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

www.franciscan.org

July 12, 2018

Seems like old times

Years fall away at reunion of seminarians

BY BILL FARRIS, OFM

TOP PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFMAbove, the class of 1968; top, a stroll down memory lane at the reunionOur freshmen class at St. Francis Seminary numbered 80 students. Four years later in 1968 there were only 30 of us in our graduation class. The next phase of seminary life would resume at our college in Southfield, Mich., after the summer break, but as we left, we wondered when we would all see each other again.

Fifty years later, the Franciscan Alumni Association gave us the opportunity to come together again at the yearly reunion it organizes every June. Fortunately our class had several individuals who were ready to take on the task of locating classmates scattered around the United States. Soon we had e-mails for almost everyone, and preparations began in earnest.

The first invitation dropped into my inbox on May 9, 2017, from classmate Mike Hertel: “I’m toying with the idea of driving to Cincinnati for the Friday and Saturday parts of the reunion,” he wrote. “It would be great to catch up with a few of the guys from the class of ‘68.” In the following weeks 238 e-mails would collect as more and more classmates got involved in the planning.

Someone proposed that we each write up a 500-word summary of the previous 50 years. As the reunion drew nearer we all had in hand the collection of well-written, humorous, and reflective autobiographies. Our conversations over the three-day reunion often referred to the information they contained.

Bill’s classmates Dan Knadler and Mike Hertel with Mark SoehnerShared memories

We started on Thursday evening, June 21, with a get-reacquainted supper. Binders and scrapbooks supplemented and tweaked our shared memories of our friar teachers, misadventures, good times and deceased classmates.

On Friday morning a group from our class visited several special places in Over-the-Rhine, stopping for a quick visit at the Motherhouse, and then on to St. Anthony Center next door. There we were treated to an overview by Chris Schuermann, Executive Director of St. Francis Seraph Ministries, of the work done for the poor and homeless in OTR. More than one classmate told me later how impressed they were with what had been done to transform the old St. Anthony Messenger building PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMTop, Rick Schneider; middle, Bill Pellman, Bill Farris, John Bach, Jim Schrepfer, Bob Kennedy and Frank Jasper; above, Norbert Bertram and Mike Pineinto a center of services for neighbors in need.

Friday afternoon we gathered at Winton Woods for a picnic featuring bluegill caught and fried by Mike Pine. The conversations flowed into the evening at a restaurant in Glendale.

Saturday’s activities were focused on the old seminary grounds, now a retirement community. For many of our class, this was their first opportunity in 50 years to walk through the halls and woods. Although I return there more often, many of my class hadn’t visited since an earlier reunion in ‘83. Being there with them triggered memories that hadn’t stirred in many years, like this one:

During the final months of our senior year, several classmates kept busy with a covert digging project in the woods. Over the years it came to be known simply as “The Hole.” The reason why it was dug remains a secret, and as to its location, that became a mystery. At the reunion, several of us spread out through the woods behind the Poor Clare Monastery trying to find traces of our work. Some sinkholes looked promising, but the only thing we found was an old Coke bottle. Fifty years had erased all traces of the clandestine excavations.

Reconnecting

We joined the other alumni for the final hours of our reunion, beginning with Mass in the chapel, dinner in the activity room (the main study hall) and the regular business meeting of the Franciscan Alumni Association. Our classmate Fr. Al Hirt was presented with the Humanitarian Award (see Page 2).  I felt blessed that five of our faculty from so long ago were able to join in the reunion: Bill Pellman, Fr. Valentine Young, Fr. Ric Schneider, Fr. Tom Richstatter and Fr. Murray Bodo.

At the close of the evening as the crowds dispersed, a small group of us took a sentimental walk around the building, remembering the friendships that were made and the dreams that were shared so long ago.

What did this reunion mean to me? I was happy to see everyone and discover that the years have been kind to us. We went our separate ways in 1968 when so much of our world was shifting under our feet. It was heart-warming to me to see that we had all found our footing, found someone to love, had raised families and engaged in meaningful work, but most of all, were able to return and find each other again.

The e-mails have continued, though the pace is slowing down now, with messages such as:

 “It was great spending a few days with so many friends where the polarization and distrust of today’s world seemed to just disappear.”

“For me and many in our group, it felt like both a special and magical weekend.  Hard to describe.  Best felt.”

“Our journeys have been long, and for many, arduous. But now that we’re old men, or nearly so, how did we turn out?  Pretty damn well, if you ask me.”

Preaching by example

Left, Honoree Gabriel Balassone; above, Al Hirt accepts his Humanitarian Award.Each year the Franciscan Alumni Association pays tribute to those who have gone above and beyond in the service of others. At this year’s FAA reunion in Cincinnati, friar Gabriel Balassone was given the Christian Life Award “for his exemplary living of the Christian virtues of humility, service and gratitude.” Friar Al Hirt received an FAA Humanitarian Award for his “bridge-building ministry with African-American communities, with LGBTQ folks, with divorced Catholics, people with disabilities and the University of Cincinnati Academic community.” Joe Groh, unable to attend the reunion, was presented a Humanitarian Award for his work to raise funds for victims of spinal injuries. He established the Joseph Groh Foundation (josephgrohfoundation.org/joesstory.html) after he suffered spinal injuries and a broken neck in a 2008 biking accident.

–Toni Cashnelli

  • PHOTO FROM https://www.facebook.comBishop John Stowe of Lexington joined Mike Chowning and Mike Dubec for their celebration in Hazard.Homilist Bill Farris looked back on a half-century of “generous ministry” during the July 1 Jubilee celebration for friars Mike Dubec and Mike Chowning at Mother of Good Counsel Church in Hazard, Ky. For both friars, it was a chance to return to a community they had long and faithfully served. Also there to honor and support the Golden Jubilarians was Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv of Lexington. Bill drew upon the Sunday Gospel from Mark (5:21-43), in which “Jesus allows a busy day to be shaped by two interruptions: a young girl deathly ill, and a woman with an incurable condition. Without hesitation he puts aside the task at hand and lovingly responds to both people. Mike Dubec and Mike Chowning allowed their lives to be shaped by a call from Jesus to serve as Franciscans. Both friars look back on 50 years of generous ministry, always prompt to look beyond the small interruptions of each day to discover God calling them anew.” According to Parish Life Director Pat Riestenberg, “We had a joyful and inspiring Mass and a delicious meal. We ended with a program that included Bro. Mike and Fr. Mike sharing a memory for each of their five decades of service to God and God’s People.
  • PHOTO BY CHRIS MEYER, OFMA Kkottongnae Sister at the soup kitchen.Helping hands in Jamaica: Friar Chris Meyer made one of the first food runs May 18 when the Diocese of Montego Bay launched its Love in Action Mobile Soup Kitchen. The kitchen, staffed by volunteers and coordinated by the Kkottongnae Sisters of South Korea, delivers nutritious meals to the poor in areas of greatest need. “With the help of generous benefactors the cathedral hall was remodeled, and a large kitchen, pantry, and storage area were created,” says Chris. The Sisters started a small-scale food program months ago but were able to expand thanks to donations from Food for the Poor and others. “They just acquired a minivan to help this. And while they hope to serve every day, presently they serve Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.” Elsewhere in Revival, Colin King is working with community leaders and medical personnel to open a rural health clinic on the grounds of St. Mary Catholic Church, where he serves as pastor. “This is a small rural community out in ‘the bush’, where services are really lacking,” Colin says. The nearest public clinic is a 25-minute taxi ride. A visit to a private clinic costs about $13.50 – without tests or medicines – an exorbitant fee for many. “So far we have been doing local fundraising and recruiting local doctors and nurses” for a clinic at St. Mary’s. “Our ambitious goal is to offer back-to-school physicals by August.”
  •  Need some inspiration? Franciscan Media is celebrating 14 Days of Franciscan Saints in an online series starting Monday, July 16. According to FM, “These saints lived wildly different lives, but there were similarities between them: humility, closeness to the poor, a spirit of prayer, and a freedom from the cares of the world.” Click here to sign up for the series: Saints
  • One of the biggest weekends of the year is about to unfold as The Monastery of the Holy Land hosts its annual Holy Land Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, July 14, in Washington, D.C. Food and crafts are a major draw, but visitors can also immerse themselves in culture through seminars, exhibits and tours of the monastery and gardens. Learn more at: Festival
  • A surprise party for Jim BokIt wasn’t easy, but sneaky friends and colleagues managed to pull off a surprise 71st birthday party last week for Jim Bok in Negril, Jamaica. The cake read: “Happy Birthday, Fr. Jim. Kindest priest in the world.” According to one of the planners, Colin King, “Great food and a good time was had by all. But most importantly, we are very happy to report that no one has broken their leg!” Jim spent several months last year nursing a fracture he suffered while walking his dog, J.B. Kids in Negril extended their birthday wishes in this Facebook video.

 

Eat well, exercise to dodge diabetes

We have a diabetes epidemic on our hands. At least a third of the adult population has a high risk of becoming diabetic. One in three adults and one in two men already have prediabetes – and most of them don’t even know it.

PHOTO FROM Stocksy.comThe chief culprits are that two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese; we are a nation of couch (computer, car, TV, and phone) potatoes, thanks to larger portion sizes, sugary beverages, and less exercise.  Baby boomers are moving into the high-incidence years.  Besides obesity, age is the most important factor.  Beta-cell failure occurs more rapidly with age.  About 25 percent of people age 65 and older have diabetes.

Diabetes can threaten nearly every part of the body, raising the risk of memory loss, heart attack, kidney disease, amputations, and more. It’s definitely preferable to try to nip it in the bud. The normal fasting blood sugar level is 100.  Prediabetes is 100 to 126, and diabetes is 126 or higher. There is a higher rate of damage to blood vessels of the eyes, nerves, and kidney with prediabetes.  Also, the risk of dementia climbs even before blood sugar levels reach the diabetes range.

Our goal should not just be to make sure people don’t get diabetes, but to lower their risk as much as we possibly can.  The good news about diabetes is that it is not inevitable.  Up to 90 percent of adult onset (Type 2) diabetes is preventable by lifestyle modification.  If you can stay within a healthy weight, you’re about halfway there.  Once you add exercise, you’re down to about a 70 percent lower risk compared to people who are overweight and not participating in regular exercise.

The best way to prevent diabetes is:

  • Lose (or not gain) extra pounds
  • Do at least 30 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic exercise daily
  • Limit sweets, especially sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables, only a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with grains, preferably whole grains
  • Eat leafy greens, whole grains, beans, and nuts
  • Replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats to lower the risk of heart disease
  • Get your daily allowance of vitamin D from supplements or foods fortified with vitamin D

For more information, check with the American Diabetes Association (http://diabetes.org/) or the National Diabetes Education Program (https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/ndep/index.html).

 

With blessings and care,

– Michelle Viacava, RN

Province Nurse

Congress challenges, energizes formators

BY MARK SOEHNER, OFM

PHOTO BY CARL LANGENDERFER, OFMFrank Jasper with Carlos Ona and Manoj Xalxo from Christ the King ProvinceWhat were you doing the week of the Fourth of July?  I hope there were hot dogs and hamburgers and watermelon.  We had all that and more.  For part of the week, five friars from St. John the Baptist Province joined an international group of the ESC for Formation in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

The Third Continental Congress on Ongoing and Vocation Formation was called together by the Order’s General Secretary (Cesare Vaiani) and Vice-Secretary (Sinisa Balajic) for Formation and Studies.  Besides myself, the other SJB friars were Carl Langenderfer (Secretary for Inital Formation and Studies), Pat McCloskey (Ongoing Formation Director), Richard Goodin (Vocation Director) and Frank Jasper (reflecting upon the importance of human psychological growth in Ongoing Formation). The heat that week was staggering. Our Fourth of July was a work day, but supplemented at night by holiday fare and by fireworks seen across the valley from Mount Alvernia Retreat Center.

PHOTO FROM https://ofm.org/Formators of the English Speaking Conference gathered at Wappingers Falls.The primary focus of the Congress was Ongoing Formation. To me, that had been defined by the workshops I was taking to “keep up”, courses online or in class, or the latest theology book I was reading. But this is just one meaning. Cesare and Sinisa encouraged us to see our Ongoing Formation in our ordinary lives in fraternity.

They cited four elements:  1. Paying attention to the quality of our fraternal life and prayer;  2.  A willingness to grow together;  3.  The development of a fraternal project (we would call it our Friary Life Plan);  4.  The possibility of conflict in the fraternity needing to be addressed.  Since our Constitutions remind us that the fraternity is the privileged place of contact with God, the brothers with whom we live become the school in which we are to grow.  This big picture of Ongoing Formation became very exciting for participants as we then Carl Langenderfer and Lady Liberty.discussed the importance of the Formation of Guardians (which we do in our Guardian Workshops).  The Guardian as Animator of the fraternity and Shepherd of the Gospel way of life is meant to be a person who not only maintains the current life, but also stirs it up!  In other words, a brother of support and challenge – the way things work with our own Provincial Council and the Six Provincials.

The second focus was on the Ministry of Vocations.  We spoke about the hope for more Come and See Weekends in various regions of the country.   Our Vocation Director may be providing a template as a suggestion for how to do this.  There was hope for a short Vocation prayer to be used with the Liturgy of the Hours.  There was the suggestion for clearer visibility of the friars, either by habits or a clear witness (of justice, care for the poor, disabled, etc.) that offers a joyful alternative to other good vocations, such as Marriage, etc.  My thought was that our habits are a way of offering a low-cost but powerful advertisement to our way of life.

Our time concluded with an afternoon/evening trip into New York City.  We saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, took a boat ride around Manhattan, and enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal in Yonkers.  The highlight for me was seeing the Statue of Liberty up close as we glided by on our tour boat.  Here was Lady Liberty lighting the way to Ellis Island for  “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.   During this Fourth of July week, I recommitted to those ideals of our country.  We look for ways to help those who immigrate to our country, especially those seeking asylum, that they might know the opportunities we sometimes take for granted.

 

– Mark Soehner, OFM

 

 

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

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

TOP PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFMAbove, the class of 1968; top, a stroll down memory lane at the reunionOur freshmen class at St. Francis Seminary numbered 80 students. Four years later in 1968 there were only 30 of us in our graduation class. The next phase of seminary life would resume at our college in Southfield, Mich., after the summer break, but as we left, we wondered when we would all see each other again.

  • PHOTO FROM https://www.facebook.comBishop John Stowe of Lexington joined Mike Chowning and Mike Dubec for their celebration in Hazard.Homilist Bill Farris looked back on a half-century of “generous ministry” during the July 1 Jubilee celebration for friars Mike Dubec and Mike Chowning at Mother of Good Counsel Church in Hazard, Ky. For both friars, it was a chance to return to a community they had long and faithfully served. Also there to honor and support the Golden Jubilarians was Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv of Lexington. Bill drew upon the Sunday Gospel from Mark (5:21-43), in which “Jesus allows a busy day to be shaped by two interruptions: a young girl deathly ill, and a woman with an incurable condition. Without hesitation he puts aside the task at hand and lovingly responds to both people. Mike Dubec and Mike Chowning allowed their lives to be shaped by a call from Jesus to serve as Franciscans. Both friars look back on 50 years of generous ministry, always prompt to look beyond the small interruptions of each day to discover God calling them anew.” According to Parish Life Director Pat Riestenberg, “We had a joyful and inspiring Mass and a delicious meal. We ended with a program that included Bro. Mike and Fr. Mike sharing a memory for each of their five decades of service to God and God’s People.

PHOTO FROM https://ofm.org/Formators of the English Speaking Conference gathered at Wappingers Falls.The primary focus of the Congress was Ongoing Formation. To me, that had been defined by the workshops I was taking to “keep up”, courses online or in class, or the latest theology book I was reading. But this is just one meaning. Cesare and Sinisa encouraged us to see our Ongoing Formation in our ordinary lives in fraternity.

They cited four elements:  1. Paying attention to the quality of our fraternal life and prayer;  2.  A willingness to grow together;  3.  The development of a fraternal project (we would call it our Friary Life Plan);  4.  The possibility of conflict in the fraternity needing to be addressed.  Since our Constitutions remind us that the fraternity is the privileged place of contact with God, the brothers with whom we live become the school in which we are to grow.  This big picture of Ongoing Formation became very exciting for participants as we then Carl Langenderfer and Lady Liberty.discussed the importance of the Formation of Guardians (which we do in our Guardian Workshops).  The Guardian as Animator of the fraternity and Shepherd of the Gospel way of life is meant to be a person who not only maintains the current life, but also stirs it up!  In other words, a brother of support and challenge – the way things work with our own Provincial Council and the Six Provincials.

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

  • PHOTO FROM https://www.facebook.comBishop John Stowe of Lexington joined Mike Chowning and Mike Dubec for their celebration in Hazard.Homilist Bill Farris looked back on a half-century of “generous ministry” during the July 1 Jubilee celebration for friars Mike Dubec and Mike Chowning at Mother of Good Counsel Church in Hazard, Ky. For both friars, it was a chance to return to a community they had long and faithfully served. Also there to honor and support the Golden Jubilarians was Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv of Lexington. Bill drew upon the Sunday Gospel from Mark (5:21-43), in which “Jesus allows a busy day to be shaped by two interruptions: a young girl deathly ill, and a woman with an incurable condition. Without hesitation he puts aside the task at hand and lovingly responds to both people. Mike Dubec and Mike Chowning allowed their lives to be shaped by a call from Jesus to serve as Franciscans. Both friars look back on 50 years of generous ministry, always prompt to look beyond the small interruptions of each day to discover God calling them anew.” According to Parish Life Director Pat Riestenberg, “We had a joyful and inspiring Mass and a delicious meal. We ended with a program that included Bro. Mike and Fr. Mike sharing a memory for each of their five decades of service to God and God’s People.

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