Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

¿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 and as timely 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 only seem to separate us. Truly we are all one: we are all Americans, we are all brothers and sisters, 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.

Prayer card designed by Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv., for his ordination to the priesthood.
Prayer card designed by Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv., for his ordination to the priesthood.

We Welcome Mr. Carl McGrew as an Honorary Member

by Fr. Tom Smith, OFM Conv.

November 30th was a special evening of appreciation for Holy Cross Retreat Center. Sixteen members of the Definitories from Our Lady of Consolation, St. Joseph Cupertino, and St. Bonaventure Provinces joined with fifty-five other people to recognize the contributions of Carl McGrew and Esther Jasso.

 

The Good Works Volunteers
The Good Works Volunteers

Carl was received as an Affiliate (Honorary Member) of the Province of OLC in recognition of his 19 years of volunteer service to the friars. He has been a leader within the Serra Club, which promotes and helps pay for Franciscan vocation efforts. He has coordinated the installation of irrigation systems and landscaping for the friary at Holy Cross, and more recently has developed the Good Works Volunteers. This is a group of about 15 men and women who give eight hours a week in the spring and fall for all kinds of projects. They built the large cross and liturgical furniture for the new Chapel, developed the landscaping, rosary walk, and labyrinth around the Chapel, remodeled the large conference room, and more recently renovated the atrium of the original hacienda.  Carl’s good nature and organizational skills benefit many people. He and his wife, Claudine, graciously accepted the recognition.

Esther Jasso has worked for the Retreat Center for 32 years. She has been our lead cook for many of those years, preparing delicious meals served with care. She has also taught many of our other cooks the skills of the kitchen and how to treat retreatants well so they want to return. She has now retired and her presence will be missed, yet her impact will be felt for many years to come. Esther received a gold cross with small diamonds and a memorial brick for her and her husband in recognition of her many years of service.

Fr. Tom blesses Esther for her many years of service.
Fr. Tom blesses Esther for her many years of service.

A Weekend of Joyful Celebrations in Terre Haute, Indiana

Last weekend was filled with Franciscan joy. The theme of the celebrations, and for the weekend's liturgies, was Viva Christo Rey -- Long Live Christ the King.

Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv. on left with Fr. Dismas Veeneman, OFM Conv.
Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv. on left with Fr. Dismas Veeneman, OFM Conv.

On Saturday evening, Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv. celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Joseph University Parish where he is now an associate pastor. He was ordained a priest on November 4 in El Paso, Texas. Following the 5 pm Mass, a gathering in the parish hall made for an evening of fellowship and pasta.

On Sunday morning, Fr. Martin Day, OFM Conv. celebrated 25 years of priestly ordination. After concelebrating the 11 am Mass with other Conventual Friars, his family and friends gathered at the Red Barn in Terre Haute.

Congratulations to Fr. Mario and Fr. Martin. May God continue to bless you in your service to His people.

(For more photos from the weekend, please visit our Facebook page.)

Fr. Martin Day with his brothers and sisters.
Fr. Martin Day with his brothers and sisters.

Consolation, Another Face of Mercy

Pope Francis on Consolation

From Misericordia et Misera

The Apostolic Letter ending the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Another face of mercy is consolation. “Comfort, comfort my people” (Is 40:1) is the heartfelt plea that the prophet continues to make today, so that a word of hope may come to all those who experience suffering and pain. Let us never allow ourselves to be robbed of the hope born of faith in the Risen Lord. True, we are often sorely tested, but we must never lose our certainty of the Lord’s love for us. His mercy finds expression also in the closeness, affection and support that many of our brothers and sisters can offer us at times of sadness and affliction. The drying of tears is one way to break the vicious circle of solitude in which we often find ourselves trapped.

All of us need consolation because no one is spared suffering, pain and misunderstanding. How much pain can be caused by a spiteful remark born of envy, jealousy or anger! What great suffering is caused by the experience of betrayal, violence and abandonment! How much sorrow in the face of the death of a loved one! And yet God is never far from us at these moments of sadness and trouble. A reassuring word, an embrace that makes us feel understood, a caress that makes us feel love, a prayer that makes us stronger… all these things express God’s closeness through the consolation offered by our brothers and sisters.

Sometimes too, silence can be helpful, especially when we cannot find words in response to the questions of those who suffer. A lack of words, however, can be made up for by the compassion of a person who stays at our side, who loves us and who holds out a hand. It is not true that silence is an act of surrender; on the contrary, it is a moment of strength and love. Silence also belongs to our language of consolation, because it becomes a concrete way of sharing in the suffering of a brother or sister…

The Holy Mother of God always looks upon us with her eyes of mercy. She is the first to show us the way and to accompany us in our witness of love. As she is often shown in works of art, the Mother of Mercy gathers us all under the protection of her mantle. Let us trust in her maternal assistance and follow her perennial counsel to look to Jesus, the radiant face of God’s mercy.

Our Lady of Consolation, pray for us.


Friars in India Produce Film about St. Maximilian Kolbe

By Friar John Pozhathuparambil, OFM Conv.

What can a group of Franciscan Friars do when they come together? Make a movie, that’s what. The Franciscan Conventuals in India decided to expand on St. Maximilian Kolbe’s vision of using different forms of media to spread the word of Jesus Christ through the Immaculate Mother Mary around the world. They have established a video and film production company, Kolbe Communications, through which they’ve produced their first feature length film, Hero of Auschwitz: The Life of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

(The movie premiere in the US will take place on Sunday, January 29th, 3:00 p.m. in Wyatt Hall at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.)

dscn1929     St. Kolbe may be known mostly for his act of martyrdom when he gave his life for another prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in 1941. By the age of 46 Fr. Kolbe had overcome many obstacles including tuberculosis, to achieve many things for the Catholic Church.

When he was only 10 years old he had a vision of Mother Mary Immaculata in which she offered him two crowns: one white to persevere in purity and one red that he should become a martyr. Raymond Kolbe lived the rest of his life in pursuit of both crowns from Mother Mary. He eventually started Mary’s Militia which became the foundation for printing newspapers, magazines, and books about Mother Mary Immaculata. The success of these publications helped Fr. Kolbe establish Franciscan Friaries in Poland (Niepokalanow), Nagasaki, Japan (Mugenzai no Sono), and the seeds of a friary in Kerala, India. Fr. Kolbe helped bring thousands of young men into religious life, and helped spread the word of Jesus Christ through Mother Mary Immaculate to millions in Europe and Japan and India.

The friars in India have kept Fr. Kolbe’s publication efforts alive. Their company, Grey Friars Publications, distributes The Messenger of St. Anthony, publishes Amalolbhava which is a monthly magazine and is a continuation of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Militia Immaculata in vernacular language. They have also published books on various religious subjects and saints.

On the World Youth Day, 2016, in Krakow, Poland, many youth visited the concentration camp in Auschwitz. This reflects a rise in interest to know more about the life and spirituality of Kolbe. This movie was intended to spread the vision and the life of Kolbe in India and around the world. Jessy Mariya is a long-time friend of the Friars in Kerala. She has produced other documentaries for Franciscan Friars. When she heard the story of Kolbe’s martyrdom she was very interested in pursuing this as a film project. Fr. Leo Payyappilly, Provincial of St. Maximilian Kolbe Province India, met with Jessy Mariya and asked her to write and direct this film, the first to be produced by Kolbe Communications.

Jessy Mariya, Kerala film director, wrote the script to chronicle the life story of St. Maximilian Kolbe. She hired an excellent Kerala film crew with Praveen as the photographer. The cast included professional actors from Kerala, America, as well as dozens of Franciscan Friars, seminarians, novices, and nuns to create Kolbe’s life story on film.

dscn1711      One Interesting thing is that I was cast to play the lead role of St. Maximilian Kolbe. The only experiences I had were acting as Jesus in an Easter pageant show at St. Paul Parish, Dixie highway. I was really panicked and went to Megan Burnett, the Theatre Program Director at Bellarmine University and a professional actor, to help me as an acting coach for the film. She was then cast to play the role of Kolbe’s mother in the film. Burnett said, “Making a film in India was a surprising and dreamlike opportunity for me,” she said. “Working with Fr. John, Jessy Mariya, and all the crew and cast was a powerful experience. The care and attention to detail given to every aspect of this film will ensure St. Kolbe’s story will be shared with Catholics all over the world.”

During the two weeks of shooting, the film crew shot on at least 12 locations including a 250 year-old home in Cochin, a gypsum deposit site at FACT, the set of Jail, a commercial movie set, the St. Maximilian Kolbe ashram, a field in Kerala, on the streets in Fort Cochin, the Belvedere Novitiate in Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu, a pharmacy run by Franciscan nuns, the Viani printing press, a brick quarry, and more. The director and photographer used each location to tell St. Kolbe’s story with truth, and beauty, even when the film deals with his time in the concentration camp. Every moment of his life was depicted with great care.dscn2111

While shooting the concentration camp scenes we were asked to walk on gypsum deposits and a field that was covered with touch-me-not vines which have thorns. I was so blessed to be a part of this beautiful work. And if we friars acted well in the movie, it’s because of God’s blessings and intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Everyone in the movie acted with dedication.

A few things that happened during filming were so amazing. The students were ready to take off their shoes. They said we are doing something, it’s not a movie, we’re trying to experience what Kolbe went through. So we were walking on the thorns, staying in the sunlight, and not much water, and not much food because we had to finish in time, so we were at least six hours in sunlight and on the thorns. And we had to run over the thorns and many were hurt – not big pain but small pain. Then we had to fight for bread in one scene. The prisoners had to eat off the floor. I have never seen a dirty place like that, and the students were putting bread pieces on the floor and trying to eat it. And they were really eating it. I said, “No, look, this is the dirtiest place in the world.” And they said, “No, we are doing something holy here, and we are sacrificing something for Kolbe.” So that was their attitude. They were ready to do anything for the movie. Then I felt each scene, I was not acting as Kolbe, more I was acting as Jesus. I could relate everything with Jesus, his passion, even in the concentration camp I felt how Jesus would have been in the jail, his suffering, people beating him. I got three slaps and kicks, I fell down two times, I was feeling how Jesus would have been suffering, and the last moment Jesus dies lifting his arms on the cross. All this reminded me of Jesus more than Kolbe.dsc01205

So for me it was not acting. I went through what Kolbe really might have gone through. And many of the students felt it too. And the crew they wanted to know about Kolbe. They really learned about Kolbe. There were Christian, Islamic and Hindu people on the crew. And we always started with a prayer, every day we started with prayer before we started shooting. And they were joining us, the Islamic men and the Hindu men; they were joining us with a prayer. And one of the men is a Hindu and he wanted a cross from Fr. Dominic for his sister. So a lot of good things happened with the crew. And before I came to Megan Burnett for acting help, I never knew how to act, how to stand in front of the camera. I had acted in two Easter Pageant shows. But when I was acting in this movie, I felt like Jesus suffering by his passion. I could feel a divine presence, divine courage, inspiration that I could stand in front of the camera. And I know it’s not me, it’s not me, I ‘m pretty sure it’s Kolbe’s intercession and God’s help.”

Hero of Auschwitz: The Life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, produced by Conventual Franciscans India, will be released by November 12, 2016. There will be DVDs available and it will be released on one or more religious channels in Kerala, India.


Celebrating the Ordination of Fr. Mario Serrano, OFM Conv.

On Saturday, November 4, 2016, Friar Mario Serrano, OFM Conv. was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend John Stowe, OFM Conv., Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky. The ordination took place at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church/Ysleta Mission in El Paso, Texas. Many Friars, family, and friends joined in the joyful celebration. Over the next two days, Fr. Mario celebrated Masses of Thanksgiving in Dexter, New Mexico, and in Juarez, Mexico.

Fr. Mario preaches at his Mass of Thanksgiving in Dexter, NM
Fr. Mario preaches at his Mass of Thanksgiving in Dexter, NM

Please join us in prayer to the praise and glory of the Most Holy Trinity. May God continue to bless Fr. Mario in his Franciscan service and sacramental ministry. And may Our Lady

Members of the Tigua community offered a traditional blessing before the ordination.
Members of the Tigua community offered a traditional blessing before the ordination.

of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, continue to intercede for all of us.

       For more photos, please visit the Province Facebook page. (Photos courtesy of Mr. Al Baeza, Fr. Miguel Briseno, OFM Conv., and Friar Tony Martinez, OFM Conv.)


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