On the Playground of the Lord

by Friar Vince Petersen, OFM Conv.

St. Francis Fund supports Montesorri School in Sri Lanka

The Missionary Franciscan Brothers of Sri Lanka are doing their part in helping their country recover from a long and brutal civil war fueled by ethnic and religious differences. As one of their ministries they have developed a Montesorri School in Chilaw, Sri Lanka to serve the children of the poor. Open to all, this new initiative welcomes children from many different ethnic, religious and language groups into an environment that is creative and conducive to learning. Beginning with the youngest, the Franciscan brothers hope to begin laying the foundations for a new society that will be built on mutual respect, co-operation, and peace. This certainly was the prayer and hope of Pope Francis for Sri Lanka when he visited the Island nation last year.

It is with pride and joy that we report that through a grant from The St. Francis Fund they have now completed an important phase in creating this school environment – a playground! Now these little ones have a safe place outside where they can run, play, and interact. These are surely ways in which peace and cooperation are learned. The play area is secured by a new fence and filled with swing sets and jungle gyms. In addition to this, new restroom facilities have been added on to the school building.

Along with these new amenities the brothers have hired two new teachers who are trained in creative play. The collaboration with parents has also been improved as they are essential in helping to create a climate of love and learning. As a part of their curriculum they have also created a small band where the children learn to make a joyful sound to God together.playground-band

The Missionary Brothers are most thankful to the friars of Our Lady of Consolation for their support of this initiative. They write: ‘Without your assistance we never ever could have updated this worthy project.” Indeed we are proud to be collaborators in this beautiful playground for peace and reconciliation.


Congratulations Fr. Jim Kent – 25 Years of Ordained Ministry

Minister Provincial Fr. Jim Kent, OFM Conv. celebrated his 25th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination on Saturday, October 29, in the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana. More than 100 people, family, friends, and other Friars, gathered for Mass and the following dinner.

chapel-jk-25-ordinationDuring his homily, Fr. Jim thanked all those who have supported him in his years of ministry. He also spoke of the ways the Holy Spirit works through God's people, especially His ordained ministers, to help those in need.

Congratulations Fr. Jim! Thank you for being an instrument of God's blessings in our lives.

For many photos, please visit the Province facebook page: click here.

Fr. Jim Kent with some of his family
Fr. Jim Kent with some of his family

 


Polished Stones Trundle in the Rock Tumbler

Brothers Randy Kin, Ian Bremar, and Angelo Catania prepare for pilgrims at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. At the recent Come & See, Br. Mike Austin shared stories about the many brothers who have initiated diverse and innovative ministries within the Province of Our Lady of Consolation.

Our Lady of Consolation Friary in Carey, Ohio, hosted a Come & See (John 1:38-39) retreat in September. Three postulants and all the friars of Carey sorted out the details to draw together a prayerful and fruitful retreat.

Friar Ian Bremar introduced us to a vivid image of formation being like a rock tumbler, when we enter we have sharp edges and cracks, but after formation we are transformed into smooth, polished stones. Part of our formation process is allowing others to shape and influence us for the better.

Friar Vince talked about his passion for mission and how it inspires his art.
Friar Vince talked about his passion for mission and how it inspires his art.

Friar Vince Petersen shared how his excitement for the missionary call, both domestic and foreign, feeds his passions. Friar Vince has a passionate mission to help people see the beauty of all creation, evident in his majestic landscape paintings. Friar Vince shared, “Beauty is not an option but a strategy for survival.”

Br. Randy Kin led the group on an informative tour of the upper and lower basilica, and all the many miracle healings that have taken place there.

Br. Mike Austin shared stories of the brothers who have made a profound impact on Our Lady of Consolation Province. Many diverse and innovative ministries have been first initiated by the brothers and their inspiration continues to drive the apostolates of our fraternity.

Friar Ray Mallett stirred the group to promote the Franciscan values of itinerancy, hope, and challenge outward and into their own communities. A religious order that does not move outward in missionary activity will stagnate and fade away, but we are all called to be missionaries in our own setting. Sunday we enjoyed “Family Day” at the OLC Shrine Park with all the many pilgrims who attended the healing service Sunday afternoon. In the end the prospects departed happy and content. Thanks for all the prayers of support and your encouragement to others to discern their call from God.

 

Living the Gospel Life is why the Conventual Franciscan life is still around after 800 years.” -Friar Ray Mallett.


Happy 99th Birthday to Fr. Maurus!

On October 7, 2016, Fr. Maurus Hauer, the oldest living Conventual Franciscan Friar in North America, celebrates his 99th birthday. He attended Minor Seminary at Mount St. Francis during the Depression, professed Solemn Vows in 1942, and was ordained a priest in 1945.

Fr. Maurus served for most of his life in his beloved Southwest United States where he baptized thousands of children and once moved a Church -- the whole Church!

To read more about this humble, heroic Franciscan please click here

 


Happy Feast of St. Francis!

Yesterday we commemorated the passing on to Heavenly Life of our Seraphic Father and Brother, St. Francis of Assisi. More than 800 years ago, he heard God's call and began his journey with Christ. Unsure of where the road might take him, yet sustained by his faith, Francis grew into the very likeness of Christ. On October 3rd, in 1226, he completed his earthly journey.

As Conventual Franciscan Friars we follow in his footsteps.

May the Lord inspire us all in our Gospel life!


Transitus – What is it?

Transitus is the annual celebration by Franciscans throughout the world of the passing of St. Francis from this life to life with God.  It is celebrated the night of October 3, the eve of his feast day.  The word "transitus"  comes from the Latin, meaning passage or crossing.

There is no one ritual for Transitus, and therefore many expressions have developed for this liturgy.  Certain prayers or writings of St. Francis and accounts from his early biographers are common.  One of them, "The Life of St. Francis" by Thomas of Celano, recalls how when Francis was dying he asked that the washing of the feet from Gospel of John be read.  This Scriptural passing is often included in the Transitus.  Since Francis spoke of dying as embracing Sister Death, the ritual is solemn but not sad and inspires the participants to richly live the Gospel until the end of their days.

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Spirit of Assisi

(Photo by Friar Marty Breski - Pope Francis talks with Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church)

Leaders of the world religions gathered in Assisi to pray for peace on Tuesday, September 20th. This is the 30th anniversary of the Spirit of Assisi,  an event started by Pope John Paul II in 1986. Fr. Jim Kent, Minister Provincial, was in Rome for a meeting of the Conventual Franciscan Order's leadership from around the world. The leadership meeting attendees journeyed to Assisi to join in the prayer for peace.

(Photo by Friar Leo Payyappilly, OFM Conv., Minister Provincial of St. Maximilian Kolbe Province in India.)
(Photo by Friar Leo Payyappilly, OFM Conv., Minister Provincial of St. Maximilian Kolbe Province in India.)

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Speak, Lord, Your Servant is Listening

Taking the response of the young Samuel to God’s call for his motto, Friar Don Bassana, OFM Conv. professed Solemn Vows as a Conventual Franciscan on Saturday, September 3, 2016, at San Francesco di Paola Church in San Antonio, Texas.

With his family and many of the Friars from the Province of Our Lady of Consolation in attendance, an emotional Br. Don vowed to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi by living in poverty, chastity, and obedience. Also present were Capuchin Franciscan Friars who serve in the San Antonio area, as well as many of Br. Don’s other friends from across his home state of Texas.

Br. Don with his extended family
Br. Don with his extended family
Br. Don and his mother show the beautiful (and delicious) cake.
Br. Don and his mother show the beautiful (and delicious) cake.

After the Mass, the celebration continued with an Italian-flavored reception, filled with talking, laughter, and plenty to eat.

Br. Don will continue his ministry at Marytown in Libertyville, Illinois, north of Chicago. The National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe (also a Conventual Franciscan), Marytown welcomes pilgrims and retreatants throughout the year. Br. Don will have the opportunity to share with them his love of Jesus Christ, his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his deep commitment to sharing Franciscan fraternity and spirituality.

Br. Don presented to the parish a Papal Blessing, thanking them for welcoming him as part of their family while he was in San Antonio as a student friar.
Br. Don presented to the parish a Papal Blessing, thanking them for welcoming him as part of their family while he was in San Antonio as a student friar. Fr. Victor Valdez, rector of San Fernando Cathedral shows the Papal Blessing.

A Fairy Tale Come True

(In photo: Fr. Andrew Mukosa, OFM Conv., with student Susan at St. Francis School in Zambia.)

by Friar Tony Droll, OFM Conv.

Once upon a time (well, twelve years ago), a charming little girl named Susan entered St. Francis School. She appeared serious and focused; she applied herself and excelled. She entertained, even at her young age, a Fairy Tale Dream. All through school Sue was on the top of the teachers’ pages of excellence. Even today, we meet her former teachers who say that Sue was a good listener, serious and progressive in their classes. Her desire to learn often has driven her to be studying at 3:00 in the morning. In St. Francis Technical Secondary School, from grades 8 to 12, her teachers observed that same serious focus in her work. The same virtues showed themselves in her faithful relationship with God in Church.

As I write, in August 2016, Sue’s stamina and fidelity have earned her a full scholarship at St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana, providing her every opportunity to Aspire Higher. Sue, our first International student, stands as an example and a challenge to St. Francis Technical Secondary School’s other 750 students. Before she departed Zambia, she stood in front of the Assembly of Students and encouraged them:

“Be faithful in your relationship with God and put mind and heart and strength to study and you too will shine in your life and education.”

If Susan Fanazani puts the same focus of prayer and heart into her College challenge, she will return home someday a successful leader for her beloved country of Zambia.

Sue’s story is no longer a Fairy Tale, but a true story of hard-earned success.

Please click here to learn more about Br. Tony's work in Zambia.


Two Bishops, 50+ Friars, and Our Lady of Consolation

High temperatures and humidity did not deter thousands of pilgrims from attending the Novena in honor of Our Lady of Consolation at her Basilica and National Shrine in Carey, Ohio. Conventual Franciscan Friars from all four North American Provinces. as well as Friars from India, Korea, and Zambia, were on hand to welcome, celebrate, and pray with the pilgrims.

Friars Randy Kin, Ian Bremar, and Angelo Catania prepare to greet busloads of pilgrims.
Friars Randy Kin, Ian Bremar, and Angelo Catania prepare to greet busloads of pilgrims.

The Most Reverend John Stowe, OFM Conv., Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky, returned to the Shrine to be with the Friars and pilgrims, and offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation alongside dozens of Franciscan Friar priests.

Fr. Jim Sichko, the Novena Preacher, took a 'selfie' with Our Lady of Consolation on Day 8 of the Novena.
Fr. Jim Sichko, the Novena Preacher, took a 'selfie' with Our Lady of Consolation on Day 8 of the Novena.

Rev. James Sichko, a priest from the Diocese of Lexington, was the Novena Preacher. Fr. Jim is one of 100 Missionaries of Mercy in the United States (800 worldwide) appointed by Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year.

Rev. Tom Orians, SA, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, also returned for this year’s Novena and pilgrimage, as he does every year. Fr. Tom, who was born and raised in northwest Ohio, was the Novena Preacher two years ago, and is another of the 100 Missionaries of Mercy in the US.

Fr. Tom Orians blessing a Chaldean family on Day 9 of the Novena (August 14th.)
Fr. Tom Orians blessing a Chaldean family on Day 9 of the Novena (August 14th.)
Some of the postulants preparing to walk in the nighttime procession on August 14th.
Some of the postulants preparing to walk in the nighttime procession on August 14th.

For the first time, sixteen Conventual Franciscan postulants attended the Novena and helped the friars and staff at the Shrine. From assisting people with the newly installed elevator to collecting donations at the entrance to Shrine Park, and even picking up trash, these young men stayed busy throughout the last days of the Novena.

The Most Reverend Daniel Thomas, Bishop of Toledo, led the nighttime candlelight procession to Shrine Park on the evening of August 14th for the Vigil Mass of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. Also helping with the celebration were the seminarians and the Knights of Columbus from the Diocese of Toledo.

Thank you to the pilgrims, many volunteers, Shrine staff, and all who made possible this special celebration in honor of Our Lady of Consolation.

(For many more photos, please visit the Province of Our Lady of Consolation Facebook page.)

Some of the crowds awaiting the beginning of the procession.
Some of the crowds awaiting the beginning of the procession.