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

www.franciscan.org

August 17, 2017

New faces, new focus for Vocation Office

BY TONI CASHNELLI

PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIPage Polk and Richard Goodin: Their role is “the pastoral careof men interested in joining the friars.”Earlier today they were talking to a bouncer from Little Rock, Ark.

That’s “bouncer” as in, one who ejects troublemakers from a bar. This bouncer was asking about a life with the friars.

Fr. Page Polk and Fr. Richard Goodin, the new Vocation Team for SJB Province, did not seem surprised by his inquiry. They expect to hear from men in various stages of a spiritual journey. But at this point, they’re still settling in.

 “We’re trying to find the floor,” says Associate Director Richard, referring to more than the unpacked clutter in their office at Mt. Airy. “Once we find that, we’ll know where to go forward.”

 Adds Director Page, “We’re just trying to get a sense of what’s here, what’s been done, what needs to be done in terms of mechanical things,” like setting up Internet accounts and hiring vendors.

 It’s much the same for any friar starting a new assignment. But for this team, there’s an added dimension of uncertainty. “Depending on what the Provincials decide” about reconfiguration in America, Page says, “we’re very aware this office may look very different in a short period of time.”

 In the future, “As we talk to guys, it’s going to be a different approach to say, five years ago. Then, they were talking about men joining a province. Now the idea is mission. We’re inviting men to join a fraternity in mission.”

“We’re trying to find the floor,” Richard says.The new role

Many friars have “concrete boots in the province,” says Richard, who was solemnly professed in 2011, more than 25 years after Page. “I don’t think it will be as difficult for the guys coming in.” When Richard entered, “‘Province’ didn’t register to me. I spent seven years in formation being ‘broadened’ into the Order.”

 Things began to change in the ‘80s, Page says, “when this province started school at Catholic Theological Union” in Chicago. “That opened the door to the Order” and suddenly, “Friars were friars. For me personally, that’s a very different concept that a geographical entity.” Nowadays, “The mindset [of prospective friars] is very different.”  His new role, he says, is “the pastoral care of men interested in joining the friars. That’s what Richard and I are all about.”

 As Richard sees it, “Our success will be measured if we are fulfilling our mission to whoever contacts us. We have to look at the men coming: Do they fit? We can’t slap a number on them.”

 But others will. “How many men in our province equate the success of the office with the number of men you bring in?”, Page asks. The answer is, a lot. But times have changed. “Families do not support vocations as they used to. The Church is not different, but the world in which the Church exists is different. The world is so much more mobile.” Among many young men, “There’s not the sense of wanting or being able to visualize a long-term commitment.”

Be happy

Where do you find new friars? “I don’t see us taking a machete and beating the bushes,” Page says. In this day and age, “Every one of us is a vocation director,” so the image you project is important. When men see a community, “Do they see us as basically happy, healthy people?” Rule No. 1 is, “Be nice and happy.” Having an engaging Southern accent – Page is from Texas, Richard from Kentucky – doesn’t hurt, either.

They seem to complement each other. “Page is already well known from the FIT team” where he helped to shape the reconfiguration process, Richard says. “He’s been a leader of a lot of different outfits. He is quintessentially Southern; interacting and building relationships requires a softer touch with manners and politeness.”

As for Richard, Page says, “He is intelligent, bright, energetic, enthusiastic, and has the ability to think of things with a new slant.” Richard has already updated and unified the Vocation Office social media accounts into a single “Become a Friar” brand. He plans to closely track inquiries, possibly by posting a tally board on the office wall. A quick response is key, he says. “People just have to be responded to” when they inquire.

Page wonders, “How effective are the ways we’ve been advertising? How are the ‘Come and Sees’ done? How can that be done differently? Certain dioceses do canoe trips. Some monastic communities have you stay with them for 10 days. What does God want us to do?”

Photo opp

While he speaks we are snapping photos for the newsletter. As Richard and Page pose in the hallway before a San Damiano Cross, the doorbell rings. A smiling young man says he is looking for Fr. Page in the Vocation Office. Inviting him in, we take some quick pics in front of the building before Page heads back to the guest in his office.

So what happened with the bouncer who called earlier?

“I don’t know what God wants him to do,” Page says. Whatever the outcome, he is sure of one thing.

In parish work he would tell the staff, “If you and I do something today that brings people closer to the Lord, we’ve done our work.”

Media message

Starting fresh, the new Vocation team has renamed its social media accounts. Facebook is: https://www.facebook.com/becomeafriar/; Twitter is:  https://twitter.com/becomeafriar. The link to the Vocation page of the province website is: http://franciscan.org/become-a-friar. Photos and videos are on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/becomeafriar/

Ready for a solar show?

Suddenly we are a nation of nerds, reading everything we can on sky science, swamping websites for glasses that protect us from the dangerous rays of the sun.

Most of us do not live in the Path of Totality, but we’re still jazzed about the solar eclipse sweeping the country Aug. 21. To help you prepare, this map shows what time the umbral cone reaches its maximum coverage in areas where many SJB friars will be watching.

