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At Friars Club’s summer program, kids are learning that

Camp is cool

It’s OK to enjoy retirement

People in the business, corporate, institutional world often look at retirement differently from us. This is understandable and not surprising. After many years of struggling with finances, raising children, caring for older family members and sometimes fiercely competing for success in one arena after another, they look forward to retiring FROM the hassle of these tedious “working” years. These sisters and brothers of ours breathe a sigh of relief when they can relax during the day, create their own schedules, spend more quality time with family and friends, and if they are in reasonably good health, do some traveling they could only dream about in previous years.

We friars retire TO a lesser business-focused life-style to minister more intimately and spontaneously in our friaries, with our families of origin, and with acquaintances we have met and continue to meet wherever we are assigned. We pray with them, discuss Gospel values with them, and simply said, ENJOY the life and health that God continues to provide for us.

Ronald Rolheiser in his book, Sacred Fire, states that the greatest gratitude we can give to God is to ENJOY the gift of life that God has given us. Enjoying life, I believe, means finding joy in our own goodness, in relating peacefully with our brothers and sisters, in discovering and affirming the beauty of the created world around us. Enjoying life also means freeing ourselves from the enslavement of our egos that seek to chain us to ourselves and suffocate our desires to reach out to anyone or anything beyond ME. Enjoying life means developing imaginative and life-giving interests and hobbies that keep us from boredom and loneliness.

Enjoying life means developing a sense of humor whereby we can acknowledge our own sinfulness and silliness and thereby be more gracious and generous in dealing with the frailty and folly of our sisters and brothers. We like to think and say that God smiles at us, but I wonder if God doesn’t also snicker at us sometimes.

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

PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFMCarl Langenderfer blesses the beer at Urban Artifact Brewery; Bret Kollmann Baker is chief of operations.Even if you don’t know beer – what exactly is Belgian-style quad? – you’ll appreciate a story that appeared in the July 13 Food section of The Cincinnati Enquirer. In it, Fr. Carl Langenderfer, Guardian at Mt. Airy, is shown blessing a batch of beer at Urban Artifact Brewery in Northside (Cincinnati). Back in May, friars were invited to bless the wine barrel-aged beer, made with wild yeast harvested by Urban Artifact on St. Anthony Shrine property. It’s part of the brewery’s quest to incorporate local ingredients into its products. “It makes flavors that are more unique and true to our environment and location,” said Bret Kollmann Baker, the brewery’s chief of operations. Read more (and learn how they collected the yeast) at cincinnati.com.

  • In a letter posted yesterday on the Order’s website, Minister General Michael Perry issued a “triple invitation” to young Franciscans to attend this year’s World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, July 25-Aug. 1. He recalled a question asked by Pope Francis following the 2013 WYD in Rio: “What do I hope as a result of the World Youth Day?” Michael’s response was, “I hope there is noise. I want you to be heard in your dioceses, I want the Church to go out into the streets. I want us to defend ourselves from all that is worldly, immobility, from what is convenience, clericalism, from everything that causes us to be closed in on ourselves.” Read the letter at: www.ofm.org.
  • Federico Lombardi, SJVatican Radio reports that Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, is stepping down after 10 years as Director of the Holy See’s Press Office in Rome. He will be replaced by Greg Burke, a 56-year-old American journalist who is currently Vice Director of the Vatican Press Office. Lombardi, who turns 74 in August, was also Director General of Vatican television (CTV) from 2005-2013, according to the story posted at: radiovaticana.va/news. We talked to Lombardi about working with the Pope during an ESC meeting in Rome in 2014; that story is archived at: sjbnewsnotes-franciscan.org.
  • A Roger Bacon High School gymnast turned in a terrific performance July 1 at the YMCA National Gymnastics Meet in Long Beach, Calif. Competing in the Excel Platinum Division, senior Emily Engel placed second in bars, second in beam, third in vault, and fifth in floor and was crowned the All-Around National Champion. Check it out at: www.facebook.com.
  • One of the most anticipated events of the summer is right around the corner. There’ll be dancing in the streets on Washington Boulevard when St. Aloysius Parish hosts is annual Downtown Block Party, 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 24, in Detroit. Besides music – the Original Vandellas playing their Motown hits – the party features free food, free toys for the kids and health screenings by parish nurses.

 

Dan Kroger at a recent mission appeal in Barbourville, Ky.This is the mission appeal season; a number of our friar priests are criss-crossing the country sharing the good news of our foreign and domestic missionary efforts. This last weekend I was in Southern

Indiana, where Dan Kroger will be this weekend; Frank Jasper was in Colorado; Luis Aponte-Merced preached in Florida; Carl Langenderfer was in Louisiana and Roger Lopez went to Dayton, Ohio. Almost every place I have been there is someone who knows a friar; in my place I met a lady who asked about Br. Gabriel Balassone. I am always delighted to see how far our reach has extended and how many people the friars have positively influenced.

 

– Jeff Scheeler, OFM

BY TONI CASHNELLI

Five-year-old Duane is learning to play kickball.

When his foot makes contact with the soccer-sized ball, propelling it past the pitcher, he is so stunned he doesn’t know what to do.

“Go, go, go!” the coach hollers.

“Run! Run!” yells a teammate from the sidelines.

Cheered on by all of them, Duane takes off like a shot.

Somewhere, someone is keeping score for this game, but it doesn’t matter. The kids are here to hone their skills, burn some energy and learn to be teammates. At the Friars Club Summer Camp, it’s not whether you win or lose that counts. It’s how you play the game.

This and other life lessons are painlessly imparted during this eight-week program for 5-to-12 year-olds from the city and suburbs. A first for Friars in its new location in St. Bernard, it brings together 42 children five days a week for athletics, academics and “enrichment” through field trips and arts and crafts.

“During the summer they need a safe, supervised place to go,” says Annie Timmons, Executive Director of Friars Club, a sponsored ministry of the friars. Annie was inspired to open the camp by memories of her first job years ago with Friars, when she was hired to run their summer camp. Her own childhood was less than perfect. As camp director, “I got to do things I never did as a kid.”

It’s a bargain

At this camp Director Karen Meyer, the school nurse at St. Boniface Elementary, supervises a three-ring circus. “I pretty much oversee all the children” as well as their counselors, most of whom are college students, she says. Divided into three age groups, kids rotate from the gym for exercise to the lobby for arts and crafts and the learning center for lessons that bridge the gap between school years. Everyone gets breakfast, lunch and snacks and participates in swimming at the local pool and outings to places like Coney Island and the butterfly exhibit at Krohn Conservatory. All this costs parents about $10 a day, and low-income families pay a fraction of that. This year Friars Club funded most of the program because “I wanted to get it started,” says Annie.

Next year, “We need someone to subsidize it.”

Kids aren’t the only beneficiaries at Summer Camp. Twenty-three-year-old Jhvin Landrum, “Coach J” to the kids, is one of two counselors hired through the Hamilton County Job and Family Services program. The income is helping her support her own two children. Most of the 10 counselors grew up with Friars Club. “My dad is a coach; he’s been involved with Friars Club all of my life,” says 20-year-old Ariana Coleman.  Sean Cook has played sports at Friars for 15 of his 19 years.

“I’ve been around Friars since I was 10,” says 19-year-old counselor Charlinda Colbert. “I fell in love with coaching, kids, and being a positive influence for them.”

In the learning center, 19-year-old Mikayla Chess calls out letters for Bingo to kids who are surprisingly absorbed in this low-key, low-tech game. The stillness is broken only by an occasional comment:

“I need one more!”

“I got that!”

“Oh man!”

“Kids love the interaction at camp,” says Mikayla, who happens to be Annie’s niece. “If you show them they have your attention, they’ll give you their attention.”

Bingo.

Lessons learned

In the lobby, Karen sorts through stacks of art projects: flowers fashioned from cereal; umbrellas cut from paper plates colored with crayons. Sharing a table with three other wee ones, 6-year-old Braylon is stringing a bracelet made from Froot Loops. His favorite activity? “Field trips!” he exclaims. “We went bowling and skating; we went to the butterfly exhibit.” Informed of an upcoming visit to the zoo, kids let out a collective “Ooooooh!”

When it’s time to move to the learning center, Jhvin orders, “Line up! In line!”, and they obediently fall in step. “The only way to keep order is to line them up when they change stations,” she explains.

Kids need this kind of structure, Annie says, “They need somebody to tell them what to do. They need social interaction to be able to get along with each other.” Last week, “We went to an anti-bullying seminar at Roger Bacon.” It covered topics such as, “How to deal with problems, how to deal with things without a violent reaction; when someone hits you, you don’t hit back.” Such messages are powerful and necessary, especially in this summer of unrest and uncertainty in America. “With violence, everything comes from the beginning stages,” Annie says. “We are getting them [the kids] at 5” at Friars Club, young enough to retain those lessons for a lifetime.

“It’s an excellent program,” says 17-year-old Selah Cook, sister of Sean and the youngest counselor here. “It teaches them a lot of values like friendship and respect.” And just as important, it gets them off the sofa and away from video games.

Asked, “Which is more fun, being here or staying home for the summer?”, 10-year-old Zalman says, “Being at camp!” Otherwise, “I’d be relaxing and watching TV.”

Getting along

Depending on drop-offs and pickups, the day can last from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. So the rest period after lunch is as much for Karen and counselors as it is for the kids. “This is totally new for me, working with this big a group, making sure they all get along and feel they fit in,” Karen says. Despite the inevitable spats and tantrums, “I’ve enjoyed every moment.”

And so have her own children, regular attendees at the camp. “I just like how nice the kids are,” says Brooklynn Meyer, 12. “Playing with all the kids is fun,” says her brother Logan, 11.

In the gym, the second round of kickball is underway. When 7-year-old Henry steps up to the plate, he punts down the middle and runs to the base. A player attempts to tag him with the ball and misses by a mile. “Keep going!” the coach yells. Henry runs clear around the makeshift diamond and heads for home. Even before he gets there, he is jumping for joy.

“Touchdown!” he shouts, pumping his fists in the air. The laughing kids on both sides seem just as excited.

“If you look at them,” Annie says, “that’s what we’re all about.”

(Learn more about Friars Club programs at www.friarsclubinc.org.)

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

ARCHIVES

 

Dan Kroger at a recent mission appeal in Barbourville, Ky.This is the mission appeal season; a number of our friar priests are criss-crossing the country sharing the good news of our foreign and domestic missionary efforts. This last weekend I was in Southern

Indiana, where Dan Kroger will be this weekend; Frank Jasper was in Colorado; Luis Aponte-Merced preached in Florida; Carl Langenderfer was in Louisiana and Roger Lopez went to Dayton, Ohio. Almost every place I have been there is someone who knows a friar; in my place I met a lady who asked about Br. Gabriel Balassone. I am always delighted to see how far our reach has extended and how many people the friars have positively influenced.

 

– Jeff Scheeler, OFM

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