Where Two or Three Are Gathered…

 

     In a small group session during a weekend retreat at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana, a woman talked about her experience in jail. She had found a book there with a quote she couldn’t forget: no matter how crooked your path in life has been, God can cut a straight line right through it, leading back to Him. Later that day, during Mass, a friar used that very same image in his homily.

     To the women, it was more than coincidence – it was confirmation that God wanted them here.

     Four times a year, Mount St. Francis hosts the Ignatian Spirituality Project: Spiritual Retreats Ending Homelessness. The program was created 20 years ago by Fr. Bill Creed SJ, and has spread to 30 cities around the US.

+Br. Bob Baxter OFM Conv. brought the Ignation Spirituality Project to Mount St. Francis in 2016, knowing that St. Francis of Assisi would want it here.

     The program came to Louisville five years ago. In 2016 Friar Bob Baxter OFM Conv. brought the retreat to the Mount, knowing that St. Francis of Assisi would want it here.

     The retreats are for groups of no more than 15 men or women, who have been sober for at least two months and have experienced homelessness in the past. The attendees are those who need help as they move through the 12 Steps, or those whose counselors believe would benefit from a formal retreat experience.

     “They have never been on retreat before,” said Judy Ribar, Associate Director of Retreats at Mount St. Francis, who coordinated the weekend. “Most don’t understand how God could love someone like them. Others may know that God loves them, but need a little help staying strong in their sobriety and faith life.”

     The retreatants leave their recovery centers at 8 am Saturday and stay at the Mount through lunch time on Sunday. Their brief stay has scheduled prayer and group meetings. But ample time is allowed for enjoying the gifts of nature at the Mount. The attendees explore the area around the lake, enjoy a bonfire, and have free time to roam.

And “where two are three are gathered…”

     The Holy Spirit spent the weekend making connections. A woman facing a challenging relationship met someone who had been through the same thing. A pregnant woman learned of a pregnancy center where she can go after she leaves her recovery center.

     Finally, before leaving the Mount, the retreatants write a letter to God. Three weeks later they will have a follow up meeting at another location. During that half-day session they will participate in two more exercises, designed to help them stay strong in their program.

      Fr. Wayne Hellmann OFM Conv. met the women briefly late Sunday morning and explained a little about the Franciscans and life at the Mount. He was impressed by the women and the program, saying: “May our retreat centers find funding to provide more service to those in such need.”


 


San Damiano Legacy Luncheon and Franciscan Partnership Award

On Saturday, April 6, the second annual San Damiano luncheon was held at Mount St. Francis. At the luncheon, we recognized our benefactors in the Kentuckiana area who have notified us that they have remembered the Province of Our Lady of Consolation in their wills. This enrolls them in the San Damiano Legacy Association.

Corazon Veza M.D., an oncologist in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, received the Franciscan Partnership Award.

Dr. Corazon Veza M.D. with friars Wayne Hellmann (left) and Jim Kent

During the event, Dr. Corazon Veza M.D., an oncologist in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, received the Franciscan Partnership Award. This award was established by the Province Definitory in 1999 “to celebrate our friends for accepting the responsibility of stewardship, and for the number of years they have been sharing their resources not only with our Province but also with other important charities in the community.”

Thank you to all of our friends who partner with us in our Franciscan ministry. It is because of your generous donations, not only financial but also time, talent, and especially prayer, that we are able to follow in St. Francis' footsteps. If you are interested in learning more about remembering the friars in your will, or other donation vehicles such as annuities, please contact the Mission Advancement Office at (812) 923.5250 or email Shaunna Graf at s.graf@franciscansusa.org

Dr. Chris and Gloria Nunier spoke at the luncheon about how the friars are an important part of their lives. L to R: Fr. Jim Kent, Chris and Gloria Nunier, Br. Nick Wolfla, Fr. Wayne Hellmann


Come Back to God

 

Fr. David Lenz OFM Conv. likens the Church today to that in the time of St. Francis. St. Francis experienced much change during his lifetime and, because he listened to God, was the instrument of much change.

Fr. David offers us the opportunity to share the Act of Contrition with him and continue on our journey towards God.

 


Lent Allows Us Time to Focus

 

St. Francis and the leper

Lent is a season where we prepare for the mysteries of Easter.  We do this through fasting, prayer and the giving of alms. Fasting can remind us of the need to depend on God, as well as connect us to those who daily go without these basic necessities. Giving our time, treasure and talent to someone--especially the poor--expands our world to all God's people and helps us better love God and others.  Spending extra time in prayer draws us ever deeper into our life with God.

Lenten Days of Prayer, Silent Retreats, Stations of the Cross and More

Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, NM

  • March 27, from 10am until 4pm - Lenten Day of Prayer - Time for quiet and prayer, the day will include opening prayer, presentation, quiet time, lunch, time for confession, and Eucharist.
  • April 5-7 - "Creation, Come Praise!" Spring in the Desert Retreat
  • April 19-20 - Good Friday and Holy Saturday Retreat - an opportunity to focus on Holy Week

Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center, Prior Lake, Minnesota

  • March 21 & 28, and April 4 (Each day will go from 9:30am to Mass at 1:45pm) - Lenten Days of Prayer - These days of prayer will use the Blessed Virgin Mary as their focus. On March 21: The Annunciation and The Visitation; March 28: The Wedding at Cana; April 4: At the Foot of the Cross.
  • April 12-14 - Women's Silent Palm Sunday Retreat
  • April 18-20 - Men's Holy Week Retreat

Mount St. Francis Center for Spirituality, Mt. St. Francis, Indiana

  • Mondays at the Mount - Scripture Study - offered at 10:30am and again at 7pm
  • March 23 - Lenten Day of Reflection - Time to reflect on uniting our own suffering with that of Jesus in the garden. Fr. Vince Petersen OFM Conv. and Judy Ribar, Associate Director, will reflect on suffering of the mind and body. The day will end with an opportunity for Reconciliation and a healing Mass.

The Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, Carey, Ohio

  • Fridays throughout Lent - Fish Fry (4:30pm to 7pm); Stations of the Cross at 7pm
  • April 19 - Good Friday Musical Reflection at Noon
  • April 19 - Stations of the Cross in Shrine Park at 3pm

Lent allows us time to reflect, pray, and deepen our relationship with God

 

 


Border Summit in El Paso

 

Hope Border Institute, an organization in the Diocese of El Paso, sponsored a summit on immigration from February 25 to 27, 2019. The summit took place along with a meeting of the bishops on each side of the border in Texas and New Mexico.

Hope Border Summit convened with about 80 attendees plus 16 bishops.

 

About 80 representatives from many Catholic, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim organizations participated in the summit. The focus was on how to better understand the history of immigration through this border area and how faith leaders can respond to the needs of those who are migrating.

Four areas were chosen for particular response to the needs of immigrants: Theology, Formation, Advocacy, and Action.

Friar Tom Smith OFM Conv. participated in the Summit, and was joined by Friars Miguel Briseno OFM Conv. and Don Adamski OFM Conv. for a prayer service at the border with Mexico.

Friars Tom Smith, Don Adamski, and Miguel Briseno

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso shows photos of Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Gomez-Alonzo. Children who died died as their families tried to seek asylum in the US.


Getting Ready for Lent

Let's Prepare to Prepare!

Ash Wednesday is approaching quickly (next week - March 6th!)

Here is an excerpt of a homily given by Friar Nick Wolfla with some ideas on how we might decide on Lenten sacrifices that move beyond giving "something up" and instead try something new.

• Read through one or two of the Gospels, pray with it and discuss it as a family. What does it mean, what does God want out of us because of it?

• Come to bible study somewhere to expand your faith. (Mondays at the Mount are open to everyone. There are two sessions - 10:30 to 11:30am and 7:00 to 8:00pm. For more information visit mountsaintfrancis.org)

• Find someplace to volunteer to help people and don’t stop after lent.

• Ask someone of faith to recommend a good spiritual book to read. Read it slowly, take it in, and pray with it.

• Really examine your life. Take time to face those demons that we carry around, those things we are afraid to admit sometimes even to ourselves. Then go to the sacrament of reconciliation.

Fr. Phil Schneider with a pilgrim at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, OH

• Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

• Fast from pessimism. Be prayerful and hopeful in the Spirit.

• Fast from worries. Trust in God. You can’t trust in God unless you have a relationship with him, PRAY!

• Fast from complaints. Contemplate simplicity. Realize what you have - family, health, job, healthcare, sanity, friends, and many other gifts from God. Thank God for these gifts and don't complain about what you don’t have.

• Fast from pressures. Pray and be peaceful. Turn to prayer to settle the mind and soul. Even Jesus took time out when things got too busy to pray to his Father. If it is good enough for God, it's good enough for us.

• Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy. Holding grudges, not forgiving others, believing that someone doesn’t deserve something because we don’t believe they worked for it hurts us, not them. Find the compassion in our hearts to move forward and eliminate anger in our lives.

• Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others. Sometimes we slap the hand in need because we believe they don’t deserve what we have. We should always stretch out our hands to give to those who need to receive. It’s not ours to judge if they deserve it. There but for the grace of God go I. We need to grow in compassion in this world more than anything.

• Fast from grudges and be reconciled. Forgiveness relieves the soul and not only frees the other person, but frees us in the process. Release both the person and ourselves from the chains of hate or “holding a grudge.”

• Fast from words so we can listen. How can we understand each other if we don’t listen. We often hear to respond, not listen to the heart and needs of others. Open our ears so we can open our hearts. This is how we come through the darkness into the light.


+Fr. Maurus Hauer OFM Conv.

 

101 Years of Life; Eighty Years of Conventual Franciscan Service

On the occasion of his 100th birthday, in 2017, Friar Maurus Hauer OFM Conv. said, “I can look back at my life and see that the Lord had his finger on me.”

Fr. Maurus died in New Albany, Indiana, on February 17, 2019. He was born Raymond Francis Hauer to Edward George and Theresa Marie (Ferguson) Hauer on October 7, 1917, in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was predeceased by his parents, three brothers, and two sisters, and is survived by four nieces, one nephew, and several great-nieces and -nephews.

He was a student at the Mount St. Francis Minor Seminary during the Great Depression and entered the novitiate in 1938. He professed Simple Vows on August 17, 1939, Solemn Vows on August 17, 1942, and was ordained to the priesthood on February 24, 1945. At the time of his death Fr. Maurus was Dean of the Conventual Franciscan Order, the oldest friar.

Even though Friar Maurus was always humble about his abilities, his achievements tell a different story. He served most of his life in the Southwestern part of the United States, which was essentially mission territory. Working with the other friars to organize scattered Catholics into parish communities, Fr. Maurus baptized thousands of babies and adults during those years.

Also, in the aftermath of World War II, he moved a decommissioned army chapel from the base where it had been used during the war, to the site where it still serves today as a parish church in Loving, New Mexico. His pastoral service took him to parishes and mission churches in Carlsbad, Hobbs, Malaga, Artesia, and Loving, New Mexico; Broken Bow, Nebraska; and Clarksville, Indiana.

Fr. Maurus at the dedication of Our Lady of Grace in Loving NM

Fr. Maurus’ prayer life grew even deeper as he aged, and in his years of retirement he prayed constantly for his brother Franciscans, their ministries, and all the people he had baptized and served. When he learned of natural disasters or people with personal crises, those were added to the list.

Fr. Maurus was an avid card player. Up to the end, one of the friars would visit with him to play every Sunday evening at the care center where he was living, often bringing him a little ice cream (one of his other pleasures). In 2010 he was nominated for the Lumen Christi Award by the Catholic Extension Society, honoring his nearly eight decades of service to the mission areas here in the US. He said he was relieved when he didn’t receive the award, because he was too old to travel to the event. And that reveals the quality his brother Franciscans loved best — the quiet humility and ever-present smile of a friar, one of St. Francis’ little brothers.

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

 


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.