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

www.franciscan.org

September 7, 2017

Sleep in heavenly peace

Franciscan church is a haven for the homeless

BY TONI CASHNELLI

Above, PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLITina Christopher at St. Boniface; below, “sacred sleep” in a safe havenAt midday, offices begin to empty as workers hit the sidewalk for their lunch break in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Some head to the nearest cafe; others walk to St. Boniface Church for the noontime Mass.

There they will find at least half the pews are occupied by people stretched out and covered with blankets of every description. If not for this Franciscan parish, they would be somewhere on the streets.

It’s like this every weekday, says Tina Christopher, Operations Manager for The Gubbio Project. Eucharist is celebrated at St. Boniface at 12:15 p.m. “with the folks right there sleeping.” It makes perfect sense, she explains. During the day, homeless people – referred to here as “unhoused” – need a place to be. The church has plenty of room. “It’s empty all day,” says Tina. “Why not open the doors?”

The Gubbio Project, co-founded in 2004 by St. Barbara's Fr. Louis Vitale, an outspoken advocate for peace and justice issues, is named for a central story in the life of St. Francis. When Francis brokered peace between the townsfolk of Gubbio and a marauding wolf, he was seeking common ground. The Project aims to help “housed parishioners and visitors of the church connect with their unhoused neighbors,” according to its website. “It’s a story of working together,” Tina says, “a win-win situation.” In a parish where Mass is celebrated in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, collaboration is second nature.

PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLISt. Boniface in the Tenderloin district is staffed by friars of St. Barbara Province.From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., the sanctuary offers 200 or more guests what Tina calls “sacred sleep”, away from the elements, safe from those who prey upon the homeless when they are most vulnerable. In parts of the Tenderloin, which routinely makes the news for shootings, robberies, drugs and prostitution, survival is a matter of vigilance. Ever-watchful on the streets, those who are homeless try to manage without sleep, the basic need that those with housing take for granted.

“They are in all different states of mental capacity,” Tina says of her guests, and are welcome “as long as it doesn’t disturb the whole.” Asked how she deals with the depression that surrounds her, she points to a statue of the crucified Christ. “He gave me everything I need to be here.”

The Gubbio Project offers the homeless more than a place to rest. Volunteers dispense blankets, razors, toothbrushes, headache pills – simple necessities that boost self-esteem and take the edge off street life. Just as important is “giving them that listening ear,” Tina says. On the street, “So many folks don’t want to see them or talk to them.”

She encourages others “to look them in the eye and say ‘hi’. Then give them a minute to respond to you. One of the gifts we can give to people is ourselves.”

(Two years ago The Gubbio Project expanded to nearby St. John the Evangelist Church. Learn more at: thegubbioproject.org)

‘Open the Doors’

Al Mascia, OFMYears ago when friar composer Br. Al Mascia heard about the Gubbio Project in San Francisco, he was inspired to write a song. One of the verses to Open the Doors begins:

There’s a church in San Francisco

where the pastor’s very brave.

He lets the homeless in each day

and they sleep within the nave.

You can hear the song and follow along with the lyrics at:

songandspirit.bandcamp.com

A new beginning

16 enter Interprovincial Postulancy in Maryland

BY MATT RYAN and JOSHUA TAGOYLO

PHOTO BY CARL LANGENDERFER, OFMThe new postulants come from the U.S., Vietnam, Mexico, El Salvador and Nigeria.(Earlier this year the seven provincial ministers of the United States announced the creation of an interprovincial postulancy program. The new program, which began last month, is located at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md. Below, two postulants share an update on the first few weeks in the program.)

On Wednesday, Aug. 23, we were blessed to have 16 postulants enter the first interprovincial postulancy program for the Order of Friars Minor in the United States.

The names, ages, hometowns and provinces of the new postulants are:

Andrew Aldrich, 26, of Mishawaka, Ind. – Assumption BVM Province

Andrew Dinegar, 51, of New York City – St. Barbara Province

Ian Grant, 33, of Bergen County, New Jersey – Holy Name Province

Raphael and Matt with Carl LangenderferChase Lopez, 27, of Storm Lake, Iowa – Holy Name Province

