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: email@example.com
In 1987, Fr. Joe Rayes, OFM wrote a book called Living Religious Vows, but what impressed people the most was that he lived what he preached. Fr. Joe was a passionate man proud of his Lebanese heritage. He gladly proclaimed the mercy of God to all. He was a friar for 56 years and died at the age of 76 in 2007.
Recently Dan Nolan, a former friar began working at the front desk here at the friary. He is a joyful and fun loving person willing to help with absolutely everything and anything. One morning Dan started telling me a story about when he lived with Fr. Joe in Houma, Louisiana. Dan tells me that he would jokingly say that he loved to preach the Gospel, but really had only three themes in his homilies: 1. God loves us beyond all understanding, 2. God loves us beyond all understanding, and 3. God loves us beyond all understanding. The Gospel or “good news” for Fr. Joe was all about God’s love.
Not more than a few minutes later, I received a gift on line from a man named Rudy that wrote in memory of Fr. Joe Rayes in the comments section. I sent an email to thank him and mentioned that coincidently we had just been having a conversation about Fr. Joe.
He sent an email back to me. It was so touching that I asked him if I could share this with all of you. His second note said simply “Anything to honor Fr. Joe”. His email is below:
I learned much about God from Fr. Joe during the time he was my spiritual director in the late 1980’s while serving as Director of the Lumen Christi Retreat Center in Houma, LA. The wisdom of Joe Rayes taught me that:
· God is a God of surprises.
· God is slow, but he is always on time.
· God draws straight with crooked lines.
· We must waste time with God and those we love.
· Each of us is a mixture of mud and gold.
· We each have weeds growing amongst the wheat of our interior lives.
· The road of life is hard for everyone; but have faith because . . .
· We are all on a pilgrimage to God.
· The kingdom of God is in the here and now.
· All are called.
· Live in the present moment.
· Discernment is essential to decision making.
· Prayer is the way to God.
· Have faith: to desire is to obtain; to aspire is to achieve.
· With God all things are possible.
Joe Rayes had a profound impact on my life.
Thank you Rudy for allowing us to honor Fr. Joe with your beautiful tribute!
I am told that if Fr. Joe were here to read the above passage, he’d likely be a little embarrassed. He signed the letters OFM behind his name; Order of Friars Minor. To be “Minor,” to be lesser, to be a servant, and to be humble. Fr. Joe lived his life with Franciscan joy and humility.
The iconic images of St. Francis made by artist Sr. Kay Berger, OSF, were modeled after Fr. Joe including this drawing of St. Francis praying.
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.”
On 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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A book(s) will be mailed upon receiving your address and information for personalizing copy. Books are $15 each and includes shipping.
Lent with St. Francis, 2017: Meditations and Prayers for Each Day of Lent was very popular and we completely ran out. We asked you to share your thoughts about the booklet. Mark Carroll, Secular Franciscan from Bay Village had some compelling thoughts that we decided to share with you.
“I have been through Lent with St. Francis several times, and I wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed this booklet, and how relative to each day it seems to be.
When I first received them, my initial thought was “seems awfully small.” Nonetheless, it is often in our smallness we are able to see with greater clarity, those things that in our fullness we choose to disregard.
The tone not only for Lent, but our lives as well is set in the very first writing by Thomas of Celano.
“Humility is the guardian and ornament of all virtues. If the spiritual building does not rest on it, it will fall into ruin.”
What a humbling way to approach the beauty and significance of this sacred season.
Peace and every good always,
Mark Carroll, ofs
Due to the popularity of the booklet we have no more physical copies to give away but you can still read it online through Franciscan Media.
Or visit our Face Book page, St. Anthony Shrine, for daily posts.
Have you enjoyed Lent with St. Francis? Do you have suggestions or comments. Email us at email@example.com
Br. Tim Lamb, OFM from this Province lives at St. Anthony Friary and serves as Secretary of Formation and Master of the House of Theology for the Province of St. Francis in Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius. He lives in Lang’ata, Nairobi, Kenya. It is very spartan living.
The 24 friars in the community share two cars. The electricity goes out on a regular basis and they wash their clothes by hand. Until very recently many of the friars were walking to and from school. Thanks to a grant from the Franciscan mission office, they were able to purchase 15 bicycles.
