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

June 29, 2018

Having their say

JPIC survey shows friars are aware, involved


The photos on this page tell a story.

Care for Creation(35 responses)They paint “a picture of the Province,” according to John Quigley, a member of the committee for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Based upon a six-question survey, they show some of the issues that resonate strongly with SJB friars.

Last year at Chapter, friars made the refugee crisis a priority by passing this proposal: “We ask that the Provincial Council initiate a study of ways by which we can help provide housing and other needs to refugees and give practical witness to our solidarity with them.”

Gun Violence/Control(32 responses)That led the JPIC Committee to wonder: What other issues most concern friars, and how do their everyday lives reflect their values?  To find out, they assembled a short questionnaire. Of 120 surveys that were distributed, 57 were returned.

Some questions targeted the Chapter initiative: “Which ways do you think we can help support refugees?” Asked, “What other issues should we focus on?” Care for Creation elicited the most response. In terms of interest it was followed by: Gun Violence/Control; Racism; Human Trafficking; Right to Life/Abortion; the Death Penalty; Homelessness; Peacemaking; Sexism/Gender Equality; and Poverty.Racism(31 responses)

The answers to one question –“Is your friary/ministry involved in any sort of JPIC work?” – were especially revealing.  Friars described a broad range of advocacy from writing letters to helping the elderly poor, from making donations to working on criminal justice reform.

In response to your feedback, John and the JPIC Committee have a message: They hear you loud and clear. “We are acting on the responses,” says Scott Obrecht, JPIC Animator. “This survey is an impetus for us to Human Trafficking(35 responses)be in more constant dialogue,” John says. “We need a more practical awareness of justice and peace. We need to make it practical and personal.”

To do that, they intend “to weave together stories of guys doing similar things.” For example, “A number of friars are interested in climate change. Let’s pick them up where they said they are” and communicate their experiences.

In upcoming newsletters, we will shine a light on some of the many ways friars are making a difference.  As sharing their stories demonstrates, “We are men who are involved with various issues,” John says.Right to Life/Abortion(35 responses)

What’s more, “It helps friars form a common identity.”

(Have a question or suggestion? Contact committee members John Quigley, Al Mascia, Greg Friedman, Al Hirt, Dominic Lococo, or JPIC Animator Scott Obrecht.)

Mercy for the poor and oppressed


PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIA refugee and her daughter at the bus station in McAllen, TexasOur General Constitutions (Art 97) offer a perspective about how friars are to be in this world.  The first paragraph says, “After the example of St. Francis, whom the Lord led among lepers, each and every friar is to give preference to the ‘marginalized’, to the poor and oppressed, to the afflicted and infirm; rejoicing when they live among them, they are to show them mercy.”  Mercy is the first step for anyone in our journey with God.  It is the place where we meet God the most:  when we need mercy.  This part of our General Constitutions then asks us to give it away to those who need it the most:  the poor and oppressed.  If we are fortunate enough to live among them, we are to rejoice.

It’s from the perspective of life from the bottom, then, that Franciscans view the world.  Our Constitutions (Art 97) continues in a second paragraph:  “In fraternal fellowship with all the lowly of the earth and looking on current events from the viewpoint of the poor, the friars are to exert every effort so that the poor themselves become more fully conscious of their own human dignity and that they may safeguard and increase it” (my emphasis).

PHOTO © DELCIA LOPEZOrientation at the Humanitarian Respite Center, McAllen, TexasRecently the U.S. Catholic Bishops have spoken from the viewpoint of the poor—especially those immigrants seeking asylum due to fear of injury by staying in their own country.  Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, in union with the Pope and brother bishops, spoke forcefully this past weekend condemning the practice of family separation taking place on our Southern border.

But for those of us who are on the ground, what difference does this make in our lives?  How can we work to help those who are immigrants, like our own ancestors, who come to this country looking for safety and opportunity? Archbishop Schnurr says we can help in a comprehensive reform of our immigration laws.  He says, “There is undeniably a need for a greater balance among national security, legal means of entry and humane enforcement of our laws.  Congress is currently debating legislation now which the U.S. Catholic bishops oppose, as it would further encumber our immigration system rather than improve it.  I encourage all the faithful to urge Congress to fix these problems once and for all, through a bipartisan effort of fundamental immigration reform.”

There are other issues that our own JPIC Committee is beginning to focus on through your response to their survey.  I am certain we will hear more as the year progresses.  In the meantime, I am left with the question:  How am I seeing life from the vantage point of the poor?  What one small step can I take to do something that helps the poor to be conscious of their own dignity?

(The USCCB offers resources for assistance at  To contact your state or national elected officials visit


– Mark Soehner, OFM



Age is no excuse

Damian Cesanek, OFMSo you’re older; so what? You can still do your part for JPIC issues, according to friar Damian Cesanek. Even if you can’t do the legwork, you can still write a letter, make a donation or pray that things will change for the better.

“My point is that friars are very much interested in peace and justice initiatives,” Damian says, “but when we look at our province, more than half are in their 70s [he’s 75], so their energy is all over the place.”

A former Director of the Social Action Bureau of Allentown, Pa., and a community organizer in the 1970s, Damian came up with an acronym for older activists: PEAS.

“It’s a way of living out our lives where we simply do what we can. Prayer [P] is the first thing to get focused on: Pick an issue, then Education [E], learn a little bit about it. Advocacy [A] is getting a little more involved if you have a computer, writing to a political person or having a presence at some event where people are gathered. Skills [S] is using your talents and treasure. Maybe you can’t volunteer, but you can give $5 or $10 towards a specific issue. ”

Call it whatever you like. “Use any kind of acronym you want. Look at the issues and come up with a quick dozen,” then focus on those that interest you. At any age, there’s one thing all of us can do, he says.

“Prayer always helps.”

Toni Cashnelli

What can communities do?

 A complex issue will receive in-depth attention during a three-day conference in Cincinnati on “Promoting Just and Inclusive Communities in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana: A ‘Whole of Community’ Approach to Immigrants and Refugees.”  The July 16-18 program at Xavier’s Cintas Center, organized by the Center for Migration Studies, brings together scholars, researchers, community organizers, service providers, local officials, religious leaders, immigrant advocates and others to discuss how diverse groups in the Tristate are working to meet the needs of immigrant communities. The schedule includes optional site visits July 16, and plenary panels and workshops July 17 and 18. Learn more about the agenda and speakers at:

A world of faith – in one place


PHOTOS BY BILL FARRIS, OFMTop, Tim Lamb at the friars’ booth; above, different groups performed every 15 minutes.Where can you go to greet and introduce yourself and maybe even share your faith with Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, pagans, Jews and many of the other major world religions? Well…at last Sunday’s Festival of Faiths, the first ever held in Cincinnati.

At Xavier University’s Cintas Center, there were booths for many of the participating faiths. Participants mingled freely throughout the day. Muslims from West Chester, Sikhs and Mormons were well represented. Every 15 minutes a different group performed music, dance or chant. Also, there were times throughout the day when you could experience meditation from different faiths, as well as time to dialogue.

Our booth displayed posters of our ministries in the Cincinnati area. Many people who stopped by were very interested in our work and thanked us for what we do. Some people I knew through Roger Bacon High School, others through Friars Club. For many others, Bill Farris and I explained our history and who we are. This was their first introduction to the Franciscans.

Organizers of the day said they plan to do this again. For Bill and me, it was a tiring day, but well worth doing again next year!

  • Mike Dubec, left, and Mike Chowning, second from right, with Ed Gura and Mark GehretTwo Mikes have a lot to celebrate this weekend. Mike Dubec will mark the 50th anniversary of his profession, and Mike Chowning will observe his 50th anniversary of ordination. And they’re doing it at one of their favorite places, Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Hazard, Ky. At Sunday Mass at 11 a.m., the Mikes will be joined by Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Ky., and SJB Vicar Bill Farris. All are invited to a luncheon in the Parish Center afterwards.
  • “I will arrive in Montego Bay on July 5, then proceed to Negril, ‘my new home,’” says Stephen Dupuis, the newest friar missionary in Jamaica. A member of ABVM Province, he Stephen Dupuis, OFMjoins Colin King, Jim Bok, Chris Meyer and Saleem Amir in their far-flung ministry.  His most important role, Stephen says, will be “the ministry of presence. Just BEING with those in need is priceless. Listening with a non-judgmental heart. The poor will open up to a good listener. The Gospels will manifest themselves when trust is shared.” In terms of service, “St. Anthony’s Kitchen is a good place to start. Homes or basic shelters for those living on the streets are always welcomed, and there is a great need for religious instruction.” Stephen spent some time in Jamaica over the Christmas holidays, meeting the friars and the people of the Diocese of Montego Bay. You can write to him at:
  • It was a busy but productive week for Luis Aponte-Merced and fellow friars at St. Joseph and St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Orlando, Fla. “We spent all week moving into our new offices” in a transformed rectory. “The parish is growing,” says Luis, who lives at San Damiano Friary with three friars from Holy Name Province. “I’m getting more and more involved with the Spanish community.” As for his new office, “It has a nice window. I can look out and see who’s coming and going from church.”
  • Their garden is about more than vegetables.Did you think for a minute that Carl Langenderfer would give up serious gardening when he moved from St. Anthony Friary to Oldenburg, Ind.?  At Holy Family Friary he and OLG Friar Joe Nelson are already harvesting radishes, lettuce, sugar snap peas, onions, zucchini, cucumbers and kale. “Also cabbages and now some tomatoes are starting to come in,” Carl writes. One problem: “The many rainy days have also produced a wheelbarrow full of weeds as well.  At least I haven’t had to water it but once since I came back from vacation.” They’re also growing herbs and flowers.
  • John Aherne, OFMCongratulations to Holy Name friar John Aherne, who was ordained to the priesthood Saturday, June 23, at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York. John, as you recall, became a deacon last year in Cincinnati when Colin King was ordained a priest. Read about John’s celebration at: Ordained
  • When Aleteia illustrated an online story called “An visual guide to the liturgical colors seen at Mass,” they used a photo Bob Bruno recognized right away. It was him. “I don’t know how this happened,” says Bob, who received the link to the article from Fr. John Kinney. The photo, originally published in Airman Magazine, is “from my sabbatical time at the Pontifical North American College in Rome,” Bob says.  “Here’s the meaning of the colors and the spiritual truths they symbolize,” reads the lead-in to the June 18 story by Philip Kosloski. Read the article at: Guide-to-the-liturgical-colors


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

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist