Assembly 2017


Last week the Friars gathered at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, for their 2017 Assembly. They remembered the Friars who died in the last year, celebrated Jubilees, and planned for the future. Wednesday we were blessed with the presence of Indy's Archbishop Thompson and Lexington's Bishop Stowe.


Fr. Isidoro Mejia Hernandez with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

+Friar Jude Rochford, OFM Conv.

Caring, Firm, Determined - 'Malama' to the Friars of Zambia

Fr. Jude in 2017

A passion for bringing out the best in those around him, matched with a profound spiritual life of prayer and devotion, made Friar Jude Rochford OFM Conv. an ideal teacher and guide for people young and old. This was especially true in his 40 years with the growing community of Conventual Franciscan Friars in Zambia, Africa, for whom he was ‘Malama’: a Bemba language name for a caring, firm, and determined mentor.


Fr. Jude passed away on November 27, 2017, in Shakopee, Minnesota. He was born James Loren Rochford on July 16, 1928, in Sumner, Iowa, to Leo and Theresa (Buzynski). He is survived by his brother Gerard and predeceased by his parents, his brother Francis, and his sisters Patricia (Sr. Nora OSF), Mary Ellen, Margaret, and Bernadette (Kindl). He professed Simple Vows July 13, 1947, and Solemn Vows on July 14, 1950. He was ordained a priest on May 30, 1955.


Fr. Jude in 1957

After ordination he taught for 11 years at Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio, while completing a Master’s Degree at the University of Notre Dame. During that time he was a member of the Toledo Chapter of the Inter-Racial Council and in 1962 traveled to Selma, Alabama, to participate in a march for voter registration. Following a year teaching at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky, he was sent to Zambia as a missionary/teacher.


In addition to teaching theology and philosophy (he is especially remembered for his precise logic classes), Fr. Jude served in several administrative and leadership roles while in Zambia. But his greatest influence was in the formation of new Friars, helping them learn and grow in their Franciscan vocations.


Bishop Patrick Chisanga OFM Conv., of the Diocese of Mansa (Zambia) said that Fr. Jude was “one of those ‘angels of the Lord’ who guided me in my first steps of religious life. He left a deep influence on my understanding and appreciation of the Franciscan vocation and priesthood in general…I experienced him as a true son of St. Francis of Assisi with a profound spirit of prayer, simplicity, and particular devotion to Our Lady. He was passionate about providing adequate and integral formation to the future Friars and priests…He balanced well his firmness as a formator with a great sense of humor, which we all enjoyed.”

Fr. Jude with the academic board in Zambia


An intellectual spirit with a love of reading and writing, Fr. Jude published two books, Zambian Christian Reflections with Scriptural Readings and Journey to the Priesthood. He shared the books he read with his students, challenging them to read and write themselves.


Recurring medical problems led to Fr. Jude’s return to the US in 2007, moving into a nursing facility near two Friaries in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. He spent his last decade in correspondence and prayer, and welcoming family and friends. He continued to stay close to the community he left behind, Bishop Chisanga said, “writing to and praying for the Friars and priests he had nurtured along their vocation journey.”


Visitation for Fr. Jude will take place at Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota, on Monday, December 4 at 5 pm, with the Funeral Mass following at 6 pm. There will be a Memorial Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Sumner, Iowa, on December 6 at 10:30 am. A Memorial Mass and interment will be Mount St. Francis, Indiana, on December 19th at 4:00 P.M. Dinner will follow. Memorial gifts may be made to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana 47146, or by clicking here.


In Thanksgiving




As we prepare for our national day of giving thanks, we would like to share with you our annual Thanksgiving video.  May God bless you and give you His Peace!

“My children don’t go to Mass. What can I do?”

At our parishes and retreat centers, and even in more casual conversations, we hear this question frequently. In the letters and email we receive asking for prayers, this is the number one request. And it isn't just about high school kids - people are worried about their adult children as well.

Friar Jude Winkler has some advice for parents (and grandparents) whose kids have drifted away from the Catholic faith. He also has something to say to the younger people themselves. Friar Jude is a scholar and author of many books, and is able to break down the complexities of theology to a simple fact: God loves us.