“We are not short on needs here. This is partly due to the places we have chosen to serve. We target isolated and poorly developed villages. The people in the parishes we serve support the friars, but in food stuff, very little by way of cash. We have to depend on the kindness of our benefactors”, writes Brother Tim.
Some of those needs are as follows:
• An addition to the present building. They are expecting 8 additional friars in August and currently only have room for two more.
• A generator which would help monitor and maintain electricity for essential things like the water pump for the bore hole (well) and refrigeration for food. This generator would also prevent damage to electrical equipment in the house due to fluctuations in power which accompany any power outage, which happens at least once or twice a week.
• A new (used) truck for shopping and hauling.
• 2 green houses to provide on-going vegetables for self-sufficiency .(There are two growing seasons, but year round pests, (insects, birds and rats) make growing out of doors difficult.
In Subukia, Kenya the friars have been instrumental in building a water supply for the area, built a medical dispensary, an orphanage, housing for internally displaced persons due to armed conflicts, and a residential high school. This is very typical of the work of the friars.
The cost to sponsor one student friar is roughly $3,000 US dollars per year. Brother Tim’s goal would be to find sponsors for all of the friars in formation. There are about 98 friars in initial and priestly formation. Each sponsorship would include pictures, a biography and regular updates from your friar. Would you like to sponsor a friar in Africa? Could a group you belong to sponsor a friar?
Would you like more information about how you can help our efforts in Africa? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you connected to Br. Tim. Keep up with Br. Tim on a regular basis through his blog, Omnes donum est.
See more photos of Br. Tim and his ministry on our Flickr page.
The article below was first published on August 9, 2016
It may be worth a double take when you see a Franciscan friar in habit visiting a local brewery and blessing the beer. About a year ago, we were approached by one of the owners of Urban Artifact, a local craft brewery located in Northside, Ohio. Brett Kollmann Baker was inquiring about how we might collaborate to raise money for our ministry and mission.
The St. Anthony Shrine is located in the neighborhood (less than two miles away) and the community-minded owners wanted to create a unique platform to help those less fortunate. The Urban Artifact taproom is located in the former St. Patrick’s church built in 1873. So the idea of creating a special St. Anthony’s Quad beer was born. “Being a community minded steward is doing good and giving back when you can. In that regard, we related closely to the Franciscan friars and their mission.”
This was certainly an intriguing idea and peaked my interest. Yes, it is different but then, times are different. Many organizations are looking for ways to educate younger people about their mission. The Franciscans are no different. The meeting was set. Fr. Carl Langenderfer, Shrine Guardian and Fr. Frank Jasper, Vicar had the difficult task of tasting some of the beers.
But back to Urban Artifact. How do they harvest wild yeast?
It was really interesting even for me. Full disclosure, I am not a beer fan (yeast allergies) and certainly did not know anything about what it takes to brew a beer. As enthusiastic brewmasters, they explained the fairly complicated process. We kicked around some ideas and decided to go for it. We liked the idea that Urban Artifact makes flavors that are unique and true to the area.
The first step was to place twenty-eight jars covered with cheese cloth and filled with unfermented beer around the Shrine property for about 14 hours to catch the wild yeast. Once collected, it then is left to sit for three months.
On May 16, Brew Day, Fr. Carl prepared a very fitting blessing while Josh Elliott, the brewmaster allowed Fr. Carl and Fr. Frank to help pour ingredients into the mash for the appropriately named St Anthony’s Quad beer.
The St Anthony Quad beer is a Belgian style quad currently aging in wine barrels from Napa Valley. Fr. Carl goes down to check on it every now and then and has been very pleased with the progress. Once the beer is ready for tapping, we’ll have a release party with proceeds going to our ministry and mission. In addition to the keg, they will also bottle the beer for people to buy as gifts or to take home and enjoy.
We hope you will join us. Cheers!
Read Fr. Carl’s Beer Blessing.
To learn more about and get directions to Urban Artifact, click here.
Colleen Cushard, Co-Director of Friar Works, has the best job.
When I was applying for the job with the Franciscans, I vividly remember Fr. Jim Bok telling me that he had the best job in the Province. Ten years later, Fr. Jim is working as a missionary in Negril, Jamaica and that statement still holds true. Only now I am the one saying it. This job has allowed me to interact with some of the most caring and giving individuals, couples and groups you could ever meet. Two of those people are Steve and Heidi.
While doing a 20 year plus stint serving in the military, Steve & Heidi have had the opportunity to witness true poverty around the world. Now that their “nest is empty”, they have been able to do some vacation traveling together. Heidi & Steve started going to Jamaica about 10 years ago and were immediately impressed with the Mary Gate of Heaven community in Negril. Back then, Fr. Gonchar and Brothers Vince & Tom were running the show.
Fr. Jim Bok arrived as Pastor in 2008 and the dialogue has continued. “We feel blessed that over the past 10 years, we have been in a position to help out on a regular basis. We especially love to watch the children participate in the Liturgy and, over the years, have been able to watch many of the parish families grow”, said Steve.
Not only have Steve and Heidi been supporting our mission work in Negril each month, but they also do something very special each November. This year Steve and Heidi celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary. Each year, they take the money they would have spent on anniversary gifts for each other and donate it to Fr. Jim’s work in Negril instead. The amount gets a little bigger each year based on the number of years they have been together.
The first time Steve called in to make the “anniversary” donation and told me the idea behind it, I almost teared up by this selfless act. Then, as I was gathering his information, I asked for his address. When it came to city and state, he told me he lived in Niceville, Florida. All I could say was…of course you do!
Thank you Steve and Heidi for all you do to make our work possible. We wish you many more happy years together.
Co-Director Friar Works
If you would like to learn more about supporting the friars, please email Colleen at email@example.com or call 513-721-4700 ext 3219 or click here.
Light a candle, offer a Mass, or make a gift on our Donation Page.
Br. Michael Charron has been attending the Appalachian School of Law (ASL) for about a month now. ASL’s mission is to produce lawyers with a sense of professional responsibility who will become leaders in their communities beyond just talking about the law to actually experiencing it through an emphasis on practical skills and an externship program.
Br. Michael spent the last seven months in Mexico learning Spanish. He is grateful now that he does not have to work so hard at understanding or being understood but it is coming in handy in his new surroundings. He’s already used it to order dinner at a Mexican restaurant but he knows there will plenty more opportunities to hone his Spanish speaking skills.
He is excited about spending the next three years in Grundy, Virginia. The classes are small (about 40 students) and the school requires community service. “I’m most interested in the CASA program which would allow me to be an advocate in court for an abandoned, abused, or neglected child. I am hoping to do my required externship this summer with a local legal aid group,” says Brother Michael.
The only thing that is a little different right now is not living in fraternity. “It’s just weird. That is the only way I can describe it. I miss praying and eating with the friars. Simply being together for better or worse has been the norm and it is strange not having it. I miss simply being with other friars,” says Michael. He plans to stay in regular contact with many of his brothers that are only a couple of hours away and is determined to stay as connected fraternally as possible.
On April 19th, Br. Chris Meyer, OFM, left the US for his new ministry in Jamaica, “I’m looking forward to continuing the work friars are doing across [the Diocese of] Montego Bay,” said Br. Chris. He is living at the St. Joseph friary in Savanna-la-mar with Fr. Max Langenderfer, Br, Louie Zant and Br. Tom Gerchak. A few days after his arrival, he met to discuss opportunities in technology with the diocese. Br. Chris will be serving as the Communications Director dealing with internal and external communications helping the Diocese of Montego Bay establish an online presence.
Just a few weeks after he settled in, Br. Chris returned to the States to attend the All Province Assembly (APA) in St. Meinrad, Indiana. It was a week of fraternity, prayer, learning and discussion for 115 of the friars of this Province. Br. Chris taught an enlightening class in social media to the friars.
At the APA the celebration of his new mission also took place.
“It’s always a powerful moment when the brothers extend their hands and pray over you,” Chris Meyer said after being commissioned to serve in the Diocese of Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler asked this blessing:
“Almighty God, in every age you have chosen servants to proclaim your Word to the ends of the earth. Hear our prayer for our brother who will serve your Church as a missionary. Fill him with your Spirit that he may have the mind and heart of Jesus who lives and reigns now and forever.”
Please keep Br. Chris and all of our missionaries to Jamaica in your prayers.
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.
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.
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.