FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

February 22, 2018

Get to know

US Franciscans



Pick a page, any page.

You'll find something for you and

about you.

That's the foundation of the US Franciscans website, a collection of information that friars need to know and ought to care about.

The key word is "collection", as in, material from every American province. It was suggested several years ago when US friars developed a collaborative app. It has grown along with discussions of Revitalization and Restructuring.

"Franciscans are doing great stuff" in the United States, said members of the app committee. "But you have to go to seven different websites to see it."

From those talks a job - National Social Media Director - and a website - US Franciscans - were born. Holy Name friar Jim McIntosh, whose background in software and computers dovetailed nicely with their needs, was hired for the part-time position.

While serving at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, Jim pulled together the unified social media "face" of American friars. The Jesuits provided one example: "They have a very good website" at, he says. It spells out, "Here's what we teach, what we believe."

Jim wanted the public "to understand friars and what they're doing." And he wanted friars to have easy access to the stories, documents and history they share. Little by little the website became a platform for resources that included:

  • News: "I'm looking for stories that might have a national importance or have national focus," Jim says, like accounts of meetings, conferences, formation milestones, and events such as the opening of St. Anthony Center, a new concept in serving the homeless in Cincinnati.
  • JPIC: Background on core values, along with letters from US provinces to Congress on issues such as immigration reform and official statements on events like the racially motivated violence in
  • Charlottesville, Va.
  • #Friar Friday, a popular weekly reflection. Jim, Mike Surufka of ABVM Province and SJB's Greg Friedman are frequent contributors to the column.

A Vocations page (Join Us) that lists provinces represented in each state and links to their websites.

A History of the Friars in the USA by Holy Name's Dominic Monti and Jim.

Links to Franciscan resources, advocacy groups and province newsletters.

PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFMJim McIntosh, OFM"As we started building up the website," Jim says, "it struck me that there was no place for friars to share the info" concerning the evolving R + R process. Today the Friars Only section, US Friar Exchange, is more than a place for R + R documents and FAQs. It contains a US OFM Calendar of Events, opportunities in Ministry and Continuing Education, notices of interprovincial gatherings and Classified Listings. A section for Discussion Groups was added "to give friars a safe place to go and talk about things." The section is password protected; signup takes only a couple of minutes.

Now serving with a parish in Wood-Ridge, N.J., Jim still divides his hours. Most of his time with US Franciscans is spent "just keeping the website current." But the refinements continue. Up next is a map that pinpoints the locations of US friars. Jim plans to add a Friar Search function to help you find anyone anywhere in the country.

It's your website, he says, so feedback is always welcome. "If anybody has any suggestions, I'd love to hear it."

(That e-mail address is: Visit the website at Jim manages a US Franciscans Facebook page at

Photos just part of the program


PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMTop, Ash Wednesday; a pair of surfers; San Luis Rey and a tightrope walker on the beach.I thought I was going to be studying scripture and photography during my sabbatical here at San Luis Rey in California, but so far, my main study has been a crash course in computer programming.

All of the class work is done online-syllabus, schedules, assignments, homework, projects, etc.  I know how to use e-mail, but now I'm becoming proficient at Blackboard, Canvas, Flickr, Gramblr, Instagram, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and the schools' websites used for registering, paying fees, announcements and following the schedules.  Each program has its unique features and I'm convinced the programmers deliberately hide some of the buttons I need.  Thank God for my computer experts - Henri Djojo, Francis Lee and my superhero, Zeno Park.  These young friars have saved me on many occasions when my frustration level reached its limit.

The Franciscan School of Theology offers some great courses, but I settled for taking just one scripture course with Garrett Galvin.  I attend the photo class at a local community college where 90% of my classmates are under 20.  Some had to have their parents sign to check out equipment.  I enjoy being with them and I'm sure they don't know what to make of me.

Some of these young people are incredibly creative.  I admire their sense of imagination and adventure.  So far, our exercises have been directed toward mastering the camera basics, but now we are moving into more creative areas.  My favorite pictures so far have been the ones of the surfers.  The one here is the best of about 200-300 images that I took that day.

