July 12, 2018
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 reunion
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.
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.
Chris SchuermannPHOTOS 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 Pine
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.
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.”
Left, Honoree Gabriel Balassone; above, Al Hirt accepts his Humanitarian Award.josephgrohfoundation.org/joesstory.html
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.com
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:
With blessings and care,
– Michelle Viacava, RN
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.
Carl Langenderfer and Lady Liberty.
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
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2014 • Third Quarter
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2016 • Third Quarter
2014 • Fourth Quarter
2015 • Fourth Quarter
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2016 • Fourth Quarter
2015 • First Quarter
2016 • First Quarter
2015 • Second Quarter
2016 • Second Quarter
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://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.