In Cincinnati, where a viewing party kicks off at 12:30 p.m. at Washington Park, they’re expecting a respectable 91% eclipse. Although it’s less in New Orleans, 70 to 80%, the city is reportedly sold out of safety glasses. Wherever you are when the moon crosses the sun, be sure to shield your eyes to avoid retinal damage. The people at NASA, and they should know, have compiled a list of safe viewing tips at eclipse2017.nasa.gov. For those who are totally unprepared, CNN has a “Slackers’ Guide” to the eclipse of the century: cnn.com.

Many TV stations will break into regular programming to broadcast the first coast-to-coast total eclipse in 99 years. It’s by far the safest way to watch – you can stare all you want.

–Toni Cashnelli

  •  U.S. provincial ministers have released a statement condemning the violence that erupted last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. Attached to the newsletter e-mail, it reads in part: “To avoid future instances of the tragic violence that tore not only the community of Charlottesville but also the fabric of our nation, we call for a renewed commitment to respectful dialogue by all, whereby our opinions and differences can be shared in constructive and illuminating ways that lead to the possibility of growth and conversion for all.”
  • In an e-mail reporting on his busy summer in Savanna-la-mar, Pastor Saleem Amir thanked Brothers Louie Zant and Chris Meyer for their fraternal support in a time of transition. But, he said, “I feel sad about brother Louie’s returning to the USA after serving God’s people for 17 years. He lives in the heart of Louie Zant, OFMJamaicans and they really love him. He is a great model of sincere service and Franciscan spirituality. His way of living has touched the lives of many and they also are sad about his going back home. We wish him all the best for his future ministry.” Louie will be part of the new St. Moses the Black Friary in Detroit.
  • This week parishioners and friars of Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, welcomed a guest bearing a happy surprise. Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago brought a donation of $100,000 to the church on behalf of the Vatican. According to CBS Channel 4 of the Rio Grande Valley, “The fund was given to help with the construction of the new Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen. The new facility will be dedicated to provide assistance for immigrants and refugees coming to the area.” For three years the church’s parish center has served as a way station for migrants crossing the border. “Catholic Charities plans to have the center completed by late 2019. In the meantime, they will continue to service immigrants in their temporary center.”
  • According to Franciscan Media, you can now access Saint of the Day through Amazon Alexa. “Use this as both part of your daily update or an interactive skill!” Learn more here: hubs.ly.
  • Responding to racism and events in Charlottesville, Va., Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati shared this message with priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati: thecatholictelegraph.com
  • If you’ve never attended a Polka Mass, here’s your chance. Family Fun Day, one of the biggest events of the year at St. Francis Retreat House, kicks off at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, in the chapel. The Changing Times Quartet accompanies a liturgy you never forget. A picnic – only $5 for homemade food and treats – follows from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the lawn. The ever-popular Tricky Tray is back, along with a raffle that includes $1,800 in cash prizes. Join the friars at one of the prettiest places in Easton, Pa.
  • Interesting story on the Order’s website about the color of the habit and what Francis thought about it. See: ofm.org
  • Tom Klinedinst, Jr.St. Francis Seraph Ministries pays tribute to the late Thomas Klinedinst Jr. on its website at sfsministries.org. Tom, board chair for SFS Ministries, died July 4 from complications following heart surgery. The tribute reads in part: “Tom was a quiet giver who worked diligently every day to make sure the marginalized in our city feel welcome and know that someone cares about them.  Tom’s contribution  of his time, his knowledge and abilities to support numerous non-profit organizations for over 40 years of volunteer service is truly unprecedented….Tom, you are missed so much and were a blessing to so many.  God love you.”

Pastor finding his way in Jamaica

BY FR. SALEEM AMIR, OFM

(There’s no shortage of summer activities to keep new pastor Saleem Amir busy at St. Joseph Church in Savanna-la-mar and St. Mark Church in Grange Hill, as we learned in a recent e-mail from Jamaica.)

The theme of summer camp: “Jesus Lovesthe Little Children”.Youth rally

Soon after my installation as pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Savanna-la-mar, our parish was assigned to host the diocesan Youth Rally on July 22. It was a big event for the diocese of Montego Bay. There were more than 500 participants from all over the parishes in the diocese. It went very smoothly.

Summer camp

After that we had a summer camp for the kids of St. Mark Church. The theme was “Jesus Loves the Little Children”. This five-day summer camp had almost 50 kids. Sr. Joan and myself spoke on God’s love, parents’ love, love for one another, obedience to our parents and Mary as the Mother of Christ Jesus.

Guest speaker Tomekia Hogg spoke on love in the family. Each talk was followed by a group discussion and then also very enriching feedback. The children came out with touching and inspiring sharing. Besides all this we also had a lot of singing, dancing and fun. The last day of our summer camp was at the beach in Negril. Some of the kids had never been to the beach and for them it was an exciting and lovely experience.

Pastor Saleem, far right, joined the children for a picnic.Visiting prisoners

I was invited by Mr. Ahmati and Mr. Hyaat to come with them to visit the prisoners in Savanna-la-mar, just 15 minutes’ drive from the parish house. We were warmly welcomed by the jailer, who then also led us inside. There were 18 prisoners in two small cells. It was indeed a miserable condition that they were in. They stood in their small corridor in two groups, as the small corridor did not have the capacity to hold all of them at the same time for prayer.

We began our prayers with the hymn, “We are together again just praising”, followed by a passage from the Gospel of Matthew and then a short reflection on it. Later we shared some food with the prisoners. This visit reminded me also of my visits to prisons in Karachi (Pakistan). I will continue this jail-ministry.

Blessing houses

Sr. Joan and I have also started blessing houses in Grange Hill.  The parishioners of St. Mark are mostly poor. They live in board houses where there is also a shortage of water, as I discovered on my visits to them on Tuesday mornings.

The kids of this area are full of life, zeal and enthusiasm. They are creative and talented. The people feel very happy to have a priest coming to their houses for blessing. The purpose of this house-blessing is to know them and their situations personally. This visit has multiple purposes such as anointing the sick, bringing Holy Communion to the old and food distribution. During this visit I experience many wounded realities of our poor people of this area. There are some who are totally abandoned by their own families and live in small board houses with almost no facilities at all.

Franciscan spirit

I have also formed a group of OFS, Youfra and Lifra. Through these small groups I want to promote Franciscan spirituality. The people have already been given a short talk on this spirituality but I feel that there is still more to share with them.

Training altar servers

The kids from King’s Valley and Grange Hill love to be the altar servers, which I also appreciate very much. They need some training in this area and I am going to hold some special classes.

Life at St. Joseph’s

At St. Joseph we are going to start the adoration to the blessed sacrament on the first Friday of each month, visiting the families and blessing their houses, visiting the sick in the hospitals and houses, training the altar servers, choir practice for Sunday worship, seeking volunteers for the cleaning of the church weekly, starting Sunday school and a group of Legion of Mary.

The parishioners of St. Joseph are quite different from St. Mark Church. They are educated, economically well established and hold good jobs. There are many who are very generous and are always there to assist to the needs of the church in any way possible.  I am very hopeful that we as an international family will able to bring more life to the church, making it a more vibrant and creative community.

“The problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms. Wherever any minority is persecuted and marginalized because of its religious convictions or ethnic identity, the wellbeing of society as a whole is endangered and each one of us must feel affected.”

–Speech to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Rome, October 2013.

Sr. Daria Mitchell, center, notarizing formsat St. Clement.I’ve often been asked why St. Francis is frequently portrayed with a skull at his feet. (The statue of St. Francis near Corpus Christi Parish in Cincinnati sparked several such questions while I was associate pastor there.) I usually came up with an answer that referred to Sister Death, or to the beautiful way that St. Francis accepted his own death. I also liked to throw in the quotation I saw once on a small ossuary in Italy: The bones are speaking: “What you are, we once were. What we are, you will be.”

This is not to say that we Franciscans are spared of the human fear of death, and the procrastination that comes when we must consider our own dying. I was reminded of this procrastination when I found under a pile of papers on my desk the new DPOA forms from last month. We are to sign, notarize and return them to Dan Anderson. I have ready access to a notary almost next door to my office, and yet several weeks passed before I resolutely marched myself to Sr. Daria’s office with my papers and pen in hand to have my little confrontation with my own mortality.

 

— Fr. Bill Farris, OFM

 

 

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

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

PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIPage Polk and Richard Goodin: Their role is “the pastoral careof men interested in joining the friars.”Earlier today they were talking to a bouncer from Little Rock, Ark.

“We’re trying to find the floor,” Richard says.The new role

  •  U.S. provincial ministers have released a statement condemning the violence that erupted last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. Attached to the newsletter e-mail, it reads in part: “To avoid future instances of the tragic violence that tore not only the community of Charlottesville but also the fabric of our nation, we call for a renewed commitment to respectful dialogue by all, whereby our opinions and differences can be shared in constructive and illuminating ways that lead to the possibility of growth and conversion for all.”

The theme of summer camp: “Jesus Lovesthe Little Children”.Youth rally

Pastor Saleem, far right, joined the children for a picnic.Visiting prisoners

Sr. Daria Mitchell, center, notarizing formsat St. Clement.I’ve often been asked why St. Francis is frequently portrayed with a skull at his feet. (The statue of St. Francis near Corpus Christi Parish in Cincinnati sparked several such questions while I was associate pastor there.) I usually came up with an answer that referred to Sister Death, or to the beautiful way that St. Francis accepted his own death. I also liked to throw in the quotation I saw once on a small ossuary in Italy: The bones are speaking: “What you are, we once were. What we are, you will be.”

This is not to say that we Franciscans are spared of the human fear of death, and the procrastination that comes when we must consider our own dying. I was reminded of this procrastination when I found under a pile of papers on my desk the new DPOA forms from last month. We are to sign, notarize and return them to Dan Anderson. I have ready access to a notary almost next door to my office, and yet several weeks passed before I resolutely marched myself to Sr. Daria’s office with my papers and pen in hand to have my little confrontation with my own mortality.

 

— Fr. Bill Farris, OFM

 

 

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