Matt Lorch, 40, of Indianapolis – Holy Name Province

Raphael Ozoude, 22, of Lagos, Nigeria – St. John the Baptist Province

Daniel Mayer, 24, of Houma, La. – Sacred Heart Province

Salvador Mejia, 47, of Acambaro, Mexico – St. Barbara Province

Loren Moreno, 33, of New York City – Holy Name Province

John Neuffer, 33, of Durham, N.C. – Holy Name Province

Richard Phillip, 40, of Camden, N.J. – Holy Name Province

Carlos Portillo, 32, of San Vicente, El Salvador – Holy Name Province

Matt Ryan, 46, of Covington, Ky. – St. John the Baptist Province

Josh Tagoylo, 24, of Hayward, Calif. – St. Barbara Province

Nhan Ton, 40, of Saigon, Vietnam – Sacred Heart Province

Steven Young, 29, of Canton, Mass. – Holy Name Province

Tau crosses were handmade by Luis Rosado of Holy Name Province.We have men from a diverse group of of ages, heritages, and provinces. God is good! After orientation, we took part in an in-house compass retreat in which we opened up to each other and reflected on the directions our lives are taking. That weekend, with openness, we joined the friars at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City to witness the Aug. 26 solemn vows of Brothers Casey Cole, OFM, and Ramoncito Razon, OFM, of Holy Name Province. The solemn profession of our brothers before the Franciscan community, including our General Minister, was a poignant way to mark so many fresh beginnings.

On Aug. 31, Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM, the provincial minister of St. John the Baptist Province, was the celebrant for a welcome Mass at Holy Name College, officially marking the beginning of the first interprovincial OFM postulancy program in United States. Members of the formation team presented each postulant with a Tau cross that was handmade by novice Luis Rosado of Holy Name Province.

The Secretaries of Formation – Martin Ibarra, OFM (of St. Barbara Province), Carl Langenderfer, OFM (St. John the Baptist), Ralph Parthie, OFM (Sacred Heart), and Kim Studwell, OFM (Assumption BVM) – as well as friars from Holy Name Province including members of the Holy Name College and St. Camillus Parish friar communities – all joined in the Eucharist and ceremony. This was followed by a festive social and dinner.

The postulants look forward to a fruitful year of discernment and service.

(Matt Ryan of St. John the Baptist Province and Joshua Tagoylo of St. Barbara Province are members of the 2017-18 postulant class.)

  • Hurricane Heart tilesThe program had been scheduled “as a way of bringing people together” in a climate of intolerance and political upheaval, says Br. Al Mascia of the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace. It seemed especially timely for Song and Spirit to host a storytelling event about how the country of Denmark acted to save its Jewish population during the Holocaust. Then the hurricane happened. Now the planned appearance by storyteller Corinne Stavish has become a fund-raiser to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey. Corinne will appear at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 8, at Unity of Royal Oak, 2500 Crooks Road in Royal Oak, Mich. All funds collected at the program will go to hurricane relief efforts in Houston, including the Jonah Maccabee Foundation/Save the Children Harvey Relief, and the Houston Food Bank Senior Box Program. An admission donation of $10 is requested. In addition, Hurricane Heart tiles created by Mary Gilhuly of Song and Spirit will be available for sale to benefit Harvey’s victims (12 tiles were made; a minimum donation of $50 is asked for each). These days, Al says, “There is a greater need than ever for people to do the right thing.”
  • “I am grateful to God that Jamaica is out of Hurricane Irma’s path,” missionary Fr. Jim Bok writes. “But my delight is another’s plight and I am sorry for all those being and to be pummeled by Irma. My brothers and sisters in the Caribbean will be devastated far beyond Harvey or Irma’s U.S. destruction. They do not have a Federal Government to help them recover—another great blessing of the USA.”
  • Newly ordained Bishop Alfred SchlertBr. Ed Demyanovich, Fr. Henry Beck and Sr. Regina Rokosny of St. Francis Retreat House in Easton were able to attend the events surrounding the ordination of Monsignor Alfred Schlert as Bishop of Allentown, Pa. Regina and Ed went to Vespers on the eve of the ordination, and Henry attended the ordination Mass Aug. 31 at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown. “He has served as a priest in the diocese for 30 years, and recently he was the Vicar General of the diocese,” Henry says of the new Bishop. In addition, “He has served on the SFRH Board for several years. In the interim of waiting upon a new bishop to be named for the diocese, he served as the Diocesan Administrator.” Happily, Msgr. Schlert’s parents, this year celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary, were there to see their son ordained.
  • The wild West got a little wilder recently when Fathers Dennis Bosse, Manuel Viera and Art Espelage  Friars with Western legendsdrifted into Tombstone, Ariz., to visit with Fr. Matthias Crehan. “We had a great time,” Dennis says of their trip to the town made famous in the late 1800s as the site of the legendary shootout between the Earps and the Clanton gang. “We walked Main Street” – which looks a lot like it did in the old days – “and saw some of the sights before having lunch. The two men dressed up and in the picture with us were portraying Doc Holiday, whom I am standing by, and Virgil Earp. Many of the folks who work there are dressed for this period.” In case you were wondering, Dennis says, “The Gunfight at the OK Corral actually took place in a back alley of Tombstone.”

