December 15, 2017
St. Anthony Center dedicated to caring for the homeless
BY TONI CASHNELLI
PHOTOS BY KATE MESSERTop, Bishop Joe Binzer with Vicar Bill Farris; above, ribbon-cutters Lynn Burkhardt, Laurie Nelson, Cary Powell, Mark Soehner, Bill Farris, Chris Schuermann, Pastor John Suguitan, Megan Fischer and Elaine Ward
Two years ago this was office and warehouse space no longer needed by Franciscan Media after downsizing and outsourcing. Today the freshly painted building is abuzz with energy and expectation as civic and religious leaders join friars, friends and tenants to bless a ground-breaking project based upon a simple, sensible plan: Let’s join forces to help the homeless.
It took vision, prayer, persistence and generosity to create St. Anthony Center, a new home for seven non-profits working to improve the lives of their neighbors in inner-city Cincinnati. St. John the Baptist Province, owner of the property, invited groups to move here rent-free and refurbish the interior. Obstacles in construction and paperwork slowed but did not stymie the year-long project.
The end result is an impressive example of collaboration, a bright, modern, safe facility where outreach services for the poor are conveniently clustered, from meals to medical care, from showers to social services.
There’s an air of giddy excitement among the 400 folks gathered for today’s dedication – some of whom can’t quite believe it’s happening.
Preparing for the ribbon-cutting outside St. Anthony Center at 1615 Republic St.All of this is acknowledged in remarks by former Vicar Frank Jasper after a ribbon-cutting by friars and heads of the agencies involved. Frank worked closely to guide the process with Chris Schuermann, Executive Director of the friar-sponsored St. Francis Seraph Ministries, now housed here.
“What a big day!” exclaims a woman scrambling for a seat in front before a short program starts. Shifting to make room, her friend responds, “It is huge!”
In thank-yous to all involved, one name is central and often repeated. Community activist Tom Klinedinst, whose dedication fueled countless province projects over the years, first suggested the Center to Frank. “Well, Father, what do you think?” Tom asked, outlining his plan. Frank’s response was, “I think you’re nuts.”
Top, Charles Klinedinst, Lucie Klinedinst Kober, Thomas Klinedinst III, Diana Klinedinst and George Klinedinst; middle, Annette Wick and Council member Yvette Simpson; above, The Sarah Center gets a blessing from Chris Schuermann.
Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Mann and Council member Yvette Simpson have official roles to play today. But they also have a message. In recent years Over-the-Rhine, this diverse and historic neighborhood, has seen much progress through gentrification. “But if we look carefully, we know many are not being reached by this renaissance,” David says, referring to the poorest residents. “Lord knows their needs are beyond what these agencies [at St. Anthony Center] can do.” We should never rest “until every human being receives support and love from the community at large.” Yvette agrees. “We know collectively we have a lot of work to do.”
She reads a proclamation listing the many contributions of Tom Klinedinst and unveils a street sign with an honorary designation. Hereafter, the intersection of Liberty and Republic streets will also be known as “Thomas J. Klinedinst Jr. Way.” Tom’s family, overwhelmed by the surprise, poses proudly with the sign. “It’s humbling,” says son George.
It’s also a reminder of the power of one, and of how faith can move mountains.
Auxiliary Bishop Joe Binzer will walk through the building with leaders from the seven non-profits to bless each space and its mission. But first, he offers a prayer:
“Let us ask God’s blessing on all those who will be served here,” he says. “May all who enter this space be healed in spirit and body.” And he has a prediction. “This is just Day One for the Center. Thousands will receive help; thousands will receive hope.”
It was standing room only at the Dec. 12 dedication.
Among the guests is Sr. Bonnie Steinlage, FSP. In 1988 she founded [Franciscan Ministries’] Haircuts from the Heart, which operates a mini-salon in St. Anthony Center. Now Bonnie is a volunteer providing a grooming service that helps the homeless regain their dignity and self-esteem. Two years ago when she toured this vacant space and heard about plans for the Center, “I didn’t believe it was possible,” Bonnie says.
As John Quigley joins other friars at a table, a woman stops by to shake his hand.
“I just want to thank you and all of the Franciscans,” she says. “What a fabulous gift to Cincinnati” – a gift that with God’s grace will have an enduring impact.
PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMLeft, Richard Coleman gets a trim from Salon Manager Ida Mueller at Haircuts from the Heart; right, Founder Megan Fischer at Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bankwww.saintanthonycentercincinnati.org
The Center for Respite Care provides medical and nursing care to homeless people who are sick and recuperating as well as assistance in breaking the cycle of homelessness: www.centerforrespitecare.org
Franciscan Ministries’ Haircuts from the Heart provides haircuts for people who are homeless, elderly, disabled or poor at its mini-salon or mobile salon: www.franciscanministriesinc.org
Mary Magdalen House, a personal care facility for the poor and homeless, offers guests a place to shower, use a toilet, receive clean clothing, use a telephone and receive messages and mail: www.marymagdalenhouse.org
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Welcome Home Collaborative is a transitional housing program through which the homeless and working poor can gain work experience by turning distressed or vacant buildings into affordable housing: www.poplcmscinci.org
St. Francis Seraph Ministries, sponsored by St. John the Baptist Province, feeds the urban poor, provides bag lunches to day laborers, teaches women life and work skills through its Sarah Center and helps families learn to cook healthy, affordable meals: www.sfsministries.org
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank provides diapers to low-income families and helps raise awareness of community needs. Website coming soon!
The Tri Health Outreach Ministries Community Health Worker Program inspires clients to live a healthier lifestyle to improve birth outcomes and infant survival: www.trihealth.com
BY TONI CASHNELLI
Bill Spirk, OFM“He was not into buying a lot of stuff,” Bryant Hausfeld says of the late Bill Spirk. When they shared a friary in Alamogordo, N.M.,“He would say, ‘I need shoes’.” Urged to buy a pair, “He would put it off and put it off. He really lived a vow of poverty.”
Last month when Bryant and his brother Bruce went to Thanksgiving dinner at San Juan Diego Friary in Albuquerque, “They had just bought a whole new outfit of clothes for Bill.” He seemed to be doing well. No one imagined he would be gone two days later, quickly and unexpectedly, after suffering cardiac arrest at the age of 72.
Bill died in the Southwest, where he served most of his religious life and where he retired in 2016 with friars of OLG Province. “He was a very quiet person, very frugal, with a dry sense of humor” that was often aimed at fellow friars. “He had all kinds of talent; he was a great guy, but very reserved until he got to know you.”
Left, Bill Spirk at Thanksgiving, two days before he died; right, carrying him to his rest
Bryant lived with Bill in Chinle, Emporia, Alamogordo and Albuquerque. “He did janitorial work mostly. In Alamogordo, he and Bruce shared the cooking during the week.”
In his early life as a friar, “He was a good tailor for the province. He made habits for a long time at Duns Scotus.” After Bill found a home in the Southwest, he never wanted to leave. “The only time he was back there [in Ohio] was when he took care of his mom” in the years before her death in 2002. Living in Centerville, he worked as a janitor at St. Anthony parish in Dayton.
Nov. 23 when Bryant and Bruce joined the friars at the motherhouse in Albuquerque for Thanksgiving, “Bill was there, looking fine in his new clothes and talking.” On Nov. 25, he was stricken at the breakfast table and died after being rushed to the hospital.
“The joke at his funeral was that we should bury him in his new clothes,” Bryant says. “But we buried him in his habit,” with the ashes of his dachshund Odie tucked inside the coffin.
PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COMRemember that your body, mind and spirit are not separate parts of you but the essential ingredients of a whole person. You can’t work on one aspect and not the others.
What is good for one benefits the others.
Growing old is as much a part of our journey toward God as being born was. All the gifts with which we were born came from God, and God wants us to make the most of these gifts as long as we live.
Your efforts to stay fit in mind, body, and spirit as you age are surely pleasing to God.
– Michelle Viacava, RN
Don Miller, OFMI was driving to a dinner engagement after a full day at Provincial Council when I received the call from Dan Anderson about the death of. Don Miller. I had to pull over, I was so shocked. I was able to cancel dinner and go to be with Chris and Mark as they were at St. Margaret Hall with Don during his dying. Jerry Beetz met us there, too.
Just the night before, I had met with Don and his Hospice nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital to discuss his going into Hospice. We had spoken by cell phone with his sister, Dorothy, and Don let her know that he didn’t want to continue treatment. I think that all of us thought that Don still had more time.
But he embraced Sister Death the very next day, Tuesday, Dec. 12. On the morning of the 13th, Bill Farris was preaching on the reading from the Prophet Isaiah, who asks, “Do you not know, have you not heard?” Bill was encouraging us that we “that hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” And the Gospel that day was about the heavily burdened becoming yoked with Jesus only to discover genuine rest.
In line with Bill’s powerful preaching, I bring my sadness to God, my discouragement by the weary world, the fact that this is the eighth provincial death since May, only to discover that God is doing something that I could never have imagined. Sometimes when things go south, it does feel like I’ve never heard this Good News before. Guess that’s why we have Advent. To trust again, that in the darkness of this hemisphere, a new light is dawning.
— Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
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PHOTOS BY KATE MESSERTop, Bishop Joe Binzer with Vicar Bill Farris; above, ribbon-cutters Lynn Burkhardt, Laurie Nelson, Cary Powell, Mark Soehner, Bill Farris, Chris Schuermann, Pastor John Suguitan, Megan Fischer and Elaine WardGod only knows how it all came together.
Later there are tours of the renovated areas and a reception in the Mother Teresa Dining Room, named for the revered champion of the poor. Formerly housed in the basement of nearby St. Francis Seraph School, the new facility that seats 250 guests It was standing room only at the Dec. 12 dedication.is expanding service from three to five weekday dinners and adding breakfasts Monday through Friday.
PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMLeft, Richard Coleman gets a trim from Salon Manager Ida Mueller at Haircuts from the Heart; right, Founder Megan Fischer at Sweet Cheeks Diaper BankSt. Anthony Center: www.saintanthonycentercincinnati.org
Left, Bill Spirk at Thanksgiving, two days before he died; right, carrying him to his restIn later years, “I think he had a hard time figuring out where to fit in, at what friary. He lived for his dog, his friends, and cigarettes,” says Bryant, homilist for Bill’s Nov. 29 funeral at San Juan Diego Chapel. “Every place he was, he had just a few super-close friends and he kept in contact with them.” The death last winter of Odie, his beloved miniature dachshund, was hard for Bill to bear.