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Lent with Br. Casey Cole, OFM

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Lent is upon us, a time of prayer, reflection, and unity with God. But sometimes we miss important aspects of this holy season while we are in the midst of it.

Br. Casey Cole, OFM

Br. Casey Cole, OFM

In a weekly Lenten blog and video series for Franciscan Media, Br. Casey Cole, OFM, will guide us through the season, tackling themes such as sacrifice, joy, humility, pleasure, and piety—all to help us gain a better understanding of Lent. Br. Casey is a Franciscan Friar in initial formation with Holy Name Province (New York) currently stationed at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, North Carolina.

On his blog and YouTube channel “Breaking In The Habit,” Br. Casey offers reflections on his experience living as a Franciscan in the 21st century.

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Click below for Br. Casey’s Lenten reflections.

Restoring What Has Been Distorted

Keep Going

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St. Anthony, the key to finding what is lost.

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All the keys were destroyed except for the important car key.

All the keys were destroyed except for the important and expensive car key.

Jane’s St Anthony story
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My daughter Claudia had quite a miracle from St Anthony last summer. She and her husband were down to one car and one set of keys.  The duplicate set was lost several years ago.  Don’t ask me why they never got another set.

Anyway, she lost the only set of keys they had somewhere out where I live in rural NM. She was helping her sister set up a wedding cake up in the mountains. We tore the house apart.  We looked through the trash  and searched the yard and the road. The keys could have been anywhere between my house and the location of the wedding… about 10 miles down a country road.

We started praying to St Anthony really hard.  When we went to mass on Sunday the next day, there was a Novena to St Anthony  printed out and placed on the rail by the candles. I knew right then that our prayer would be answered.

In the meantime the car is sitting in my driveway.  It would have been a small fortune to have a key made. My daughter came out to my house a few days later with her father in law to see if they could hot wire the car and at least get it back to town. While driving to my house she saw something glittery on the side of the road.  In the high weeds about 5 miles up the road, yeah she found the keys. The only usable key was the actual car key. It worked fine.  All the other keys were destroyed. The set of keys had obviously been run over many, many times.

I’m including a picture of the keys. No one could believe she found them where she did.

Thank you St Anthony.  She’s going to Mass in thanksgiving. Both things are a miracle!

–Jane in New Mexico

St AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: shrine@franciscan.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.

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Authentic peace begins with charity

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Robert H. Mace

Robert H. Mace

When I first encountered the Franciscan Friars, my life was forever changed because the lives, ministries and message of these dedicated men was profoundly compelling.  I am reminded of St. Bonaventure’s suggestion that authentic peace begins with charity, and the friars follow Christ in walking pathways of peace and charity all their lives.  The Franciscan charism honors and venerates the incarnate Christ in his humility, poverty, compassion and forgiving, unconditional love.

Born in Philadelphia, PA, on June 24 (Feast of St. John the Baptist) — I forget the year — my earliest education was provided by Sisters of Mercy and Brothers of the Sacred Heart.  My mother had been taught by Franciscan Sisters in Philadelphia, and from my youngest years I had a particular devotion to St. Francis and his great affection for and emulation of the Crucified Christ.  As a young man, I joined a community of Franciscan Friars, but after some time it seemed that God had other plans that I was too young to have foreseen.  I left the community with a heavy heart, but with trust in the Providence of God that I had learned in community.  Then I headed off for college at St. Francis University.

St FrancisI learned from and studied with a great number of Franciscan Friars who mentored me in the ways of St. Francis and who exemplified the message of the Gospel in their lives of compassion, humility, love and service.  They were ministers not only to the college students, but also to all those around us in any need: the impoverished, addicted, oppressed, and suffering ones.  They served as true disciples of Christ in comforting the lonely and lost, the marginalized and outcast.  They reached out in love and mercy to those who had never known love or mercy.  With an unparalleled passion and zeal, the friars brought to life the portrait of St. Francis at the foot of the Crucified Christ, the St. Francis who humbled himself to kiss the leper.

I completed my B.A. Degree at St. Francis University, then continued on to my Master’s Degree in Theology at Marquette University.  I lived in Wisconsin for 25 years and later pursued post-graduate work in Contemporary Franciscan Living at St. Francis University again.  Today, I live in Tampa, Florida, where our Sacred Heart Church is staffed by Franciscan Friars.  My entire life has been touched by the Franciscan spirit and charism, and I owe a debt of gratitude to the Franciscan Friars.  My joy and great honor now is to live out the peace which, according to St. Bonaventure, is born of charity; and to “serve, love, honor and adore the Lord God” in whatever way I am able.

Making an estate gift to the Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. John the Baptist is my way of serving, loving, honoring and adoring the Lord God and of thanking the friars for all that they do, for the lives and ministries in which they engage in the spirit and charism of St. Francis.  In this broken, divided world we are blessed to have such selfless, loving men religious among us to remind us that, yes, there is a better way and, yes, there is hope. They deserve our love and support.

Including the Franciscan Friars in my estate plans ensures that my impact will reach beyond my lifetime.  Gifts to the Franciscan Friars will help them continue their educational and service ministries – enabling others to reach the fullness of their potential.  Including the Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. John the Baptist in my estate planning vehicles is a way of doing good, sustaining the noble works and ministries of the Friars, and preserving their charism and legacy well into the future.

–Robert H. Mace, Jr., Th.M

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 ccushard@franciscan.org or download from our website.

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Praise for ‘Lent with St. Francis’

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Lent bookletLent 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.

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“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

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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.
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tauHave you enjoyed Lent with St. Francis?  Do you have suggestions or comments.  Email us at friarworks@franciscan.org

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Depression and Anxiety and Faith

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Faith

Fr. Jim Van Vurst brings hope of God’s love to oppressed
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Fr Jim Van VurstMany people would say we are currently living in an “age of anxiety and depression.”

You may have heard people refer to our present time (world-wide) in this way and it’s not hard to understand why. I remember when National TV News was just getting started in the late 50s and early 60s. It began with a fifteen minute segment. It wasn’t long before someone suggested it should expand to 30 minutes. More than a few  scoffed saying, “There is not enough news to fill a 30 minute slot.” And we smile now with dozens of news sites on 24/7, with breaking news multiple times per day.

In the US, it is estimated that about 40 million adults age18 and older, (18% of the total population) suffer from anxiety and depression (Source: National Institute of Mental Health). Anxiety and depressive disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering actually receive treatment. The anxiety that is mentioned here is much more than “feeling nervous at times” or “being down in the dumps for a while.” True cases of anxiety and depression can be debilitating and paralyzing.

There are good reasons for concern and angst in today’s world. And with those feelings, the most normal question is, “Why doesn’t God do something about all that’s going on.” And, of course, we look for a miracle and a solution that will put everything in the right order again. But that’s the problem. Humanity is wounded and has been since the beginning. It always will be. Just think by the end of the century (just 83 years from now) there may well be humans on other planets! But if we back up 83 years to 1934 we realize how rapidly we were advancing in science and medicine then with many new discoveries. And that was prior to the nuclear age and pre-computer era. Go back 83 more years to 1851 and you begin to realize how distant that is from our present moment … pre-civil war days.

What all this means is that today’s societies and the world at large may experience the feeling that we are out of control with all the power we have discovered–power enough to end everything.

Well, where does this put those of us who describe ourselves as “people of faith?” Ultimately and simply it means that God, the creator and redeemer of the universe, is still in charge. But God is not the “manipulator” of humanity, as though we were chess figures and God is playing a game. Remember, we were given free will. Further it means that God already knows what will happen into eternity.

That belief and understanding is what enables us to turn to the Lord when we experience great pressures and struggles. Not for instant solutions but rather to look at ourselves and ask if we are living as a person in touch with and in love with our Lord and creator … the one who gave us life and the ability to make choices. Generally our area of influence is fairly limited. But if we take upon ourselves the value system Jesus gave us in his teaching and example, we will discover that although we do not isolate ourselves from all that is going on in the world and around us we will not lose our footing or balance. If we live by Jesus’s command, “Love God and love one another,” we can live our lives with understanding and gratitude, in the certainty that we never walk alone or in the dark.
Fr. Jim

tau-cross-tattoo 110You 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.

Ask a Friar 173 x 300

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Fr. Jim answers more questions in the Ask a Friar feature by Franciscan Media.  Last year he did an eight-part Lenten video series.  Click here to watch his answer to, “What does Lent mean to you as a Franciscan?”

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Mardi Gras Fundraiser

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Friars Frank Jasper, Al Hirt, and Jeff Scheeler toast the release of St. Anthony's Quad Beer

Friars Frank Jasper, Al Hirt, and Jeff Scheeler toast the release of St. Anthony’s Quad Beer

Mission Fundraiser at Urban Artifact
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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.

Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard and Provincial Vicar Fr. Frank Jasper

Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard and Provincial Vicar Fr. Frank Jasper

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.

Fr. Carl Langenderfer blessed the St. Anthony Quad Beer

Fr. Carl Langenderfer blessed the St. Anthony Quad Beer

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St. Anthony Quad Beer Release Fundraiser

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Fr. Frank Jasper and Fr. Carl Langenderfer invite you to the St. Anthony Quad Beer Release Party and Fundraiser at Urban Artifact Brewery

Fr. Frank Jasper and Fr. Carl Langenderfer invite you to the St. Anthony Quad Beer Release Party and Fundraiser at Urban Artifact Brewery

Party with the Friars from 4 PM till Midnight on Mardi Gras!
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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.

Urban_Quick facts

 

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Spartan living in Africa

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Br. Tim Lamb

Br. Tim Lamb (third from right, back row) with men in formation.

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.

Africa_ 3 girlsThe 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:

AFrica_ Tim_ Vince• 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?

Africa_childWould you like more information about how you can help our efforts in Africa?  Email friarworks@franciscan.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.
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See more photos of Br. Tim and his ministry on our Flickr page.

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The friars make their own soap and ride bicycles to school and ministry.

The friars make their own soap and ride bicycles to school and ministry.

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More than one St. Anthony story to tell.

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Great Wall Jen & Dad

The Great Wall of China is the backdrop for this photo of Mary Beth’s husband Jack with their daughter Jen who was teaching in China at the time.

Mary Beth shares two stories of St. Anthony’s help.
The first is from many years ago and the second tells of St. Anthony’s help last Mother’s Day.
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Several years ago, one of our daughters was teaching English as a second language in China.  She was homesick and although China had never been on our list of places to go, my husband and I agreed to visit her.

We purchased nonstop airline tickets that went over the North Pole from Newark, NJ, to China.  When in the Newark Airport, which is absolutely HUGE, I wore my glasses instead of contacts on a chain around my neck, so I could hopefully nap on the very long trip.  About an hour and a half after going through TSA screening, we were sitting at our gate.  I saw a sign across the way that I wanted to read and put on my glasses which I use for distance.  I could not see well out of one of the lenses and took them off to clean. To my surprise, the lens was missing!  After checking our current area, we decided to walk back to the place where we went through security.  We knew it would be extremely difficult to replace the glasses in China.  Security was quite far away and it was unlikely we would find the lens, especially so long after losing it and how hard it would be to see, but I asked St. Anthony to help me.

A TSA agent was kind enough to allow me to go back through the security line to look for the lens.  He and Jack stayed on the other side of security and talked.  I didn’t find it and we were walking back to our gate when Jack asked my why St. Anthony didn’t find the lens.  I told him that St. Anthony was probably very busy finding something really important, like world peace.  Then we saw the TSA agent running to catch up with us.  A few more moments and we would have been very hard to find in the enormous crowd.  The agent had found the lens and I got to tell him about St. Anthony!  I was so thankful not only for the found lens but also that my husband spent time talking with the TSA agent so he was aware of our situation.  Thank you for your intervention St. Anthony

Keep reading for Mary Beth’s second and more recent St. Anthony story.
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This statue of the Blessed Mother lights up to alert the South Jersey community of a successful organ transplant surgery.

