AUGUST 11, 2016

History and hospitality

Both are abundant at ESC meeting in Ireland

PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLITop, a medieval cross at Kilfenora Cathedral;below, Patrick Conlan at Dun Mhuire BY TONI CASHNELLI

“You’ll stay for lunch,” Friar Colin Garvey tells his unexpected guests.

The two visitors exchange a look of surprise and obediently follow him down the hall to the kitchen of the friary at The [Franciscan] Abbey in Galway, Ireland. A half-hour ago these ESC communicators stopped by to offer greetings from U.S. provinces. Now they’re eating lasagna and snapping photos of Fr. Colin and their medieval surroundings.

It affirms what they’ve learned about Ireland in the past week. Here, “old” means “ancient”, and “welcome” means more than “nice to see you”. It means taking tourists to their destination when they need directions, lending them a hand without being asked, and feeding the wayfaring stranger. Maybe it’s the accent, but anything spoken with an Irish lilt sounds kinder and friendlier. Gathered in Dublin for a meeting hosted by the Irish Franciscan Province, ESC communicators are already repeating two oft-heard adjectives: “lovely” (say loov-ley) and “brilliant”.

Their annual gathering, this year attended by 10 reps from the U.S., Malta, Canada and Ireland, is a confluence of ideas and information. Everyone shares and learns, everyone goes home enriched by the culture in which they were immersed. And this culture is particularly rich in Franciscan history. More than most places on earth, Ireland was formed by friars. The Franciscan province was founded in 1230 and, by the middle of the 14th Century, boasted 45 friaries in an area slightly larger than West Virginia.

Legacy of learning

The stone skeletons of friaries, abandoned since the Dissolution (Suppression) of the 16th Century, are strewn throughout Ireland. On a day-long field trip led by Irish friar and meeting host Friar Francis Cotter, communicators are Friar Colin Garvey in the garden behind The Abbey in Galwaytreated to a liberal dose of history and hospitality.

At Dun Mhuire in Killiney, outside of Dublin, Franciscan scholar Patrick Conlan greets guests at the door of the friary, established as a house of studies in 1945. He’s leading a tour of their 9,000-volume library, but only after tea and sweets are served in the dining room.

The friary is a mini-museum, its hallway adorned with portraits of the likes of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart), driven into exile for his support of Catholicism. “There were 57 houses [friaries] in Ireland before the Reformation,” most of them suppressed except for those in rural areas, says Patrick. At its height, the province numbered 400 OFMs (today there are 100). “There were periods of persecution and legal efforts to get them out of Ireland. Seventy-five Irish friars are officially seen as martyrs.”

Some of the rarest tomes anywhere are displayed on a table in the library, including the first book printed in Ireland [in 1657] in the Irish language. It’s this legacy of learning that Fr. Patrick is anxious to convey. The author of Franciscan Ireland (Lilliput Press, 1988), he describes the spread of the Order and the Irish friars’ pivotal role in preserving the past through the Middle Ages. He sums it up with a borrowed quote: “If history has a sound, it is the flap of the Franciscan sandal.”

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Top left, The Abbey on St. Francis Street in Galway; top right, tea precedes the tour; left, guide Albert Smith explains the origins of Glendalough in County Wicklow; above, arriving at Dun Mhuire.

Spirituality survived

From Dun Mhuire, the tour leads to Glendalough (“the valley of the two lakes”), a monastic site in Wicklow Mountains National Park. Here in the 6th Century St. Kevin, a hermit monk, founded a Christian settlement that became a wealthy community and seat of learning. Glendalough survived multiple attacks by Vikings, eventually falling to Norman invaders in 1214. Its longevity – and that of the Franciscan Order – reflects the deeply held spirituality of the Irish people.

The next day when the ESC meeting ends, most attendees go their separate ways. Two of them take the train to Galway, where they find The Abbey Church on – where else? – St. Francis Street, and make a cold call on the friars.