My main purpose in taking this course was to learn how to use Lightroom.  I spent four days and watched about a dozen YouTube videos to figure out how to get the pictures into the program.  It is certainly not an intuitive process.  So, I'm grateful to have someone walk me through the basics and my young friar tech team to show me where they hide the secret buttons.  You can check out some of my homework on Flickr at: Photos

Her goodness lights up the darkness


PHOTO BY ED GURA, OFMCheerful and dependable, Marie is out and about before dawn.On a dark, windy and cold fall morning I was startled by the voice of a woman calling out to me as I was making my way down Washington Boulevard toward St. Aloysius Church to prepare for morning street ministry. As she drew closer to me I soon recognized her as one of our guests who often joins us for a meal on the serving line. To my surprise and delight I called out to Marie, curious to know why she was walking down the Boulevard in the dark and cold at 5:15 a.m.

It was then that I learned that every school day morning Marie gets up at 4:30 in order to catch the 5:30 a.m. Woodward bus to Six-Mile Road.  She then proceeds to the home of her three grandnieces and their grandmother. Marie accompanies them on a three-block walk to their grade school before catching the Woodward bus back downtown.

On this particular morning, like every other morning, Marie then stopped by the alleyway door of St. Aloysius Church and rang the doorbell at 7 a.m., yet it was different this morning because now I knew the reason why she was out and about at this early hour.

I also thought about how Marie is always one of the first people in line at the Rosa Parks Bus Terminal, where she stands ready and waiting to clean the tables once we have set them up to serve food to those in need. When Marie is done she is then quick to show me the dirty rag she has used, which then becomes our cue to start loading up the tables with food, clothing and hygiene items.

On this particular morning as Marie and I spent a few delightful moments together talking while she sipped on her cream-and-sugar coffee through her usual smile, I felt blessed to be in the presence of this aging woman who has taken on the role of caregiver for her grandnieces who lost their parents in a tragic accident.  I felt I had just been touched with another glimpse of God through the life of this poor and simple daughter of the Most High. Thank you, Marie!

May our lives be lived in ways that bring glimpses of God to the people whom God chooses to send our way. May we welcome and serve them well.

(Friar Ed Gura is part of the outreach ministry at St. Aloysius Parish in downtown Detroit.)

PHOTOS BY MARK SOEHNER, OFMSan Xavier del Bac in TucsonI'm in the airport in Salt Lake City, where it is snowing to beat the band.  I hear that Cincinnati has 75-degree weather!  I just hope that the plane gets out on time.

It was wonderful to visit with Art Espelage, Matthias Crehan and Manuel Viera at the famous Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson. This friary has a 1797 carving of initials in a post in the sacristy.  Originally founded by a Jesuit, it was abandoned after the Spanish government recalled all Jesuits.  Found in the 1700s by the friars, it was re-established and rebuilt.  And now St. Barbara Province is occupying these holy grounds.  Art, Matthias and Manuel are welcomed, as was I, by these generous brothers.  A meeting with both A traveler takes in the Arizona landscape.Bishop Gerald Kicanas (just greeting him) and with the new Bishop Edward Weisenburger were helpful for both the diocese and the friars to grow in understanding.

Since I've been spending so much time in the air and in airports, I try to see them as a unique hermitage. I am generally alone, even though I sit next to some interesting passengers.  Yes, it allows some reflection time, but also lots of irritation in suspended flights. How do I understand these delays and cancellations, the chance meetings, the readings of the day? Can I share my feelings with God? Some days are better than others, but like any hermitage, the travel is an opportunity only. Some days I'm like the brother provincial who spoke to Francis about moving into a hermitage. Other days, I realize that I'm in one!


– Mark Soehner, OFM


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FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

PHOTOS BY MARK SOEHNER, OFMSan Xavier del Bac in TucsonI'm in the airport in Salt Lake City, where it is snowing to beat the band.  I hear that Cincinnati has 75-degree weather!  I just hope that the plane gets out on time.

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist