At the interprovincial friary in Chicago, they’re expecting

A full house

PHOTO BY CARL LANGENDERFER, OFMTop, St. Joseph Friary in Hyde Park; above, Maxwell Klug and Charlie Smiech do the dishes.BY TONI CASHNELLI

Twenty bedrooms and three floors equals a lot of cleaning. No wonder Charlie Smiech sounds tuckered out when he answers the phone at St. Joseph Interprovincial Friary in Chicago. He’s preparing for a population boom. “Right now we have 12 rooms to get ready.”

Last September Holy Name Province decided to move its post-novitiate formation program from Silver Spring, Md., to Chicago, where eight students will attend school, probably Catholic Theological Union, DePaul University or Loyola. Most will settle in at St. Joseph, which this past year had one student, SJB’s Eric Seguin, in residence. “This year he was by himself, no colleagues, and I have been ‘the team’,” says Charlie, Guardian and Co-Director of Interprovincial Temporary Professed Formation. They shared the house with CTU scripture teacher Leslie Hoppe (ABVM Province), retiree Phil Hogan (Sacred Heart), sacramental minister at Mercy Hospital, and Maxwell Klug (ABVM), who is departing for a STiP year in Milwaukee. “It has been so quiet,” Charlie says.

Not anymore. At the end of August Eric will be joined by six students from Holy Name as well as HN professed friars John Ullrich and Joseph Rozansky, Co-Director of Interprovincial Temporary Professed Formation. That’s in addition to SJB friars John Boissy and Carlo Shivel, moving there from the novitiate, and Jerry Bleem (SH), an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago.

At nearby Blessed Giles Friary two of the Holy Name students will join SJB’s John Barker, Henry Beck and Colin King. HN friar Dan Horan will arrive in the fall to teach at CTU.

“I think what we are looking at is a lot of new and creative activity,” says Charlie, possibly the understatement of the year.

JULY 7, 2016

Above right, Maxwell (ABVM) in the library at St. Joseph Interprovincial Friary; above, Guardian Charlie with Phil Hogan of Sacred Heart Province


Above, Maxwell (ABVM) in the library at St. Joseph Interprovincial Friary; above right, John Barker at Blessed Giles Friary, where three HNP friars will live; right, the evening meal is “sacred”.

A lot of  progress

Preparations for the new arrivals were well underway by March. “We are really making a great effort for our brothers,” Charlie said at the time. Half the painting at St. Joseph was done by the end of May and they were ready to replace the porch landing. At this point, Charlie says, “A lot has been done. We have to get a few pieces of furniture, new bedspreads and pillow cases and such. I wouldn’t use the words ‘final stages’, but we’re getting there.”

One thing that won’t change is the basic schedule at St. Joseph’s: Morning Prayer; Evening Prayer or Mass; community dinner. “They’re on their own for breakfast or lunch where they’re going to school, but the evening meal is something we’ll try to keep sacred,” Charlie says. In addition, “Thursday evening is our night to be together as friars, for Franciscan input or a chapter. Maybe we’ll see a movie or do something together. Saturdays are typically free; they get a lot of homework to do. Some of them use Saturdays for household jobs [indoors and out] or just getting out of the house and doing a fun activity. Sunday we encourage them to go out for Mass.” In addition to their studies, students take on a ministry in the community. “Eric’s been working at a soup kitchen.”

“It’s exciting”

After 20 years in retreat work that took him around the world, Charlie moved to St. Joseph a year ago last May, replacing Tim Lamb. “It changed my life,” Charlie says. “It was difficult for me. I went through the mourning stages of giving up my ministry.” But in the new role, “There’s been a lot of affirmation, a lot of good experiences.”

And, he says, “It’s exciting that the Order has invited me to walk with men in formation, to help them along the way.

I see this as both an honor and a privilege.” A big part of his job as a mentor is to provide a listening ear. “I just want to walk with these guys along the way and be of service. Servant leadership is critical for me. Thomas Merton said the best gift you can give to a religious community is to be your truest self.” In Charlie’s day, “It was Mel Brady, Mike Chowning, Paul Desch who were instrumental in my journey as a friar. I pray to God that sharing my life story will be encouraging.”

Bonding with the new group has already begun. “We’re getting to know one another before living together, which is crucial,” according to Charlie. “I’ve been in touch with Joe, made a couple of trips to Silver Spring, Md., and been up to the novitiate a couple of times. Eric has gone to Silver Spring and to the novitiate on his own. Both of us are going to New York for the Holy Name solemn profession in August.”

Life at St. Joseph Friary is of course “a balancing act between provinces, but I have felt strong support from my own provincial, from each province.”

Charlie has done retreats or talks for Holy Name, ABVM, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Barbara provinces over the years. “I’ve always felt right at home with different provinces. I’ve seen more similarities than differences. For me, friars are friars.”

He anticipates a year “of fun and high energy.” In the meantime, “I’m trying to enjoy the quiet.”

  • PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFMGrillmaster Clifford HenningsBad weather was a blessing in disguise, says Frank Jasper, one of three dozen friars who attended the Fourth of July cookout and celebration at St. Anthony Friary in Cincinnati. Rain moved the party indoors, making the set-up and cleanup a lot easier. Dan Kroger and Clifford Hennings, wearing an uber-patriotic t-shirt (see photo), served as grillmasters.
  • On July 1 The Messenger, the newspaper of the Covington [Ky.] Diocese, profiled Valentine Young to commemorate his 60 years as a priest. A native of Bellevue, Ky., Valentine was the eighth of 11 children and attended Sacred Heart School. “After 60 years, he continues to minister with the compassion and heart of a true shepherd of souls,” is how Bishop Roger Foys described Valentine. Read more at (scroll to Page 2).
  • This Sunday St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center in Cincinnati will launch a Parish App. According to the SMSG Facebook page, “You’ll be able to get the daily readings, hear homilies, and stay connected to our parish family.” Find it in the App Store and Google Play or text App to 88202.
  • June 22, WJBC radio commentator David Stanczak paid tribute to Ric Schneider and his contributions to St. Mary’s Parish and the community of Bloomington, Ill. Calling him “the brown tornado,” David described the parish’s dramatic financial turnaround following Ric’s arrival as pastor. “Fr. Ric’s energy was rivalled by his personal magnetism,” David said. “He touched many people, all of whom are the better for it.” A transcript is posted at:
  • Holy Name friar Mychal Judge, the first recorded fatality in the 911 attacks, is one of 18 heroes featured in the new book Faith Under Fire: Dramatic Stories of Christian Courage, by Matthew Archbold ($15.99). Archbold celebrates the lives of Christian men, women, and children “who chose to do what they knew to be right, even if the rest of the world hated them for it,” according to publisher Franciscan Media (Servant). A blog entry/excerpt from the book is posted at: The day before he died, Mychal preached a Mass for firefighters, telling them, “You do what God has called you to do. You get on that rig, you go out and do the job. No matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea of what God is calling you to do, but God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. God needs us to keep supporting each other, to be kind to each other, to love each other.”
  • Tim Lamb, OFMMissionary Tim Lamb has a new assignment in Africa. July 19 he will move to Nairobi, Kenya, to become Master of the House of Theology and Secretary of Formation..
  • Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to the Porziuncola on Aug. 4 to mark the 800th anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi. See more at:

Larry Dunham, OFMGuardian Larry Dunham from the Monastery of the Holy Land is attending the Custody’s two-week chapter in Jerusalem. Besides setting a course for their mission and discussing matters of fraternal life, friars will elect a leadership council to assist the new Custos, Francesco Patton. Also attending from the Monastery are friars David Wathen and Garret Edmunds.


Last week’s News Notes had a story about the recent Franciscan Alumni Gathering in Albuquerque, and Toni used a photo of 1970 St. Francis Seminary graduate Dave Imhoff hiking in the Sandia Mountains with his wife Nancy.

Dave and Nan returned home to West Virginia to learn that their 43-year-old daughter Lisa had an aggressive form of leukemia. Lisa passed away on Tuesday, one week after discovering her disease.

Dave, a classmate, has long been active in the FAA and he and Nan have participated in several FriarWorks pilgrimages. (Dave has maintained his Franciscan contacts: Dave and Nan were married by Murray Bodo and David Turnbull and they visited David while he was in the Philippines.)

Prayers and support are coming from the FAA community through e-mails and social media. I grieve with my friends over their loss, but I also celebrate how the Franciscan spirit of fraternity was planted and continues to live in and sustain those whom the Lord has called to walk other journeys. RIP, Lisa.

– Jeff Scheeler, OFM



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Above, Maxwell (ABVM) in the library at St. Joseph Interprovincial Friary; above right, John Barker at Blessed Giles Friary, where three HNP friars will live; right, the evening meal is “sacred”.

Top, Mass is an integral part of life at St. Joseph; above, Guardian

Charlie with Phil Hogan of Sacred Heart Province


Above, Maxwell (ABVM) in the library at St. Joseph Interprovincial Friary; right, John Barker at Blessed Giles Friary, where three HNP friars will live; below, the evening meal is “sacred”.

Above right, Maxwell (ABVM) in the library at St. Joseph Interprovincial Friary; below, Guardian Charlie with Phil Hogan of Sacred Heart Province