That’s where the kind Fr. Colin takes them in and not only feeds them, but offers a tour of church grounds. The Abbey parish traces its roots to 1296 on St. Stephen’s Island, and stone reliefs and carvings in the walls out back are similarly ancient. For Americans whose impression of “antique” is 100 years, it boggles the mind.

Colin, a longtime teacher at Galway University and St. Bonaventure College in Lusaka, Zambia, has never been to the States. But he knows a number of friars from Holy Name and St. John the Baptist provinces, including Fr. Paul Desch, a confrere from the University of Louvain, Belgium. “And how is Fr. Jeremy Harrington?” Colin asks. “A fine, fine friar. Please give my regards.”

Fortified by lunch, edified by all they’ve seen, his guests promise to do just that.

 

Telling the story in today’s worldFranciscans have “an amazing edge on everyone else in the Church,” says Andrew O’Connell.BY TONI CASHNELLICommunicators play a vital role in spreading the Good News about the Church, according to Andrew O’Connell, a contributor to The Irish Catholic newspaper and a telecommunications expert at Dublin’s prestigious Trinity College.Speaking to ESC communicators at their annual meeting, Andrew shared his perspective on today’s Catholics. In an era of negative press and declining Mass attendance– down 70% in Ireland in the past 30 years – religious organizations need to invest in top-notch communications, he said.Recently when eight Dominicans were ordained in Dublin, “the biggest single ordination in 35 years,” the story slipped by because no one notified the media.  “They probably invested more money and energy in flowers for the altar than communications. A blind man could see there was a story in this,” Andrew said.Fortunately for friars, “This is the Franciscan moment.” With the popularity of Pope Francis, “It seems in Ireland there has been a slight uptick in interest in the Franciscans. You have an amazing edge on everyone else in the Church in the popular mind. Franciscans have a very good image because your founder seems to be the Gospel in its purest, most innocent form. What you have with the Franciscan charism is envious.” Moreover, “The fact that you have a habit is a gift. It’s photogenic.”Audience preferences are changing. “People find it difficult to ‘deep-read’ anymore. Image and video are the language of the Internet,” and smartphones are the preferred tool for sharing information. As a teacher friend said of his students, “When I ask them to read a book, you’d think I’d asked them to butcher their own meat.”“We’re living in a digital revolution,” Andrew said, and those who fail to adapt will be left behind. “We’re living online. We find our life partners, shop and book things online. For good or bad, that seems to be the way we’re going.” 

The journey continues

 

It was a momentous day for seven novices from Christ the King, Holy Name, Immaculate Conception, St. Barbara and St. John the Baptist provinces. On Aug. 2, SJB’s John Boissy was among those making first profession at the Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler was there to accept John’s vows. Other newly professed friars are Salvador Baca (SB), Henri Djojo (SB), Eufemio Dimas (HN), Aaron Richardson (HN), Angel Vázquez (HN), and Donald Francis McGeragle (Christ the King). Friars also recognized and thanked departing team members Ralph Parthie (SH) and Dennis Shafer (SH) for their service.

(To see more profession photos, visit: www.dropbox.com.)

 

Be sensible in the sun

PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COMThe best way to prevent skin cancer is by arming yourself with accurate information:

  1. Everyone assumes higher SPF sun blocks are much stronger, yet the increase in protection after SPF 30 is minimal.  Your best bet?  Stick with an SPF between 30 and 50 and reapply at least every two hours.
  2. There is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen.  The FDA banned the use of the term, so sunscreens can now only claim to be water or sweat resistant and must list for how long.  You should always reapply after going in the water, and once an hour if you’ve been sweating.
  3. The American Academy of Dermatologists and the Skin Cancer Foundation estimate that up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds.  So if you’re going to be outside longer than 15 minutes, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen.
  4. Not all clothing protects you from the sun.  If you can see through it, then the sun can too.  In fact, white T-shirts only have an SPF of about 7. The SPF built into clothing will be reduced after repeated washings.
  5. While fair-skinned people do have a higher risk of developing skin cancer, people of any color can get it.  So be sure to apply sunblock no matter what!
  6. Tanning beds can triple your risk of getting melanoma.  Indoor tanning fails to prevent a sunburn and significantly raises your cancer risk.  Ditto for sunlamps and other indoor tanning devices.  Go for a bottle tan instead!
  7. You don’t have to burn to raise your risk of melanoma–even a light tan can be dangerous.  That’s why shielding your skin from the sun all the time is the most effective precaution against the disease.
  8. For those who like to garden, please don’t stop – but use protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen to enjoy your gardening experience!

