MAY 12, 2016

The road to retirement

PHOTO BY STOCKSY.COM(At the April meeting of the Senior Friars Committee, “We began to focus on what I would summarize as the ‘Spirituality of Retirement’ with special reference to the Franciscan way of living the Gospel life,” says Chair Dennet Jung, who gathered input from members into an essay and added his own perspective. This is the first of six monthly excerpts.)

Retirement for us friars means a movement toward a style of life with a more focused emphasis on fraternal relationships, prayer, and service to others that ensures for us more free time, space, and energy to be allotted for our personal growth in Gospel values, as we continue our preparation for the final intimacy with Sister Death.

As I was driving on Interstate 78 upon my return from this meeting, a large sign near the roadway seemed to scream out accusingly in bold, black letters:  “When you die you will meet God!”  Our committee took a more positive and promising approach to leaving this world.  We focused on meeting God NOW and experiencing His presence and compassionate power in our earthly lives.

Retirement is an opportunity to discover more profoundly our calling as human beings and as Franciscan witnesses of the Gospel while we enter our senior years.  Our calling is to meet and enjoy God now, to find comfort and hope in His presence in and around us through the Holy Spirit whom God sent following the Ascension of His Son Jesus our Lord.  Retirement TO this more intense and focused ongoing formation is a privilege we accept and embrace in order to realize our main priority in life, to be at one with our God and our brothers and sisters in the human family whom God created.

–Fr. Dennet Jung, OFM, for the Seniors Friars Committee

Parish and province say thanks

BY TONI CASHNELLI

They are generous, devoted, enthusiastic and hard-working – in other words, invaluable. And to friars at Mother of Good Counsel in Hazard, Ky., they are a godsend.

April 24, nine couples and individuals learned just how important they are to the parish, and how much they are appreciated. Eight of them received The Francis Medal, and Pastoral Associate Pat Riestenberg was affiliated to the Province of St. John the Baptist. Thanks to some sneaky maneuvering by Pastor Mike Chowning, none of them saw it coming.

“I called them up six weeks ahead of time and told them to reserve the date,” says Mike. “I said I wanted them to come to a dinner, and no excuses. They didn’t know what it was all about.” When “they all showed up” that Sunday evening at Jabo’s Coal River Grill in Hazard, Pastor Mike, Br. Mike Dubec and Vicar Provincial Frank Jasper were waiting to pull off the surprise.

It was a bittersweet occasion for all involved, as friars prepare to return the parish to the diocese this summer after 54 years of stewardship, and parishioners grapple with this new reality. Last year when word of the changes came down, Mike thought about the people who make Mother of Good Counsel a vibrant, welcoming community. In terms of awards, “I didn’t know how I would whittle it down to a few people.” He ended up recommending eight couples and individuals as Francis Medal recipients, and suggested the province send three others – Helen Brunty, Tudy Cody and Pat Lindon – on an Assisi Pilgrimage.

In nominating Pat for affiliation, “I didn’t have to say very much,” Mike says. “As soon as I mentioned it to Jeff (Scheeler) and Frank, they both said, ‘Naturally.’”

Behind the scenes

A Jesuit volunteer who joined the parish in 1990, “Pat really fell in love with the people” when she assisted Pastoral Associate Sr. Janet Schneider, CDP, with religious education. “At the end of one year she decided to stay on because she liked the community,” Mike says. “She began to do some additional things like giving adult days of recollection.” When Janet moved on in 1993 and Mike replaced Fr. Rock Travnikar as pastor, “We decided to offer Pat the position” of pastoral associate. Mike told her, “I would like a three-year commitment.” Pat said, “I’ll give you a one-year commitment.”

Flash forward to 2016. “We’re still working on that one-year commitment,” Mike says. “Her responsibilities have grown over the years as I’ve become more aged and decrepit. From the beginning she was in charge of RCIA and outreach we do in the community.” For many who call the parish, Pat’s voice is the first one they hear. “She’s just really a tremendous organizer,” the planner who pulls together programs and events. “She’s very prepared when she has a meeting. Sometimes as friars our approach is to go in and wing it. Pat won’t do that. I think that’s why a lot of things in the parish have been successful, because she’s the person behind them.”

In any situation, Pat is the one who puts people at ease. “The other thing is, she’s very compassionate. [When someone comes] For our outreach, I can write out a check and people come in and out in two minutes. With Pat, she’s going to listen to their story and take an interest. It might take 20 minutes. She develops a relationship with many of them.”

Above, all, “She’s very humble. She doesn’t want to be seen as the leader or the boss.”

Mike freely admits, “I wouldn’t have been as effective or be here as long as I have without her, particularly during health issues. She’s the one who pulled up the slack and continues to do what I can’t do or am not up to. She’s a good argument for why the Church should have women pastors.”

Everyday heroes

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–Michelle Viacava, RN

Adventures with the postulants

BY FR. MARK SOEHNER, OFM

Mind your manners

Watching the TV series Downton Abbey reminded us of the commandments of etiquette for Edwardian England in the early 1900s.  Some seem very stilted, outdated, quaint.  Still, this show magnetized many in the United States craving nostalgic boundaries of propriety.  “Manners do matter,” to quote Br. Scott Obrecht and Ms. Amy Motyka.  The postulants and the friars of Duns Scotus were privileged to have them present a mini course on Etiquette and the development of what St. Francis and other medieval troubadours would call “courtesy”.

Dan Ward, Mark Soehner and Andrew Koon discover Pittsburgh.Amy and Scott at Duns Scotus in Berkley, Mich.In Hazard with Mike Dubec, Mike Chowning and Pat Riestenberg.

After presenting some of the basics, Scott and Amy performed a comical skit that had the friars in stitches.  Amy was the model of manners, while Scott bumbled through a meal, as many friars do, doing “all things poorly”.  We took a manners quiz, we learned the dos and don’ts of cell phone etiquette, we were trained in a proper handshake.  Each friar and postulant received a certificate of accomplishment.  The other day someone saw the infraction of pushing peas onto a fork with a little finger.  It only took a look, and the friar straightened up, took out the proper dinner knife, and edged the little darlings onto their polite pea fork.  The Edwardians cheered!  And so do the friars who are offering the respect and courtesy of St. Francis.

Eastward ho!

Postulants Dan Ward (SJB) and Andrew Koon (OLG) and I took off on our second “Trip Into the Province”, going eastward.  We began our trek with an overnight visit to St. Anthony Friary in Cincinnati, followed by two days each in Hazard, Ky., Easton, Pa., and Pittsburgh, Pa.  The friars received us warmly and were eager to show off their ministries.

In Hazard the postulants were awed by the poverty of the hollers mixed with the incredible beauty of the mountains.  Dan remarked, “You can truly see the need for the friars and their ministry there!”  In Easton Br. Mark Ligett regaled us with side-splitting stories and taught us the importance of quiet prayer and our need for retreats.  And Fr. David Moczulski took us to see the sights in Pittsburgh after Mass with the sisters at one of the communities where he serves as chaplain.

And always—the friars love to eat!  They treated us to some outstanding meals with conversations that were lofty and low.  Both postulants slowly realized that all the friars are human, unique and funny, not just the ones back at Duns Scotus!  And quite a few times, I heard the comment, “I would like to do that!”  We certainly hope that they will become the new faces of the friars—yes, unique and funny—who will do the works that the Spirit inspires them to do.

PHOTOS FROM ST. MARY OF THE ANGELS

It was a big day for Zachary Frick, Lané Davis and Devin Covington.

