Will You Remember Our Retired Friars?
Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me –Psalms 71:9
As friars we dedicate our lives to proclaiming the Gospel in the Franciscan spirit, living with and for the poor, promoting justice, peace, and the care of creation. We spend our lives of poverty in service and in prayer. Even after a lifetime of active service to God and others, we don’t retire to a life of leisure—we work in whatever capacity we are able to for as long as our minds and bodies allow. Of the 99 friars who are over the age of retirement, more than half are still ministering in various capacities. Many are well into their eighties, yet they still celebrate daily Mass (some with the help of a walker!), as well as volunteer at local soup kitchens, serve as hospital chaplains, and hold administrative roles like I do as the Co-Director here at Friar Works!
Province Nurse Michelle Viacava manages the healthcare for all of the 133 friars of St. John the Baptist Province, but she works mostly with retirement-age friars, since healthcare needs and health issues naturally increase with age. In doing so, she’s gotten to know many of our elderly friars on a more personal level.
“The older friars are very appreciative of all I do for them,” she says. “Unlike most of society, they don’t have spouses or children to help them to remember appointments or to accompany them to surgeries, so that’s one area where I am able to step in.”
Michelle is happy to fulfill these roles and more, often lunching with them between taking vitals and bloodwork, and chatting with them whenever she gets the chance. She loves to hear about all of the people they’ve helped in various capacities throughout the years.
“They are all just wonderful,” she says. “They are very respectful and so full of wisdom. I might be helping them with their healthcare needs, but they have helped me along my faith journey.”
Michelle is one of the people making sure our aging friars get the emotional and physical support they require, but financial assistance is, of course, needed as well to continue caring for them. In addition to Michelle, Br. Jerry Beetz works to assist the needs of the friars already in nursing facilities.
Would you consider remembering our senior friars in your financial giving? Your charitable contribution comes at a time when our elderly friars need it most, after many years of faithful service. It says “thank you” to them for all they’ve done and continue to do. The quality care your gift provides helps bring comfort and peace to them in their old age.
Your gift also goes twice as far with gift matching from the Jasper Foundation! For nearly a decade, the Jasper Foundation has graciously offered us a $10,000 challenge grant for donations offered through this appeal! This means that your $50 gift becomes $100, and your $100 gift becomes $200, and so on. If you are considering giving, this is truly an excellent time to do so. Due to your generosity, we’ve met and exceeded this challenge every year since 2009, and we’d love to keep with this tradition!
We are so grateful for any tax-deductible contribution you can make, and it is our privilege to remember you in our prayers. May God bless you for your generosity. Thank you for supporting our Franciscan mission.
Peace and all things good,
Fr. John Bok, O.F.M., Co-Director
Please give to our senior friars on our Donation Page.
Loading ‘Josey’ the van is a science and an art.
Now in its seventh year, the Get Kids to School program in Negril, Jamaica, is making sure 150 children have the uniforms and supplies they need to attend basic, primary and high schools.
On Sept. 4, the first day of school, “Our way-too-small bus was packed; we made three runs to and from school,” reports Fr. Jim Bok. He’s praying for a bigger Coaster bus for the program, overseen by Rotarian and volunteer Joan Cooney.
Would you like to support the Get Kids to School program? Visit our Donation Page and write-in Get Kids to School in the comments box. Or contact Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard at 513-721-4700 Ext 3219 or email: email@example.com
Friar student is getting grounded in real-life law
In the real world of lawyering, you put on a suit, go to court and try to resolve conflicts. That’s exactly what Br. Michael Charron is doing this summer.
For Michael, a student at Appalachian School of Law, interning with Judge Amy Searcy has been a revelation. Since May he has assisted with cases at the Hamilton County Court of Domestic Relations in downtown Cincinnati. After one year of school Michael is immersed in the deep end of an emotional pool of litigation known as family law. The atmosphere in child custody hearings, divorce proceedings and domestic abuse cases is so intense that boxes of tissues are standard issue at tables for both plaintiffs and defendants.
Fortunately, “I’m pretty good at containing my emotions,” says Michael. After a rough day he goes home to the community at St. Clement. “If friars ask me, ‘What did you do today?’, I’ll say, ‘We had a hard case.’”
It’s a learning experience for both the friar and his boss. This is Michael’s first internship, and “I’ve never as a judge had an intern before,” says Amy, appointed to her post by Gov. John Kasich in May 2014 and elected to a full term that November.
But they have a lot in common: Both of them are grounded in prayer.
Asking for help
For the past two years Amy has worshipped with friars and the community at St. Anthony Shrine in Mt. Airy. Most weekdays she’s there before work for the 7:30 Mass. “It starts my day when I’m focused on asking God to help me take care of folks,” she says. “As I enter this courtroom, with its sadness and upheaval, if I come in centered and grounded, I’m reminded I’m not here alone.”
One day in the Shrine parking lot, Fr. Frank Jasper asked if she would consider taking Michael on as an intern. She answered, “Absolutely”, and later admitted that part of her motive was selfish. The Judge is pursuing a Master of Arts in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and thought, “Michael can help me with this.”
But first he had to look like a lawyer. “Not my favorite part of the job,” he confesses, walking through the gold-plated doors of the Art Deco courthouse – it’s the old Times-Star building – and flapping the lapels of the dapper gray suit he’s wearing on this sweltering summer day. Before he arrived, “I kind of expected a more formal atmosphere,” having spent his first year in law school dealing with Contracts, Property, Civil Procedure, Torts and the like. But in Domestic Relations Court, “You’re not dealing with a contractor who didn’t fix a roof right,” Michael says. “You’re dealing with people.”
The typical intern is a writer, researcher and observer. “I started out watching everything going on and learning the different departments,” he says. Adds Amy, “It’s not just to help me. Seeing how a judge makes decisions should make him a better lawyer.”
