MAY 12, 2016
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
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.’”
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.”
April 24, the Province of St. John the Baptist honored these everyday heroes of Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Community with The Francis Medal, presented for their “uncommon contribution to the advancement of the values and ideals of St. Francis of Assisi”:
Jimmy MongiardoSandy and Joe Angel, Sr., for “countless hours of service beautifying the church”. Christmas was special to Joe, who died last year. According to Pastor Mike Chowning, “As a way of celebrating his birthday, he would always would put up a crib indoors and out.”
Chet and Janet Ayres, for “their lay ministry and especially their countless hours of service caring for all God’s creatures,” particularly the pets of the friary.
Jack and Sue Bowling, for supporting the “administrative and maintenance needs” of the parish. Sue volunteers her accounting skills; Jack is an electrical wizard.
Tim and Cindy Cory, for “years of hands-on support for religious education, fundraising and holiday decorating.” High school wrestling coaches, “They’re both very involved with the parish and the community.”
Maria Hall, for “her countless hours of cooking, baking, sharing her flowers and caring for the altar linens used for our liturgies.” For years, “She’s taken care of the church laundry every week.”
Charles and Mary Jo Housley, for contributing “countless hours of advice on financial and community matters and leadership in parish fundraisers and lay ministry at Mass.” From yard sales to the annual International Dinner, “They’re super generous with their time.”
Dexter and Sue Melton, on behalf of “the many years of support of the whole Melton, Fouts and Bianchi families,” Italian pioneers of the parish. Sunday school kids count on Dexter for their weekly supply of doughnuts.
Jimmy Mongiardo, for his generosity: “We wanted to acknowledge him as one of the oldest members of the community [he is 90-plus] and recognize the roots of the parish, many of the Italian immigrants who came to work in the mines.”
Workout fads come and go, but no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga.
Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It's a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation. Here are some of the benefits of yoga:
–Michelle Viacava, RN
BY FR. MARK SOEHNER, OFM
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.
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.
It was a big day for Zachary Frick, Lané Davis and Devin Covington.
Whistle While You Work: Snow White got it right.
– Jeff Scheeler, OFM
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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.