Why have people, especially the young, stopped going to Church? Where do they find the community that faith once provided? Friar Jim Kent OFM Conv. suggests that where we focus our attention and how we spend our time and money show what is most important in our lives. He talks about how today business and entertainment dominate our skylines, and sometimes our lives. Getting people back to Church can be a matter of example first, showing the Joy of the Gospel, then inviting people back.



Fr. Tom Merrill

Studying Theology at the Washington Theological Union back in the 1970's, I was very much influenced by the two Augustinian Professors I had for Foundational Theology, which deals with the existence of God and our need for Him, Christian Anthropology which is based on the fundamental human need for God and His irresistible grace, and finally, Christology, the study of Jesus Christ, the point of union between us and God, and finally, Eschatology, where a joyful and fulfilled life necessarily comes about through experiences of God on a daily basis. In a nutshell, St. Augustine's two classic phrases, sum up what I firmly believe is the ultimate search for meaning in everyone's life: "You have made us for yourself, o Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You", and, "I would not be searching for You, o Lord, unless I had already found You, and I would not have found You if I had not already been searching for You."

The starting point for parents whose teens and adult children have stopped going to church need to be here: Whether they know it or not, we are all searching for God, and God searches for us. I would encourage parents to share how their own search for God and His gift of faith have made a difference in their lives. They might invite their children to share a personal example from their own lives when they were younger when they really felt close to God and why. After their children have shared their experiences, have the parents ask them if they still think about God and reach out to Him.

     A good point of departure for encouraging teens and millennials and older adults to return to church is to emphasize that our deepest needs can never be addressed through technology, but direct human communication. Technology is only a tool or a means, not the end of forming relationships. Would they not admit that when they really need someone to listen to them they would prefer to talk with someone face to face instead of a "friend" on Face Book? Hopefully, parents can help their children own and appreciate their own experiences or those of others known to them that helped them bond with others and with God. Faith in God and Human relationships are not meant to be kept to oneself, but shared with others, especially in a common expression of faith in worship of God.


Fr. Charles McCarthy 

     “My children don’t go to Mass. What can I do?” Why would they? “Go to Mass” can be like “Go to the dentist,” “Go to school,” “Go to bed.”

Identity in faith life needs to be more than a “Go to…” We all seek and need purpose, respect and to feel valued. Going to a static and often anonymous “place” is not where that sense of engagement and acceptance is found.

The disconnect which I perceive is in the lack of engagement between “church” and “Church.” Going to Mass needs to be connected with feeling welcomed and being part of whatever the “place” is.

I had two grandmothers. One was not much interested in seeing us or hearing us. Even when we went to visit, we’d say hi, and then be put outside so as not to mess the place up and disturb the quiet. The other grandmother was an “earth-mother”!! She couldn’t get enough of us. We couldn’t get enough of her. She traveled with us – an adult with five children in the back seat of a ford sedan. I’m sure she came out bruised, but kept us counting cows and green cars on the road. “Going to Oak Lawn” meant going to grandma’s house. YES! “Going to Chicago” was also “going to grandma’s!” “Do we have to.”

There is no magic potion or special blessing to “get someone” to “go to Mass.” Or “to church.” Rather, how do we “engage” each other in the “mission” of “the church” or “the parish?” How do we, as adults, create a sense of respect of opinion and growth in values in the community with which we worship? That becomes a question that is tackled differently in each Christian community. “A place” won’t be much of an interest. “An acceptance” will draw life and energy.

A Liturgy, or “Mass” is life giving and attractive when the people gathered there begin to be less anonymous to one another. When we invest our lives in the life of a place that invests its life in us, then we grow together. “I want to go!” “I need to go!” are statements of connection. “I don’t want to go” is a disconnect. What’s my engagement?


Fr. John Pozhathuparambil

Friars John Pozhathuparambil and Tony Vattaparambil prepare for a young adult retreat at Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, MN.

