Friars tell why they chose to follow St. Francis in a series of videos.
“I felt a sense of being home,” Fr. Colin King says of his decision to join the Order of Friars Minor.
“I fell in love with Franciscan community when I was in high school and made a trip to the Franciscan Seminary,” says Fr. Greg Friedman
“Who am I as a child of God? Who is God asking me to be?” were the thoughts going through Fr. Cliff Hennings’ mind as a young man discerning his life’s calling.
“You need to discern what you feel called to, drawn to, by the God who sustains your life at every second of your life,” advises Fr. Bob Bruno on finding one’s vocation.
“When I visited the Franciscans something clicked,” says Fr. Roger Lopez of his search for the right fit in his vocation search.
“My experience from the very beginning was great. And so I was happy to continue the journey and commit my life to it,” says Fr. Jim Bok of choosing the life of a Franciscan friar.
“Follow your dream. If you feel a call, talk to someone about it. And be persistent in following it and finding out the truth if this is the vocation for you,” advises Fr. Robert Seay to men considering a religious life.
How do people discern their calling? Fr. Richard Goodin, Associate Director of Vocations, shares his dreams of helping people walk across the bridge of discernment.
Would you like to talk with us about how you can become a friar?
Contact Fr. Page Polk, OFM, Director of Vocations at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Fr. Richard Goodin, OFM, at email@example.com
Vocations office: 513-542-1082 or 800-827-1082
Learn more online at: franciscan.org/become-a-friar
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
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.
Fr. 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.
For more information email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit: http://franciscan.org/become-a-friar
Follow Franciscan Vocations on social media:
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.
On May 31st, elections were held at the Provincial Chapter meeting at St. Meinrad Abbey in Indiana. Our newly elected leadership team (from left) Councilors Br. Vince Delorenzo, OFM, and Br. John Barker, OFM; Minister Provincial Mark Soehner, OFM, Vicar Bill Farris, OFM, Councilors Fr. Bob Bruno, OFM, and Fr. Page Polk, OFM. May “God give his grace” on our new ministers!
Fr. Mark and Fr. Bill are both in the process of moving to Cincinnati from Michigan. We look forward to working with this strong leadership team and ask that you keep them in your prayers as they plan for our future as Franciscans and examine ways to revitalize Franciscan life in the US.
Photos of the Provincial Chapter on Flickr
Current and past Provincial Ministers:
Br. Casey’s latest video, “Confidence”
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.
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.
Click below for Br. Casey’s Lenten reflections.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
Br. Casey Cole, OFM, of Holy Name Province reaches the world through his blog, “Breaking in the Habit.”
In this video he answers the Top 10 Questions he gets asked the most often about being a Franciscan friar.
Questions such as:
“Are you a monk? I thought you couldn’t leave the monastery.”
“What are you wearing? Do you wear that all the time?”
“My friend is a Jesuit. Is that the same thing?”
“So, you take vows? Which one is the hardest one?”
“You can’t get married?”
Br. Casey answers these questions and more in this entertaining video.
Considering joining the Franciscans? Visit our Vocation Page: Be A Friar. Or contact our Vocations Director, Fr. Luis Aponte-Merced, OFM, at: firstname.lastname@example.org, text: 309-361-4500, phone: 800-827-1082 (513-542-1082), or fax 513-542-1083