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Monday, September 22, I drove to Chicago to participate in a meeting at Catholic Theological Union (pictured on the left). CTU, as it is often referred to, is the school where our men in formation study theology during their years in Temporary Vows and, in some case, during their early years of Solemn Vows. The building is new and quite comfortable. For example, the student lounge (pictured on the right) affords the students a pleasant place to study and relax between classes.
While in Chicago, I stayed at Saint Joseph Friary (pictured on the left) which is an interprovincial house where our men and those of of Sacred Heart and Assumption Provinces in Temporary vows live with their directors. Parking is always a "joy" in Chicago, but if you look closely at the photo of St. Joe's and notice the first white car parked off to the right you will witness a minor miracle. That is my car and I found that place open late Tuesday evening when I returned to the friary.
Later in the week I returned to CTU to attend the Catholics on Call Partners Conference. The Catholics on Call program is a faith sharing/building week for young adults sponsored by CTU and its membership. We Franciscans of Saint John the Baptist Province are partners int he program. We spent a couple of days led by Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J. (pictured on the far right) looking into the faith development of young adults. I sat at table with Stephanie Flax (pictures near right) who is presently a Dominican Volunteer.
Saturday and Sunday I was back in Cincinnati having a great time at the CREDO: I Believe weekend sponsored by the Dominicans and held at Moeller High School on the east side of the city. Over two hundred high school and college men and women joined in a prayerful and joy filled weekend. One of the powerful speaks was Daniel diSilve (pictured on the left) who spoke on the beauty of chaste relationships. I was privileged to be the main celebrant for Sunday morning Liturgy. I really enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of the program and to work with some very dedicated laymen and women as well as my Dominican Brothers and some of the Transitional Deacons of our Archdiocese.
Today I am back in the office trying to catch up---and stay awake.
I am writing this note early Friday afternoon, September 19, as I wait for the van to take me to the airport and a flight home to Cincinnati. I have been here at St. Luke Institute since Sunday afternoon with 13 other men and women involved in the various stages of Formation. We were four priests, nine Sisters and one lay woman. We were Vocation, Postulant, and Novice Directors as well as health personnel. All helping new members of our various communities to enter into the formation process to become Religious men and women.
The topic of our workshop was integral sexuality and spirituality (a topic that I myself present to the Postulants of various provinces each January). The focus of the week was wholistic growth and integration--a topic very dear to us Franciscans because of its emphasis on the Incarnation (the fact that God became flesh and thereby made all of creation sacred).
It has been a powerful week of growth, communication, sharing, and prayer. The group gelled quickly Sunday night as we gathered and continued to work well together all week. Sr. Lynn Levo, CSJ, our Director, is a powerful presenter and wonderful speaker. Her spirituality and faith have been so obvious as she helped us appreciate our sexuality and celibacy and vows more clearly and deeply.
It is times like these that make me so thankful for the opportunities we have as Religious to grow together and to share our community charisms in faith. The Church is a big tent embracing some very rich and wonderful traditions. I thank God for the chance to have experienced this week here in Washington, DC.
At 61 years of age, Fr. Jim Bok, O.F.M. has volunteered to go to the missions in Jamaica. This marks a major change in Father's life as he moves to a new culture and climate and style on ministry. At a Commissioning Service last Sunday afternoon, our Provincial Minister and a church full of family, friends, and friars sent Fr. Jim off with our blessings and best wishes. Father proves that you are never too old to start something new.
Like his big brother, Fr. John Bok, O.F.M., Jim ministered at Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati, OH where both were teachers and then Principal. Fr. John moved on and eventually served as our Provincial Minister and then volunteered to serve in our parish in Galveston, TX. Both men are from Cincinnati originally and both spent most of their life ministering in that city. Fr. John "broke loose" and moved to Galveston; Fr. Jim is going even farther; Jamaica.
