In memory of +Br. John Mauer OFM Conv.

Following St. Francis in Serving Those On The Margins of Society

Brother John Maurer always made time for the people most others ignore. He could be frank in describing life experiences that prepared him for his dedicated service as a Conventual Franciscan. But one of his Franciscan brothers said that Br. John’s deep faith and profound prayer life formed the bedrock of his personality and his ability to understand those on society’s margins.

Br. John Richard Maurer OFM Conv. passed away on September 10, 2020. He was born July 7, 1939, in Lansing, Michigan, to John and Joy Maurer, the oldest of 10 children. He entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual in 1975, professed Simple Vows on August 5, 1978, and Solemn Vows on August 7, 1981. Before entering the Franciscan Order, he had been married and the father of four children. He had served in the US Army, worked as a truck driver, and served as a union foreman while working at an automotive manufacturing plant.

His Franciscan ministry took him across the country, and he served at various times in Washington, DC; Prior Lake, Minnesota; DeKalb, Illinois; Lorain, Ohio; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Bloomington, Minnesota; and in Louisville, Kentucky, and neighboring southern Indiana.

One Franciscan noted that before entering the Order, Br. John had “a varied, painful experience of life. But he was a person of deep faith, goodwill, and honest intentions. He had a sincere heart and a deep concern for the welfare of his Franciscan brothers, as well as those in need. He was open with others and had no guile, but at times had to strive to be tactful.”

After entering the Franciscans, Br. John dedicated himself to those who are often invisible to others. He served the elderly, the homeless, and those suffering from addictions. He had a ‘street ministry’ to the poor and never hesitated to invite people on the streets to join him for a cup of coffee or a sandwich. He listened to their stories and offered help when he could.

Br. John earned a certification in caring for the elderly, and from the beginning of his Franciscan service, could be found in care centers and nursing homes, guiding recreational activities or spending time listening to a resident who wanted to talk. He was especially dedicated to those in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step Programs, often serving as a sponsor and always ready to respond to someone in need of an attentive ear or a moment of support.

Visitation for Br. John will be held on Saturday, September 19 at 10 am at Incarnation Catholic Church, 2229 Lower Hunters Trace, Louisville, Kentucky. The Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11 am, with private interment at Mount St. Francis. Memorial gifts may be made using the form on this page, or you can send to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Mission Advancement Office, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana 47146.

In memory of +Fr. Joe Kiene OFM Conv.

Bringing Consolation, Building Community

Fr. Joe Kiene had a gift for consoling people in times of crisis, as well as those who found themselves far away from home. And while he often lived apart from his Franciscan brothers, he was able to create communities with those he served.

Friar Joseph Lawrence (Joachim) Kiene OFM Conv. passed away on July 17, 2020, in Angola, Indiana. He was born on March 18, 1937, in Lima, Ohio, and was predeceased by his parents Louis and Pearl (Klapperich) Kiene. He entered the minor seminary at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, in 1951. He professed first vows as a Franciscan Friar Conventual on July 17, 1956, receiving the name Friar Joachim. He professed solemn vows on July 23, 1960, and was ordained to the priesthood on February 22, 1964, at St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota.

After spending six years in parish ministry, Fr. Joe became a chaplain in the United States Navy and found his true vocation. His Franciscan formation brought out his gifts for hospitality and service to those in non-traditional settings, and he used those gifts to build a deep sense of fraternity and God’s loving presence wherever he served.

“Not long after he began serving in the south Pacific, the head of the base called him in to ask what he was doing,” said Fr. Jim Kent OFM Conv. “The attendance at Catholic Masses had jumped since Fr. Joe had been there, and was larger than any other denomination. It turns out that when he arrived, Fr. Joe visited every individual and family on the chaplain office list, whether they were Catholic or not. He said: ‘I’m Fr. Joe. Let me know if you ever need anything.’”

After seven years of active duty in the Navy, Fr. Joe spent two years as chaplain at the Wisconsin State Prison before being invited back to military duty. This time he was assigned as a chaplain at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in Indianapolis. He would be based there for the rest of his full-time ministry.

“He was very much respected there,” said Fr. Jim. “From the clerical staff to the security guards to the other chaplains – he was known and well-loved by all.”

While working at the VA, he also served as chaplain for the police and sheriff’s departments in Indianapolis.

“One day he was in a grocery store and a man approached him,” Fr. Jim said. “The man told him that Fr. Joe probably wouldn’t remember, but he had come to his home with the police to tell him his son had been killed. He thanked Fr. Joe, telling him how his concern and compassion had meant so much to him and his wife at the worst moment of their lives.”

Fr. Joe retired to the Friars’ community in Angola, Indiana, in 2014, and continued to seek out those in need, visiting and providing the sacraments at nursing homes in the area.

The funeral Mass for Friar Joachim Kiene will be on Thursday, July 30, at 11am at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Angola, Indiana. Visitation will be that morning, from 10-11am in the church vestibule. There will be Special Vespers from the Office of the Dead at 7pm Thursday evening. Arrangements for his burial at Mount St. Francis, Indiana, will be announced later. Memorial gifts may be made to The Province of Our Lady of Consolation here with the provided form or sent to  Province of Our Lady of Consolation, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana 47146.

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

By Friar Pedro Lopez OFM Conv.

While in Postulancy, before knowing who St. Oscar Romero was, I had heard of an Archbishop martyred in Central America. However, I didn’t know who he was nor what he did. Years later, not only have I had the opportunity to visit his tomb at the Cathedral in downtown San Salvador, El Salvador, but I also call San Salvador home. It is where I live in one of our friaries and attend the University of Central America.

Now, the month of March reminds me very much of the life of San Oscar Romero. Since his martyrdom on March 24, 1980, this month has become, year after year, a space for meditation, contemplation, reflection, remembrance, and enlightenment of the martyred Archbishop’s life for myself and many of those familiar with his story. His legacy is rich in implications of many kinds: socio-political, historical, educational, and moral.

His moral legacy, in particular, has become an essential foundation of my beliefs. It gives me an awareness and clarity to the simple fact; our commitment to others is vital. Having a clear understanding that we are committed to others and their problems, losses, needs, sufferings, joys, laughter, and victories is of considerable significance to humanity and one of his values I hold most close. His legacy has taught me many values. These values are a matter of conscience, and bring a better understanding of what is good or bad, human or merciless.

My time in CPE and Mt. Carmel in El Paso, TX, provided me the privilege to be close with the sick. Now in El Salvador, I have been able to again be close and experience something Romero called “el sentir con la gente” (to feel with the people). Through my experiences, I have found a more profound identification and closeness with the sick and all those who suffer. Within a new context in which I live, I’m connecting my beliefs with the people of God.

Another phrase from Monseñor Romero that captivates me is “Si me matan, resucitaré en el pueblo…” (“If they kill me, I will be reborn...”) This goes hand in hand with John’s scripture passage, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Monseñor Romero’s legacy continues alive in the people of El Salvador. The work he did while alive continues through the people of today. I see how the people in our Conventual parish “Jesus of the Merciful” come together to help those in need. I see the people show solidarity and union. I see Romero’s fallen seed in full bloom.

Romero’s Prayer

This prayer was first presented by Cardinal Dearden in 1979 and quoted by Pope Francis in 2015.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

In memory of +Br. Jeffrey Hines OFM Conv.

Telling the Story of Maternal Love

+Brother Jeffrey Hines OFM Conv.

With his talent for telling stories and a profound devotion to the Blessed Mother (and her mother, St. Anne) Brother Jeffrey Hines OFM Conv. gave people a glimpse into the hidden life of Jesus. He spent his life welcoming pilgrims and retreatants across the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, helping them deepen their relationship with God. Depending on the circumstances, he could have a group of people laughing uproariously or praying devoutly.

Br. Jeffrey passed away on April 11, 2020, in Bloomington, Minnesota. He was born Richard Joseph Hines on June 24, 1938, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Charles and Marie (Walsdorf) Hines. He was predeceased by his parents and is survived by his brothers Jerry (Barbara) and Tom (+Ann), one nephew, three nieces, and many relatives.

He entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual when he was 20, professed Simple Vows on July 14, 1962, in Auburn, Indiana. He professed his Solemn Vows on July 26, 1965, at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation (OLC Shrine) in Carey, Ohio, where over three different assignments he would spend 22 years of his life.

In addition to his service at OLC Shrine, Br. Jeffrey also served as a guide in Assisi, Italy; Director of Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota; Secretary for the Province of Our Lady of Consolation; and in the education and formation of student Friars.

Upon being assigned Pilgrimage Director at OLC Shrine in 1976, he drew on his annual visits to the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré, near Quebec City in Canada, to help shape his service to the pilgrims.

“He had a profound love for the pilgrims, a deep respect for them and their different heritages,” Br. Bob Roddy said. Br. Bob met Br. Jeffrey in 1978 while spending the summer at the Shrine before entering the Order later that year.

“In those days there were sometimes 50,000 pilgrims for the Feast of the Assumption. Although he was probably an introvert by nature, he was always very energized by their devotional piety. And even though it was a very busy time that summer, he was always very kind to me, and patient when I had questions. He was always solicitous and thoughtful.”

Linda Boaz was the Provincial Office Manager when Br. Jeffrey served as Province Secretary from 1994 through 2001. But she had gotten to know him earlier through his devotion to St. Anne.

“He wrote an article about her in The Friar,” Linda said. “I found it intriguing and wrote to him, telling him I appreciated it and asking more questions. He responded by sending me a St. Anne medal and telling me he would pray to her for me. Every year, he loved visiting the Shrine (of St. Anne) during his vacation. He was always very excited before and after the trip.

“And he could tell a story like nobody else. He could mimic voices and mannerisms so well that he would have us almost on the floor laughing.”

The combination of Br. Jeffrey’s experiences with the pilgrims, his deepening devotion to the Blessed Mother, and his skills as a writer resulted in lasting contributions to the Shrine and its visitors.

Caught in Chicago during the blizzard of 1978, which immobilized the city and much of the Midwest, he turned his isolation in a hotel room into a mini-retreat with the Blessed Mother. During those days he rewrote A Pilgrim’s Prayer Book for visitors to OLC Shrine. In addition to other daily prayers and devotions, the booklet includes the Novena Prayers used each year by the thousands of pilgrims who gather in August for the Novena to Our Lady of Consolation leading up to the Feast of the Assumption.

He also wrote a history of OLC Shrine, which continues to be sold in the Shrine Gift Shop.

“He was a person with great appreciation for beauty,” Br. Bob Roddy said. “He was an artist himself. In his journals, besides his writing, there are beautiful pen and ink drawings from his time in Assisi and other places.

“He had a sense of style. And along with that he had a deep sense of responsibility; he never did anything halfway – always properly and appropriately.”

Funeral arrangements are pending. Memorial gifts may be in the form on this page or  made to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Mission Advancement Office, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana 47146.

An International Friary for a Global Franciscan Order

Expanding the House of Formation in San Antonio
By Friar Tim Unser OFM Conv.

Here in San Antonio, Texas, our friary is getting smaller. The building isn’t shrinking, of course, but the number of student friars living here is growing larger. Young friars from around the world are living here together, growing in their commitment to Conventual Franciscan life while completing the studies that will lead to priesthood or other ministries. Currently, we have friars from Mexico, South Korea, Haiti, Bahamas, Vietnam, Cameroon, and from across the United States.

Now other Provinces around the world are serious about wanting to send their students here. There is continuing globalization of the Franciscan Order, with the growing cooperation of the provinces around the world. We now have to meet the responsibilities that come from this movement. A movement to bring together students who will learn from one another and then work together in the future.

Our friary in San Antonio is becoming the environment for that to happen. We currently crowd 14 friars into our existing structure. But we are beginning a renovation and expansion project that will allow us to house a total of 30 friars while providing larger spaces for both studies and recreation. Following the lead of Pope Francis, The Oblate School of Theology, where our students attend, has opened its doors to a more profound pastoral theology. The Holy Father urges us to look at people pastorally to focus on their needs. The Oblate School of Theology is establishing that mentality in its course offerings.

Just as the Church is moving in a global direction, our Franciscan formation is moving that way also. We are aware of the various cultures our students come from, and we pay attention to the gifts they bring. Every day in our friary, this intercultural exchange is experienced, worked out, and lived.

In addition to having students from around the world, our next step is to welcome friars from other cultures into our formation team. Not only will this enable us to meet the needs of the international students, but it will also give our U.S. students a stronger sense of the global reach of the Franciscan Order.

Of course, this will take a more significant investment from our Province. While these international provinces are rich in vocations and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they can’t fully finance the education of all their Friars.

We have taken on the challenge of providing the funding they need for formation and education and a facility where that can happen. We ask you to continue your prayerful support as we move forward. May God bless you for your generosity!

Franciscan Fraternity – A Global Brotherhood

Our student friars share takeaways from their cultural experiences abroad

Friar Calin

The first month was a challenge, but at the same time, I was learning how to feel at home away from home. The friars of Spain are humble and very hospitable. The friary, connected to a parish, allowed me to interact with the parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish and help with liturgies. I have even had the honor of teaching the Auxiliary Bishop of Madrid how to eat a cheeseburger, but that is a story for another time. The experience of living not only in Madrid but living in a community of good friars on this side of the world has opened my mind, heart, and appreciation of the greater Franciscan order.

Friar Alberto

Along with myself, there are friars from India and Romania, also learning
German. The Fraternity has been, for me, the most significant gifts that I
have received since joining the order. It is a word that since going to my first Come & See Retreat and going
through formation I’ve heard repeatedly. We do not all share the same nationality, but we are all brothers. We might not all speak German
yet, but we share a way of life that knows no borders. All of us, whether far from home or close, have, like Francis, tried to follow what the Most
High, Himself revealed to us…for me, it has led me to Germany.

Friar Pedro

While being abroad in San Salvador, there are many things that I have learned. The experience that has had the most significant impact on me is going out to marginalized indigenous areas for mission. As people shared their narratives, and as I read Scripture to the people, Scripture becomes so alive to me. The way their stories relate with what I read in Scripture and the way these people in their own life live out Scripture is something that energizes and evangelizes me in such a beautiful way.

+Friar Philip Schneider

A Man of Gentle Strength and Deep Compassion

+Friar Philip Schneider OFM Conv.

Possessing athletic grace and quiet strength, Fr. Philip Schneider served God’s people with humble spirit, gentle compassion, and most of all a deep love of God.

Friar Philip Schneider OFM Conv. passed away on January 24, 2020, in Toledo, Ohio. Born Donald Edward Schneider on March 18, 1934, to Anthony and Helen (Hoyt) Schneider in Lansing, Michigan, he was predeceased by his parents, by his brothers Richard and James, and by his sister Lenore Baty. He is survived by his sister-in-law Barbara Schneider (+Richard), sisters Annette Thelen (Ronald), Cecilia Hamilton, Mary Wagner, Cathy Schneider (Linda), Theresa Rinkoski (Tom), and Pat Estelle (Bill), and brothers Paul (+Helen) and Bob (Brenda), along with many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and -nephews.

“He will be lovingly missed by his family,” said his sister Theresa Rinkoski. “His pastoral nature was very important to the family. He was always there, ready to listen and empathize. He was gentle, very gentle. He really cared about the people in his parish.”

Fr. Philip professed Simple Vows in the Order of Friars Minor Conventual on July 12, 1953, Solemn Vows on July 12, 1956, and was ordained to the priesthood on February 19, 1961, at St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to his undergraduate and theology studies, he earned a Master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 1965, which he put to use as a teacher at Toledo Central Catholic and the Minor Seminary at Mount St. Francis.

High school students loved their math teacher, writes John Adams: “I have many fond memories of him teaching algebra and geometry. He was a remarkable soul, and I am ever grateful for the grace of having been his student.”

In his student days at the Minor Seminary at Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana, Fr. Phil was a member of the basketball team that won the Paoli Sectional Championship in 1951. In later years he enjoyed playing golf and bowling.

“He was very athletic,” said Friar Pius Poff OFM Conv., who was Fr. Philip’s classmate for 13 years. “But to me he was most of all a very spiritual man, a very humble man, not one to draw attention to himself. He was not only humble, but also a very compassionate person.”

Fr. Philip spent many years in pastoral ministry, serving parishes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Angola and Terre Haute, Indiana, and Chicago Heights, Illinois. But his favorite assignment was at St. Paul’s in Clear Lake, Indiana, where he served for more than 20 years. Friar Christian Moore taught with Fr. Philip at Mount St. Francis and served with him at San Rocco Parish in Chicago Heights.

“He did fine woodworking, but really he could do anything with his hands and knew how to fix things,” Fr. Christian said. “When he was at St. Paul’s in Clear Lake all those years, he did nearly all the maintenance himself. He was also a very good listener, and always there when people needed him. He had a very deep faith.”

Barbara Balbo, a parishioner in Clear Lake wrote: “Father Phil was always a humble servant of God and St. Paul’s Chapel. During sermons his lip would often quiver as he fought back tears when helping the congregation understand God’s unconditional love for each of us. Father Phil was a gentle giant who truly cared for all, but especially the most vulnerable, including children. His high-fiving the children as he proceeded down the aisle after Mass will always remain a special memory in the hearts of St. Paul’s parishioners.”

In a conversation not too long ago, Fr. Pius told Fr. Philip that it might be the last time they would speak together. “He told me you never know; we can meet in Heaven.”

Visitation will take place from 5-6:45pm at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, on Tuesday, January 28, followed by a funeral Mass at 7pm. The body will be received at the Chapel at Mount St. Francis, Indiana at 5pm on Wednesday, January 29, and a wake service will be held that evening at 7pm. The funeral Mass at Mount St. Francis on January 30 at 11am, with interment to follow in the Friars’ cemetery.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, 47146 or online by clicking here.

+Br. Angelo Catania

A Friar Who Greeted God's People with an Open Heart

No matter where you came from or who you were, Br. Angelo Catania OFM Conv. had a gift for making you feel at home. Pilgrims and retreatants from across the country knew they could always count on his attentive ear and open heart.

Br. Angelo died on November 13, 2019, in Libertyville, Illinois. He was born Carmen Joseph Catania on March 22, 1942, to Frank and Lillian Rosalia (Russo) Catania in Oak Park, Illinois. He was predeceased by his parents, and is survived by his brothers Guy and Frank, along with a number of cousins, nieces, and nephews. He professed Simple Vows as a Conventual Franciscan on July 15, 1963, and Solemn Vows on July 15, 1966.

Br. Angelo’s cousin Ronald Catanzaro said “He was a true son of St. Francis for more than 50 years. He was a great family member, always present in our lives. He’s going to be missed by all.”

Following a few years of service in Chaska and Prior Lake, Minnesota, most of his decades of Franciscan service were spent in southern Indiana at the Mount St. Francis Center for Spirituality, or in Carey, Ohio, at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. Through those years he worked in several different areas: cook, administration, retreat center staff member, and as part of the Shrine’s pilgrimage team.

When he wasn’t greeting the buses at the Shrine in Carey, Br. Angelo was famous for his ‘park-bench ministry,’ either moving from person to person, or sometimes simply staying in one place as the pilgrims came to greet him. He listened to their stories, sharing in their joy or consoling them in their sorrows.

“Brother Angelo will be remembered by thousands of pilgrims to Carey,” said Bishop John Stowe OFM Conv., a former member of the Province who is now Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky. “He was often the face of hospitality for the shrine: he relished greeting the pilgrims as they arrived on buses and sending them off with prayer as they departed. He was also known to have sung a verse of ‘That's Amore,’ especially with Italian-American pilgrims.

“Angelo had a phenomenal memory for birthdays, anniversaries, and family histories. The friars would sometimes tease him for subjecting guests and parishioners to a round of ‘20 questions,’ but it was his way of showing interest and concern for the people that he encountered.”

“Br. Angelo excelled at the ministry of presence,” said Friar Jim Kent OFM Conv. “He had an ability to be truly with people, and always tried to be aware of others’ needs. He had such a listening heart and understood the value of giving people his time. He left a lasting impression on people – they always asked about him. When Angelo came to town, everyone wanted to see him. He always had a list of invitations.”

His last period of service was at Marytown, the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe in Libertyville, Illinois, greeting pilgrims around the Shrine and in the Gift Shop. There he was able to continue his lifelong evening habit of preparing for the next day’s service.

“He always enjoyed the end of the day,” Fr. Kent said, “sitting on the patio, smoking a cigar, and enjoying the presence of God.”

A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday, November 18 at noon in the Chapel at Marytown (1600 West Park Avenue, Libertyville, Illinois, 60048). There will be visitation in Carey, Ohio, from 5pm-6:30pm at the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio, followed by a funeral Mass at 7pm, on November 20. At Mount St. Francis, Indiana, reception of the body will take place at 5 pm on November 25, and vigil and remembrances will begin at 7pm. The funeral in the Mount St. Francis Chapel will be at 11am on November 26, with burial following in the Friars’ cemetery there.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, 103 St. Francis Boulevard, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, 47146 or online by clicking here.

Searching for Something that is True

As part of vocation awareness week, we share a conversation with Friar Bryan Hajovsky OFM Conv. who talks about his own vocation, and how we can all take part in a search for something that is true, leading to a deeper relationship with God. And while we continue to pray for an increase of vocations to the religious life, we shouldn't worry -- the Church is in God's loving hands.

Solar Panels Installed

Solar panels have been installed on roofs of the buildings at Mount St. Francis.

As part of the ongoing Franciscan Earth Care Initiative, this will help bring down utility expenses while helping preserve our natural resources. Other improvements here at Mount St. Francis have included adding a geothermal component to the heating and air conditioning system, and a charging station for electric-powered vehicles.

The Franciscan Earth Care Initiative fosters collaboration between the Conventual Franciscans of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation and local partners in southern Indiana, involving the community in ‘green’ projects, educational programs, volunteer opportunities, and other partnerships.