FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

March 17, 2017

100 seasons

Passion Play cast, crew thank ‘founding fathers’

(On April 1 the St. John Passion Play, produced by friars in Over-the-Rhine for more than 50 years, launches its 100th season. The program for the play includes the following tribute.)

The steeple is all that remains  of St. John Church, site of the Passion Play for decades.In 1917 Fr. Richard Wurth was pastor of St. John Church in Over-the-Rhine. Many of the young men of his parish were fighting on the battlefields during World War I. He and his parishioners were deeply saddened at the loss of eight of their young men who were killed in battle.

Remembering how the peasants of Oberammergau in the Bavarian Alps were spared of the Black Death by vowing to present a passion play, Fr. Wurth put traditional prayer into action.  He engaged his flock in performing a passion play for the safekeeping of their soldiers.  It was to be a prayerful plea to God that there would be no more victims of the battlefield from the parish.   Miraculously, there were none.

With gratitude in their hearts, Fr. Wurth and the congregation vowed to produce a passion play each year thereafter in thanksgiving for answered prayers and continued protection for those serving in the military. In 1918 the St. John Passion Play was officially established. To date, this vow has never been broken.

During this milestone 100th season, we wish to extend our profound gratitude to the multitude of subsequent Franciscan Friars who came after Fr. Wurth for keeping the play alive at St. John Church until its closing in 1969. During those early years, the Friars assumed the directorship and other key positions related to the production of the play. Our hearts are filled with gratitude to these “founding fathers” for their commitment in presenting the passion and death of Jesus. We are grateful to each one and are humbled to follow in their footsteps and preserve this legacy.

The Cast and Crew of The St. John Passion Play

The friars behind the playThis month and next on our Facebook page we’re introducing you to 30 friars who were instrumental in producing the St. John Passion Play. Read their stories daily at: facebook.comThis year the St. John Passion Play will be performed April 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 and 14. For times and locations, visit stjohnpassionplay.orgRead more about the history of the Passion Play at:  2016.sjbnewsnotes

Why is this man running?


Hilarion makes a run for it.Asked by son Michael to run 40 yards for a good cause, David O’Brien had a better idea.

He asked Fr. Hilarion Kistner to do it instead.

David, CFO for St. John the Baptist Province, is a pretty athletic guy, as is his 19-year-old son. It was Michael who heard about the #RunRichRun campaign, through which the NFL Network raises funds for and awareness of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. The premise: Take a video of yourself or someone else running a 40-yard dash, preferably in “work clothes”, and post it to Twitter using the hashtags, #RunRichRun and #StJude.

This year the NFL Network is donating $1 to the hospital for every use of those hashtags on social media.

The NFL Network’s Rich Eisen“I had every intention of doing it,” says David, who is slightly off his game from a torn meniscus. Then one day Hilarion stopped by the office and a lightbulb went off. David said, “We should get you to run the 40-yard dash in your work clothes.” Hilarion, who was active in sports in his school days, readily agreed.

By the way, David just turned 50. Hilarion will be 88 on his next birthday, March 27.

“What do you think of recording it?” David asked us. Of course, we loved the idea. The day of the run, he and Marilyn Wilson trained cameras on Hilarion as he jogged north on Vine Street in front of St. Francis Seraph Friary in Cincinnati.

At the finish line, Hilarion kept going. When he finally stopped, he wasn’t the least bit winded.

David was impressed. More than that, “I was inspired.”

As for Hilarion, he’s willing to do another fun run – all in the name of charity, of course.

(Click youtube to see Fr. Hilarion’s 40-yard dash. To learn more about the NFL Network project, visit:

  • Make a boat from cardboard and duct tape: That was the assignment teacher Br. Chris Cahill gave students in his Engineering II class. On March 6, they headed to the pool to test-drive their inventions. Watch what happened at the Cardboard Boat Regatta, a video posted at
  • A cast and crew of more than 60 students will bring Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma to life April 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and April 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors/students and free for children (age 10 and under).  To reserve seats, email or call (513) 641-1330 ext. 12687.

Flu symptoms are nothing to sneeze at

PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COMOlder adults and people with chronic diseases are more likely to have problems from the flu. It often leads to a hospital stay and can sometimes be fatal.  But this condition is easy to prevent, and proper steps can keep you healthy during flu season.

Flu symptoms are similar in all age groups:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose

You may sometimes have stomach symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  The flu can also lead to:

  • Pneumonia
  • Dehydration

Worsening of chronic conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and heart disease

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Symptoms that don’t improve or get worse after 3-4 days
  • After symptoms improve, you suddenly develop signs of a more serious problem such as nausea, vomiting, high fever shaking, chills, chest pain, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get an annual flu vaccine in the fall.  The pneumonia shots are also a great way to

prevent pneumonia if you’re over 65. Flu mist is a nasal spray flu vaccine that contains a live flu virus.  It isn’t recommended

for adults over 49.

Flu season can go from October to May. Contact your doctor if you get symptoms.  He’ll check for complications and

suggest treatment.  He might prescribe an antiviral medication like Tamiflu, Rapivab, or Relenza.

Other ways to treat the flu in older adults include:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids;
  • Ask the doctor or pharmacist before you take a new over-the-counter cold or flu medicine to make sure it won’t interfere with prescription drugs.

Remember to wash your hands frequently and avoid people who are sick.

Wishing you all a healthy, flu-free season!

Michelle Viacava, RN

Province Nurse

Time to unwind at Friars Club


The kids were ready to cut loose.

March 15 at Friars Club, our Family Fun Night brought together the children, parents and coaches who participated in the three-month-long winter basketball league. The December to March league is a long stretch of four night practices and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. basketball games each Saturday that drew between 600 to 800 children and 70- plus coaches, filling our four courts.

“The evening is a celebration of our winter basketball league which this year was the largest we had, with about 250 children on Friars teams,” said Parrish Ozias, Program Director for Friars Club and coordinator of the event.

PHOTOS BY SCOTT OBRECHT, OFMThe Bubble Balloon Soccer Game was wild.They came to have funAnnie “Radar” TimmonsHitting the slideParrish Ozias at Family Fun Night1 - 5<>The Family Fun Night was an opportunity to get together and just have fun. And fun they had! The almost 58-foot-long long, air-filled obstacle course was a challenge. The small children maneuvered up and around the tunnels, up a simulated rock climbing wall and then head-first down the slide; only to get back in line again.

The Bubble Balloon Soccer Game gathered the spectators who watched the children, shoulder strapped and hand-gripped in, trying to kick the soccer ball while inside the giant ball. The children and staff enjoyed rolling into and sending each other crashing. One little guy ended up inside the ball, flat on his back. He loosened his shoulder straps, released the hand grips and crawled out in sheer excitement.

The Game Truck parked outside the front door offered video games to challenge the kids. There was lots of laughter and smiles as the kids got into it. “The evening was like a banquet, people coming together as team mates, coaches and friends and enjoying the company of each other,” said David Routt, CISE Program Director.

It was a great night of basketball and fun and games, with plenty of food, kids running around and parents taking lots of pictures. “I always enjoy this relaxed evening of fun,” said Executive Director Annie Timmons. “I even had a chance to shoot and see if I still have it. I hit a jumper! Nothing but net reminded me of my old nickname when I played at the old Friars Club – ‘Radar’.”

Thanks to TriHealth for making the evening possible. Each child who participated in the winter basketball league and came for the Family Fun Night received a neat nylon gym bag with “Friars Basketball” and “TriHealth” embroidered on the side.

(Scott is “The Friar at Friars Club”)

