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Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis

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The Feast of St. Francis is on October 4 but events around the province abound before and after that date.

Digital Novena to St. Francis – Beginning September 25 and ending on the Feast Day October 4, receive a daily prayer of St. Francis with a reflection by Fr. Pat McCloskey, author and Franciscan editor of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. Sign up at Franciscan Media today.

Franciscan Monastery to the Holy Land
1400 Quincy Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20017
Saturday, September 30: Pet blessings at 10:30am
Wednesday, October 3: Transitus at 7:00 pm
Thursday, October 4: Feast Day Masses at 6:00, 7:00 and 10:30 am

Holy Family Parish
3027 Pearl St., Oldenburg, IN 47036
Sunday, October 1: Annual parish festival with pet blessings throughout the day, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday, October 4:  Feast Day Mass at 8:00 am

St. Mary of the Angels Church
3501 N. Miro Street, New Orleans, LA  70117
Wednesday, October 4: Feast Day Mass with Bishop Fernand Cheri, OFM.  Social and lunch to follow. RSVP 504-945-3186 or with number attending

View photo of Assisi by Fr. Frank Jasper

View beautiful photos of Assisi by Fr. Frank Jasper

St. Aloysius (St. Al’s)
1234 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI  48226
Wednesday, October 4: Feast Day Mass at 12:30 pm
Saturday, October 7: Pet Blessing after 10:30 am Mass

Church of the Transfiguration
25231 Code Road, Southfield, MI 48033
Saturday, September 30: Pet Blessing in our prayer garden at 11:00 am.
Wednesday October 4: Feast Day Mass at 12:00 noon

St. Joseph Chapel & Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
400 South Blvd. West, Pontiac, MI 48341
Wednesday October 4:  Feast Day Mass and Pet blessing, 10:00 am

St. Anthony Shrine
5000 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45223
Tuesday night, October 3: Transitus, a prayer service remembering the passing of St. Francis at 7:00 pm.  A reception with light refreshments follows.  RSVP 513-541-2146
Thursday October 4: Feast Day Mass at 7:30 am

St. Clement Church
4536 Vine St, St. Bernard, OH 45217
Wednesday October 4: Pet blessings at the elementary school, 9:30 am, and again from 6:00 – 7:30 pm on the church steps.
Thursday October 5: Feast Day Mass at 7:45 am.
A display of Franciscan artwork collected by Br. Conrad Rebmann, will be displayed in the church’s common area the weekends both before and after the Feast of St. Francis.

St. Francis Seraph Church
1615 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sunday October 1: Pet blessing and free Pet Health clinic for the poor after the 10:00 am Mass
Thursday October 4: Feast Day Mass in the Chapel 8:00 am

Roger Bacon High School
4320 Vine Street, St. Bernard, OH 45217
Wednesday, October 4: Drop off your matching-grant donation to a friar from 7:15 – 9:30 am at RB’s semi-circular driveway supporting their St. Francis Day of Giving to raise funds for a new St. Francis of Assisi Scholarship Fund.

St. Francis Retreat House
3918 Chipman Road, Easton, PA 18045
Wednesday October 4: Feast Day Mass at 8:00 am
Friday through Sunday, October 6 – 8: Annual Franciscan Retreat
Sunday, October 8: Pet Blessing, 2:00 pm

View photos of Assisi from Fr. Frank Jasper’s pilgrimage.

St Francis Pet Blessing

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St Anthony helps relieve JoAnn’s panic.

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McDonalds cup St Anthony

JoAnn in California relies on St. Anthony

On a Wednesday of this year I had gone to a big box store for carpets.  I used my credit card.  Then I stopped in at a local McDonalds and purchased a senior coffee and paid with a credit card.  I then went on home.

The next day, Thursday, I had to pick up a prescription and went to pay with my credit card and could not find it.  Needless to say, I panicked and started to pray to St. Anthony.  I immediately went home to call the bank and explained what had happened.  They told me to put a temporary hold on the card as no one had attempted to use it.

Still praying I went to the last place I had used it, at McDonalds.  An honest person had turned it in the day before.

Thank you St. Anthony.

–JoAnn in California

McDonalds coffee Volk letter001 CROP 600

We’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: 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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Loading the “Get Kids To School” van

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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:

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

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.

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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.

If you would like to speak with Colleen about how you can give a gift to the Franciscans, contact her at:

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Another successful find thanks to St. Anthony

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trash phoneListening to the prompting of the Lord

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!


St. AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too.  Use our Contact Page or Email: 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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Fr. Colin King, a blessing to God’s people

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Fr. Colin with Avaree, the newest altar server at St. Mary's

Fr. Colin with Avaree, the newest altar server at St. Mary’s

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.

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Fr. Jim Bok keeping limitations in perspective

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Fr. Jim at his 70th birthday party

Fr. Jim at his 70th birthday party

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.

Fr. Jim and Nickoy

Fr. Jim and Nickoy

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!

Physical therapist Ms. Addiman assesses Fr. Jim's situation.

Physical therapist Ms. Addiman assesses Fr. Jim’s situation.

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Success and Failure Indicators

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Fr. Jim Van Vurst

Fr. Jim Van Vurst

The other day I came across a list of qualities both positive and negative that we see as criteria for “success” or “failure” in most people’s lives.  I thought they provided a simple and yet realistic way of understanding our strengths and weaknesses as we walk through life with our family and friends.

1.   Have a sense of gratitude.
2.   Give other people credit
3.   Read something every day.
4.   Stay informed.
5.   Talk about issues, ideas.
6.   Seek information.
7.   Accept change.
8.   Forgive others.
9.   Be happy with other’s success.
10. Have reasonable goals.
11. Be open to new learning.

The above suggested criteria seem rather reasonable and very much on target. The positive personality traits/attitudes/manner of behaving (in this case) are not about our relationship with God or faith system though most if not all seem to be what the Gospel holds out to us as part of a description of a good Christian, e.g. forgiveness, gratitude, and such. But they also include what we might call “natural virtues” that assist us as good human beings and help us develop naturally.

On the other hand, we can also spot indicators of our failure to be healthy and secure persons.

1.   Having a sense of entitlement.
2.   Being quick to criticize.
3.   Holding grudges.
4.   Being quick to blame.
5.   Fearing change.
6.   Hoarding information.
7.   Reacting with anger.
8.   Being a “know it all.”
9.   Hoping others will fail.
10. Never setting goals.
11. Having an attitude of rigidity.

Most of us hope we don’t have any of these negatives, though in all honesty there might be one or two we struggle with. Personality tendencies can be a result of early learning and experience. For couples planning to marry, it is important to understand the qualities, both positive and negative of each other. That’s why in almost all US dioceses the FOCUS QUESTIONNAIRE with 189 questions is an important tool of preparation. We say love is blind, because in the eagerness to be married, it is easy to overlook key personality issues. At least in a few cases, after taking this test and prayerfully analyzing the results, couples were able to see the serious incompatibility of their personality/emotional differences as well as some deeply held beliefs before making that lifetime commitment.

Fr. Jim

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