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After the excitement and emotions of last week, it is great to be at our friary at Lake Lorelei for a few days. It has been rainy here most of the week, but it was sunny and beautiful when I arrived Sunday afternoon. So I got some pictures of the autumn leaves along the lake.
The real beauty of this place is the peace and quiet one enjoys when you come is out here alone. I find it a real treat and blessed place. It's like being far, far away where you can recollect and prepare your soul to return to the daily life of fraternity and ministry.
Tomorrow I return to Cincinnati and the Postulants and I will travel to Louisville, KY for a vocation event. Next week I travel to Seattle and Houston to visit prospectives. So this week of respite is very welcome.
Wednesday morning our General Minister toured some of our ministries in the inner city before leaving to return to Rome. Attached is another special edition of the Newsletter with text and pictures covering those events. Download 101707_Jose_v3.pdf
It is with grateful hearts that we thank God for the opportunity to have Brother Jose with us for two days. He has a demanding schedule but took the time to talk with and to listen to us at each event of his visit. Our youngest members--our men in formation--especially appreciated his willingness to meet with them and to listen to their thoughts and dreams.
Saint John the Baptist Province was blessed yesterday, October 16, with the presence of our General Minister, the 119th successor of Saint Francis. Fr. Jose had a full schedule beginning with a meeting at St. Anthony Friary where he met with our men in formation along with the friars involved in formation work. He then visited our local Archbishop, had lunch with the provincial staff, address the friars and Poor Clares of the area, led us in the Eucharist, and joined us for a festive meal. This morning, he was going to bless a statue at Saint Anthony Messenger and visit some of our inner city ministries. So he has had a full schedule. An special edition of our newsletter, with pictures, is attached. There should be another edition covering this morning's activities. I'll post that as soon as I receive it. Download 101607_Jose_f.pdf
My first experience with Fr. Jose was two summers ago when I stayed at our Curia (headquarters) in Rome and was able to meet with him at breakfast. Then and again yesterday I am impressed with his passion for the Franciscan Life and his humble joy. As General Minister he oversees the entire Order and takes a personal interest in many, many issues and problems throughout the world. He seems much at peace with himself and his overwhelming ministry and speaks often of faith and hope for the future. I found the opportunities to be with him and the other friars and Poor Clares yesterday to be an uplifting and inspiring opportunity to renew my own life as a friar.
Sunday evening, October 14, and Monday, October 15 approximately forty friars plus our men in formation gathered at St. Monica/St. George parish hall for a Vocation Summit. The gathering was the fruit of a number of initiatives on the part of the friars to examine our life in light of young men's hopes and aspirations concerning Religious Life in General and our Franciscan Life in particular. [On the right, Fr. Jeremy Harrington, O.F.M. visits with Fr. Fred Link, O.F.M., our Provincial Minister, Joshua van Cleef, one of our Postulants, Richard Goodin, O.F.M., one of our novices, and Clifford Hennings, another of our Postulants with Brothers Al and Michael's heads in the foreground.:-(]
Each session began with prayer in the chapel. We friars then listened to three groups of young men talk to us about what they find attractive about our life, what they find unattractive, what we might do with regard to attracting new membership, etc. The first group were eight men with no official affiliation with the province. Some are interested in joining us, others looking into joining other communities, and some just willing to share with us. The second group the three men in formation pictured on the left (Joshua van Cleef, Richard Goodin, O.F.M., and Clifford Hennings) are the youngest men in formation. The final group, pictured on the right, (Roger Lopez, Tim Tran, Daniel Helfrich, Dennis Geib, O.F.M. and Thomas Olsen, O.F.M.) represent all of the stages of initial formation--postulants, novices, and temporarily professed.
The general consensus is that the summit was an inspiring success. The friars listened and learned much about our younger members and young men in general. The young members learned that the friars are open to possibilities for both attracting new members and living our community life. The long range ramifications are yet to be felt as we will be processing the results for many months.
When I was in Canterbury last June I crossed paths with Fr. Rick Martignetti, O.F.M. who was, like me, teaching at the Franciscan International Study Centre. Father is the Director of Postulants for the Immaculate Conception Province here in the US. Somehow we got to talking and I mentioned that I offer an Introduction to Moral Theology workshop for the postulants in my province and Fr. Rick asked if I would offer the workshop to his men. I agreed.
Sunday of this week I drove to Youngstown and spent two and a half delightful days with Fr. Rick and the three postulants of the IC province. Peter Le, Zachary Simmerman, and Stefan Steiner (pictured from left to right with Fr. Rick) are, like our own postulants, discerning whether or not the Lord is calling them to the Franciscan life. (I think the sun was too bright for Peter.) The workshop gave me an opportunity to meet them and share prayer, meals, and recreation with them as well as engage them in a classroom setting. (Fr. Rick took some pictures of me with them in the classroom, but they didn't turn out very well. :-( Sorry, Fr. Rick.) I enjoyed the opportunity to meet the newest members of another province and to rejoice in the growth of the Order. God is calling young men to our way of life in each of the seven American provinces and that is something to be thankful for. I thank the men of the Immaculate Conception province for sharing fraternity with me for a few days and I pray that they discern well as they progress through the first stage of initial formation.
About 200 people gathered last evening in the chapel at St. Anthony Friary in Cincinnati to celebrate the Transitus of Saint Francis. On the left the friar schola under the direction of Bro. Gabriel Balassone, O.F.M. is pictured. They opened the service with a choral setting of an antiphon honoring St. Francis. As they sang, the 92-year-old senior of the province, Fr. Noel William, O.F.M. and our youngest Postulant, Clifford Hennings entered the chapel bearing a candle. (The two are pictured on the right before the procession.) The choir sang:
O most holy soul, at whose passing the saints of heaven came to meet you. The angelic choir rejoices and the Glorious Trinity bids you welcome saying "abide with us forever."
Fr. Nicholas Lohkamp. O.F.M., pictured on the right, ended the ceremony with a moving reflection on the sense of gratitude with which Saint Francis lived his life and challenges us to incorporate that same virtue into our daily lives. After the service, in true Franciscan spirit, we all moved into the dining room for light refreshment. :-) (Actually we have enough cookies and cidar to last us until Christmas.)
The photos were taken by Postulant Daniel Helfrich.
Peace and all good to the friars and those in discernment! May the observance of the passing of our Seraphic Father from death to life renew your dedication to recognize, celebrate and honor The Eternal in each brother and in all creation!
Mark Schmitz writes:
Have a fantastic Feast Day tomorrow. I miss everyone, and send you all my best prayers as you celebrate the Transitus and the Feast. Greetings to the Friars!
Throughout the world Franciscans of various kinds will be celebrating the Transitus or Passing of Saint Francis this evening. This is a commemoration of his death; his passing from this life to Eternal Life.
While there is not set pattern for the celebration, often the service follows the description of Francis' death found in Thomas of Celano's biography. In his text, Thomas mentions Psalm 142 "With a loud voice I cry out to the Lord" which Francis prayed as he neared death, and parts of Chapters 12 and 13 of Saint John's Gospel which Francis asked to have read.
Here in Cincinnati, we will be gathering at 7:00 p.m. in the Chapel at Saint Anthony Friary in Mt. Airy. This is open to the public if you would like to join us. Later tonight or tomorrow morning I hope to be able to post some pictures of our celebration.