After working 14 years for the US Postal Service, Friar Ambrose Eischens OFM Conv. joined the Conventual Franciscans in his mid-30s. From then on, in his service to God’s people and his fellow Friars, his work and prayer combined to the point where they became one and the same. A big man with a bass singing voice that matched his body, he overwhelmed people not with his size, but with his gentle nature and humble spirit.
Br. Ambrose died Wednesday, December 20, in New Albany Indiana. He was born February 16, 1940, to Martin and Caroline (Schoenecker) Eischens in New Market, Minnesota. He was predeceased by his parents and his brothers Jerome, Harold, and LeRoy, and sisters Luella Tritz and Bernadine Benes. He is survived by his brother Wally, and a sister-in-law Ann Eischens (Jerome). He professed Simple Vows on August 1, 1977, and Solemn Vows on August 19, 1980.
Whether working with the poor and disadvantaged, running retreat centers, or serving within the Province, Br. Ambrose matched a dedication to people with attention to detail.
“In his various assignments over the course of his life, he was all about supporting and encouraging others,” said Fr. Dismas Veeneman OFM Conv. “At different points he took on difficult assignments. Some people would try to talk him out of it, but he would have none of it. That was where he felt he could make a difference in the lives of others.”
In addition to his various outside ministries and other service, Br. Ambrose was a choir member at different Franciscan parishes. In the early 80s, while serving at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, he directed the Shrine Chorale and the Young People's Choir. He played the organ on many occasions at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana.
“His joyfulness was most evident in his love of music and care for the Friars,” said Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. “And he actually chose to seek out the Friars after working for several years. That shows his great desire to live as a Franciscan.”
Having spent time earlier as a Friar in social services and outreach to the disadvantaged in Dekalb, Illinois, in his later years Br. Ambrose volunteered regularly at the Franciscan Kitchen in downtown Louisville, welcoming people at the door and listening when they needed to talk to someone.
Br. Ambrose was dedicated to his family in Minnesota, often driving to visit and support them. “He will be greatly missed,” said his niece Peggy Nagele. “We loved to see him when we could, and always looked forward to his annual Christmas letter where he would tell us about what was going on his life.”
A memorial Mass will take place at St. Paul Catholic Church, Louisville, at 7 pm on Thursday, December 28. On January 2, in the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Visitation will begin at 5 pm, the Wake at 7 pm, with a reception following. The Funeral will be at 11 am on January 3 , with interment following in the Friars cemetery, Mount St. Francis. 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.
As we welcome the Christ Child, let us sit with Mary and ponder with her the mystery of God becoming one of us. Instead of being born into wealth and worldly glory, Jesus lies in a manger among the animals. And the angels don't announce the birth to the well-off and those safely asleep in the nearby inns. Instead, they appear to poor shepherds, watching their flocks by night.
As St. Francis of Assisi urged us, let us approach with the shepherds and stand among the animals and watch as Mary cares for her newborn -- lying asleep, helpless, wrapped in simple swaddling clothes.
In the words of Isaiah:
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
With sorrow we report that +Friar Larry Eberhardt passed away early morning December 23. Brother Larry, like Brother Ambrose Eischens who preceded him in death only days before, touched the lives of countless people. We cannot begin to express our sadness at the passing of these two great men. However, we take comfort in knowing that they led faith-filled lives and were at peace in meeting Sister Death.
Please find following the arrangements for Brother Larry:
5:00 p.m. Visitation at Incarnation Catholic Church in Louisville, Kentucky 7:00 p.m. Memorial Mass
7:00 p.m. Wake at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, with reception following
Noon Funeral and interment at Mount St. Francis with luncheon immediately following
Please find following the arrangements for Brother Ambrose:
7:00 p.m. Memorial Mass at St. Paul Catholic Church, Louisville, Kentucky
1/2 (Tuesday) 5:00 Visitation Mount St. Francis 7:00 Wake Mount St. Francis
1/3 (Wednesday) 11:00 a.m. Funeral and interment at Mount St. Francis with luncheon immediately following
With sorrow we report that +Friar Ambrose Eischens passed away at approximately 8:20 pm Wednesday, December 20, with friars and family around him. He was a faith-filled friar who touched many lives.
Because Ambrose didn’t state his burial preference, the family felt it best to have him cremated, as that way the funeral could take place after the holiday season. Tentatively, they are asking for the Wake on January 2 and the funeral on January 3. There will also be a funeral at St. Paul at PRP on a day yet to be determined. We will have updates here as arrangements are finalized.
¿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.
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.
Caring, Firm, Determined - 'Malama' to the Friars of Zambia
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.