+Br. Angelo Catania

A Friar Who Greeted God's People with an Open Heart

No matter where you came from or who you were, Br. Angelo Catania OFM Conv. had a gift for making you feel at home. Pilgrims and retreatants from across the country knew they could always count on his attentive ear and open heart.

Br. Angelo died on November 13, 2019, in Libertyville, Illinois. He was born Carmen Joseph Catania on March 22, 1942, to Frank and Lillian Rosalia (Russo) Catania in Oak Park, Illinois. He was predeceased by his parents, and is survived by his brothers Guy and Frank, along with a number of cousins, nieces, and nephews. He professed Simple Vows as a Conventual Franciscan on July 15, 1963, and Solemn Vows on July 15, 1966.

Br. Angelo’s cousin Ronald Catanzaro said “He was a true son of St. Francis for more than 50 years. He was a great family member, always present in our lives. He’s going to be missed by all.”

Following a few years of service in Chaska and Prior Lake, Minnesota, most of his decades of Franciscan service were spent in southern Indiana at the Mount St. Francis Center for Spirituality, or in Carey, Ohio, at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. Through those years he worked in several different areas: cook, administration, retreat center staff member, and as part of the Shrine’s pilgrimage team.

When he wasn’t greeting the buses at the Shrine in Carey, Br. Angelo was famous for his ‘park-bench ministry,’ either moving from person to person, or sometimes simply staying in one place as the pilgrims came to greet him. He listened to their stories, sharing in their joy or consoling them in their sorrows.

“Brother Angelo will be remembered by thousands of pilgrims to Carey,” said Bishop John Stowe OFM Conv., a former member of the Province who is now Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky. “He was often the face of hospitality for the shrine: he relished greeting the pilgrims as they arrived on buses and sending them off with prayer as they departed. He was also known to have sung a verse of ‘That's Amore,’ especially with Italian-American pilgrims.

“Angelo had a phenomenal memory for birthdays, anniversaries, and family histories. The friars would sometimes tease him for subjecting guests and parishioners to a round of ‘20 questions,’ but it was his way of showing interest and concern for the people that he encountered.”

“Br. Angelo excelled at the ministry of presence,” said Friar Jim Kent OFM Conv. “He had an ability to be truly with people, and always tried to be aware of others’ needs. He had such a listening heart and understood the value of giving people his time. He left a lasting impression on people – they always asked about him. When Angelo came to town, everyone wanted to see him. He always had a list of invitations.”

His last period of service was at Marytown, the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Libertyville, Illinois, greeting pilgrims around the Shrine and in the Gift Shop. There he was able to continue his lifelong evening habit of preparing for the next day’s service.

“He always enjoyed the end of the day,” Fr. Kent said, “sitting on the patio, smoking a cigar, and enjoying the presence of God.”

A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday, November 18 at noon in the Chapel at Marytown (1600 West Park Avenue, Libertyville, Illinois, 60048). There will be visitation in Carey, Ohio, from 5pm-6:30pm at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, followed by a funeral Mass at 7pm, on November 20. At Mount St. Francis, Indiana, reception of the body will take place at 5 pm on November 25, and vigil and remembrances will begin at 7pm. The funeral in the Mount St. Francis Chapel will be at 11am on November 26, with burial following in the Friars’ cemetery there.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, 47146 or online by clicking here.

Searching for Something that is True

As part of vocation awareness week, we share a conversation with Friar Bryan Hajovsky OFM Conv. who talks about his own vocation, and how we can all take part in a search for something that is true, leading to a deeper relationship with God. And while we continue to pray for an increase of vocations to the religious life, we shouldn't worry -- the Church is in God's loving hands.

Feast of All Saints

From the First Letter of St. John:

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

On this Feast of All Saints, let us ask God to guide our hearts, filling us with the Holy Spirit and drawing us toward our Heavenly home, so that one day we may be united with all of God's children in the joy of the Kingdom.

The images are taken from the tapestries of the saints at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California.

Solar Panels Installed

Solar panels have been installed on roofs of the buildings at Mount St. Francis.

As part of the ongoing Franciscan Earth Care Initiative, this will help bring down utility expenses while helping preserve our natural resources. Other improvements here at Mount St. Francis have included adding a geothermal component to the heating and air conditioning system, and a charging station for electric-powered vehicles.

The Franciscan Earth Care Initiative fosters collaboration between the Conventual Franciscans of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation and local partners in southern Indiana, involving the community in ‘green’ projects, educational programs, volunteer opportunities, and other partnerships.

Happy Feast of St. Francis!

Yesterday we commemorated the passing on to Heavenly Life of our Seraphic Father and Brother, St. Francis of Assisi.

More than 800 years ago, he heard God's call and began his journey with Christ. Unsure of where the road might take him, yet sustained by his faith, Francis grew into the very likeness of Christ. On October 3rd, in 1226, he completed his earthly journey.

As Conventual Franciscan Friars we follow in his footsteps.

May the Lord inspire us all in our Gospel life!

Transitus – 2019

The transition of St. Francis of Assisi from life to eternal life

Later in the evening of October 3rd 1226, the brothers gathered around Francis near the small chapel of Our Lady of Angels below Assisi. He had requested to be carried there. As he approached his death, he encouraged his brothers: “I am being called by God. I forgive all my brothers present and absent. When you give them this message, bless them for me.”