Michelle Viacava, RN

Province Nurse

 

The farewell Mass in Hazard, Ky.“It was a great day with lots of prayers, laughs, and, of course, a few tears,” says Pastoral Associate Pat Riestenberg, describing the July 31 Farewell Mass and Celebration for Friars Mike Chowning and Mike Dubec at Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Community in Hazard, Ky. Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler represented St. John the Baptist Province; Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv, blessed a new statue out front that is dedicated to the friars. “Mother of Good Counsel Parish and the Hazard/Perry County community are very grateful to Fr. Mike and Bro. Mike for their devoted service to the area for so many years,” says Pat.

  • The entrance to the chapel in Nairobi.“I have jumped into my new position as Master of Students very quickly and am busy learning the ins and outs of running a house of 20+ people,” writes Br. Tim Lamb, now living in Nairobi, Kenya. Read more on his blog, “Omnes Donum Est”, at Omnesdonumest.
  • Fr. Greg Friedman narrated and appears in a new Virtual Tour of the Holy Land from the Franciscan Monastery Pilgrimage Office in Washington, D.C. Watch the 7-minute video at: Holylandpilgrimages.org.

 

A time to remember and celebrate ClareThe Aug.11 feast of St. Clare provides us with an opportunity to remember and celebrate some facets of our Franciscan vocation that sometimes get short shrift with us friars. When I have the opportunity to pray with our Sister Clares, I often feel more complete and whole as I experience the feminine and contemplative dimensions of our common call.

Running from thing to thing as I often do, often without much time for reflection, they slow me down and ground me, and help me get more in touch with the wellspring, the foundations of this way of life. I like Clare’s advice to Agnes of Prague to “gaze, consider, contemplate, and imitate.”

Before rushing to “imitate,” I need to take the time to slowly gaze, to consider with my head, and contemplate my heart. I am glad to join the St. Anthony Friary community for their monthly reflection on Clare’s feast.

 

– Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

ARCHIVES

PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLITop, a medieval cross at Kilfenora Cathedral;below, Patrick Conlan at Dun Mhuire 

The Abbey on St. Francis Street in Galway.

Arriving at Dun Mhuire.

Tea precedes the tour.

Guide Albert Smith explains the origins of Glendalough in County Wicklow.

The journey continues

 

It was a momentous day for seven novices from Christ the King, Holy Name, Immaculate Conception, St. Barbara and St. John the Baptist provinces. On Aug. 2, SJB’s John Boissy was among those making first profession at the Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler was there to accept John’s vows. Other newly professed friars are Salvador Baca (SB), Henri Djojo (SB), Eufemio Dimas (HN), Aaron Richardson (HN), Angel Vázquez (HN), and Donald Francis McGeragle (Christ the King). Friars also recognized and thanked departing team members Ralph Parthie (SH) and Dennis Shafer (SH) for their service.

(To see more profession photos, visit: www.dropbox.com.)

The journey continues

 

It was a momentous day for seven novices from Christ the King, Holy Name, Immaculate Conception, St. Barbara and St. John the Baptist provinces. On Aug. 2, SJB’s John Boissy was among those making first profession at the Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler was there to accept John’s vows. Other newly professed friars are Salvador Baca (SB), Henri Djojo (SB), Eufemio Dimas (HN), Aaron Richardson (HN), Angel Vázquez (HN), and Donald Francis McGeragle (Christ the King). Friars also recognized and thanked departing team members Ralph Parthie (SH) and Dennis Shafer (SH) for their service.

(To see more profession photos, visit: www.dropbox.com.)