PHOTO BY CARL LANGENDERFER, OFMMark Soehner with Raphael Ozoude and Matt Ryan in Silver Spring, Md.Fall is a time for beginnings. I think one of the reasons that teachers love the first day of school is that it offers an opportunity, an opening, and a threshold for something new to happen. Here in Cincinnati after Labor Day, there’s a hint of coolness in the air and a sense of anticipation. What new event will happen?

Last Thursday, Aug. 31, two new SJB postulants began their year of postulancy with 14 others from the six sending provinces at Holy Name Friary in Silver Spring, Md. Matthew Ryan and Raphael Ozoude III were accepted for our Province at an evening Mass at which I was privileged to preside.  Both Matthew and Raphael beamed as Carl Langenderfer blessed the Tau crosses.

PHOTOS BY CARL LANGENDERFER, OFMThe new classmates prepared the music for the Mass.They and their new classmates had prepared the music for the Mass. Raphael shared his talent for playing the bongos. Afterward, the dining room buzzed with the chatter of new classmates. It was great to feel the energy of new Franciscans.

Do you remember your first experience of living with the friars?  What was that like?  Maybe our newest brothers would like to hear about it. You can write to Matthew and Raphael at: 1650 St. Camillus Dr., Silver Spring, MD 20903-2559.

 

Your brother,

— Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM

 

 

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

ARCHIVES

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

Above, PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLITina Christopher at St. Boniface; below, “sacred sleep” in a safe havenAt midday, offices begin to empty as workers hit the sidewalk for their lunch break in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Some head to the nearest cafe; others walk to St. Boniface Church for the noontime Mass.

PHOTO BY CARL LANGENDERFER, OFMThe new postulants come from the U.S., Vietnam, Mexico, El Salvador and Nigeria.(Earlier this year the seven provincial ministers of the United States announced the creation of an interprovincial postulancy program. The new program, which began last month, is located at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md. Below, two postulants share an update on the first few weeks in the program.)

Tau crosses were handmade by Luis Rosado of Holy Name Province.We have men from a diverse group of of ages, heritages, and provinces. God is good! After orientation, we took part in an in-house compass retreat in which we opened up to each other and reflected on the directions our lives are taking. That weekend, with openness, we joined the friars at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City to witness the Aug. 26 solemn vows of Brothers Casey Cole, OFM, and Ramoncito Razon, OFM, of Holy Name Province. The solemn profession of our brothers before the Franciscan community, including our General Minister, was a poignant way to mark so many fresh beginnings.

  • Hurricane Heart tilesThe program had been scheduled “as a way of bringing people together” in a climate of intolerance and political upheaval, says Br. Al Mascia of the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace. It seemed especially timely for Song and Spirit to host a storytelling event about how the country of Denmark acted to save its Jewish population during the Holocaust. Then the hurricane happened. Now the planned appearance by storyteller Corinne Stavish has become a fund-raiser to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey. Corinne will appear at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 8, at Unity of Royal Oak, 2500 Crooks Road in Royal Oak, Mich. All funds collected at the program will go to hurricane relief efforts in Houston, including the Jonah Maccabee Foundation/Save the Children Harvey Relief, and the Houston Food Bank Senior Box Program. An admission donation of $10 is requested. In addition, Hurricane Heart tiles created by Mary Gilhuly of Song and Spirit will be available for sale to benefit Harvey’s victims (12 tiles were made; a minimum donation of $50 is asked for each). These days, Al says, “There is a greater need than ever for people to do the right thing.”

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

Tau crosses were handmade by Luis Rosado of Holy Name Province.We have men from a diverse group of of ages, heritages, and provinces. God is good! After orientation, we took part in an in-house compass retreat in which we opened up to each other and reflected on the directions our lives are taking. That weekend, with openness, we joined the friars at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City to witness the Aug. 26 solemn vows of Brothers Casey Cole, OFM, and Ramoncito Razon, OFM, of Holy Name Province. The solemn profession of our brothers before the Franciscan community, including our General Minister, was a poignant way to mark so many fresh beginnings.

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