three significant events in the life of the early Church that can be traced back to the Upper Room in Jerusalem (sometimes called the “Cenacle”) in order to guide us to a deeper appreciation and understanding of living the Christian life in prayer, worship and service.

Upper RoomEach of the book’s three parts is dedicated to one of these key moments in the history of our faith: the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist, the post-resurrection appearances of Christ to his followers, and the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles at Pentecost.

The walk with the Lord is a continued encounter with Him in the power of Holy Spirit. In Meeting God in the Upper Room, Monsignor Vaghi captures the various integral ways in which we continue in our day to meet the Risen Lord—in the sacraments; in our prayer lives; in our profession of Easter faith; in our works of charity and service; in our devotion to Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother; in the experience of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; in the call to evangelize and our efforts to evangelize in our own day—in our homes, workplaces, places of leisure, in our travel. All of these make up the rich and continued spiritual legacy of that Upper Room and what happened there.

In writing about the Upper Room, Monsignor Vaghi tells of not just its historical significance, but its profound spiritual significance. It was there that Christ and his disciples retreated from the world in order to teach and learn, respectively, how they could carry on the faith. And as we set aside time to enter the “Upper Room” of our own life, we discover that Jesus is waiting to meet us there as well.

–Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi is pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland, and a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Wendell Berry and the Given Life
Ragan Sutterfield

We drive to work on the stored energy of ten thousand years of sunlight. Our daily bread seems to generate miraculously from store shelves. And our communities can be connected with a billion ones and zeros over fiber optic cables. For us, the idea of being a creature can seem passé. Yet in this lonely world of mastery, in a time so dominated by human desire and design that it has been dubbed the “anthropocene,” the human age, many of us feel that we are missing some essential truth about who we are.

Berry_Shadow 200 x 300The glimpses of this truth come when we lose cell reception on a long hike in the forest and our eyes are lifted to the simple marvel of trees. We feel this truth when we take up a shovel and sense the satisfying heave of dirt as we plant a modest garden. We hear this truth when we tune out the traffic and listen to the song sparrow’s melody, eavesdropping on a beauty that serves no human economy. In all this we hear a whisper of the truth that we are creatures—and we long to live in this reality. But how can we, when we have moved so far from our life source in the soil?

For the past 50 years, Wendell Berry has been helping seekers chart a return to the practice of being creatures. Through his essays, poetry and fiction, Berry has repeatedly drawn our attention to the ways in which our lives are gifts in a whole economy of gifts.

Berry presents us with the sort of coherent vision for the lived moral and spiritual life that we need now.  His work helps us remember our givenness and embrace our life as creatures. His insights flow from a life and practices, and so it is a vision that can be practiced and lived—it is a vision that is grounded in the art of being a creature.

Wendell Berry and the Given Life articulates his vision for the creaturely life and the Christian understandings of humility and creation that underpin it.

–Ragan Sutterfield is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, and a memoir, This Is My Body.

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St. Anthony’s sweet intercession.

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easter-bunny-95096_1920 EDIT 600

Lost money could’ve been a real hardship but St. Anthony came through once again.

The parishioners in my church decided to provide chocolate rabbits for displaced children this Easter.  We collected donations and I was going to do the shopping.

Thank You Crop final Vignette 250On the morning I was to go to the store, I could not locate the envelope containing a nice amount of money for the candy.

I searched the house, turning over the garbage on the floor, going through newspapers, every drawer, my purse, etc.

Praying to St. Anthony I promised to write a letter to you if the money was found.  Several friends and family also prayed.

Although I am low-income, I thought I would make up the money which would have been a hardship for me.

After three days, I was going through a binder and found the envelope with the money.

The children will be so delighted and so am I.  Thank you for your intercession, St. Anthony.


Shrine 041 EDIT 115We’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: 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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