After three months at the courthouse, “I see that family law and ministry kind of go together,” Michael says. “I’m really impressed with Judge Searcy’s understanding that people are people; they’re not used to being in a courtroom. I feel like she’s a really good servant. She kind of puts herself in their shoes.”
Those shoes belong to people of all cultures, faiths and economic backgrounds. Whatever the issue, “Nobody in the court system is happy to be here,” says Amy. “I call the courthouse ‘The House of Pain’.” Many cases revolve around kids, and “I’m required to make all decisions in the best interests of children.” Whenever possible, “That means letting people come to their own conclusions.” To make that happen, “You have to take a step of faith toward each other.”
There is no typical day in court. “We try to have hearings Monday and Tuesday morning,” she says. “Tuesday at 1:30 I do sentencing. I might send someone to jail” for non-payment of child support. “Wednesday and Thursday are custody trials. Friday we do overflow or write decisions. I take a lot home.”
Summers are always busy. “There are kids visiting one parent who don’t want to go home. And lots of people move in the summer when one parent gets a job offer out of town.” Hard to believe, but “I’ve had people fighting over payment for dental work or whether a kid can go to camp.” She has heard her share of shouting. Recently after letting a couple vent, her response was, “Do you hear what you just said?” On days of high drama, “I compartmentalize. I’ll take all the sadness and pain and hurt and put it in a box – then make a decision. Personally, I have to increase my time in prayer at home.”
A trial is the last resort once you’ve exhausted every other option, she says. That’s why the Dispute Resolution Department was created – to give folks room for discourse in a neutral atmosphere before a third party. “The mediator has to say, ‘What you’re saying is valid; now listen to what he’s saying.” After sending Michael to several of those sessions Judge Amy discovered, “He has a skill set that lends itself to mediation and helps people resolve problems.” In ministry as a friar, “That’s something he could offer a parish.”
Michael finds it fascinating. “In mediation you have these couples who don’t like each other. It’s interesting to hear both sides of the story. When children come in, it’s interesting to see their demeanor change.”
Sitting at trials, he has seen the best and worst in people. Some lawyers are less than scrupulous. And some parents choose winning at any cost – hiring a lawyer, going to court, spending a fortune – over the needs of their children. “Most people get married and have decent marriages,” Michael says. “Some get divorces and do that amicably. There are people who end up here. I tell myself these are the exceptions rather than the rule.”
Does being a friar make him a better intern? Humility helps, he says. “I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. No matter how small a job is, they’re all significant. I wouldn’t think I was better than anything the Judge has asked me to do.”
This is Michael’s last week at work; Monday he starts his second year of law school in Grundy, Va. Judge Amy hates to see him go. “I will miss him dearly: his calmness; his openness; his steadiness. I trust him to give his unbiased views. I could rely on him and know his reaction will not be judgmental or tainted with emotion.”
After this summer “I think I’d be more confident in a courtroom,” Michael says. “Every time I see lawyers arguing, I kind of think to myself, I don’t know everything they’re doing. But I think I’m capable of that.”
This fall he hopes to take a workshop certified by the Ohio Supreme Court and become a professional mediator. “I could start mediating disputes right away,” while he’s still in school. In the future he intends to help marginalized people, whether that involves immigration, criminal defense or family law.
“I’ll keep thinking and praying,” he says. “I’m sure I’ll land in a good spot.” Part of being a Franciscan is “trying to make peace. Even though it’s kind of forced in the courtroom, this is a place where peace is made. I think this is a good place for friars to be.”
This story first appeared in the SJB News Notes August 10, 2017 by Toni Cashnelli
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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.
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.
Mission Fundraiser at Urban Artifact
On February 28, 2017, Mardi Gras, the St. Anthony Quad Beer was released to the public with a party to celebrate “Fat Tuesday” and support the Franciscan Missions.
Fr. Carl Langenderfer, Guardian of the St. Anthony Shrine kicked off the evening with a blessing over the bottles of St. Anthony Quad. The Selfie Station complete with Mardi Gras inspired hats and garb was a very popular spot for photos with family, friends, and the friars.
A portion of the beer sales went to the Franciscan Missions. The friars serve the poor in Jamaica, Detroit, New Orleans, and Cincinnati. Cajun style food and New Orleans jazz added to the festive evening.
Urban Artifact Brewery crafts unique beers from local wild yeast. Owner Brett Kollmann Baker approached the Franciscan friars at the St. Anthony Shrine with the desire to help their ministries through a collaboration.
Read The Catholic Telegraph’s article here.
See more photos on our Flickr page.
Learn more about the collaboration here.
Visit Urban Artifact Brewery’s website.
Party with the Friars from 4 PM till Midnight on Mardi Gras!
Join the friars on Fat Tuesday (February 28) at Urban Artifact to celebrate the release of the St. Anthony Quad beer.
Wild yeast collected from the grounds of the National Shrine of St. Anthony located in Mt. Airy in July, 2015 formed the basis for this one-of-a-kind Belgian style quadruple ale. The wild yeast, versus more commercial fast-acting yeast, takes months to ferment. St. Anthony’s Quad was aged for 10 months in first use oak red wine barrels by Urban Artifact.
Doors open at 4:00pm. Fr. Carl Langenderfer will start things off with a quick prayer at 5:00pm. Renegade Street Eats food service will be there by 5:00. Jazz Renaissance (New Orleans style jazz) will start at 8:00. Come join the friars and some of the wonderful people who support them. A portion of the St Anthony beer sales will help to support the Franciscan mission work.
RSVP on the Facebook Event page.
Directions to Urban Artifact our on their website: http://www.artifactbeer.com/
Read more about the collaboration and process in this article from August 2016.