“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me…”


Jorge Taborda, whose wife was deported to Colombia, is trying to remain in the United States with his two sons. He and his wife have lived in the US for nearly 20 years, working, paying taxes, and raising their family. Jorge is staying with our Friars in New Mexico while trying to normalize his situation.

As the immigration issue continues to be debated in the United States Congress and in each of the 50 states, it is easy to be caught up in arguments and statistics.

The Most Reverend Oscar Cantu, Bishop of Las Cruces, participated in the news conference and presided over Mass.

But there are human faces in each case, and families hidden behind the stacks of numbers. As Christians, as Catholics, as followers of St. Francis of Assisi, we heed the words of Jesus Himself in the quote above, and answer the question He poses at the end of the story of the Good Samaritan: “Who was neighbor to the injured man on the side of the road?”

Below is a statement from one of the Friars of our Province, Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv., Director of our retreat center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico. We affirm his words, support his actions, and pray that all involved will work to resolve this particular challenge.

And we pray fervently that there will be an overall resolution to the challenge of integrating all immigrants as we create a society where all of human life is cherished and protected.

Holy Cross Retreat Center is a ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation.

For many years as part of our mission statement, besides welcoming thousands of people each year for prayer and retreats, Holy Cross Retreat Center has offered a place to stay for people from out of town who are receiving medical treatment, occasionally for someone who needs a temporary stay, and in other special circumstances.   From mid-November till mid-January 2017, we also welcomed 67 adults and 77 children who were refugees from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.  They were victims of violence or extreme poverty and arrived with almost nothing.  With the help of five volunteers we provided a room, meals, clothes, toiletries, assistance arranging travel to family members, and a safe pleasant atmosphere.

As a Franciscan ministry, Holy Cross Retreat Center is called to offer hospitality to the most vulnerable among us and to those seeking a place of peace and prayerful serenity.  St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of our Order, left behind a comfortable life as the son of a wealthy merchant to live the Gospel as a poor man and to serve the poor personally.  He also showed compassion in caring for the lepers, those most alienated by society in his time.

The Old Testament speaks of immigrants 92 times and the New Testament says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)  The actions of Jesus were grounded in his faith and he often reached out to the sick and the hungry and those alienated because they were from a different region.  Jesus alsogave us the example of the Good Samaritan who cared for the man left along the road by robbers without asking where he was from or even who he was, providing him with healing and hospitality.

Pope Francis encourages us to reach out to those on the margins and to show mercy.  He has appealed for the needs of the refugees at Lampedusa, and provided housing, food, and a welcome to the homeless people in the area of the Vatican,  He reminds us of the dignity of each person  and how God calls us to extend our hearts to those in need.

We are proud to offer Franciscan hospitality to Jorge while he fights to stay united with his two sons.  As we have welcomed many others, we welcome Jorge to have a place of comfort, support, and peace.  It is our faith tradition and our desire to offer hospitality in his time of need, and to call for respect and the unity and dignity of families.   The Catholic Bishops of the United States published a pastoral letter entitled “Strangers No Longer” promoting respect for immigrants, and many statements since then calling for immigration reform and ministry to those affected by the struggles.  I would like to thank Bishop Cantu for his presence and the support of the Diocese of Las Cruces.  We encourage other Catholic institutions and communities to extend hospitality and their prayerful support to those on the margins.

Thank you.


Pilgrim House Celebrates 100 Years of Hospitality


In the spring of 1917, the Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin, Ohio agreed to build and staff a Pilgrim House at the Church of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. The Sisters managed the Pilgrim House into the 1990s. The Pilgrim House and Retreat Ministry are now integrated into the overall pastoral ministry of the Shrine overseen by the Friars. Br. Randy Kin, OFM Conv., is the current Director of Retreat Ministry at the Shrine.

On June 24, 2017, at the 5:30 p.m. Mass, we will celebrate 100 years of retreats and pilgrims at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.  Please join us for this 100th Anniversary Mass as we celebrate the good work begun by the Sisters that continues today!

