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Pet blessings for the Feast of St. Francis

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Fr. David Moczulski, OFM, blesses stuffed animals at Sisters of Charity chapel.

Fr. David Moczulski, OFM, blesses stuffed animals at Sisters of Charity chapel.

Love pours forth
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“They’re real for the kids,” Fr. David Moczulski says of the dozens of stuffed animals he blessed this week at the chapel of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Pa. The children were from the Vincentian Preschool. “They were excited to talk about their animals and give me their names.” David is an old hand at this; he’s been blessing stuffed animals since his first assignment.

Monastery Rabbit CROP 600The Franciscan Monastery to the Holy Land in Washington, DC, held its annual ‘Blessing of the Animals,’ Saturday September 30. See more photos on their Facebook Page.

Monastery Pet crop 600Dennis Foley covered the event for WTOP which includes lots of photos. See more.

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A stately Parrot

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Pretty in pink

Pint-sized pup

Pint-sized pup

On Sunday 122 dogs, 29 cats and one rabbit  and one bird went to church and came out the better for it. For the seventh year St. Francis Seraph in Over-the-Rhine hosted Pet Health Day, sponsored by United Pet Fund to benefit animals living with people of limited means. Thanks to generous donors and volunteers, the pets received checkups, flea treatments, food and vaccinations at no charge. Each year the event, coordinated by Dr. Zeke Zekoff of Towne Square Animal Clinic in Blue Ash, takes place on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Francis. More photos on their Facebook Page.

Br. Tim Sucher, OFM, with the doctors and volunteers who made Pet Health Day a reality.

Br. Tim Sucher, OFM, with the doctors and volunteers who made Pet Health Day a reality.

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Mourning Las Vegas

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Facing the unthinkable
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Last week our Communications Director Toni Cashnelli gathered videos and statements from our friars in response to the shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and 489 wounded.

Flag half vert 250We began this week with yet another, deadlier mass shooting, one of the worst ever seen in this country, if not the worst. The perpetrator was a man who raised no red flags beforehand among his family and friends. We will likely never know how such violent acts could be conceived and nurtured within the human heart.

As you read these responses and reflections from our friars and other church leaders, bear up in prayer our fractured country, divided in so many angry ways. Pray too that the spirit of St. Francis, whose feast day occupied the middle of this painful week, will find real and persuasive expressions in a time when we need his gifts the most. “Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.”
–Fr.  Bill Farris, OFM, Provincial Vicar

We friars of St. John the Baptist Province extend our deepest sympathy and promise of prayers for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  This senseless act of violence affects all of us. We, the people created from the wounded side of our executed Jesus, ask for healing for those who have been wounded, for the families and friends of the murdered, and for a change of heart for all who choose violence. May the families of those hurt in any way receive comfort and courage from our Risen Lord.
–Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM, Provincial MinisterMcCloskey Las Vegas video crop 300 TExt

“When innocents are killed, some people find that to be a great challenge to faith. I don’t think we should let their deaths make us more bitter people.”
–Fr. Pat McCloskey, OFM, in a video blog for Franciscan Media “Where was God during the tragedy in Las Vegas?”

Since the latest mass shooting that just took place in Las Vegas, I’m personally aware of a growing sense of fear. Not for my own safety, no, but for what might be happening to us as a country. The script is becoming all too familiar and, unfortunately, all too predictable as well.  Something horrendous happens and captures our national attention for a little while as various notables mouth the same text: Our thoughts and prayers are with the (fill in the blank).
What’s worrying me the most about this is that there seems to be an absence of true mourning.  Flying the flag at half-staff for a few days is indeed a start but more akin to someone wearing black at a funeral; a pro forma gesture. Dr.  Alan Wolfelt, an expert on grief and mourning, has this to say: “We all grieve when someone we love dies, but if we are to heal, we must also mourn.

I remember attending an interprovincial gathering up at Siena College which began the day after the Orlando shooting in 2016. Upon my arrival I looked around for some outward sign that the tragedy which had just taken place had in some way registered there, 1,200 miles away.  Eventually it made its way into our intercessory prayers that week, but I remember feeling as if something else was sorely missing as we went about our business, something outward and more manifest.