St. Francis transition from earth to eternal life (this Transitus is celebrated by Franciscans on October 3rd)

Then, as his first biographer continues, Francis “asked that the book of the Gospels be brought in and the Gospel of John be read to him, starting with the passage: Six days before the Passover, Jesus knowing that the hour had come for him to pass out of this world to the Father…” The narrative concludes: “And then his most holy soul was released from the flesh, and as it was absorbed into the abyss of light, his body fell asleep in the Lord.”
Is this not the description of a death any one of us would die for? Note the total trust in God who was calling him, and total embrace of his brothers in forgiveness and blessing? Evident here is his final perseverance in living the Gospel, even as he shares in the Passover of Jesus to the Father, realizing the fullness of Gospel prayer he so frequently prayed: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

For centuries, since that very evening, Franciscans have gathered every year at the hour of his passing, the hour when he entered into the Passover of Jesus. We call this commemoration the Transitus.  We recall his own words near the end of his Canticle of Brother Sun: “Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will.” 

We thereby remember we are also called by God to live for God as children of God, not for false securities nor the death-dealing powers of this world. It is also a way to help us enter more fully into the celebration of the feast of St. Francis the following day, October 4th.

If it is possible for you, would you join, and by your presence support the friars? (I will personally be celebrating at Immaculate Conception Chapel with our own student friars and with those from within the broader Franciscan family in San Antonio at Oblate School of Theology.)

Here are the locations for Transitus celebrations throughout our Province:

  • St. Bonaventure, Bloomington, MN 7:00 pm
  • Mount Carmel Parish, El Paso, TX 7:00 pm
  • Immaculate Conception Chapel, San Antonio, TX 7:00 pm
  • Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, NM 7:00 pm
  • Our Lady of Consolation Shrine Church, Carey, OH 7:00 pm
  • St. Benedict Parish, Terre Haute, IN 7:00 pm
  • St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Angola, IN 7:00 pm
  • Mount St. Francis Chapel, Mount St. Francis, IN 7:00 pm
  • Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, Louisville, KY 9:00 pm

Thank you. And as Francis himself would conclude: Pace Bene!
(Peace and every good.)
Fr. Wayne

Heart to Heart

Conversation with the Friars

Sometimes it’s just good to have someone there who is willing to listen.

On Sunday October 6, the Conventual Franciscan Friars of Louisville and southern Indiana will host an event they call Heart to Heart. Whether you have questions about the Church, challenges in your own life, need someone to pray with, or just want to talk, the friars will be available for you.

Please join us between 2pm and 4pm at Mount St. Francis, near Floyds Knobs, Indiana. Refreshments will be available.

Stigmata of St. Francis

From the beginning of his conversion, our holy Father Francis had a very great devotion and veneration for Christ crucified. He never ceased to preach this devotion until his death. In the year 1224, while he was in deep contemplation, St. Francis received the stigmata. This event was attested by reliable witnesses and Pope Benedict XI permitted the Franciscan Order to celebrate annually this extraordinary event on September 17th.

Jesus said to all:
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his glory
and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Lk 9:23-26

This stain-glass image depicts St. Francis receiving the sacred Stigmata, the wounds of Christ on the hands, feet and side. Francis was drawn so intimately into the suffering and cross of Christ he was the first person to be given the gift of the Stigmata.

The Sultan and the Saint

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the meeting between the Sultan Malik al Kamil and St. Francis of Assisi. Their encounter continues to bring hope that peaceful dialogue, mutual respect, and genuine fraternity are possible.

On Friday, September 27th, beginning at 7PM the film will be shown at the Rainbow Turkish House of El Paso (1030 Zaragoza Rd., Ste. V, El Paso TX). This event is cosponsored by Pax Christi of El Paso, El Paso Interfaith Alliance, National OFS Ecumenical/Interfaith Committee, and the Province of Our Lady of Consolation JPIC (Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation) Commission.

On Monday, September 30th, beginning at 7PM the film will be shown at the Mount St. Francis Center for Spirituality (101 St. Anthony Dr., Mt. St. Francis IN) as part of a week long celebration of St. Francis of Assisi.

Both showings will be followed by an opportunity for discussion. Please pass along the information and join us for an evening of peace and reconciliation.

Folding 1,000 Paper Cranes

Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. participated in a peace vigil in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, on Monday, September 9, 2019. The vigil was held next to the new Chapel at Holy Cross Retreat Center, where Fr. Tom is the Director. He said, "The music reminded me of peace vigils from the 60s and 70s, yet the theme and need are very current."

One thousand paper cranes were donated to the City of Las Cruces during the vigil.

In Japanese culture, it is believed that if someone folds 1,000 paper cranes their wish will come true. These origami cranes are a symbol of hope and healing.

In addition to the Franciscan presence, there were representatives from many other faiths, including Judaism and Buddhism, as well as groups representing Asian Americans, the disabled, the Latino Community, the American Indian Student Center, and others.

The non-political event included representatives from the community speaking on the universal values of Love, Tolerance, Freedom, and Dignity.