Friars from Our Lady of Consolation Province serve as missionaries in Africa, Russia, Central America, and in the home missions of the southwest United States.
Fr. Juniper Cummings, OFM Conv., Recalls Origins of OLC Province Missions
As young friars studying philosophy in Carey, Ohio, we collected stamps to sell for the missions. A valuable collection was accumulated. This was called the Mission Stamp Mart. The friars bought the first issues of Vatican stamps then sold them. This collection was moved from Carey to Chaska, Minnesota, then to Mount St. Francis, Indiana, when it was sold for over $100,000. Among the workers on this venture were Friars Dismas Veeneman and Conrad Sutter.
The Mission Club was a voluntary group of friars encouraged by Monsignor Hack Wilson of the Toledo Mission Office. The members presented papers on Conventual Franciscan Activities in China, Istanbul, and elsewhere.
Meanwhile the Province was considering its own foreign apostolate. Under discussion was a mission in Siam or some oriental spot, but the Minister General of the Order, Fr. Bede Hess, suggested to his friend Minister Provincial Anthony Hodapp that the OLC Province go to what was then called Northern Rhodesia. Italian friars had started a mission there in 1930.
It was a British Colony at that time. As one can imagine, during World War II Italian friars were not as welcome as those from England, Malta, or the United States. It became an independent country in 1964 and English was declared the official language instead of any of the more than 50 native languages that were spoken in the territory.
In the northwest part of the country, the Catholic Church presence was established by the Conventual Franciscans. The Americans, starting with the first four Rupert Hillerich, Lucian Harkins, Bede Phelps, and Adrian Peck in 1947, went to northern Rhodesia and moved out to the Solwezi Territory that became a Custody of OLC Province and a diocese of Solwezi.
The friars also started a mission of St. Francis in Kalaba with a leprosarium and nationally known girls school. The friars also established Our Lady of Consolation Mission in Lwawu and other missions in Mwinilungo and Mayuko.
In 1998 our Custody joined with the general custody of Ndola and became the Zambian Province with over 100 members, most of whom are native Zambians.
In 1970 the friars received permission to go to Honduras. That mission became another Province Custody, called Mary, Mother of the Poor. There are about 30 friars there, nearly all of them from Central America. There are now several friaries in Honduras, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.
Another of our friars, Fr. Ivan Rohloff, works in the general custody of Russia.
This gives some idea of OLC Mission Activities.
November 11, 2011
Fr. Juniper Cummings, OFM Conv.