  • It doesn’t get any cuter than this. May 1, the community at St. Mary of the Angels in New Orleans celebrated First Communion with three beautiful children and their very excited families. Despite the pressure, Devin Covington, Lané Davis and Zachary Frick were as cool as cucumbers.
  • Floribert Blank, OFMThrowback Thursday: Fr. Joe Hund saw a familiar name in this month’s Knights of Columbus Columbia magazine. On Page 37, “The article shows members of Fr. Floribert Blank K of C Council of Port Sulphur, La., involved in a community project,” Joe writes. “It is a tribute to Fr. Floribert in his involvement with the K of C when he was assigned to the Port Sulphur Church.” Just goes to show, “The memory and legacy of our dedicated SJB Friars lives on in their ministry.” Read the article at: issuu.com
  • Posted today on Vatican Radio’s website: “Pope Francis led an in-depth discussion on Thursday about the role of women in the Church, saying he wants to set up a commission to study the possibility of reinstating female deacons. His conversation was part of a question and answer session with some 900 heads of female religious orders and congregations who form part of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG.” See http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/05/12
  • Nice to know the Hamilton County [Ohio] Recycling and Solid Waste District is on the Pope Francis bandwagon. “We can help you set up an efficient waste reduction plan at your parish, school or event,” reads a flyer we received this week in the office. It encourages customers to “Heed the call of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’” and quotes the Pope saying, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” Thanks to Sr. Daria Mitchell for spotting the flyer.
  • “It’s not just adults who can help,” said 13-year-old Ivan Vazquez, one of many children who helped coordinate St. Mary’s School’s annual blood drive on April 28. “Students are given forms to ask parents, family members, neighbors and St. Mary’s parishioners to register to donate,” according to an April 29 story in Bloomington’s Pantagraph newspaper. This year 155 people registered to donate, making this the largest single-day blood drive (thus far) of 2016 for McLean County. According to Ivan, “It’s cool that just a pint of blood can help three people.”
  • PHOTO BY TIM LAMB, OFM“Well, since it is the rainy season here in Western Uganda it means cooler weather and locusts,” missionary Br. Tim Lamb wrote in a May 8 posting on his blog, Omnes Donum Est. “As I speak the Novices here at the Kakoba Novitiate are busy catching locusts and preparing them for tonight’s supper.” If you’d like to learn about locust preparation and flavor – yum! – read more at: Omnesdonumest

 

Whistle While You Work: Snow White got it right.Cleaning is not my favorite activity.  Unfortunately, I have quite a few dust bunnies hiding under my bed and stacks of paper in my office!  I don’t know what came over me, but this past week, I began to go through some of those piles of papers that have been sitting in my work area. I am embarrassed to say that some of them went back a few years.   Each one brought back a memory of some meeting I attended or some project or task that I worked on.  Most of them I had forgotten.  I also got to last year’s Christmas cards; I saved them because I often looked at them very quickly, and I wanted to take some time to review them again.   It took a few months, but I finally did that, feeling grateful and connected (re-membered) by the activity.  Spring cleaning is not such a bad idea! The room looks a little nicer, but there is the added benefit of recalling people and experiences that so easily fade from memory.

 

– Jeff Scheeler, OFM

 

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PHOTOS BY FR. FRANK JASPER, OFM

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

ARCHIVES

Whistle While You Work: Snow White got it right.Cleaning is not my favorite activity.  Unfortunately, I have quite a few dust bunnies hiding under my bed and stacks of paper in my office!  I don’t know what came over me, but this past week, I began to go through some of those piles of papers that have been sitting in my work area. I am embarrassed to say that some of them went back a few years.   Each one brought back a memory of some meeting I attended or some project or task that I worked on.  Most of them I had forgotten.  I also got to last year’s Christmas cards; I saved them because I often looked at them very quickly, and I wanted to take some time to review them again.   It took a few months, but I finally did that, feeling grateful and connected (re-membered) by the activity.  Spring cleaning is not such a bad idea! The room looks a little nicer, but there is the added benefit of recalling people and experiences that so easily fade from memory.