After serving at Roger Bacon High School, Fr. Jim spent 17 years in our Provincial Development Office where he raised money for our ministries and for our young men in formation. Father often referred to himself as the "official beggar" for our province. During his tenure in that office, he led a number of pilgrimages for our benefactors and visited many of our foreign and domestic missions. His love for the poor and especially children is noteworthy.
As the ceremony in chapel ended we all raised our hands in blessing (above right with Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, O.F.M. our Provincial Minister and Bro. Scott Obrecht, O.F.M. the Director of our Provincial Mission Office. Susan Quirk, Director of Msuic at St. Anthony Friary is in the background.) but not after each friar offered Fr. Jim and sign of peace (Richard Goodin, O.F.M. shares a sign of peace with Fr. Jim). Everyone then, in true Franciscan fashion, moved outside for a picnic meal and more celebration and best wishes.
Two final notes: first, you may notice that Fr. Jim is wearing a white habit instead of the traditional brown. This is because he is going to the tropics. our men in the Philippines and Jamaica and other ward climates wear white. Second, the pictures are courtesy of Fr. Frank Jasper, O.F.M.
Bob Glassmeyer writes:
Many years to Brother Andrew!
Our Postulants Kevin Janke and Michael Charron helped host the fine men who particiapted in the Come and See weekend. They sent comments last evening.
I remember what it was like to take part in my come and see weekend as a prospective postulant not so long ago. I found it to be a real pleasure hosting these five men discerning their vocation to religious life this weekend. I will pray for all of them, that the Holy Spirit will guide them in the coming months. I hope to see them all again.
May the Lord give all of them Peace!!!
And Michael wrote:
Peace and all good to the guys visted St. Anthony's this weekend. It was great getting to meet you all, hear your stories and answer your questions. You were all encouraging to me. I will be praying for you and for anyone out there also discerning God's will for their lives.
Our province was blessed this weekend to host five young men for a Come and See weekend. The five gathered at Saint Anthony Friary in Cincinnati Friday afternoon. There they experienced our community life and learned about our formation process. The weekend ended with Sunday Eucharist.
The five attendees were (left to right) Sergio Fernandez, 20, from Tampa FL; Jonathan Beer, 18, from Hamilton OH; Pierce Gibson, 21, from Round Rock TX; Chris Wetzel, 24, from Dayton OH; and Andrew Farwick, 23, from Cincinnati OH
We thank these men for their generosity and faith and wish them God's blessings as they continue discerning his call in their lives.
Many congratulations to Friar Andrew and to the Province! This, too, is perfect joy!
Friar Andrew, thank you for this great witness. You give me hope! You give the Church hope!
May God give each of us the courage to do what He would have us do as has Friar Andrew.
Ad multos annos!
Stan, we haven't heard from you in a while. Welcome back!
As the Solemn Profession Mass began, the friars led the procession into Church where Andrew's family and friends were gathered, including the Poor Clares (pictured on the right). An estimate I received is that about sixty friars participated in the event. There were more family and friends.
For all of Andrew's years in formation, Fr. Fred Link, O.F.M. was our Provincial Minister. Fr. Fred, pictured on the right, is presently on a year of sabbatical at St. Bonaventure University, but he joined us and preached at the Profession Mass. This past May, Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, O.F.M. (pictured on the left accepting Andrew's vows) was elected Provincial Minister for a six year term.
Prior to pronouncing his vows, Andrew lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor while all of us chanted the Litany of the Saints asking all of heaven to pray with us for Andrew. Then, placing his hands in the hands of the Provincial Minister he vowed to live the Franciscan Rule for the rest of his life. The Friars and Poor Clares then welcomed and congratulated Andrew with a sign of peace.
Then, in true Franciscan fashion, everyone moved into the friary dining room and courtyard for a festive meal.
The occasion of a Solemn Profession for any Religious Community is always a celebration of hope and gratitude. As new members commit their lives to our community, they give us hope for the future. Friar Andrew gives us such hope and we are grateful for his willingness to answer the call from the Lord to join us.
The pictures are courtesy of Fr. Frank Jasper, O.F.M.