Do not judge them for not going for Mass; that is my biggest advice for parents and grandparents who have young and young-adult children. Pray for them and accompany them as a friend. I know it is challenging. If you become too much of an authority figure, you may lose them. Be a friend who hears them, understands them and cares for them.

They (millennials) like to hear reasons, reasons why we go to Mass. Once you get to them through your friendship, tell them the reasons why they should go to Mass. Once you can convince them by words and BY YOUR LIFE the benefit of going to Mass, you will surely win them over.


Fr. Christian Moore

Fr. Christian Moore visits with guests at the Franciscan Kitchen in Louisville, KY.

This is a distressing challenge for all of us, not just for parents and grandparents. When someone says he’s spiritual but not religious it means he’s going it alone, without a connection to a faith community for support. It leads to isolation and can lead further to other problems. It’s hard to tell a person that isolation can lead to trouble like drugs and alcoholism, and even suicide in the worst cases.

Growing up in Catholic ‘ghettos,’ people all believed the same thing. We all went to Church more not to go to hell than to try to get to Heaven. Communities have changed, they’re more mixed, and we don’t teach, or really believe that you will go to hell if you don’t go to Mass.

Being a Catholic Christian takes discipline, but there isn’t a hunger for God that makes people want to take that on. We need to show them somehow that true happiness comes from a willingness to endure the effort, sometimes the pain, of making our lives better — the discipline of prayer, exercise, a good diet. It all goes together.

Spiritual things can seem unappealing until you do them and see how your life is getting better. The things that seem very appealing at first can lead in the other direction.

 I believe that we have to trust that God is involved in all things. God wants us to be the best version of ourselves, and Church is a part of all that: developing a deeper relationship with God in prayer and community. We need to invite young people to be a part of that, encouraging them to embrace God, to want to go to Heaven rather than telling them to fear hell.


Fr. Tony Vattaparambil

My first expression, perhaps like any other pastor, is “we shall pray for him/ her together.” And I would also say, God hears the cry of the parents for their children. The best example is that of St. Monica and St. Augustine. For 3o some years Monica prayed for her ‘intelligent’ son. She never gave up and God answered her tears.

Parents, please value your faith and practice it. Let your children see your devotions and other faith expressions. Definitely those expressions will work well later in their life.

Pastors and parents have to work hand in hand to engage our young adults in the social activities of the faith community/ parish. Let them feel comfortable in being at our sacred space. Let them understand themselves that the faith we profess inside our churches has also has an extension outside by reaching out to the needy. Let our young ones know that prayers inside the church and their social engagement are the two sides of the same coin.


An Apostle of Peace and Comfort — +Fr. Ken Gering OFM Conv.


For Fr. Ken Gering OFM Conv., saying “Peace be with you” was more than just words. With his soft voice and gentle manner, he followed the example of St. Francis of Assisi in bringing the peace of Christ’s Good News to all he encountered.

Fr. Ken's first communion


His witty quips could make you laugh or groan, but in his early years as a Friar, Fr. Ken’s even disposition could calm a hectic classroom or Friary. In later years as chaplain in hospitals and nursing homes, he brought quiet consolation in times of crisis. And all through his life brought those gifts to his own family, whether they were close by or far away.


He was born Kenneth Louis Gering on November 16, 1927, in Louisville, Kentucky, to Leonard and Anna (Spath) Gering. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother Donald. He is survived by his brother Robert and sisters JoAnn Miller and Mary Rose Gaus Brown. Receiving the religious name Columban, he professed Simple Vows on July 9, 1952, and Solemn Vows on July 11, 1955. He was ordained a priest on February 23, 1958.


He graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1945, and attended the University of Louisville for one year before joining the Navy. After his service he completed an engineering degree and entered the Conventual Franciscan Order in 1951. As a newly ordained priest, he served at St. Anthony’s Parish in Louisville until 1960 when he began a 13-year assignment as Dean and science teacher at the minor seminary at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana.

Fr. Ken teaching a class at Mount St. Francis in 1965.


“He was just amazing,” said Fr. Christian Moore OFM Conv., who taught with Fr. Ken. “For several years he was in charge of the students and Guardian of the Friary. He always had patience in stressful situations and times of change. And he was very attentive. If any of the Friars were sick, he would be there every day to look in on them. You could always count on him.”


