Friar Joel Burget: A Storyteller with a Missionary’s Heart

Combining a joyous Franciscan spirit with a missionary’s vision of the world, Friar Joel Burget OFM Conv. served God’s people in remote areas of Africa and in the heart of the midwestern United States.Fr. Joel

Fr. Joel died Friday April 21, 2017, in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was born Robert Joseph Burget on June 17, 1939, in Terre Haute, to John R. and Mildred (Rassel) Burget. He attended minor seminary at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, and entered the Conventual Franciscan Order in 1957. He professed Simple Vows on July 10, 1958, and Solemn Vows on October 11, 1961.

He was ordained a Priest on March 5, 1966, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Later that year, he left for Africa where he served as a missionary for 20 years in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). After returning to the US, he served in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Centralia, Illinois, and for many years in Terre Haute.

A youthful interest in the world and its people led to summer geography studies at the University of Minnesota while he was studying theology during the academic year at the Friars’ seminary in Chaska, Minnesota. Because of this experience and the need for good teachers, after his ordination he was sent to teach geography in the Friars’ schools in Zambia.

Fr. Joel in Zambia
Fr. Joel in Zambia

But his other talents soon led to his being sent into other areas of Zambia where there was an urgent need for priestly ministry. At that time the lack of good roads made travel difficult and the distances between locations seem even longer. Fr. Joel spent much of his time on his own with the people he served.

He was creative and innovative, as a missionary is often called to be, always willing to attempt anything to improve conditions for those he served. With no hardware stores around, these skills were tested as cars and other machinery sometimes broke down. “He liked to try to fix things,” said one of the Friars who served with him in Zambia. He added with a laugh: “Sometimes he made things better, sometimes not. You never knew what would come out of it.”

In 1986 Fr. Joel returned to the US and, after a brief period in parish ministry, began serving as a hospital chaplain in Centralia, Illinois. Here his caring spirit flowered again, and he developed a great reputation through his concern and care for the sick and dying and their families.

Fr. Joel celebrating Mass at his Jubilee celebration in 2016.
Fr. Joel celebrating Mass at his Jubilee celebration in 2016.

He became pastor at St. Benedict’s in his hometown of Terre Haute in 1998, and through 2010 served his community with the same Franciscan joy and compassion. He continued to live at the Friary at Terre Haute for the rest of his life.

A talented storyteller throughout his life, Fr. Joel also had a reputation for exaggerating at times, leading some Friars to remark that there were often two versions of his humorous stories – the Fr. Joel version and the real version.

He was remembered from his days at Mount St. Francis as a good student and an avid basketball player, whose size and competitive spirit made up for a lack of natural ability.

He was pre-deceased by his parents, his sister Sr. Ann Brendan, SP, and his brother John. He is survived by his sister Mrs. Sally Jones of Beaumont, Texas and five nieces and nephews.

Fr. Joel Burget as a young man with his family.
Fr. Joel Burget as a young man with his family.

On Monday, April 24, a Funeral Mass was held at St. Benedict Parish in Terre Haute. On Thursday, April 27 the Mass of Christian Burial was followed by interment in the Friars’ Cemetery at Mount St. Francis.

The pall is placed on the casket.
The pall is placed on the casket.

Memorial gifts to the Conventual Franciscan Friars may be sent to The Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Development Office, 103 St. Anthony Drive, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, 47146 or by clicking here.

+Fr. Joel is carried to the cemetery.
+Fr. Joel is carried to the cemetery at Mount. St. Francis.

Welcoming a World of Unity and Love

by Friar Paul Schloemer, OFM Conv.

Not long ago, when we as a Province spoke of "interculturality" we were talking about the relationship between our Hispanic and our Anglo communities. Here in San Antonio at San Damiano Friary, beyond infusing the "Tex-Mex" culture into our daily life, we had one day a week where the language of the house was Spanish, and all prayer and interaction during the day was supposed to be in that language.

Friar Phil Ley and Jaime Zaragoza visit with Friars from Central America, Friars Eric and Arturo.
Friar Phil Ley and Jaime Zaragoza visit with Friars from Central America, Friars Eric and Arturo.

That’s no longer possible. Today in the house we have speakers of English, Spanish, Dutch, Vietnamese, Korean, and French-Creole. Most are members of US Provinces, but some are international students and will eventually return to their home Provinces. This has meant that our previous emphasis on Spanish, and the learning of Spanish, has been diminished. But our vision of our Order, and the world, has been greatly enhanced – and we have no desire to turn back the clock.