The Franciscan Sisters of Tiffin, Ohio, ministered to many pilgrims at the Shrine - particularly at the Pilgrim House.
Brothers Randy Kin, Ian Bremar, and Angelo Catania prepare for pilgrims at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.

June 25th Open House at Holy Cross Retreat Center


Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, is celebrating 60 years of retreat ministry in 2017!

Join us Sunday, June 25th, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for an open house. See the renovations in the retreats rooms, the atrium, and the large conference room. Make sure to visit the Chapel with its newly installed stained glass windows. At 3 p.m. we will have special recognition for Donna Hollis, who has retired after working for more than 16 years in the retreat ministry at Holy Cross.

Other events coming up this year include:

September 2-3 - the Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts with 80+ artists, food, beer and wine garden, live music on two stages, and remembrances of previous festivals at HCRC

September 24 -  outdoor Mass with reception to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first retreat (which took place September 27 to 29, 1957.)

We hope to see you there!

Beautiful skies at Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, NM


Happy Feast of St. Anthony

June 13th is the Feast Day for St. Anthony of Padua

Rivaling even St. Francis himself in terms of devotion, St. Anthony of Padua is one of the greatest Franciscan saints. We all know of the prayers to St. Anthony for lost items, and the more important intercessions he has made on behalf of those who ask – those seeking physical and spiritual healing.

But his greatness is also found in the incredible amount of work he accomplished in his short 36 years on earth. His preaching brought to life the Good News of Jesus Christ, deepening the faith of those who heard him. He was one of the first teachers in the new Franciscan Order, and he followed closely St. Francis’ decree that the student-Friars never allow their studies to interfere with their service to the poor.

Most of all, his greatness is found in the great love he had for the Lord and his people. The spark of the Holy Spirit burned in his heart and soul, and poured out in his service and counsel, as well as in his preaching and teaching.

Because that great love is magnified now by his closeness to God, we still pray to him, knowing that he wants to help us in our daily needs, and desires to have us join him in God’s presence.

“Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints”

O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (request). O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.

+Friar Juniper Cummings – A Life of Franciscan Joy


He was a gifted scholar, teacher, administrator, and spiritual guide, but Fr. Juniper Cummings is best known as a Friar whose life was filled with Franciscan joy. That spirit of celebrating life was the foundation of his service as he brought people closer to God and one another.


Friar Juniper Cummings, OFM Conv., died Friday, May 26, 2017, in Shakopee, Minnesota. He was born Francis Leonard on September 4, 1924, in Louisville, Kentucky, to Francis and Wilhelmina (Krimm) Cummings. He is pre-deceased by his parents, his brothers, Albert and Frank, and his sister, Mary Frances (Jones.) He is survived by his niece, Jane Gray of Henderson, Kentucky, his nephew, Danny Jones of Louisville, Kentucky, and his cousin, Cathy Targonski of Bardstown, Kentucky, hundreds of other cousins, and many dear friends.


Fr. Juniper lived his life joyfully and shared that joy with everyone around him.

He attended minor seminary at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, and entered the Conventual Franciscan Order in 1944. He professed Simple Vows on July 15, 1945, and Solemn Vows on October 4, 1948 at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. He was ordained a Priest on October 15, 1950 at the Church of Cordeliers, Fribourg, Switzerland.


Fr. Juniper was ordained to the priesthood on October 15, 1950, at the Church of Cordeliers, Fribourg, Switzerland.

After returning to the States, he taught at Assumption Seminary in Chaska, Minnesota and was much involved in a program of theology for the laity. He also taught at the Carey Seminary, St. Bonaventure University, Catherine Spalding College, Bellarmine University, as well as the Beda and the Seraphicum in Rome. He gave retreats, lectures, and workshops all over the U.S., as well as England, Africa, and Australia.


He was Pastor and Rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. He was Director of the Franciscan Mission Association and the Companion Office. He served on the Presbyteral Council of the Toledo Diocese. He was a past president of the Franciscan Educational Conference and Inter- Province Conference of the Conventual Franciscans. He served as Minister Provincial for six years and was president of the Conventual Franciscan Conference of North America and England. He also served as Vice-Chairman of the Franciscan Friars’ Conference of the US, and as an Assistant General of the Conventual Order.


While serving as the Director of Development for the Province at the age of 65, he received a phone call from Zambia informing him that he had been elected Custos for the Custody of Solwezi. He accepted the position thinking he would only be there for a few years. He ministered in Zambia for 21 years. One Friar observed that it seems that Fr. Juniper’s whole life had prepared him for this important role, one he took on at an age when most people retire.


Fr. Juniper ministered in Zambia for 21 years.

When Fr. Juniper told the story of his vocation, he would begin by saying that as a young boy he wanted to work as a trash collector because he thought it looked like fun. He would finish by saying how happy he was as a Friar – that he had traveled the world and done things he never would have been able to do otherwise – and with the exclamation: “It’s fun to be Franciscan!” Fr. Juniper lived his life joyfully and shared that joy with everyone around him.


Visitation will take place Tuesday, May 30, at 5:30 pm with Mass of the Resurrection to follow at 6:30 pm at Franciscan Retreats & Spirituality Center, 16385 St. Francis Lane, Prior Lake, Minnesota 55372


A Wake Service will be held in the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, on Thursday, June 1, at 7:00 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 2. A luncheon will be served following Mass.


Memorial gifts to the Conventual Franciscan Friars may be sent to The Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Development Office, 103 St. Anthony Dr., Mount St. Francis, IN 47146 or by clicking here.




Happy Feast of Our Lady of Consolation

May 25th
Our Lady of Consolation Feast Day

The title of Our Lady of Consolation, or Mary, Consoler of the Afflicted, comes from the Latin Consolatrix Afflictorum and is the title by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is venerated in Luxembourg.  In 1875, a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Consolation in Luxembourg City was brought to Carey, Ohio, and the miraculous procession on May 24 of that year marks the origins of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.  Countless pilgrims have visited the shrine since then and have experienced healing and consolation in many ways.

Conventual Franciscan Friars have been the guardians and ministers of the Shrine since 1912 and for that reason the name of Our Lady of Consolation was chosen for our province.

Many blessings to you on this Feast day.

2017 Franciscan International Award

With 246 friends, retreatants and supporters of Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center present, the 2017 Franciscan International Award was presented to VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People) on May 11. Lisa Horn, CEO of VEAP, accepted the award on behalf of the board, staff and 3100 volunteers of VEAP, some of whom were present.

VEAP, headquartered in Bloomington, not far from St. Bonaventure parish, serves people in Bloomington, Richfield, Edina, and part of south Minneapolis. VEAP began in the early 1970s when several Richfield and Bloomington churches pooled their resources to assist people in need with food or money to pay utility bills or rent. VEAP has expanded its services to provide rides to medical appointments for those in need, as well as social services to the working poor, senior citizens and the disabled. VEAP also operates the largest food pantry in the state of Minnesota which distributes 3.5 million pounds of food annually, and over 50% of that food is fresh produce. VEAP also provides rides from the food pantry to the homes of clients. VEAP leases a portion of its building to Hennepin County Human Services; this allows VEAP clients the opportunity to take advantage of government programs without having to waste time driving to a distant location.

Fr. Jim Van Dorn with Helen White, and her daughter Sue Ann, and son-in-law, Shawn Matthews. Helen and her late husband, Bill, sold Fr. Urban the 60 acres on which Franciscan Retreat and Spirituality Center sits in the early 1960s.

In her acceptance speech, Lisa gave an overview of VEAP’s programs which serve some of the most vulnerable groups in our society. She closed her remarks with a quote from St. Francis: "Each one should confidently make known his need to the other, so that he might find what he needs and minister to him. And each one should love and care for his brother in all those things in which God will give him grace, as a mother loves and cares for her son."

(Banner photo with this story: Fr. Richard Kaley with VEAP staff - Fr. Richard nominated VEAP for the award and many of his parishioners are VEAP volunteers.)

MountFest 2017

Celebrating Mount St. Francis
A Tradition of Serving Spiritual Needs

In the late 1800s, the Conventual Franciscan Friars were given 400 acres of land in southern Indiana, not far from Louisville, Kentucky. The property is now the central location for the Province of Our Lady of Consolation and home for several of the Friars. But for many years it was the location of a high school seminary with a working farm.

After the seminary closed in the mid-1970s, the tradition of serving young people continued. The Center for Spirituality hosts high school retreats throughout the school year, along with a regular schedule of retreats for adults of all ages.

perusing art mountfest 2016The Friars, with the help of their neighbors and friends, have always worked to make sure that anyone can participate in retreat programs, regardless of their ability to pay. Beginning in the 1920s, an annual picnic attracting more than 1,000 people was a source of regular support. In 2015, the picnic was transformed into a new event – MountFest: An Experience of Kentuckiana.

Taking place this year on Saturday, June 3, MountFest features local food establishments, wineries, and breweries, and attracts local crafts people and artists to exhibit their creations. Local musicians provide a backdrop of live music.

Br. Bob Baxter OFM Conv., director of the Center for Spirituality, said the new event has attracted many new attendees while keeping long-time supporters coming back to help.keffler mimos mountfest 2016

“We invite alumni, neighbors, and friends to join us,” Br. Bob said. “It’s a chance to enjoy artists, live music, food, beer, and wine, all while helping make our programs available to everyone who wants to attend.”

So What Does a Brother Do?

by Friar Ian Bremar, OFM Conv.

(Ed. Note: May 1st, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, was the inaugural Religious Brothers Day. If you didn't get a chance on the 1st, today is a great time to say thank you to the Brothers in your life!)

And the Lord gave me brothers…St. Francis

When I tell people I'm a Franciscan brother, one of the responses I often hear is, “So what does a brother do?” Usually I smile and say, “Well... it's not so much a matter of what we do as it is who we are.”

brothers at carey002Religious brothers do many different things. They are retreat directors, teachers, professors, missionaries, nurses, administrators, chaplains, campus ministers, social workers, carpenters, cooks, writers, artists, and many other things. But their unique and oftentimes overlooked vocation is to be a certain kind of man in this world.

All of the baptized have been called to a life of holiness and to give witness to Christ in their lives. Whether one is married, ordained, single, or a religious, each person expresses that universal call of baptism in a particular way. For religious, living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience give witness to the life of Christ, and to the future resurrected life of all humanity in the heavenly kingdom. Consecrated religious are called to be a light within the Church as the Church is meant to be Christ's light in our world.

Religious priests, sisters, and brothers all partake in this kind of witness, but each in their own way. They remind the Church that we are all sisters and brothers in Christ with the same Father in Heaven. Women religious offer the unique gift of sisterhood and make known the feminine experience and reality of a life in Christ. Brothers, as men who live in community and as brothers to the human family, similarly are witnesses to fraternity in a world that is so often divided and in which human relations at all levels are breaking down. Just as religious sisters bring to the Church their unique gifts as women, so brothers, with a masculine perspective, offer their gifts to the Church as men.

Ian and Joseph wash feetThere is something especially counter-cultural about the brotherhood vocation. Often I am asked, “So why don't you become a priest?” or “Why not go all the way?” There is something subversive about men who willingly choose to pursue paths in life which eschew roles of direct authority, that necessarily put them under the authority of others. It is startling to some that a man, who has not followed the path of father and husband for the sake of a life committed to the Church, would not readily seek to become a priest.

Herein lies, I think, the distinct perspective that the brotherhood vocation offers. A religious brother lives out a calling to service in ways that the world does not expect for a man. A brother is not a parent nor pastor nor priest, but his vocation is not defined by what he is not. A brother is a brother, and like a brother in a family, he serves and relates with the other members in that unique capacity.

I think of growing up with my own brother. We were not friends, and he wasn't a parent to me, but we shared a bond that was unconditional. We were equally loved by our parents, yet, as he was the older and more experienced brother, I looked to him for leadership and guidance. Likewise, it isn't that brothers forgo or run from leadership and responsibility, but that they exercise their responsibilities in the Church familially, as brothers and equals to their fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.

Again, I am reminded of my own brother, who, though he does not yet have a family of his own, is quite the “family man” when we all get together – setting a light-hearted tone, helping at the grill, playing games with the grandkids. So too the religious brother is like that “family man” of the Church – not the parental figure, but one who walks with the People of God and enjoys the life in Christ with and among them.

Whatever I “do” as a brother, I hope that I will do it sincerely as one called to be a brother to others, a family man in the Church.

Friar Joel Burget: A Storyteller with a Missionary’s Heart

Combining a joyous Franciscan spirit with a missionary’s vision of the world, Friar Joel Burget OFM Conv. served God’s people in remote areas of Africa and in the heart of the midwestern United States.Fr. Joel

Fr. Joel died Friday April 21, 2017, in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was born Robert Joseph Burget on June 17, 1939, in Terre Haute, to John R. and Mildred (Rassel) Burget. He attended minor seminary at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, and entered the Conventual Franciscan Order in 1957. He professed Simple Vows on July 10, 1958, and Solemn Vows on October 11, 1961.

He was ordained a Priest on March 5, 1966, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Later that year, he left for Africa where he served as a missionary for 20 years in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). After returning to the US, he served in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Centralia, Illinois, and for many years in Terre Haute.

A youthful interest in the world and its people led to summer geography studies at the University of Minnesota while he was studying theology during the academic year at the Friars’ seminary in Chaska, Minnesota. Because of this experience and the need for good teachers, after his ordination he was sent to teach geography in the Friars’ schools in Zambia.

Fr. Joel in Zambia
Fr. Joel in Zambia

But his other talents soon led to his being sent into other areas of Zambia where there was an urgent need for priestly ministry. At that time the lack of good roads made travel difficult and the distances between locations seem even longer. Fr. Joel spent much of his time on his own with the people he served.

He was creative and innovative, as a missionary is often called to be, always willing to attempt anything to improve conditions for those he served. With no hardware stores around, these skills were tested as cars and other machinery sometimes broke down. “He liked to try to fix things,” said one of the Friars who served with him in Zambia. He added with a laugh: “Sometimes he made things better, sometimes not. You never knew what would come out of it.”

In 1986 Fr. Joel returned to the US and, after a brief period in parish ministry, began serving as a hospital chaplain in Centralia, Illinois. Here his caring spirit flowered again, and he developed a great reputation through his concern and care for the sick and dying and their families.

Fr. Joel celebrating Mass at his Jubilee celebration in 2016.
Fr. Joel celebrating Mass at his Jubilee celebration in 2016.

He became pastor at St. Benedict’s in his hometown of Terre Haute in 1998, and through 2010 served his community with the same Franciscan joy and compassion. He continued to live at the Friary at Terre Haute for the rest of his life.

A talented storyteller throughout his life, Fr. Joel also had a reputation for exaggerating at times, leading some Friars to remark that there were often two versions of his humorous stories – the Fr. Joel version and the real version.

He was remembered from his days at Mount St. Francis as a good student and an avid basketball player, whose size and competitive spirit made up for a lack of natural ability.

He was pre-deceased by his parents, his sister Sr. Ann Brendan, SP, and his brother John. He is survived by his sister Mrs. Sally Jones of Beaumont, Texas and five nieces and nephews.

Fr. Joel Burget as a young man with his family.
Fr. Joel Burget as a young man with his family.

On Monday, April 24, a Funeral Mass was held at St. Benedict Parish in Terre Haute. On Thursday, April 27 the Mass of Christian Burial was followed by interment in the Friars’ Cemetery at Mount St. Francis.

The pall is placed on the casket.
The pall is placed on the casket.

Memorial gifts to the Conventual Franciscan Friars may be sent to The Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Development Office, 103 St. Anthony Drive, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, 47146 or by clicking here.

+Fr. Joel is carried to the cemetery.
+Fr. Joel is carried to the cemetery at Mount. St. Francis.