BY TONI CASHNELLI
If you see Barb Coyle with an armful of books, better reach for your wallet.
She aims to make a sale, and she won’t take “no” for an answer.
“If I have to, I’ll sell them out of my car,” Barb says of the book she authored, In the Land of “Soon Come” (Cincinnati Book Publishing, 2016). But this is no vanity project. She’s giving the proceeds to missions manned by SJB friars in Jamaica.
According to Barb, “I’ve never done something like this. I didn’t sit down and say, ‘I’m writing a children’s book’. It’s one of the most wonderful, life-changing experiences I’ve ever had.”
“Soon Come” is based on mission trips Barb has led to Negril for the past decade with students from Roger Bacon High School. (The title comes from the phrase Jamaicans use to mean, “wait”, “not now” or “be patient”.) It’s told in simple language through the eyes of kids encountering this land of contrasts for the first time. Beyond the beaches and resorts, they discover the harsh reality of extreme poverty and the true beauty of Jamaicans who live with next to nothing but appreciate what they have.
“It’s a learning type of story intended for children to expose them to different cultures and lifestyle,” she says, “to create a missionary heart at an early age and help them see God is present in everyday life.” That’s the retired teacher talking. But Barb was inspired to write the book by something more basic – a divine directive.
The seed was planted more than 10 years ago when she read a cover story in St. Anthony Messenger magazine about the friars’ ministry in Jamaica. “As I was reading the article I heard God say, ‘Go and take the kids.’ I talk to God all the time but never heard words in my head and heart as I did then.”
When Barb organized her first mission trip to Negril, students built and painted houses, volunteered at a soup kitchen and ran a vacation Bible school. In the process, they came to love the people they were helping. “They lack all of the things we think a person needs to experience a happy life,” Barb says, “but in some regards, they have more than we do. The relationships they share are so rich.” She told students, “The mission trip begins when you come home. Take what you learned here and live that; incorporate it into your daily lives.”
Six years ago she was walking in Winton Woods when “the story of the book came to me. I went home and wrote it down and put it in a folder and put it away. I’d add a little more every year.”
About that time friar Jim Bok, a pal since childhood, moved to Jamaica as a missionary. Within a few years he opened a soup kitchen and started a program called Get Kids to School, providing uniforms, meals and transportation to children in need. Two years ago when Barb wondered, “What can I do to make a large amount of money to help Jim?”, the answer came: “Print your book. Print your book.”
She needed an illustrator, but didn’t have to look far. “A granddaughter of a lifelong friend had just won a national contest” for her artwork. At age 14, Mason high school student Taylor Kling was already earning awards and scholarships. “I met her and her mother in July and told her what I wanted to do” with the book, Barb says. Taylor’s pencil-and-watercolor scenes captured the spirit of the story so well that even the author was surprised. “It couldn’t have been more perfect.” Barb approached SJB’s Provincial Council with her plan, and received a grant to help with printing.
With the addition of a letter from Jim and a section of photos from mission trips, the 28-page paperback was ready to go.
Barb set up a Facebook page to promote “Soon Come” (facebook) and intends to contact as many parishes as possible. At $15 per book, they’ve already posted $3,200 in sales.
The moral of this story: “I hope this helps people to trust in God’s plan for them,” says Barb, who never dreamed she’d write a children’s book. “God will take it where he wants it to go.”
To purchase In the Land of “Soon Come” ($15 per book), e-mail Barb Coyle at firstname.lastname@example.org with your shipping address. Check or Paypal is accepted.
Two book signings are scheduled:
6-8 p.m. Friday, May 20, at The Villas at Park Place
Clubhouse, 7955 Beckett Road, West Chester, Ohio;
6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, a book launch/signing at Friars Club, 4300 Vine St., St. Bernard, Ohio. Missionary Jim Bok and illustrator Taylor Kling will join author Barb Coyle, who promises “a Jamaica-flavored event.”
Malachy Brogan was greatly loved in Haifa.
