A Letter from Zambia

 

Dear friends,                                                Sunday Feb. 3rd, 2019

We are living in a time of extremes; may your extreme be peace.

We have had rainrainrain so that I can hardly remember when so much came down in so short a time. But our staple food of maize is as high as an elephant’s eye and making elephant size ears.

When I hear or see the news, the extremes stretch around the world from the hottest weather ever in Australia to the North Pole with its warming. The extreme’s stretch around the world causing suffering; fire, water, mud, heat, cold and more. Now you have extreme freeze and snow. It makes us be in touch with our faith, our values and goals in life.

Br. Tony with Susan in 2017

It is just over 6 weeks until I, with two Zambians, will be boarding a plane toward Chicago. Our tickets have been sent from the family that is supporting Sue, who is our St. Francis Schools’ only international student at St. Mary of the Woods College, Terre Haute IN. We will witness Sue receiving the cherished College ring which is awarded only to students who have scored over 90 points. She is the only African in the College and has outshined most of her classmates. Her mother and her school Principal travel with me for the occasion. We will enjoy a couple weeks of travel afterwards visiting schools and friends. I will stay on for a couple months after they return to Zambia.

Education is one of the greatest gifts that a person can receive, principally the African youth. It is evangelization, building faith, and life and hope. I have found that promoting education is one of the most fruitful missionary ministries whether it be in a parish, village, home or school. We need only to look at our own lives to see what education has accomplished for us.

I can’t resist telling about education at our St. Francis Technical School which I started in 2000. Now we are just beginning the 2019 school year with about 600 students, most of whom are disadvantaged coming from the appalling compound where they have one meal a day and come to school hungry. Despite their environmental circumstances, we have just learned that our Grade 12 students, scoring 98%, are No. 1 in the District for the 4th year running.

Before mid-March when I fly out, we will have completed two technical departments of the school. A large poultry house we built couple years ago is now being set up for our students to learn the rearing of broiler chicks, layers in cages and hopefully quails. We are even preparing to teach our agriculture students how to make their own chicken sausage. Ask me about it when we meet.

Another project which enhances the name ‘Technical’ is the Tailoring & Design Workshop. The building was built couple years ago but has never been set up beyond a few Home Economics sewing classes. It will be set up and qualify us to register for TEVETA, a Govt. organization which will give year end exams. Students who pass will receive a certificate which will qualify them for employment. It gives them hope.

Much as I love the people here and the challenge of bringing education to their lives, I look forward to a time at home reeducating myself with family, friends, and my fellow Franciscans.

With the love of Christ,

Bro. Tony

For more about Br. Tony's mission work in Zambia please click here - 


Fr. David Receives St. George Medal

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting emblem awarded by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Fr. David Lenz OFM Conv. was awarded the St. George Medal at the Religious Emblems Presentation at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral on February 3, 2019. This award represents outstanding contributions to the spiritual development of Catholic youths through Scouting. Brother Dennis Moses OFM Conv., who has also worked with the Scouts, received this award in 1998.

Congratulations to Fr. David!

 

Fr. David with the most recent group of scouts he has worked with
L to R: Fr. David (St. George Medal), Bernadette Ewen (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal), Theresa Nees (St. George Medal), Steve Williams (Bronze Pelican Medal), stand with Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson

 


Ciao from Assisi

(Photo by Ingrid Henzler)

I begin with sincere and heartfelt thanks to the students and friars I live with at the Franciscanum who welcomed me as a brother and were patient with me as I struggled to learn a new language.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for three months now but time flies in the Lord’s vineyard. And that’s what Assisi feels like to me, living in God’s own backyard! Yes, it’s that close to heaven.

I first visited Assisi in 2003 and had a powerful spiritual experience here. Today, many pilgrims I speak with here express their own exceptional spiritual experiences. As one pilgrim said to me: you don’t have to go into a church to feel God’s presence here; it’s perceptible all throughout the city. Assisi’s motto after all is “La Città della Pace” (The City of Peace).

I welcome pilgrims from all over the world here as a religious/spiritual guide at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s estimated that as many as 5 million visitors – some pilgrims, some tourist – make their way to Assisi each year. The Scriptures provide the religious/theological relevance for this type of spiritual journey.

 

The Friars at the Franciscanum in Assisi

From the very roots of our Catholic faith, pilgrimages have been an integral and wonderful experience. It began when Christ was crucified for us and people came to pray at the foot of the Cross. Then miracles occurred at different times and places around the world, making them holy and sought-after places to visit.

During St. Francis’ lifetime it was (and still is today) a privilege to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. St. Francis, being in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, knew most people would never be able to afford the cost of such a pilgrimage.

St. Francis had a special devotion to the crucified Christ and (I believe) was divinely inspired to create for the poor an experience of pilgrimage they could have right where they lived. Hence, St. Francis is credited with the birth of “La Via del Dolore” (in Latin “Via Dolorosa” or in English “The Way of the Cross”). This devotion is meant to be walked and experienced.

In more ways than I can share now, my ministry at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, was a foreshadowing of my ministry in Assisi. In Carey we welcome busloads of pilgrims, just as in Assisi. We provide a ministry of presence to those pilgrims who are more inclined to remain within themselves and their own personal experience. We walk alongside and share with those who come seeking directions or answers in their lives. We join our prayers with those who come seeking help for specific needs, such as healing or other favors for themselves or their loved ones.

As Franciscans, our life is one of relationships, no matter where we are, with people, their beloved family members (even their pets), and with all God’s creation. Ours is a privileged life simply because we serve others. And through our service, we share God’s love and encounter God’s love in one another, in all His creatures and His creation.

Pace e Bene,
Br. Don Bassana OFM Conv.


We Give God Thanks

 

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers...”
(Matthew 9:38-38)

We give God thanks for the dedication of the young men who are praying, studying, and discerning their call to the Conventual Franciscan Order. They are from all parts of the US, and some have come from other countries. We need their talents and energy as we follow St. Francis of Assisi in serving God’s people, especially those suffering in economic or spiritual poverty.

Please join us in prayerful support for our Postulants, Novices, and Student-Friars, that they may persevere on this sometimes difficult path, and find the joy of Franciscan life and service.

 

 


A Pastor at Heart

 

+Friar Regis Schlagheck OFM Conv.

A Mind for Management, But a Pastor at Heart

Friar Regis Schlagheck OFM Conv. found his greatest joy in pastoral service, even though he had a talent for management and was often called upon to serve in Province administration.

“He had a great sense of humor and could tell a great story,” said a fellow Friar. “He also had a great mind for facts and figures and was very conscientious in his service to the community.”

Fr. Regis passed away on December 25, 2018, at Mount St. Francis, Indiana. He was born Thomas James to Howard Charles and Marie Annette (Walter) Schlagheck on March 23, 1939, in Toledo, Ohio. He was predeceased by his parents, his brothers Gerald, Richard, and Francis, and his sisters Jeanne Horen and Rita Baur. He is survived by his brothers Paul, William, and Raymond, his sister Genny, and 25 nieces and nephews.

He attended minor seminary at Mount St. Francis, entered the Novitiate in 1957, and professed Simple Vows on July 10, 1958, and Solemn Vows on July 11, 1961. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 5, 1966, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His brothers Gerald and Richard also attended minor seminary at the Mount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After four years of pastoral ministry and after earning a Master’s Degree in Mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, Fr. Regis was sent to Zambia where he lived until 1984. During those years, in addition to pastoral ministry, he served three terms as Custos (leader of the Conventual Franciscan community) and worked in the formation of young men who joined the Order in Zambia.

Fr. Regis with St. Pope John Paul II

On returning to the US, Fr. Regis continued to serve in administrative capacities as Province Treasurer and in the formation of new Friars, as well as in pastoral ministry in: Bloomington, Minnesota; Lorain, Ohio; Clarksville, Indiana; and Carlsbad, New Mexico. He also served for a time as Rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. Though ‘officially’ retired, Fr. Regis served another term as Treasurer after returning to Mount St. Francis in 2014.

Fr. Regis was very dedicated to his family. His mother died while he was in Zambia, and his father came to join him, living there for five years. Fr. Regis’ sister Rita also lived in Zambia for three of those years. He carried on a long-distance chess match with his brother Paul, each of them mailing moves to the other over the course of the year. The Schlagheck family helped support the construction of St. Jovita’s Church in Zambia, named after their mother’s favorite saint.

Fr. Regis' signature smile (2005 Province Chapter Meeting)

“He had a signature smile,” Paul said. “That was his character, all the time. He always tried to be with the family for weddings and christenings. He loved sports, both to watch and to play. When he would vacation with us (in Florida) we would golf two or three times a week.”

A Wake Service for Fr. Regis will be held on Thursday January 3, 2019, at 7 pm in the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana. The Funeral Mass will be in the Chapel on Friday January 4, at 11 am, with interment following in the Friars’ cemetery. 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.


“Do Not Be Afraid!”

Christmas Eve at Mount St. Francis

Homily by Deacon Nicholas Wolfla OFM Conv.

Dear God:

I’ve done pretty good today, I haven’t cursed, I haven’t stolen, I haven’t made fun of anyone, heck I haven’t even killed anybody. Overall so far it’s been a good day. Thing is God, I’m gonna have to get up in a few minutes, that might start some problems.

Anyone who knows me, knows full well that I am no angel, no wings, just a touch of attitude, a tad irreverent at times, sarcastic and (frankly a lot of fun). I get up every morning and try to adjust my life to the life of the Gospel. Some days, if it wasn’t for the Grace of God, I probably would stay in bed.

But here I am, this year I get to play the role of an angel. I get to dress pretty, and I get to announce to the entire world who can hear me:

"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."

For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David's throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

 

And the Church rejoices:

Because you will find this child in the stable of your heart, wrapped in simplicity, his very existence is a wonder, his word, the Gospel is counsel, his actions in our lives if we let him grow in our lives are Heroic like Samson, Noah, Moses, and John the Baptist, the dominion of our heart and lives belong to Him, and he brings peace if we let him shoulder our imperfections and troubles. He rules us from the throne in our hearts, he is just, he frees us from ourselves, he is justice, He is God.

The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will do this. All we have to do is say yes! Liturgically this is the beginning of the Passion of Jesus Christ, it is the beginning of the road to resurrection on Easter, this is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ and all we have to do is say; yes come into my heart O blessed one.

This is a time to celebrate what happened two thousand years ago and to celebrate what will continue to happen in our lives, because we embrace this small child. This weak, dependent, perfect child, conceived by the Spirit of God, essentially of himself as his unity with the Father and the Spirit. This God who loves us so much that he allowed himself to become his own creation. How Awesome Is That?

We know he is not like any other king, he is the king we need not the one we want. Instead of appearing in the clouds surrounded by the heavenly hosts, he entered the human family, by literally being family. He decided to become intimate with us, to know us in such a way that we know of his love. It’s both a great mystery and also a great gift.

Is it any wonder at his birth, the Messiah was announced by the heavenly hosts, not to the rich, not to the royal, but to the shepherds, the poor, those who were the smallest on the social ladder. He was announced and made known and we were told not to be afraid.

This coming of Jesus as well as his coming in our lives now, today, this instant, frees us, we have no reason to fear, because Emmanuel , GOD IS WITH US, walks with us and grows with us, just as Jesus grew into an adult, so his influence in our lives causes us to become the person he desires and calls us to be.

Keep the day with love. Keep the day without fear. Keep the day knowing that Jesus Christ is alive and with us and we will see him face to face someday. Keep the day with family and friends, but more importantly, most importantly, keep the day in the spirit of the Love Jesus has shown to us.

Merry, Blessed, and loving Christmas to each and every one of you.


Matthew 15:29-37

Teachings from Matthew relevant today

Friar Tom Smith OFM Conv. continues the ministry of Franciscan hospitality at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico - showing compassion for the sick and hungry and tired, giving them strength and encouragement. Father Tom was a guest columnist in the Las Cruces Sun News on December 16, 2018. Below is his article -

 


Advent and Reconciliation

 

Traditionally, we begin our “Advent count-down” to celebrate Christmas with the lighting of the purple candles on the advent wreath. We wait with expectation and excited hope to complete our candle-lit wreath, so as to celebrate the arrival of the Savior into our fractured world.

Might we not consider this Advent season as an opportunity to place ourselves in the arms of our heavenly father and experience His lavish love, in the sacrament of reconciliation?

 

 

May this time of Advent-waiting be a ‘watershed’ of grace and reconciliation for you this December. And the best news is His outstretched arms always await us in the sacrament of reconciliation.

May you enjoy and celebrate often this grace and love in the days ahead. Eagerly, He waits to embrace us once again!

 


Our Lady of Guadalupe, Please Pray for Us

 

¿Acaso no soy yo tu madre? ¿No estoy aquí? (Am I not your mother? Am I not here?),

The words of the Blessed Mother are as true today as they were when she spoke them to St. Juan Diego centuries ago on a little hill in Mexico. She is our mother, and she accompanies us on our journey, always pointing us toward her Son.

She is the one who brings us together, those from the “old world” and “new world.” Cultural, language, and political boundaries do not separate us. We are all members of the Body of Christ.

May we all gather together under the protective mantle of our Blessed Mother,
Our Lady of Guadalupe, and seek her intercession as we pray for the unity and peace
that is God’s gift to us, if we are willing to receive it.

 


I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

 

In the latest episode of Franciscan Voice, Friar Phil Ley OFM Conv. discusses his work at Posada Guadalupe, providing a Franciscan ministry of hospitality to young men who have nowhere else to go...