  • PHOTOS BY GREG ALLENVolunteers at Song and Spirit SnackPax production went into high gear earlier this week when Secular Franciscans from the Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, Mich., spent the day at the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley, Mich. Helpers filled hand-decorated lunch bags with breakfast bars, juice and fruit cups for Metro Detroit kids who are nutritionally challenged.
  • Check your e-mailbox: In the March issue of our e-newsletter, News from the Friars, Br John Boissy talks about his love of woodworking . John’s column and previous Franciscan Joy columns by friars are also posted in the blog section of our website at:
  • In a special Black History Month program on Feb. 8, three presenters at St. Mary of the Angels Parish in New Orleans celebrated the little-known achievements of The Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry. According to Pastor Dennis Bosse, this unit of African-American troops was established by President Andrew Johnson on July 28, 1866. “The next 30 years they participated in protecting settlers moving west, rescuing Americans during the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900), and spearheading Teddy Roosevelt’s assault on San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.”
  • To ease prejudice and assist in refugee resettlement, a Bishop in Hungary is housing two asylum-seekers from Afghanistan and one from Cuba in his church quarters north of Budapest. Miklos Beer, Bishop of Vac, is concerned that a newly passed law will force removal and relocation of the refugees to a “container camp” on Hungary’s border with Syria. The law says “all migrants will be detained until their asylum requests are processed.” Read more at:
  • “Your videos, your topics, and your perspective are so relevant and necessary today,” is how one viewer responded to Br. Casey Cole’s Lenten blog and video series for Franciscan Media. According to FM, Casey “will guide us through the season, tackling themes such as sacrifice, joy, humility, pleasure, and piety—all to help us gain a better understanding of Lent.” Casey’s first reflections are posted at: Restoring What Has Been Distorted  and Keep Going.  A friar in initial formation with Holy Name Province, Casey shares his experiences in his blog and on his YouTube channel, “Breaking In the Habit: Reflections of a Friar in Training” at:
  • Congratulations to Cedric Michael Cox, the talented art teacher at St. Francis Seraph School in Over-the-Rhine. The Taft Museum of Art will feature an exhibit of his abstract paintings March 17-June 25 in the Sinton Gallery. Cedric’s works were also displayed alongside those of the friars in the Christian Moerlein Christmas Art Show in Over-the-Rhine. Read more at:
  • Don Holtgrewe, Caoimhin Ó Laoide, Reynolds Garland, Dominic LococoLook closely: Last month when General Visitor Fr. Caoimhin Ó Laoide joined the friars for a buffet at Mercy Community at Winton Woods in Cincinnati, one of them couldn’t resist making bunny ears.
  • Need more Lenten inspiration? University of Cincinnati students are sharing their spiritual reflections through the Newman Center blog at:
  • There was good news for those who oppose the plan to drill for oil and gas on the property of the former Duns Scotus College in Southfield, Mich. On Feb. 27, the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality announced that the well on the site of Word of Faith International Christian Center will be plugged by late spring. Speaking in the March 2 edition of the Southfield Sun, the MDEQ said the company doing the exploring, Jordan Development Co., “just recently decided that it is not going to be an economically productive well.” Concerned about the possible environmental impact, residents and the City of Southfield responded with protests and lawsuits when the proposed drilling was announced in January 2016.


PHOTO FROM AQUINAS INSTITUTEDr. Hsin-hsin HuangLast Monday and Tuesday, I participated in the regional CMSM meeting in Belleville, Ill.  Part of our program was  a presentation by an Associate Professor of Pastoral theology at Aquinas Institute, Dr. Hsin-hsin Huang, on the Spirituality of Aging.A delightful presenter, Dr. Huang discussed the physical, relational, psychological and spiritual challenges of the second half of life, which she likes to call the “Journey of Sageing.” She highlighted the insights of Carl Jung, Viktor Frankl, and Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.  She spoke much about the loss of physical abilities, relationships, and roles.  Who am I if I cannot do what I did before?  She spoke of how these losses prepare us for the ultimate letting go in death.  Can we surrender to Love?  She talked about the need to do a life review, forgive self and others, accept limits, deal with regrets, and attend to unfinished business.As I prepare to go on Medicare and move out of the role of Provincial Minister, I found much wisdom to ponder and encouragement in her presentation.  Most helpfully, she grounded her presentation in our sharing in the Paschal Mystery, the dying and rising of Jesus which we celebrate in these days.  It is good to be a person of faith.— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

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FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

100 seasons

Passion Play cast, crew thank, 'founders fathers'

FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

100 seasons

Passion Play cast, crew thank, 'founders fathers'

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

March 17, 2017

100 seasons

Passion Play cast, crew thank, 'founders fathers'

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist