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Tim Tubbs, a 25 year old from Lafayette, IN (pictured on the left), and Jake Schwendinger, a 23 year old from Little Falls, MN (pictured on the right), joined us at Saint Anthony Friary for a Come and See weekend. Tim is a cook at Applebee's and Jake is a senior at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH. Jake also spent a few months in Jamaica last academic year in Jamaica. As it turned out, the group he was with ended up living next door to our brothers in Savanna-la-mar. This weekend was the first of five Come and See weekends scheduled for this year.
The weekend program proved to be a full and productive experience for Jake and Tim. Accompanied through much of the time by our present Postulants, the two men got a little taste of Franciscan Life and what they might expect if they decide to seek application to our province. Their discernment will continue under the direction of the Holy Spirit--with the Vocation Director assisting and trying to stay our of the Spirit's way. :-)
We are also revving up for the Feast of Saint Francis on Thursday of this week. Wednesday evening we will celebrate the Transitus of Saint Francis (his passing through death to life) here at our friary. Then on Thursday we will have a gathering at our headquarters downtown. I hope to have pictures of these events as they take place.
If you are in the Cincinnati area and would like to join us for the Transitus, please call 513-541-2146 to let us know. You are more than welcome.
Yesterday, Friday, we bid farewell to the Franciscan Center and to one another as our Mega Conference came to an end. The OFMs were responsible for the morning Liturgy and I was the celebrant. (Paul Schloemer, O.F.M. Conv., the priest who was the Celebrant on Wednesday, took some pictures for me.) Jacob-Matthew Smith, O.F.M. from the Commissariat of the Holy Land led the music and David Liedl, T.O.R again played the piano.
When I arrived home last evening the weather here in Cincinnati was much as it had been in Tampa--hot. But we do not have the mysterious Spanish Moss growing from our trees. I call it "mysterious" because it just kind of grows wherever it wants to. All it needs is something to hang on to and some humidity and off it goes. (You can see it hanging from the trees in the picture on the left.) Another example of God's creative imagination.
What would I say I gained from the Conference? A good shot in the arm! It is difficult to explain, but spending a week with fellow Vocation Directors and brother Franciscans sharing prayer and input and socials does something to one's spirit. I came home feeling affirmed and encouraged to keep putting effort into my ministry and with a deeper realization that I am about God's work. It is God who calls men to join our community as Francis himself said so well: "The Lord gave me brothers." Maybe I also came home with a new "technique" or two as well, but those are the minor benefits. The real gift is being with one another and knowing there are a group of brothers out there doing what I'm doing for the very same reason and with the very same motivation--and that is encouraging.
Yesterday was another day of large group discussion led by Dominic Monti, O.F.M. Michael Lorentsen, O.F.M.Conv. makes a point in the picture on the far right. It was also the day that the Conventual Franciscans were responsible for prayer. Pictured is Paul Schloemer, O.F.M.Conv. leading us at the Eucharist. We ended the day by all going out to dinner together.
Today we met for "family" meetings. That means that we broke into our individual Orders to discuss our own common issues and concerns. We Franciscans (O.F.M.s) looked into a number of issues including some of the things we are doing to animate interest in vocations here in the States and in Ireland and England. It is good to share ideas and to learn from one another. It appears that we are all doing well and have good energy for our ministries. Tonight we are going out to dinner in our smaller groups and then tomorrow morning we will all meet again in a large group to finalize our conference.
Pictured on the left are David Liedl, T.O.R at the piano and Vincent Gluc, O.F.M. Conv. leading us in music. Our prayer times and Eucharists have been simple yet rich as we join our voices in praising God. We are all brothers when we gather in prayer.
From the pictures it does look like a beautiful place to spend for reflection and conversation. Enjoy the rest of your week.
The Franciscan Center is a ministry of the Franciscan Sister of Allegheny, NY and is proving to be a very pleasant place for our gathering. It is situated on a picturesque river and there is a great deal of wild life, especially birds, around. It's a good setting for quiet reflection as well as Charlie Martinez, O.F.M. found out.
On the left, John Russo and Miguel Ramirez, Capuchin Friars, meet in the library of the Center, while, on the right, Charlie Martinez converses with Patrick Foley, T.O.R. A major part of the conference is for us to share our hopes and dreams as well as the successes and failures of our ministries with one another. I always come away from these meeting feeling uplifted by our sharing.
Dominic Monti, O.F.M. continued with his presentation this morning. Again, he challenged us with our own Franciscan heritage to live the life of the Spirit. This evening we are all going out to dinner together. Tomorrow each Order will meet individually to process some of our interprovincial issues and concerns.
One of the Sisters at the Center took our group picture after our Eucharist Yesterday.
This week I am participating in a Mega Conference of Franciscan Vocation Directors in Tampa, FL. It is called a "Mega Conference" because it includes the directors from the English Speaking Conferences of the Franciscans, the Conventual Franciscans, the Capuchin Franciscans, the Third Order Regular, and the Society of Atonement--all Franciscans of one sort or another. We meet every other year to share the benefit from some input, but mostly to share with each other. It is great to spend a week with fellow Vocation Directors, to share our hopes and dreams for our provinces, and to compare notes on what "works" in our ministries. There are twenty-five of us here including fellow Franciscans from England and Ireland.
Fr. Dominic Monti, O.F.M. from Holy Name Province in New York is our speaker. Dominic is an historian and gifted speaker. He challenged us this morning by making a distinction between imitating Jesus and following Him. The latter is by far the more difficult because it means internalizing the Spirit of Jesus and then letting the Spirit lead--something near and dear to the hearts of Saints Francis and Clare.
On a lighter note, my camera's batteries and the backups have failed so I'm seeking new batteries. In the meantime, I am sitting in the lobby of the Franciscan Center where we are meeting huddled with three other friars as we all attempt to use our wireless computers. The signal is very weak in most parts of the building, so here we sit together each operating our offices from afar. I guess that's how present-day friars operate. :-)
Once I get new batteries I'll post some pictures and further notes.
Last week I drove a 760+ mile loop from Cincinnati to Peoria to Norther Indiana and back to attend the funeral of my aunt, to visit our novices, and to interview a new prospective. It was kind of a whirlwind, but a very worthwhile 48 hours.
My aunt was 97 years old. She was the last remaining member of my mother's side of the family. She and mom were members of a large family with eleven children. All of my aunt's siblings as well as their spouses preceded her in death. I concelebrated the funeral Mass and preached the homily and, as I did so, I couldn't help but notice who was and wasn't there. The entire generation that was ahead of my sisters, cousins, and me have died. We are now the "elders" of the families.
This is kind of a sobering thought, and yet there is a beauty involved. I remember as a kid going to Grandma's house where the clan gathered on Sundays and holidays around the "matriarch" of the family. Grandma died when I was a novice and the family broke into many families as my mom and her siblings moved into the role once held my their mother. Mom was now the "matriarch" of our family as were her sisters of theirs. Only one of mom's brothers had children, but he also moved up to the head of his family.
Each family grew as the next generation married and had children and so the family cycle continued. Now my sisters and cousins lead extended families serving in the role once held by my grandmother. As so life continues with a built-in beauty as one generation after the other fulfills the family role. As I sat at lunch after the funeral with my sister and her husband, their daughter and her daughter I was very aware of this fact. How beautifully life--and the faith--gets passed on from one generation to the next as everyone fulfills their roles moving up the ladder toward the fullness of life.
After lunch, I drove to Cedar Lake, IN where I joined the novitiate community for Evening Prayer and dinner and then spent the evening with our novices, Dennis Geib, O.F.M. (left) and Richard Goodin, O.F.M. (right). Both are doing very well having adapted nicely to their new surroundings and life in the novitiate. They both mentioned that the pace of life is much slower this year than last, but this suits both of them very well.
I also had a chance to visit briefly with Christopher Leigh, O.F.M., a novice from the English Province, whom I had met earlier this summer while teaching in Canterbury.