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New Vocations team

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Vocations Director Fr. Page Polk and Associate Director Fr. Richard Goodin

The two new faces in the Vocation office are Fr. Page Polk, OFM, Director of Vocations (left) and Fr. Richard Goodin, OFM, Assoc. Director of Vocations (right).  The Vocation office is located on the grounds of the St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati, OH.

Fr. Page hails from Dallas, Texas while Fr. Richard was born and raised in Lebanon, KY.  Yes, there is an abundance of that wonderful “southern drawl” in the Vocations office now.

Fr. Page also serves on our Provincial Council.  He recently served as part of an Inter Provincial team of three asked by the seven Provincial Ministers to research the process for revitalizing and restructuring Franciscan life in the United States.

Walking FriarsFr. Richard served at Holy Family Parish in Galveston, Texas prior to coming to Cincinnati in July.  When Richard was in formation and ready to take his vows, he was one of the four friars that came up with the idea of the 300 mile walking pilgrimage to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land seeking to emulate the wanderings of St Francis.   It’s a great story if you have not read it yet.

Both men are filled with enthusiasm and wonderfully creative ideas.  They are available and eager to speak with and answer questions for anyone interested in becoming a friar.

“We want to measure success not by number of accepted applicants but by the quality of our pastoral care of all the men who contact us who need help discerning God’s call in their lives.  And when God does call one of them to become a friar minor-boy, oh boy are we ready to help them do just that!” says Fr. Richard.

Welcome Fr. Page and Fr. Richard.

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Julia left us laughing

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Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard

Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard

I love my job!

Usually when I got a call from Julia, I would hang up afterwards laughing and shaking my head.  One of our longtime supporters, she was a feisty and funny 85 year old woman.   We’d become friends over the phone and talked often about meeting in person.  She once told me that she could get away with saying anything now that she was older because people expect that from old people.

Julia was very proud of her grandson who had joined the friars a few years back.  He was a quiet and unassuming young man.   Although it had been a wonderful experience for him, he decided that he needed to step back and figure some things out.  He left the friars with the door open for his return. This did not change my relationship with Julia.  We still talked about once a month.  I think our humor was similar, and we laughed easily and frequently when we spoke.

Her last call to me was different.  Julia told me that she found out just days earlier that she had pancreatic cancer and in her words “did not have much time left on this earth”.   Although in pain, she was at peace and in good spirits and still very funny.  I was about ready to fall apart when she told me that she had to console the doctor because he was so sad to have to tell her how just how sick she was.  She felt sorry for him.   Really?

She went on to say: “I want to give one more gift as my legacy… so to speak”.    I wondered how in the world she could be thinking about this with everything she was going through.   She gave me her credit card and made a significant gift. She seemed to be happy to check something off the list of things she still wanted to do before she died.  She asked me with a giggle if I would ask Fr. Mark to pray for her too because he was so holy that he might have more pull than us.

I told her that we would all pray for her peaceful and happy passing which we did daily.  That was our last conversation.  Julia passed away less than two weeks later.   I think about her a lot and still pray for this wonderful Franciscan friend all the time.

If you would like to speak with Colleen about how you can give a gift to the Franciscans, contact her at:

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Another successful find thanks to St. Anthony

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trash phoneListening to the prompting of the Lord

I just wanted to send a gift and note to give thanks to God and St. Anthony for helping me to find my phone last week (June 13) that I lost on the Feast of St. Anthony.

I was frantically trying to prepare the house for the cleaning lady that morning and it was also trash day. So I made sure that the house was ready, lunches were made and the trash can was set out for pickup. We were running late, so it was not until we were already on our way to summer camp for the kids that I noticed I did not have my phone.

Normally, I would just go about the day trying to get by without it, but I strongly felt most of the morning while at work that I needed to go home and find my phone. So, I eventually decided that I should go home and look for it because the feeling just would not go away.

trashWhen I got home, I used the house phone to call my cell phone as usual to locate it because I could not find it in any of the usual spots. I also double-checked my car thinking that maybe I had actually brought it with me and it had fallen between the seats. I must have called at least 9 times while quietly walking around the house and the garage, but no phone.

Then, I remembered from the daily readings earlier that morning, that it was the Memorial of St. Anthony. So I asked the Lord for help and for St. Anthony to intercede and please help me find my phone. An image popped into my head of the trash can out in the driveway near the road, waiting for pickup. At first, I dismissed it as just not possible that my cell phone could be in there and I kept calling it using the house phone with no success. The image kept coming into my mind, however, so I finally decided after 30 minutes of searching that it was worth trying to see if it was in there.

I was so curious at this point, that I ran out to the trash can and swung open the lid. I immediately pulled out a bag that I knew I had thrown in the trash that morning and frantically untied the bag. There, lying on top of a pile of rubbish was my phone covered in gum. I did not even care about the gum, I was so happy to have my phone and so very happy that the trash man had not come yet!

I gave thanks to God and St. Anthony for a successful find! I am also grateful to God for giving me a chance to practice a word of knowledge (1Cor 12:8), which we have been working on in our charismatic prayer group.

PRAISE GOD! Hallelujah!


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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Fr. Colin King, a blessing to God’s people

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Fr. Colin with Avaree, the newest altar server at St. Mary's

Fr. Colin with Avaree, the newest altar server at St. Mary’s

After eight years of formation and study, newly ordained Fr. Colin King, OFM was eager to begin his first assignment as a priest and missionary in Negril, Jamaica where he spent his pastoral year as a friar minor before his ordination.

Fr. Colin left the US on July 19, 2017. Since he spent his pastoral year there, he is very familiar with the abundant needs in Jamaica and is passionate about the Get Kids to School Program. In lieu of gifts, he and John Ahearn from Holy Name Province asked that all of the gifts from their ordinations be donated to the Get Kids to School program.

“Colin hit the road running! It was like he was never gone. He sweats profusely because of the heat and humidity. He is  a wonderful blessing to the friar community here and to God’s people; especially the youth” said Fr. Jim Bok.

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Fr. Jim Bok keeping limitations in perspective

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Fr. Jim at his 70th birthday party

Fr. Jim at his 70th birthday party

Word spread fast about the breaking of my leg the night I had my 70th birthday party.  Thanks to everyone for your concern and prayerful support.  I am currently in the rehab process which is going well.  For an old-timer, my progress is amazingly good—or so says my surgeon and therapist.  Let’s chalk that up to good genes (thanks mom and dad) and a stiff upper lip (had to say that since I live in a former British Colony).  My positive outlook and hopeful spirit is helpful too.

Though, I confess my stay in the Savanna-la-mar hospital emergency room for 15 hours and in Montego Bay Hospital for five days was a great challenge to the up-beat me.  I was miserable.  The spirits rose when I was told I was going home on Saturday.  On Sunday morning, I headed to Mass in a wheelchair propelled by somebody else.  Welcomes and good wishes were plentiful.  My spirits were buoyed.  Then we came to the exchange of peace.  Tracy, twenty-five, severely handicapped and deformed, carried by her grandmother, Maureen, came to me in my wheelchair, to bring their peace and receive mine.  I could barely refrain from sobbing.  That I should be miserable even for a day.  I will leave my wheelchair behind soon enough.  Not so, Tracy!

I see the same people, places and things as I did several weeks ago.  Now I see them in a different light.  It’s funny how misfortunes or trials, or breaking your leg can keep your focus where it belongs; on the other and not the self.

Fr. Jim and Nickoy

Fr. Jim and Nickoy

In my need to get out of the house I was determined to join our Friday morning trip to the grocery store.  And I knew what I must do.  Arriving in the parking lot, I got into my wheelchair and headed directly for Nickoy McKay!  I spun around and backed in right next to him.  Nickoy sits outside Hi-Lo most days.  He has a rare disease which confines him to a wheelchair.  I never pass him without a greeting and I always get a smile.  He knew of my broken leg and wished me a return to good health.  We commiserated on life in a wheelchair.  Eventually, I get to leave mine but he does not.

And I’ve thought of my dad a lot these past few weeks.  He suffered with ALS for about eight years.  I watched the neuro-muscular disease slowly sap his ability to move and talk and ultimately breathe.  He had much to complain about and had to be miserable now and then.  Confined to a wheelchair and ultimately bed, he never complained, was never upset with God and always kind to his caregivers.  To this day I do not know where that came from.  Dad has helped me keep my “sufferings and limitations” in perspective.

It has been some time now since I complained about my broken leg and poor me.  I think of Tracey, her grandma, Nickoy, my dad, and so many others.  Your well wishes and prayers, and the support of wonderful benefactors, have pushed me along to better health; physically, emotionally and spiritually.  And I cannot wait to take J.B. (our dog) to the beach for our regular walk, run and swim!

Physical therapist Ms. Addiman assesses Fr. Jim's situation.

Physical therapist Ms. Addiman assesses Fr. Jim’s situation.

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Success and Failure Indicators

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Fr. Jim Van Vurst

Fr. Jim Van Vurst

The other day I came across a list of qualities both positive and negative that we see as criteria for “success” or “failure” in most people’s lives.  I thought they provided a simple and yet realistic way of understanding our strengths and weaknesses as we walk through life with our family and friends.

1.   Have a sense of gratitude.
2.   Give other people credit
3.   Read something every day.
4.   Stay informed.
5.   Talk about issues, ideas.
6.   Seek information.
7.   Accept change.
8.   Forgive others.
9.   Be happy with other’s success.
10. Have reasonable goals.
11. Be open to new learning.

The above suggested criteria seem rather reasonable and very much on target. The positive personality traits/attitudes/manner of behaving (in this case) are not about our relationship with God or faith system though most if not all seem to be what the Gospel holds out to us as part of a description of a good Christian, e.g. forgiveness, gratitude, and such. But they also include what we might call “natural virtues” that assist us as good human beings and help us develop naturally.

On the other hand, we can also spot indicators of our failure to be healthy and secure persons.

1.   Having a sense of entitlement.
2.   Being quick to criticize.
3.   Holding grudges.
4.   Being quick to blame.
5.   Fearing change.
6.   Hoarding information.
7.   Reacting with anger.
8.   Being a “know it all.”
9.   Hoping others will fail.
10. Never setting goals.
11. Having an attitude of rigidity.

Most of us hope we don’t have any of these negatives, though in all honesty there might be one or two we struggle with. Personality tendencies can be a result of early learning and experience. For couples planning to marry, it is important to understand the qualities, both positive and negative of each other. That’s why in almost all US dioceses the FOCUS QUESTIONNAIRE with 189 questions is an important tool of preparation. We say love is blind, because in the eagerness to be married, it is easy to overlook key personality issues. At least in a few cases, after taking this test and prayerfully analyzing the results, couples were able to see the serious incompatibility of their personality/emotional differences as well as some deeply held beliefs before making that lifetime commitment.

Fr. Jim

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