In 1973 he began the second phase of his Franciscan service when he was assigned as a hospital chaplain in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Except for two brief parish assignments, that would be his focus for the rest of his life. He went on to serve as a chaplain in Lansing, Michigan, and Terre Haute and New Albany in Indiana.


“He found his niche when he became a hospital chaplain,” said Fr. Jim Kent OFM Conv. “He was attentive to the person and family even after they left the hospital, visiting them in their own homes, nursing facilities, and funeral homes. He would work 40 hours in his regular ministry, then spend another 20 hours visiting other places.”


Fr. Christian said that even after returning to the Friary, Fr. Ken kept working. “He was always cleaning the grounds and doing small tasks to keep things in order — it was like another part-time job,” he said. “But most of all he was a dedicated chaplain. Even outside of healthcare — charismatic renewal, prayer groups, the Knights of Columbus. He was very supportive.” (Fr. Ken served as chaplain to the Knights of Columbus in Harrison County and New Albany in Indiana, and for the Legion of Mary in New Albany.)


A wake service will be held on Thursday November 9, at 7 pm in the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana. The funeral will be Friday November 10 at 11 am in the Chapel, followed by interment in the Friars’ cemetery. Memorial gifts may be made by mail to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, 47146, or by clicking here.

Fr. Ken Gering with Fr. Mario Serrano at a recent gathering.

Bringing People to the Table of the Lord

+Fr. Paul Faroh OFM Conv.

From the kitchen to the choir loft, from welcoming pilgrims as they stepped off the bus to praying with them in the quiet of the church, Fr. Paul Faroh OFM Conv. spent his life filling God’s people with good things.

Fr. Paul died on Saturday, October 28, in Findlay, Ohio. Born Elias Fredericus Faroh on February 22, 1930 in Lorain, Ohio, to Taufie and Mehaba (Zegiab) Faroh, he was baptized at St. John Parish in Lorain on June 15, 1930. He professed Simple Vows as a Conventual Franciscan on July 14, 1962, and Solemn Vows on July 15, 1965. After serving as a Brother for more than 20 years, he was ordained to the priesthood on May 11, 1985.

He was predeceased by his parents and his sisters Sultana Toth, Alice Patterson, Henrietta McConnell, Hanna Dager, Josephine Dunnigan, and Lillian Faroh, and his brothers Charles and Francis. He is survived by his brother George. Fr. Paul also had 18 nieces and nephews.

Icon and crucifix that belonged to Fr. Paul's mother

Before joining the Franciscans, Fr. Paul worked with his family as a cook and candy maker. In later years he joked that from the day after he entered the Order in Chaska, Minnesota, he served as a cook, mostly at the Novitiate in Auburn, Indiana (1961-1970) and then at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio (1970-1977).

Answering God’s invitation to service as a priest, Fr. Paul spent the next eight years as a student. Following ordination, he served as Pilgrim Director at the Shrine from 1985 to 1992. He served on the Retreat Center staff at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, from 1992 to 1995, and as Pastor at St. Joseph Parish in LaGrange, Indiana, from 1995 to 2004. He was then assigned again to the Shrine where he lived the rest of his life.

“Father Paul spent the first portion of his religious life as a brother, and a great deal of his time as a brother was spent in the kitchen,” said Bishop John Stowe OFM Conv. Before his appointment as Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky, Bishop Stowe was Fr. Paul’s Guardian while serving as the Rector of the Basilica in Carey.

“When he was ordained to the priesthood, Paul's love of food and hospitality became connected to the example of Jesus who frequently taught in the setting of a meal and who left us his ongoing presence in the form of bread and wine,” Bishop Stowe said. “Paul learned from his immigrant parents who instilled their Lebanese values of hospitality, respect, hard work, productivity — and of course, the importance of food. Everywhere he ministered, the production and sale of food became a way that the community could work together for projects and become stronger as a community in the process.”

