June 08, 2017
‘Be with the people’
For Deacon Colin, it’s the key to being a pastor
BY TONI CASHNELLI
With one question – “What was the parish like?” – Br. Colin King is off and running.
We started discussing St. Columbanus at the Provincial Chapter. If life had not intervened, we might still be talking about it. That’s how much Colin loves the South Side Chicago parish where he interned as a transitional deacon.
Saturday, he will be ordained. For the past eight months he has seen firsthand the kind of place he’d like to serve, the kind of priest he wants to be. And it reinforced his desire to minister in Jamaica.
“The church is the anchor of that community,” he says of St. Columbanus, one of Chicago’s oldest African-American parishes. “It’s not a poor parish; it’s in a transitioning neighborhood” encircled by gang turf wars and “the violence Chicago is becoming known for.”
A diocesan parish, “It’s very much Franciscan, very relational, connected to the community, involved in social services,” such as sports for youth and adults, a pantry that distributes 2 million pounds of food per year, and “active and intentional outreach to young men who aren’t making the best decisions in life.”
As for Fr. Matt O’Donnell, the dynamic pastor at St. Columbanus,”I’m really impressed with him,” Colin says. “He has sat down with gang leaders. He does ‘clergy pop-ups’, taking grill-outs to street corners.” From Matt he has learned, “You need to be with the people, go out and train them to be disciples, following the early Church models. A parish so engaged in the community, and not just the Catholic community” reflects “a lot of what Pope Francis is calling us to be.”
Besides sacramental ministry – a baptism, a wedding, funerals, assisting at Mass – Colin did everything from home visits to coffee runs to food distribution, “whatever they invited me to do.” As for preaching, “I think that’s something I’m growing into, something that, as an introvert, scared me in the past. When you preach you have to reveal yourself and your relationship to God; otherwise, you’re reading an essay. Probably the single largest way to influence the people of God is a homily. If it’s good, you can really touch people. If it’s bad, they tune you out.”
Because “Fr. Matt is a wonderful preacher, the standards are very high.” A month into his internship Colin was asked to preach a school Mass – on short notice. “As I was about to process in, Fr. Matt said, ‘I’m your mentor; you’re my transitional deacon. Just don’t suck.’” That took care of the tension.
“One of the great gifts of being there was that people supported me and gave me honest feedback,” Colin says. “One thing that comes to mind was, ‘Make sure to have a good connection with the people in the pews.’” At Catholic Theological Union, he practiced six- to nine-minute homilies. “In an African-American setting, that’s not enough.”
The parallels to worship in Jamaica, where Colin served his STiP year, were striking. “My experience in Jamaica rekindled my vocation,” he says. “I’ve never felt more alive than in my year there.” As a post-ordination ministry, “It was one of my top choices.” More than once he told Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler, “I’m willing to go there at a moment’s notice.”
When the paperwork clears, hopefully by mid-July, Colin will head to Negril to be Associate Pastor at Mary, Gate of Heaven Parish. Entering the Order eight years ago, “I never thought about going to Jamaica, but the Spirit had different plans.”
Ordination is both an ending and a beginning. “Nobody joins religious life for formation,” Colin says. “You enter to do active ministry.”
He sees himself becoming “my authentic self as God called me to be.” And starting Saturday, “My real life begins.”
John Aherne, OFMSaturday at 10:30 a.m., St. Clement Church in Cincinnati will host a double ordination of brothers from Blessed Giles Friary in Chicago. Br. Colin King of SJB Province will be ordained a priest, and Br. John Aherne of Holy Name Province will become a deacon. While the interprovincial nature of the event is unusual, Colin says, “We both felt this is an important step as we move into our future. Part of what we were thinking was, all signs point to restructuring. This is another step in that direction.”
While each province has its own culture, friars trained and formed in interprovincial settings “tend to share much more in common” with each other than with brothers from other generations, says Colin. “I feel a bit closer to some of the guys who entered the way I did, who didn’t go through Duns Scotus or St. Leonard, who probably investigated several religious communities and said, ‘It’s the charism through which I feel the Holy Spirit.’”
Blessed Giles brothers John Aherne, John Barker, Juan de la Cruz Turcios, Dan Horan; front, Henry Beck and Colin King
For those who do not know John, “He is an incredibly talented friar who is very willing to do whatever is necessary, help out any way he can,” Colin says. “His commitment to fraternity is something to model. My experience as a deacon is that you should be willing to be sincere and with the people. John is very much willing to be with the people; he did a Kairos prison ministry this year. That’s pretty intense. His willingness to really engage in that is a good example of what he’ll bring overall. He’s a great preacher and very sincere; that will ultimately be one of his best gifts.”
(John Aherne shares a reflection on his vocation to the Franciscans at: youtube.com)
BY BR. JIM McINTOSH, OFM
HAVANA, CUBA – A group of eight U.S. Franciscan friars visited Cuba as part of a mission trip April 22-29, 2017. The friars visited the city of Havana and the towns of Remedios and Trinidad.
Friars David Convertino, John Frambes, Jim McIntosh, Bill McIntyre, Paul O’Keeffe and Frank Sevola are members of Holy Name Province and Friars David Gaa and Bob Valentine are members of St. Barbara Province.
In Havana, the friars lived with the Cuban friars and shared meals and experiences with them. They wore their habits to Sunday Mass, made home visits to share a meal with parishioners, toured the city and learned about indigenous faith expressions, such as Santería.
In Remedios, they visited families affected by the revolution, both poor and formerly rich, both Catholic and non-religious; and in Trinidad, they learned about the conditions of the slave trade.
“I found seeing and living in a Communist state from the eyes of people who live under that rule to be both enriching and distressing at the same time,” said Bob Valentine. “The people of God that I met were very impressive, courageous and undaunting in the face of the state. The families that we met were excited and had pride in their church.”
Friar Paul O’Keeffe, the mission promoter for Holy Name Province, organized the mission trip. It was the tenth mission trip to Cuba that Paul has organized in the last 13 months. This was the first trip only for friars; the other trips were for parish and school groups. There were two more trips organized for this year, May 20-27 and Nov. 11-18. The next friar trip will be in 2018 at a date to be determined.
For many years following the Cuban revolution in 1959, the government actively tried to suppress religious activity. With the visits of Popes John Paul II (1998), Benedict (2011) and Francis (2015), the state gave increasing concessions to the church. Believers, for example, can now be party members and attend the university.
In 1887, six Basque friars arrived to reestablish the Order of Friars Minor in Cuba. By 1953, there were 105 friars living in 17 friaries throughout the island. They worked in 18 parishes (serving a total of 66 churches and chapels). There were 1,300 students enrolled in 12 parochial schools. There were 12 secular Franciscan fraternities.
After revolution of 1959 and subsequent active suppression of the church by the government – along with various internal problems among the friars – the number shrank drastically. There are now only three solemnly professed friars in Cuba: two elderly friars who are originally from the Basque country and one Cuban friar. There are two simply professed Cuban friars, one studying theology in Havana and one studying in Puerto Rico, and two postulants. There are two candidates living in the friary.
“I saw a very faithful grass-roots church community,” said Frank Sevola. “We saw 40 people in church on Sunday who were really happy to be there. The people we spoke to afterwards love the church and love the friars. The best part of the trip, though, was being with the friars. The way they live was very impressive, almost overwhelming to me: listening to their experience and listening to their needs, but also, just the genuine happiness that they seem to have.”
(Jim McIntosh of Holy Name Province is National Social Media Director for US Franciscans.)
Protective measures keep bugs at bay
Tuck your pants into your socks!
Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain at least 20% DEET (products such as Cutter, Off, and Deep Woods) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs. Here are some other repellents that protect against mosquitoes but not against ticks or other bugs:
Find the EPA-registered insect repellent that is right for you and follow those instructions:
As much as possible wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, hat, etc. Tuck shirt into pants and pants into socks for maximum protection.
Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air-conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. When outdoors, use area repellents such as mosquito coils containing metofluthrin or allethrin.
Now you are ready to embrace the outdoors this summer. Enjoy.
–Michelle Viacava, RN
PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIThe chapel at Duns Scotus FriaryThis week was moving week for me. It’s strange leaving a place because of so many good memories with the friars at Duns Scotus in Berkley, Mich. I enjoyed the structures of our friary – our prayer together, the meals, even “forced rec”! There were many things to laugh about, and a few hurts. Many ways that I learned how to let go, and let God.I found myself in the chapel one night, and then at Eucharist the next morning, thinking about the two Advents and Christmases that we celebrated in that chapel. There was always a lot of work and time in preparing that space. It left me sad initially as I wondered why I was only given two Christmases here. But then something deep within me said, “What did I ever do to deserve those two Christmases?”Our life together is a gift. As some of us move to new assignments, we might feel the sadness of leaving good people and memories, as well as the excitement of the new adventure. We may have difficult feelings of resentment over hurts, or anger over the people left behind. Bringing all those feelings to prayer can nourish our inner life. Paying attention to our inner life with God brings new serenity as God patiently moves us to the deep well of His life.Our life as a Province will be enriched this weekend as Br. Colin King will be ordained a priest. It is significant that Br. John Aherne, from Holy Name, will be ordained a deacon at the same Mass. These ordinations will affect the life of the Franciscan community throughout the United States – and even Jamaica! God bless you, Colin and John, and the many people you will encounter in your future ministry! — Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
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