The Friars from around the world will take this broadened vision and international experience back to their home Provinces. The US Friars are made aware that there is a world beyond North America, and how it is important for them to learn from the Brothers they will be working with for the rest of their lives. Interestingly, the diversifying of language in the house has emphasized the need for language study and increased the self-motivation of our students to acquire a facility in language, particularly still in Spanish.

Morning prayer at San Damiano Friary in San Antonio, Texas.
Morning prayer at San Damiano Friary in San Antonio, Texas.

Whatever the challenges of globalization may be, it is a sacred fact that God calls all his children into a world of unity and love. We praise God for the opportunity to be a member of a brotherhood that, often counter to the current political winds, witnesses to that sacred fact. As willingly as we have sent our missionaries out into the wider world, we open our arms to welcome our international brothers to the United States!

Thank you!

Thank you for sharing our Lenten journey. As we continue through Holy Week
let us keep one another in prayer,
that the Holy Spirit may lead us all through a blessed Triduum.
May God give you peace and fill your hearts with joy.

To Him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in Him
will receive forgiveness of sins through His name.

Acts 11:43

(The above photo was taken by Friar Ken Bartsch the evening of Good Friday 2016 at Mount St. Francis.)

2017 Recipient of Franciscan International Award Announced


Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative of St. Paul, Minnesota, received the award in 2016.
Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative of St. Paul, Minnesota, received the award in 2016.


For 59 years the Franciscan International Award Dinner has been an opportunity for retreatants and friends of the retreat house to gather together and support the ministry of the Retreat House, as well as honoring a person or an organization who embodies the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Board of Advisors for Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center are pleased to announce that a local service organization, Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP) will be the 2017 recipient of the Franciscan International Award. The Award will be presented at the Franciscan International Award Dinner on Thursday, May 11, 2017, at the Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake.

In its Mission Statement, VEAP describes itself as “Neighbors serving neighbors in need.”logo

VEAP focuses on four program areas:

  • Access to healthy foods – in 2015 VEAP distributed 3.5 million pounds of food, 40% of which was fresh produce.
  • Access to social services – VEAP social workers use a holistic lens and create a space of hope to support families from crisis to stability. In 2015, VEAP used $167,168 to support housing, utilities and car repairs for clients.
  • Access to transportation – volunteers provide transportation for low-income seniors to mostly medical appointments and rides home from VEAP’s food pantry. In 2015, volunteer drivers provided 8,045 rides for low-income seniors and 4,137 rides home from the food pantry.
  • Access to resources for children and youth – VEAP’s children and youth resources are designed to support positive childhood memories. Parents have access to kid-friendly food, school supplies, gifts, birthday and baby bags, during times when they are faced with financial instability.


Date: Thursday, May 11, 2017
Time: 6:00 p.m. Gathering with Social Hour Franciscan 50 Year Logo Horiz CMYK
7:00 p.m. Dinner Presentation of the award following dinner
Location: The Wilds Golf Club, 3151 Wilds Parkway NW, Prior Lake, MN 55372

Dinner tickets: $60 Individual (1 person); $150 Sponsor (2 persons); $250 Patron (2 persons); $500 Benefactor (2 persons)

Sponsors, Patrons and Benefactors are listed in the program. To purchase tickets, call 952-447-2182. Tickets must be purchased in advance by Thursday, May 4th

Stained Glass Windows at Holy Cross Retreat Center Chapel

Beautiful stained glass windows have been installed in the Chapel at Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, New Mexico. The timing is perfect as the Center is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe is featured in the Chapel. This panel shows Juan Diego.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is featured in the Chapel. This panel shows Juan Diego.

On March 12th, the statues, stained glass, and stations of the Cross will be blessed. The 2:00 p.m. Mass will be followed by a reception and an open house. Fr. Jim Kent, OFM Conv., Minister Provincial, will be preaching and presiding. Bishop Emeritus Ricardo Ramirez will join in this special event. Please come and celebrate with us!

(FYI - Holy Cross Retreat has confessions at 6:00 p.m. and Mass at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the new Chapel.)

40 Days of Franciscan Reflections

Dear Friends,

Today we begin our Lenten journey. For each of the 40 days we will offer a brief Franciscan reflection – many by our Friars, some from Pope Francis, St. Francis, and other Franciscan writers.

To reach each day’s reflection, simply click on the banner photo on the front page (or you may click here.) Enjoy the journey! (Make sure to read tomorrow’s post by Friar Nick Wolfla - Life is Joyful.)

PS – the new reflections will be available at 9:30 a.m. each day and will be up until the following morning at that time.

Retreats, Days of Prayer, and More for Lent

Crucifix at Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, New Mexico
Crucifix at Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, New Mexico

Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, is offering four retreats during Lent:

  • Franciscan Spirituality of Creation - March 3 to 5 - reflections on the Canticle of Creatures by St. Francis, some selections from "Laudato, Si!" by Pope Francis, and time to experience the beauty of creation at the Retreat Center.
  • Contemplative Retreat - March 17 to 19 - opportunities to experience different forms of prayer, including the Rosary Walk and the labyrinth.
  • Mary as a Model of Prayer - March 31 to April 2 - focuses on how we can draw on the spirituality and witness of Mary in our own life today?
  • Retreat on the Triduum  - April 14 to 15 - understanding the services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil so that we can celebrate them fully.

Call 575 524-3688 or email for more information.


Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center at Prior Lake, MN
Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center at Prior Lake, MN

Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota, is offering four Lenten Days of Prayer. Each runs from 9:30 a.m. to about 3:00 p.m.

  • Forgiveness: The Essence of the Gospel - March 9 - presented by Br. Bob Roddy, OFM Conv.
  • When Forgiveness Seems Impossible - March 16 - presented by Debbie Koop
  • Forgiveness of Self - March 23 - presented by Kathy Berken
  • Forgiveness and Healing - March 30 - presented by Cindy Geiger

Pre-registration is not required by would be appreciated. Call 952 447-2182 to register.


The Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, will hold the 7th Annual Ecumenical Choir Concert on Good Friday an Noon.
(Also, the Shrine Cafeteria will once again be offering an all you can eat Lenten Seafood Buffet every Friday from March 3 thru April 4 from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.)


YAFraM is offering a retreat for young adults (ages 24 to 35) at Mount St. Francis, Indiana. The Glow in the Dark Retreat will provide lots of opportunities to escape the pressures of school and work. The weekend will be about disconnecting from the grid and connecting with your peers and God. For more information click here.


Br. Bob Baxter is leading three retreats at Mount St. Francis.
Living What We Pray - a women's get-away weekend- March 31 to April 1
The Chasm Between Faith and Life - a one day retreat on April 4
Lenten Weekend - Living the Way of the Cross - April 7 to 9
For more information on these, please visit

Statue of St. Francis at Mount St. Francis, IN
Statue of St. Francis at Mount St. Francis, IN

Remembering Pope Francis’ Visit to the Border

Last year, on February 17, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez. The logo for this special event said it all: “Two Nations One Faith.”

Conventual Franciscan Friars from Our Lady of Consolation Province were on both sides of the border for this historic visit to Juarez.

small border campusOn the US side, Friars Mario Serrano and Andy Martinez, both serving as campus ministers, celebrated with many students from Our Lady of the Lake University and the University of Texas, El Paso. In Juarez, Friar Tom Smith joined 15 other priests from Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He was seated very close to the front, with the sick and infirm.

Fr. Tom was interviewed recently by KFOX14 (El Paso). You can click here to see the interview.

Friar Miguel Briseno, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in El Paso, was at the Sun Bowl Stadium along with thousands of others.

To those gathered there, and to many others listening and watching from a distance, Pope Francis said: “Thank you, brothers and sisters at El Paso, for making us feel like one family, and one and the same Christian community.”

Celebrating Mass at the fairground of Ciudad Juarez, the Pope used the story of Jonah and Nineveh to help us understand the necessity of mercy:

"The king listened to Jonah, the inhabitants of the city responded and penance was decreed. God’s mercy has entered the heart, revealing and showing wherein our certainty and hope lie: there is always the possibility of change, we still have time to transform what is destroying us as a people, what is demeaning our humanity. Mercy encourages us to look to the present, and to trust what is healthy and good beating in every heart. God’s mercy is our shield and our strength."

Please join us in praying for conversion, salvation, and mercy.
Lord, have pity on us, cleanse us from our sins and create in us a pure heart, a new spirit.

Help Wrap the Vocation Car

Friar John Bamman is trying to reach youth and spread the word of St. Francis of Assisi in new ways with his work in vocations. He would like to get his car wrapped with 'advertisements' - aimed not only at young people who might be discerning a vocation but for all of us. He wants us to Seek Our Higher Calling - to be the people that God wants us to be.

Would you like to be a partner in this highways and byways ministry? Click here for more information. Or, if you are ready to make a donation, please click here.

Thank you for your support and please continue to pray for all young people as they seek their path, especially those discerning the religious life!

Silence: A story of faith and martyrdom

Fr. Jim Kent discusses the film, and the book, Silence, touching on the themes of Christian faith, witness, and martyrdom. The conversation highlights the struggle of the European missionaries to either renounce their faith or save the lives of the people they serve.