The dedication of the new auditorium at St. Francis Technical School took place April 5, 2018.
What follows is some of Br. Tony Droll’s description of the event:
The day after!! Yesterday was grand glorious, but the preparations ran down to the last minute. We had been preparing the parking lot as best we could - filling holes in trenches and putting soil where the crane had made ruts in the road. Then the night of the 4th came a downpour and everything was MUD. Up at 05:00am and over to school …by 09:00am we had the road in pretty good condition ... 09:30am was the time to begin. But I had been getting phone calls from the Ministers protocol telling that they were still approaching Kitwe. That gave us about 20 minutes more to sweep, get the mud off our shoes and make last minute preparations.
The weather was perfect – sunshine but not too hot. We had worked till 9pm installing the air conditioners and they began working on the Dedication day morning. Meanwhile the ladies from Home Economics were at the mission in the kitchen preparing for the grand meal (and it was) after all the speeches and Mass.
Every teacher was on their post ready for the entrances of the two Land Cruisers that brought the Minister. Then I get a call saying, we have reached the round-a-bout (4 minutes away). The Head Teacher Barry and Fr. Andrew and I moved to where the two vehicles would enter. When she
(Minister Nkanu Luo) stepped out of the vehicle, … she opened her arms for a hug for Andrew, and then Barry and me. What a lovely lady. She, a professor, was the first woman to get a doctorate in the early days of the country – a strong Catholic active woman. …
I made a strong appeal at the end of my speech asking the Ministry of Education for support for our project of starting a boarding school. It was also mentioned in the Head Boy’s speech. So as we sat down to eat with this grand lady, we kept the subject alive. She was quite positive and promised to send the other Minister, the one for High Schools, to our place and she felt confident that some funds might be found.
Brother John Maurer answered by sharing his personal journey from pain and deep depression to discovering God’s mercy and love. Providing steps that we can take to begin our own journey, Br. John gives us insight into those around us - from the people we sit with in Church to the street people living under a bridge.
A joy-filled Friar with a gift for teaching, Br. Bob Baxter OFM Conv. was known for his humor and quips. Though he could seem irreverent at times, those occasions only made more obvious his reverence for the most important things: his profound faith in God, his devotion to Franciscan life, and his love of the Scriptures, which he knew intimately.
Br. Bob passed away on March 22, 2018, in New Albany, Indiana. He was born Robert Byrne Baxter, Jr., to Robert Byrne and Theodora (Tuomey) Baxter on September 5, 1949, in Bay Shore, New York. He was predeceased by his parents and is survived by his uncle Robert N. Tuomey (Joan), sisters Anne B. Humes (Bill), Elaine B. Tracy (Bill), Julie Baxter (Rob Robinson), Clare Baxter, and Margaret B. Helmig (Albert), brothers William E. (Robin) and James E. (Felice) Baxter, and five nephews and nine nieces. He professed Simple Vows as a Conventual Franciscan Friar on August 5, 1972, and Solemn Vows on November 1, 1976.
As a native New Yorker, he loved the Yankees, “black and white cookies,” and combative conversation.
“He was uninhibited and larger than life,” said his sister Elaine Tracy. “He had charisma; people were drawn to him. He would go into a room and everybody wanted to talk to him. He also had a mischievous side with a twinkle, almost devilish look in his eye. He had one-liners and jokes about everything and everyone, but the joking was often at his own expense.”
For the first 25 years of his life as a Friar, Br. Bob was a high school religion teacher, director of parish religious education, and youth minister — sometimes all three at the same time. He served in schools and parishes in St. Louis, Missouri; Lorain, Ohio; and Indianapolis, Indiana.
“He was well-loved by his students for his humor and his knowledge of Scripture,” said Br. Randy Kin OFM Conv., who lived and taught with Br. Bob in Indianapolis. “They knew they could go to him, adults knew it too, and he was sought out for discussions on faith because they saw in him how faith is lived out. They had a figure in their lives who was their religious brother.”
In 2001, Br. Bob was elected Secretary of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation and in 2008 began serving as director of retreats at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana. It was there that he established a reputation for bringing the Scriptures to life in his weekly Bible Study classes. Like St. Francis of Assisi, Br. Bob helped people understand that the Bible, the New Testament in particular, is about real people and real lives. Also like St. Francis, he loved Christmas and celebrating its true meaning: that through the Incarnation Jesus became a human being, just like each one of us.
Lexington (KY) Bishop John Stowe OFM Conv. was one of Br. Bob’s students at Lorain (Ohio) Catholic High School. He said: “Brother Bob had an incredibly quick wit and could deliver some lines with a straight face while everyone else was doubled-over in laughter. He had an engaging way of teaching the faith and the Catholic tradition which he loved, he knew the attractiveness and the joy of the Gospel, and embraced the freedom of living that Gospel in the spirit of Francis of Assisi.”
That Franciscan freedom from worldly attachment gave Br. Bob the ability to be completely open to others.
“His primary focus was on being a Brother,” said his sister Elaine. “He was asked once why he didn’t go on to ordination and being a priest. He never gave a real answer, but he always said ‘This is where I believe I can serve the best.’
“He was our brother, but also a brother to so many others. I think I know how he would console us all: He’d say to get over it; go out and do good things!”
Visitation will take place in the Mount St. Francis Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, on Tuesday, April 3, from 6 to 8 pm and on Wednesday from 3 to 7 pm followed by a Wake. The funeral Mass will be held in the Mount St. Francis Chapel at 11 am on Thursday, April 5. Interment and luncheon will follow. Contributions may be made to the Mount St. Francis Retreat Assistance Fund or to Province of Our Lady of Consolation. They may be made online by clicking here or may be mailed to 103 St. Francis Blvd., Mount St. Francis, IN 47146.
A Reflection by Fr. John Curran for Passion Sunday
The composer of the most famous Christian hymn, “Amazing Grace,” John Newton, was less than 20 when he became a successful captain of British slave ships. He was also notorious for his immoral life style. Later as an Anglican priest he would call himself the “old African Blasphemer.” Many times his life was in danger, but he refused to ask God for help. Finally he was converted to Christ on March 21, 1747, as the Greyhound was sinking during a violent storm. He called out to God to save the ship. Later as an Anglican priest in England, he said that only God’s amazing grace had saved “a wretch like me.”
God sent prophets like Isaiah to convert hardened sinners. They were like John Newton. The hardened sinners refused God’s grace and “set their hearts” to rebel against God. The sinners made their faces harder than a rock. (Jer 5: 3-4 and Zech 7:11-13)
Jesus was tough, because he was clear about his mission, and he faced opposition with courage. He moved toward his goal with unwavering firmness. Like Isaiah he “set his face like a flint.” (Is 50:7 and Lk 9:51) Finally from the cross Jesus declared that he had completed his mission. “It is finished.”Jn 19, 30 (See Jn 17,4)
A religion teacher explained to her children that the crowds welcomed Jesus as their king and they waved palm branches. At church the people will be given palm branches to remember this day.
A little girl asked her teacher, “Are the branches free?” During Holy Week let’s follow Jesus on his path to Calvary. Jesus said “yes” over and over. He did the things that hurt him. Jesus is a tough man. His sacrifice was because of his love. It was free.
Today on your feast day and throughout our lives, St. Joseph, faithful servant, man of deepest faith and utmost courage, protector of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, pray for us that we may imitate your virtues and bring Christ into our lives and our homes.
Fr. Christian Moore discusses several important topics: why these are NOT the worst of times; end of life experiences; secularization; and more. He also shares practical advice we can use right now, including how to pray, that will improve our outlook on life and deepen our relationship with God.
Since 1959 the Franciscan International Award has honored people of faith who symbolize the spirit and the apostolic zeal of St. Francis of Assisi. This Franciscan International Award is presented yearly by the Conventual Franciscans on behalf of Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center, Prior Lake, Minnesota.
In 1972 Dr. Billy Graham received the award for True Ecumenism. We were honored with his presence and inspired by his words, work, and life.
Excerpts from Friar Nick Wolfla's homily on February 18, 2018.
We know the rest of the story - the forty days and nights, the bird, the olive branch. And we see the end of the story - the renewal of the covenant of God. …what did we learn?
1. Don’t miss the boat: We have a loving God, a God who loved this universe into creation. God doesn’t ask for anything more than our opening up to him, loving him and allowing him to change us. Jesus Christ is our Ark. ….
2. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when he built the Ark a. Living for the moment is nice, but sometimes we do need to prepare. Who knows when disaster will strike you or someone you know, or when you finally find the love of your life, or when you’ll be a parent or grandparent. Who knows when or where opportunity to love another will occur? Will our minds be in our phones, and our hearts in our “rights” that we fail to recognize the needs of others and what we need to survive? ….
3. Remember we’re all in the same boat: There is no man or woman that is better than the other. …No one person’s rights are greater than another’s. …. WE ALL ARE CHILDREN OF GOD, we all are loved equally, we are all equal in his eyes, and we are expected no matter what to treat each other as such, to do otherwise is SIN, to do otherwise is EVIL and is a willful turning against God himself and throwing his gifts of life back into his face.
4. Stay Fit. When you’re really old someone may ask you to do something really big: Think about it, age is a number, and age is also a lot of aches and pains. But AGE is never an excuse not to do good, not to serve each other, not to do what is within our abilities to do for one another. …
5. Don’t listen to the critics. Get the job done. In this life people, media, corporations are going to try to tell you that you are the most important person there is. That you and your rights and wants are more important than others. They will try everything they know to turn you away from what is right, what is of God. They will sometimes criticize you for believing, for praying, for doing. Let God strengthen you, keep your prayer life strong, let God give you the armor needed to Get the Job done.
6. Build your future on high ground: WE have so many talents, some do math, some do plumbing, some can create art, some are carpenters, farmers, doctors, lawyers, …. We have the technology, we can do so much. And yet many of us get so caught up in the benefits, reaping of the rewards and the individual satisfaction we forget about each other. We need to always ground ourselves in God, not ourselves. …. We are ALL children of God with dignity and love; we need to be generous to everyone because they are God’s gifts as well, no matter whether or not we believe they deserve it. WE AREN’T THE JUDGE.
7. ALWAYS Travel in pairs: We have a tendency to believe that our individualism is our strength, that we can go it alone. … We don’t do it alone. We go through this life with family, friends, community. More importantly, we walk through life with Jesus Christ at our side, whether we like it or not. ….
8. Speed isn’t everything, the cheetahs were on the Ark like the snails. Sometimes we just have to slow down. Deadlines and schedules are necessary for some things, but are they always? Do we need to schedule every moment of our lives, do we have to be on every team there is, do we have to always keep our families so busy that we can’t eat together? Do we take the time to unplug and talk to each other, or rest our minds? ….
9. When you’re stressed float awhile There comes time when the only cure for the pressure we put on ourselves is to be quiet, to surround ourselves with God’s love and relax. Saves the mind, heart, and soul.
10. The Ark was built by amateurs, the titanic by professionals. See which one sank. Where do we put our faith, in “Man” or in God? Remember God gave scientists and others who develop cures, technology, etc the skills to do so. In return we’re asked to use these skills accordingly. It is always God’s gifts utilized by us that moves us forward, … it is BOTH, Faith and Science live hand in hand.
11. No Matter the storm, there’s a rainbow waiting. Think about it. We hear of the covenant with Noah, God’s bow put into the sky. We see the cross - the greatest sign of love there ever was. Who do we trust? Who will get us through? Who is the one we serve, and Who is the one who saves us? There is an agreement between God and us,
i. God: I’ll Always love you, Repent
ii. Us: I’ll try not to screw up even though like you I’ll be tempted.
iii. God: there’s always forgiveness just ask, Repent find strength
iv. Us: please, send the angels to minister to me, give me strength.
v. God: salvation is here, Believe and live the Gospel
vi. Us: let it change my life. Let me be righteous, good and loving. Let me follow the Gospel, bring me into the light, let me serve, let my life be the Gospel.
vii. God: I love you
viii. Us: I love you, too
Ash Wednesday calls us to pray, fast, and give alms to those in need. But the purpose of those important acts is to change our hearts, opening them to God and the least of His sisters and brothers.
Though this year Valentine's Day falls on the same day as Ash Wednesday, we still must observe the day with fasting and abstinence. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, is quoted in a recent New York Times piece that he sees no harm in marking both days at once. Joy and religious obligation can, and should, go hand-in-hand.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
Across the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, our parishes and retreat centers provide special Lenten programs and retreats, in addition to Masses and regular observances such as Holy Hours and Stations of the Cross. For more information, click here for the parishes and here for the retreat centers.
Please join us this Lent and let us journey together, following Christ as closely as we can, so we may celebrate together the joy of His Resurrection, 40 days from now.