The Challenge of Telling the Truth


St. John the Baptist by Jacopo Del Casentino c. 1330

Fr. Wayne Hellmann challenges us to follow St. John the Baptist by being truth-tellers in a world where the truth is not always valued.

Rite of Beginning Fraternity

by Friar Mario Serrano

On Monday July 9, 2018, in the chapel of St. Bonaventure Friary, Chicago, Illinois, eight men gathered before a replica of the San Damiano Cross to begin their initial formation with the Conventual Franciscans.

Christ spoke to Francis through the original San Damiano Cross more than 800 years ago: “Go and rebuild my Church…” Accepting that challenge was Francis’ first step on his journey of living the Gospel Life with his brothers.

These new Postulants heard these words from the Friars who gathered with them in the chapel: “Dear brothers, what do you ask of us?”  In unison they responded, “…We ask you to teach us to follow the Crucified Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and to live in poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Teach us to persevere in prayer and penance…Guide our steps as we seek holiness through the Rule and Life- the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Each was then given a San Damiano Crucifix, the cross that initiated St. Francis’ own call to rebuild the Church, and received an embrace of welcome.

Eight new postulants with their formation directors

Please pray for these men as they continue to allow God’s Spirit to lead them to rebuild the Church. And may Christ’s mercy lead them to encounter, embrace, and accompany today’s lepers.

 Is the Holy Spirit calling you to embrace your call? 


Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. Meets with US Senators at the Border

Remarks to Senator Tom Udall and Senator Martin Heinrich, after being denied entry to the detention facility in Tornillo, Texas

June 22, 2018

My name is Fr. Tom Smith. I am a Franciscan and the director of Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park.

As part of our Franciscan Hospitality at Holy Cross, for over a year we have hosted Jorge Taborda and his son, Stephen, after his wife and other son, Jefferson, had been deported. We also had another woman and her daughter here for over six months.

Since November 2016, we have welcomed over 500 parents and children refugees from mostly Central America who are fleeing extreme violence and poverty.

I feel the anguish of Jorge, and the fear and then relief in the voices and faces of the refugees.

I went to Tornillo on Fathers Day and said a prayer for the many hundreds of families who are being affected now by a harsh approach to immigration policies, and again today to ask for entry to provide pastoral care, and was denied.

This is a moral and inhumane situation. Scripture calls us to welcome the foreigner, to treat them as we would treat our own, (Deut.19:34). Jesus in Matthew 25 states clearly the way we treat others is the way we will be judged. Is the present immigration approach how we would want to be treated?

Zero Tolerance is vindictive and immoral. Immigration officials may now say we are not separating families, but how long will it take to unite those already separated? And instead they are incarcerating the whole family all together. I hear every week from asylum seekers how the parents will receive one burrito or cup of ramen noodle soup in the morning and one later in the day, and nothing more while waiting to be processed in El Paso. One man with his child was there for 18 days. They sleep on cold concrete floors most often without a blanket. One 14 year old was crying with relief because in Guatemala the family was so poor that they slept on the ground, and here in immigration custody on concrete, and when they came to Holy Cross Retreat Center it was the first time he had ever slept in a bed!

It is not enough to say we won’t separate families any more. People have a human right, in the US and international law, to apply for asylum. Yet they are at times turned back on the bridge by an agent who says there isn’t room, or kept in very uncomfortable detention centers to discourage them from coming. We need to respect their rights from the time they are detained till they go through our legal system. We need to respect their dignity. Joseph and Mary and Jesus had to flee their home country because King Herod threatened to kill the child Jesus. Would we send them back if they came to our border and say “Sorry, we don’t want you!”

I recognize that in politics you may have to trade votes at times, or support one thing to get another, but further funding to militarize the border, to build more places to detain families, to increase the border patrol who are not subject to review of their actions is not acceptable. We have to take a stand in favor of the poor. Pope Francis says that we must be like a field hospital, helping people where and when they need it, not waiting in our comfortable homes and saying that’s too bad. We are called to smell like the sheep, because the shepherd stays with the sheep in time of danger or need. Do we want to let the wolves destroy the refugees and undocumented? Or do we walk with them? And act boldly for them?

We Are All Brothers


From the history, to how it has changed and what might be in store for the future, Brother Dennis Moses reflects on the vocation of Brother in Part One of We Are All Brothers. In Part Two, Brother Dennis answers some questions for us. What is the 3-fold approach to this vocation? What about the shortage of priests? What is Franciscan economy? What can we learn from the first Chapter of Mats to today?


Happy Feast of Saint Anthony


June 13th is the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua. Fr. David Lenz offers a prayer for the intercession of Saint Anthony of Padua and a blessing for each of you. As he explains at the beginning of this reflection and prayer, God cuts through time and space. Even though he recorded this at the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, we are together in God's presence.



Second Session of Chapter


With the second session of Chapter beginning yesterday, the friars had the opportunity to celebrate their opening Mass with the Tigua at Ysleta Mission in El Paso, Texas.


Bishop Seitz with Fr. Wayne Hellmann (left) and Fr. Miguel Briseno (right)

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is a U.S. federally-recognized Native American tribe and sovereign nation. The tribal community is known as  "Tigua." The friars have had the privilege of serving Ysleta Mission and the Tigua since 1991.

The Tigua have "La Salida" on June 4, when they go throughout the neighborhood begging for food and money in preparation for the Feast of St. Anthony on June 13.  Yesterday at 5:30 am, the friars traveled by bus to the Mission where they gathered at the homes of the Mayordomos for breakfast and preparation of the four statues of St. Anthony that were to be carried out on the Salida. The friars then walked to the Mission Church to celebrate Mass with the Most Reverend Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso. After Mass the friars had to head back for a day of meetings, while the Tigua departed in the four directions to seek help for the upcoming feast.

To learn a little more about Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, listen to our Franciscan Voice podcast episode with Fr. Miguel.


Please keep the Chapter delegates in prayer this week as they continue their meetings.

Update from Bro. Tony


On Friday I got a copy of the 4-minute video which the Zambia TV station showed of our Dedication of the Lecture Auditorium. I wanted to share it with you. Check out the singing of our students. It is a Bemba hymn in thanksgiving after Communion.



The Minister is the first woman to get a doctorate form the Zambian University. She is a dedicated Catholic and outspoken on issues in her ministries. We are looking to her Ministry to be of some assistance to the Boarding School Unit we hope to build.


New Hermitage

Open at Holy Cross Retreat Center:

For many people there is a desire for quiet and solitude to listen to God, to listen to our hearts, to rest.

Scripture tells of Jesus and many others taking time in the desert to pray.

On May 20th, about 50 people gathered for the blessing and opening of our new Hermitage at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico. The Hermitage is located on the southeast corner of our property, behind the retreat rooms with a wonderful view of the Organ Mountains.

Many thanks to our many volunteers and donors.

Reservations are being accepted - Tel: 575 524-3688; email:

Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv.


The Hermitage has a full bathroom and kitchenette.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Consolation

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.

Bro. Bob Baxter’s MountFest 2018

Celebrating Mount St. Francis
A Tradition of Serving Spiritual Needs

The third annual MountFest, an Experience of Kentuckiana, will be held on Saturday, June 2, from 2pm to 8pm, at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana. Benefiting the Retreat Assistance Fund, this year’s event is dedicated to Br. Bob Baxter OFM Conv. who passed away in March after serving for many years as Director of Retreats at the Mount.

Admission is free, and guests will have a chance to sample food and beverages from the region’s restaurants, wineries, and brewers. Local artists and artisans will exhibit their work, from paintings and pottery to other arts, crafts, and specialty items. The Todd Hildreth Trio and The Wildflower Chronicles will provide live music. And once again, the always-popular Terri’s Treasures features an eclectic array of second-hand and slightly-used articles for sale.

The Franciscan spirit of hospitality is a key ingredient of our retreat centers. Br. Bob, a Conventual Franciscan Friar, founded the Retreat Assistance Fund to ensure that all who seek to take part in the Mount’s retreat offerings may do so, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Over the past few years, the Retreat Assistance Fund has underwritten retreat fees for area high school students, sponsored overnight retreats for homeless people, and helped others who need financial assistance to attend a retreat where they may experience spiritual enrichment and the beauty of the surrounding 400-acre nature sanctuary.

For more than 100 years, Mount St. Francis has served the spiritual needs of the region’s youth and adults. From the beginning, the Franciscan Friars and their neighbors and friends have helped support this work. Starting in the 1920s, an annual picnic helped raise money for the retreat programs. In 2015, the traditional picnic was transformed into a celebration of local culture: MountFest.

Mount St. Francis is located at the junction of US Highway 150 and Paoli Pike in Floyds Knobs.