In honor of all organ donors and to raise awareness of the need for organ donors, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center lights (in green) the statue of the Virgin Mary atop the hospital each time the Lourdes transplant team performs an organ transplant.

Several years ago my son, my daughter-in-law, and my grandchildren gave me a very special charm bracelet.  Over the years they have each picked out meaningful and unique charms to add to it.  I keep the bracelet in a very secure place, not only because of the sentimental value but also because I know the charms are quite costly.

On Mother’s Day I wanted to wear the bracelet but my husband Jack was in the hospital; he usually helps me with the clasp as I have arthritis in my hands.  I took the bracelet with me to church, planning to ask a friend, if I needed assistance, but I decided to leave it in the car.  I thought I had placed it carefully with my chaplet rosary, but, in retrospect, I must have thoughtlessly left it in my lap.

OLO LourdesAfter church I went directly to the hospital to visit my husband.  I got distracted by a picture he wanted me to take of a statue of Our Lady on the very top of the hospital; it is the center for transplants of organs – pancreas, kidneys, and livers – for South Jersey.  Whenever a transplant is done, the statue has a beautiful light to notify the community.  When I got home, I remembered the bracelet and went to retrieve it from the car and could not find it anywhere.  I thought I might have lost it in the hospital parking lot which is very large; it is a distance away and can take up to 2 hours round trip.  I was not looking forward to driving back to look for the bracelet, but I knew the longer I waited the more unlikely it would be to find it.  I knew the bracelet would be virtually impossible to replace and I also dreaded the task of telling my daughter-in-law that I had lost such a special and thoughtful gift.

I prayed fervently to St. Anthony; then remembered that I went to church before I went to visit my husband.  The church is only 10 minutes away so I headed there.  I doubted the church would be open to check the lost and found.  Before morning Mass I had not parked in my typical place but had parked in one of the less crowded areas of the parking lot as I had promised to help out with a fund drive.  I went there and found the bracelet in the parking lot near where I had parked and miraculously it had not been run over by my car or any other and was perfectly intact!  I could not say enough “thank you’ s” to St. Anthony for my Mother’s Day gift from him!!

Mary Beth

St AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: mailto:shrine@franciscan.orgor 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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Hearing St. Anthony

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St AnthonyPaul heard, “Stop and get out of the vehicle.”
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I wasn’t going to explain the check, but I changed my mind.

The $100 check is what I promised St. Anthony if he would help me locate my wedding ring.

We flew in from New York City on a Saturday evening and after unpacking, visited our local pub for some dinner.  As soon as we were seated at a booth, I noticed my ring was missing.  My wife started backtracking the day, but I told her it was recent.

I have a habit of twirling my ring on my finger, so it was either in my car, or fell off while unpacking within the last hour.  I’ve lost weight lately, so it’s a bit looser.  At least in was in Macon I thought.

I told her what to order for me and went outside to search my vehicle.  I work in law enforcement so I have a very bright flashlight.  Nothing inside the vehicle, nothing visible under or around it.  It was parked on an incline, so if the ring rolled away… it could be in a grate.

Ring_EDIT 300After a thorough search, my wife said we would just replace my ring.  I have worn that ring for almost 25 years, every day and I wanted THE ring.  I got online and found a prayer to St. Anthony.  We prayed it in the restaurant and I promised I would send $100 to St. Anthony Shrine if we located the ring.

After eating, we jumped in the vehicle and I started backing out.  Something told me to get out my bright flashlight and I did, shining it in the empty space.  I could see what looked like a silver pop top or something, but my ring was gold.  My wife said “see anything?” and I said no.

I put the vehicle back in reverse to leave when someone told me to STOP right there and get OUT of the vehicle.  I just had to exit the vehicle.

My wife said what are you doing, there’s traffic back there.  I put the transmission in Park anyway and jumped out, switched on my light and what looked like a pop top – was my RING.  Unbelievable.  It took me a minute to get the car back in the parking space as we realized what had just happened.

Paul

St. AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: shrine@franciscan.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.

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