I’m thinking about that haunting poem of W. H. Auden right now which says, in part, “Stop all the clocks…let the mourners come.”
–Br. Al Mascia, OFM

As I was sleeping Sunday night I kept hearing news notifications on my phone and thought something must have happened. On Monday morning I checked and saw the sad news. It was shocking. I immediately prayed for the dead and the injured and then we prayed for them at Morning Prayer and Mass. One thing that struck me was the display of evil by one and of heroism by so many others. Many more lives were saved because of the good people on the ground. Not all the facts are in yet on what was going on in this individual’s mind.

rlp-17-square-blue-theme 250 sqIf people/authorities were able to read other’s minds some of these acts could be prevented, but that is not the case. Demonstrations of evil are a hard thing to swallow. God, have mercy.
–Br. Mark Gehret, OFM

On the first day of October, we marked Respect for Life Month with its theme of “Be Not Afraid”, and we face the unspeakable once again.  This past year has been overrun with an inordinate amount of uncertainty, suffering, heartache, and tragedies in the public eye and in our personal lives.  There’s no shortage of reasons we cry out to God.  May God give us peace!
–Fr. Francis Tebbe, OFM

Shock, horror, disbelief, overwhelming sadness. Then I ask the question, what are we doing in this nation about mental health? Our nation is crying out for mental health reform.
–Br. David Crank, OFM

Lord have mercy on your children. We are broken and need your love. Mend our hearts. Remove hatred. Give us eyes to see as you see. Ears to hear as you hear. Hands that are open to one another and hearts for compassion.
–Fr. Clifford Hennings, OFM

Most everyone is horrified, myself included.  Because our access to news is somewhat limited, we don’t know all the details.  Nobody from outside the country has spoken negatively about our country or culture.  No one has offered condolences, either, but it has been mentioned in our prayer. Most of the U.S. folks seem to be of the same mind and lament that we are not doing more to control guns, kind of like “here we go again,” and it just seems to get worse each time.
–Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, from a pilgrimage in Italy

We need a lot of prayers, and prayers with good works. Oftentimes we pray but don’t have the answers, and perhaps one of the answers to this is that we should look very closely to the mental health problem. Perhaps a nationwide hotline could be set up where a person who may be going through this situation will be able to call and ask for help.
–Fr. Robert Seay, OFM

Goodin Transitus homily In this little chapel tonight we recall the death of someone important to us.  …Francis of Assisi, such a towering saint of the Catholic Church – you can’t help but smile at the mention of him.  But there are plenty of chapels, churches and funeral homes in Las Vegas and around the country tonight where smiles are non-existent and hearts are beyond heavy.

The contrast between a life well lived and a great many lives cut way-too-short is the reality of our evening.  Historically we remember a saint who died gracefully after a long battle with several illnesses.  And presently all of humanity mulls over how one man could surprise-attack so many utterly innocent people.

With that acknowledged, let our prayer and reflection tonight hold the saintly and the victim together – as difficult as it may be.  But let us not allow such senseless violence to overshadow the great witness of Christianity’s saint of peace.
–Fr. Richard Goodin, OFM (from his Transitus homily, St. Anthony Chapel)

My take is that, for most folks, the USA is a faraway place and most Jamaicans pay little attention to it. No one expressed sympathy or even commented on the event unless I mentioned it. Most Jamaicans are not deep into following things American. People here are very myopic—well, the ordinary people who have no money or connections in the U.S. Ms. Yvonne, our cook, told me at Mass this morning that there was another shooting in Red Ground last night. Her nephew was brutally murdered about six weeks ago in Red Ground. The violence here, in Negril and the country, continues to escalate with gunmen shooting people right and left. Here it is one at a time, not 58 plus hundreds wounded. So, simply put, most folks here are focused on the ongoing murders and have little time to care about what is happening in the USA.
–Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, missionary

Share your prayers on our Prayer Page. God bless you.
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Finding St. Anthony stories

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St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. Last week, we asked our Facebook followers to share their St. Anthony stories of lost and found and still waiting.  Out of 89 responses, we chose a few to share with you.
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St. AnthonyLynne – I don’t have a friend or foe that doesn’t know how important St. Anthony is to me – I have friends who aren’t even Catholic who call on St Anthony because I have proven thru my own prayers over and over that he helps everyone. Sometimes I have to tell myself oops.. I should ask God or the Blessed Mother for that not St. Anthony — he’s my first go to for everything — I thank him for good things and beg him for help — He rides shotgun in my car – in my purse, in my home – stands in my garden – he’s everywhere I am – I grew up in Chicago and he was my grandmother’s favorite Saint. Whenever we were off school on Tuesdays we had to go downtown with her to St Peter’s Church on Madison and LaSalle, for St Anthony novena mass. Then when I started working around the corner, I found myself going there on Tuesday’s for lunch for my own novena masses…He’s been a part of my life since — well let’s just say I can’t remember when he WASN’T in my life and I’m 63.

Cathy– sometimes I think St. Anthony is saying…not her again! I go to him for everything. He has helped me out many times!!

Julie – I taught many years! I had a habit of putting things down as I was teaching. Of course, when I needed it again I had no idea where it was!
praying handsI would ask the class to pray to St Anthony… and we would find it every time almost instantly.

Pamela – St Anthony is a very important Saint to me. I pray to him a lot. Sr. Rudina Rita taught us a prayer to St. Anthony during one of our Altar Society retreats: “Tony, Tony, turn around, something lost must be found.” This works more times than not, if I don’t find it at least I remembered to say a prayer to our Powerful St. Anthony, whom I love very dearly. Thank you for sharing other St. Anthony posts.

Katherine – I have many. I lost the diamond out of my ring (1.5K) I noticed it gone on Sunday night. We went back to the Church, knowing it could have been lost anywhere. We went into darkened Church Monday and looked under pews that we thought we had sat. My husband shone the light under the pew…and he found it.
Poor boxWe had promised St. Anthony $200 for the poor and were more than happy to give it to the priest. Same for my husband’s phone. And my daughter’s purse left while we were traveling. So many other times. I love St. Anthony.

Beverly – I worked with a wonderful nurse, Sister Norma. She was great at starting IV’s. We all called on her when we had a ‘difficult stick’. She would pray to St. Anthony for help in finding a vein. I sure do miss her.

Donna – My mom had a blessed St. Anthony medal. She was kind of partial to him for some reason. When my cousin Jackie & I were kids about 55 years ago, if she misplaced anything, she would stand w/ her arm extended in front of her and her index finger pointing straight ahead. She would then start turning around in a circle w/ her eyes closed while reciting “Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost and can’t be found.” Whatever direction she was pointing in when the rhyme stopped, she’d begin searching for the lost item in that direction. Sometimes it worked — sometimes it didn’t.

Please join us in praying for Wera’s lost rosary. Read her story below:

Wera's lost rosary

Wera’s lost rosary

Wera – I lost an extremely Special Rosary almost a year ago. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of it. I bought it when my father had a heart attack at the age of 88. My father passed the following year. The remains of St Theresa (one of my beloved Saints) toured our town in 2001. They said that anything that touched the box that her remains were in would become a Third Class Relic. I prayed and pleaded for so many causes, carrying that Rosary each day in whatever pocket I had. I had my Rosary over 20 years. I still have hope.
*Post your story or prayer for Wera’s lost rosary on our Facebook page or the Prayer page on this website.

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We’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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The decisions of our lives

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Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM

Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM

One sure sign of growing into maturity is the willingness and ability to “take responsibility for our choices in life.”  Obviously, all of us are influenced by many circumstances, some of which are beyond our control. But as a young person grows year by year, there is an expectation that quick and easy excuses (“oh, I just forgot, etc.”) are no longer acceptable in a family. This maturity can differ from case to case but there comes a time and an age where the parent, and even society, say frankly, “No more excuses.”

There is no question that in the eyes of a young person, still under the guidance of parents at home, older children seem to have a lot more privileges. That’s true … but it is equally true that with privilege also comes the obligation to be accountable for our choices and their consequences.

That’s why for most young people a driver’s license is seen as the ultimate gift of freedom.  I remember when I turned 13, my dad used to allow me to “start the car.” Wow, what power!!! But eventually when I got my driver’s license at 16, I had arrived!! But, of course, that was just the start to growing up.

Child car Depending on circumstances, many would say that the transition was fairly smooth as we became aware that life is not always simple. Most teenagers try to find some kind of employment during the summers in high school. And as we grew older, we were in situations where we had to make more serious and responsible decisions in our lives. And in a sense once we faced those necessary decisions we knew there was a price to pay if they were bad choices.

The word “decision” itself is an interesting one since the word comes from the Latin “Decidere.” It means “to cut or to separate.” And the implication, of course, is that once you make a cut, a decision, you can’t “uncut” or “undecide.” It’s done. That is why, when people must make serious decisions with serious consequences, they often seek advice or counsel. Talking an issue over with another trusted person can help clarify one’s thinking when an important factor involved was not noticed until someone else caught it.

Now, considering the gospels and Jesus’ public life and ministry , we come to the realization that Jesus experienced, time and time again, a need to make decisions in his life, e.g. his choice of apostles,  or when to go up for the feast knowing he was facing a ton of criticism and personal attacks. The most significant choice he made was to follow his Father’s plan that resulted in his passion and death. Luke tells us that in the garden, Jesus’ sweat became drops of blood. Talk about pressure and tension and struggle!! But we know Jesus experienced his life in his human nature and not by just “floating through” his passion and death.

No one makes a perfect decision every time. We are prone to mistakes but can take some solace in the fact that even Jesus’ hand-picked apostles were not mistake-proof or clear-headed in their decision-making. But that fact does put us in pretty good company when faced with our own decisions.

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Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM, has been a Franciscan friar for 64 years and a priest for 56 years. His background is in spirituality and psychology and counseling. He has published articles in St. Anthony Messenger, the Bible Today, and The Priest Magazine. Currently, he is assistant pastor at St. Clement Church in Cincinnati. On top of all that, he is just a really great guy!

If you would like to take advantage of Fr. Jim’s expertise or just need to ask him a question, email jvvofm@gmail.com  All counseling will be confidential and done through email.

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$10,000 Jasper Challenge Matching Gift

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Will You Remember Our Retired Friars?
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Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me –Psalms 71:9

Nurse Michelle taking Br. Josef’s, 77, blood pressure during one of her visits.

Br. Gabriel, 84, still plays piano and sings beautifully at St. Anthony Shrine each week.

Fr. John Paul, 82, right receives the blood of Christ from Fr. Frank, 86.

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.

Fr. Tom, 85, Pastor, Holy Name Church, Cincinnati participating in the Red's Opening Day Parade.

Fr. Tom, 85, Pastor, Holy Name Church, Cincinnati participating in the Red’s Opening Day Parade.

Fr. Jeremy, 85, Associate Pastor at Church of Transfiguration, Southfield, MI, presiding at Mass.

Fr. Jeremy, 85, Associate Pastor at Church of Transfiguration, Southfield, MI, presiding at Mass.

Fr. Cyprian, 93, tooling around on his scooter at a recent Franciscan friar gathering.

“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.

Fr. Paul, 92, does Mission appeals each year for Food for the Poor.

Fr. Paul, 92, does Mission appeals each year for Food for the Poor.

Br. Marcel, 84, right, and Br. Gabriel, 84, during a break at Chapter.

Br. Marcel, 84, right, and Br. Gabriel, 84, during a break at Chapter.

Fr. Humbert, 87, presides at Masses at St. Anthony Shrine.

Fr. Humbert, 87, often presides at Masses at St. Anthony Shrine.

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.

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Loading the “Get Kids To School” van

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Loading ‘Josey’ the van is a science and an art.
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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: friarworks@franciscan.org

Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, Joan Cooney (Ms. Joans) with students from the 'Get Kids To School' program as they board 'Josey' the van that will take them to school.

Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, Joan Cooney (Ms. Joans) with students from the ‘Get Kids To School’ program as they board ‘Josey’ the van that will take them to school.

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Br. Michael Charron defending families

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Br. Michael Charron, OFM, outside the courthouse

Br. Michael Charron, OFM, outside the courthouse

Friar student is getting grounded in real-life law
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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.

Br. Michael and Judge Amy Searcy

Br. Michael and Judge Amy Searcy

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.”

St Anthony ShrineOne 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.”

Children first

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.”

Charron Court signThere 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.”

Defusing disputes

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.”

Charron 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.”

Lessons learned

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

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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.

SanDamJpeg 80 x 115For more information email them at: sjbvocations@franciscan.org
Or visit: http://franciscan.org/become-a-friar
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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.

Francis~
If you would like to speak with Colleen about how you can give a gift to the Franciscans, contact her at: shrine@franciscan.org

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Another successful find thanks to St. Anthony

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trash phoneListening to the prompting of the Lord
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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!

–Malinda

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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