(Greg is in Jerusalem for a month on behalf of the Monastery of the Holy Land.)
he story of the friars always has surprises. On May 28 in Jerusalem, I met a young Israeli lawyer, Zaki Sahlia, who occasionally has done services for the Custody of the Holy Land, for an early evening drink. We had previously met on a visit to the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., when he was there assisting the Holy Land Foundation, with Father Peter Vasco, OFM. A Facebook message to Zaki, who works in Jerusalem through the week, but lives in Tel Aviv, resulted in our meeting in the rooftop bar at the Notre Dame Hotel, owned by the Vatican and run by the Legionnaires of Christ, where many of our pilgrim groups stay. (It has a great view of Jerusalem, and points east, including the Mount of Olives.)
Zaki and I talked about a lot of things. He is Catholic, an Israeli citizen, whose family is Palestinian. He loves the friars, and is eager to support their mission with some projects of his own.
But the surprise came when we spoke about a friar whom he remembered from his childhood, at the parish in Haifa (Giaffa, as it’s listed in the Italian of the Custodial directory), St. Antony of Padua. The friar-priest was Father Malachy Brogan, from St. John the Baptist Province.
Father Malachy was apparently greatly loved there. Zaki recalled his kindness, and told me there’s a memorial to him there. I was able to share a story about Malachy with Zaki—again, one of those surprises which Franciscan life offers.
In addition to being Assistant Pastor at St. Anthony’s from 1995-2004, Malachy served as a retreat director and pilgrimage guide. He is buried in the friars’ cemetery at the Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, where he was stationed when he died.
Malachy served at St. Anthony of Padua Church from1995-2004.Last year on the eve of Aug. 4 at Evening Prayer, I perked up when the necrology entry for Malachy’s anniversary was read—I’m always interested to hear about SJB friars who’ve worked for the Holy Land. But what surprised me—and has stuck with me—was one memory of Malachy in and among the usual dry listing of assignments.
Malachy is remembered among the friars for a saying he used frequently: “I want what God wants.” That evening, this simple line affected me profoundly. You can’t get to the heart of what faith, prayer, Christian life, are all about: I want what God wants.
In the days and weeks afterward, Malachy’s mantra became a prayer: God, show me what you want, and help me to want it. The prayer has stayed with me, and become a part of my spirituality.
This week, at a rooftop bar overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, in a shared moment of recollection about a dedicated Franciscan, it all came together!
(Greg is posting photos from his travels on the Monastery’s Facebook page at: facebook)
John Boissy, OFMCarlo Shivel, OFMGerry EvansJohn BoissyCarlo Shivel
Visiting John and Carlo brought to an end that rather significant piece of my role: over the last years I visited every friar of the province many times; the next time formal visitation happens, it will be with Gerry, who will hand over this service to whomever we elect to serve as our Provincial Minister. Visitation is one of the most privileged and blessed experiences assigned to the Provincial Minister.
It is often a sacred moment of trust and sharing the joys and frustrations of fraternal life.
At the same time, the logistics of it are sometimes wearying. I remember one 13-day trip when I slept in 11 different beds! I have learned how to pack and travel, and live a lot of days “on the road.” All in all, I am grateful to God and to all the brothers for this privilege, which I happily pass on. Don’t worry, there will be plenty to keep me busy! I now enter the time when I will be saying, “This is the last time I will do this.” I enter this last year, mindfully and gratefully. Though formal visitation is over, I will certainly always be available to any friar for any need.
– Jeff Scheeler, OFM
PHOTOS BY FR. FRANK JASPER, OFM
Left, Marcel with his service award; above, Michelle Viacava is inducted while Bruno Kremp looks on.
MAY 5, 2016
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PHOTOS BY FR. FRANK JASPER, OFM
John Boissy, OFMCarlo Shivel, OFMEarlier in the year, when our General Visitor, Gerry Evans, was appointed, I realized that I was nearing a transition point in my role as Provincial Minister; we were beginning to move toward the Chapter of 2017 and the end of my term. That sense was deepened this past week when I did visitation with our two novices, John Boissy and Carlo Shivel.
PHOTOS BY FR. FRANK JASPER, OFM