Fr. Paul’s candy products were always popular items in the Shrine’s Gift Shop. For many years, he and a team of volunteers baked seasonal fruit pies, with orders outnumbering what could be produced. In 2016, Fr. Paul’s pies earned enough to send $50,000 to support Christian refugees in Syria.

“Paul also had a great love of music, especially opera,” said Bishop Stowe. “He directed the choir in Carey for years and began the ecumenical Christmas concert there. He created so many friends and relationships, in the kitchen, around the table, and at the table of the Lord.”

Visitation will take place at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation, 315 Clay Street, Carey, Ohio, on Thursday, November 2, at 1 pm, followed by a Wake Service at 5:30 pm. On Friday, November 3, visitation will continue at the Basilica from 10 am until the Funeral Mass, which will begin at 11 am. There will be a Wake Service in the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, on Sunday, November 5 at 7 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 am on Monday, November 6, in the Chapel, with interment to follow in the Friars’ cemetery.

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



Surrounded by many of his 92 first cousins and their families, several former students and colleagues, and dozens of Franciscan Friars from across the country, Fr. Wayne Hellmann OFM Conv. celebrated 50 years of priestly ordination on Sunday, October 22 at St. Benedict Church in Terre Haute, Indiana.

St. Benedict Church in Terre Haute, Indiana, was full of family and friends for the celebration of Fr. Wayne Hellmann's 60 years of priesthood.


Known for his ability to speak, write, and preach clearly, he summed up the day with one word: “Wow!”


During his homily for the occasion, Fr. Wayne pointed his listeners toward the mural high above the altar and the figures he pondered as a young boy attending Mass with his family. He said that an artist’s intention is for the viewer to look deeper and to see what can’t be seen. In this case, pondering the mystery of the Trinity led him, and can lead each of us, to the discovery of God’s deep and abiding love in our lives.


The extended Hellmann family member’s lives are intertwined with Catholic life in Terre Haute, from St. Ben’s where his father worked as a maintenance man, to the St. Mary’s of the Woods campus where his grandparents first met.


Fr. Wayne enjoyed being 'roasted'

As a student Friar in Germany and Rome during Vatican II, as a longtime professor and Chairman of the Department of Theology at St. Louis University, as a preacher of retreats and speaker on nearly every continent — Fr. Wayne has excelled while bearing witness to the Franciscan Joy of living the Gospel life.


During the celebration luncheon at the College’s campus center, family members, students, and Friars took turns speaking about Fr. Wayne, celebrating his commitment to the community they represented. But what each presentation had in common was how God’s love is made clear in Fr. Wayne’s passion for God’s people.


As the celebration ended, Fr. Wayne repeated his summary of the day, and for the rest of us the summary of his life and accomplishments: “Wow!”

For many more photos of the celebration, please visit the Province Facebook Page.





Hospitality: A Franciscan Response to the Immigration Conversation


What happens when a family is divided by deportation and other effects of immigration policy in the US?Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, has offered hospitality to a father and his US-born son after the mother was sent to Colombia in May 2017. The Center's Director, Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv., discusses the situation and a Franciscan response in the midst of a complex conversation.


Fr. Tom Smith, OFM Conv. is Director of Retreats at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico.









Happy 100th Birthday to Fr. Maurus Hauer, OFM Conv.!


Fr. Maurus Hauer celebrated his 100th birthday today at Mount St. Francis.

In 1932, in the midst of the Depression, Raymond (his birth name) arrived at Mount St. Francis to begin his life as a Conventual Friar as a student in the Province's Minor Seminary. Eighty-five years later, the Mount's Chapel was filled with friends and family, and Minister Provincial Fr. Jim Kent OFM Conv. delivered a brief homily highlighting the gifts Fr. Maurus brought to thousands of people throughout his decades of ministry in the Southwestern United States and parts of the Midwest.

Thousands of baptisms, hundreds of marriages, and countless hours of other sacramental ministry have changed lives and led people on their paths toward God. Yet what we love best is the quiet humility and ever-present smile of a Friar -- one of St. Francis' brothers.

The Chapel at Mount St. Francis was full of friends and family.

Happy Feast Day!


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!