Lessons that stuck
50 years later, classmates are closer than ever
Arriving for the fall term at St. Francis High School SeminaryBY TONI CASHNELLI
You forget a lot in 50 years.
But it’s amazing how much you remember.
In 1966, 33 students graduated from St. Francis Seminary in Cincinnati. Sept. 30-Oct. 2, many of them came together in Covington, Ky., to remember an experience that shaped and directed their lives. Fr. Pat McCloskey was one of them. “The reunion drew 20 members (plus wives), as well as Larry Miller (who was with us one year) and Tom Fry (who was with us a year and a half),” he says. “The eight who could not come are spread across the U.S.” As they gathered to celebrate, they also remembered five classmates who are no longer with us.
“The goal or purpose of St. Francis High School Seminary was to enable young men of that age to explore and test their desire to become Franciscan priests,” says Fr. Valentine Young, who attended the reunion along with fellow teachers Fr. Ric Schneider and Bill (formerly Dean) Pellman.
Most followed a different path. But the bonds they formed and the lessons they learned stuck. We asked several men who attended the reunion what these high school years meant to them. All agree that the impact on their lives cannot be measured.
José Garcia, then and nowI came to the Seminary from Tucumcari, N.M., from a very poor family. The effect on my life was that it positioned me to compete in a world I would have never been able to compete in had I gone to high school in Tucumcari. I was armed with a classical education, and with a discipline which few have.
As an example, after I left I attended the College of St. Joseph in Albuquerque, N.M. In my freshman year in English 101, they were reading the Aeneid in English, which in my last year at the Seminary we had just finished translating sentence by sentence from Latin to English.
I am eternally indebted to the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province in that even though my parents were not able to afford the kind of money it would have taken to attend St. Francis Seminary, the friars took me anyway, and never shamed me with it; in fact friars like Fr. Valentine Young promoted me as competent and capable.
(José works with the Takata Corp. His wife Catherine and sons Joe, Juan and Francisco are all talented musicians.)
Then and now: Larry BurkhardtIn September of 1962, 95 about-to-be 9th graders from 13 states reported to St. Francis Seminary in Cincinnati – all with the aspiration of becoming Franciscan priests some 13 years later. Thirty-three of us graduated from high school together. Three actually made the entire journey and were ordained. The rest went on to a variety of successful careers in many different fields – all armed with an excellent education. In the process, we became closer than brothers.
Now the 28 of us remaining who graduated high school together try to assemble at least every five years, as we did that weekend in Cincinnati – joined by three of our teachers from the seminary. We can’t explain the bond that exists between us. It’s complicated...and it’s at the core of who we are
(Larry is an economic developer. “Still trying to learn guitar, love international travel, baseball, gardening and cooking.” He and wife Linda have two children and three grandchildren.)
Steve as a student and with wife Lisa
I believe the four-and-a-half years I spent with the Friars have had a very positive effect on the person I have become. My time at St. Francis and Duns Scotus laid the foundation for a love of learning and an ongoing Teachers Ric Schneider and Valentine Young, center, joined their former students.search for wisdom and truth that have been essential to my life. And the values of Francis and the Franciscans have set standards I continue to try to meet.
(Retired from advertising, “I spend my time singing with a little church ensemble, walking, cycling, and trying to watch as many baseball games as possible.” He and his wife Lisa have four children and three grandchildren.)
Valentine Young, OFM, as a seminary teacherBY FR. VALENTINE YOUNG, OFM
Many boys may have the desire or leaning toward becoming a priest, especially in their early years. An institution such as St. Francis Seminary and other such high school seminaries gave them the opportunity to test or explore the idea in a more serious way, and yet not interfere or interrupt their general education or development.
In fact when it comes especially to their education and development, most alumni of the Seminary are very grateful for the education and training they received. In no way has it ever seemed to have interfered with any of their pursuits or vocations in life, even if they did not continue on to the Franciscan priesthood.
As a faculty member there for nine years I never felt that the seminary system or faculty had failed when a student discontinued. Students continuing on or discontinuing was just part of the process. I have also found it interesting and noteworthy that one of the first major projects of the early founding Friars of our province was the opening of St. Franziskus Gymnasium in 1858 in Cincinnati. And that Gymnasium which became St. Francis Seminary has by far been the source of most of the priestly vocations of our province.
BY TONI CASHNELLI
Fr. William Reichel had so much personality, “Any room he was in, he dominated,” said Jill Chasto.
Whether you knew him as “Bill” or “Rocky”, his irrepressible spirit enveloped everyone around him. At Rocky’s Oct. 5 funeral his presence was keenly felt, his wit and warmth evoked in the poignant sharing of stories by friars, family and friends at St. Clement. And it reverberated in song as choir members from Good Shepherd Parish sang soulfully on behalf of one of their most popular preachers.
Deacon Jim Jones, a friend for 40-plus years, met Bill at Good Shepherd, where his no-nonsense style endeared him to parishioners. “He’d be doing a homily and say, ‘Judy, will you wake up your husband back there?’ He was joking all the time,” Jim said. “You never knew what he was going to do.” One week Jim got up to preach and found his homily missing. “We have technical difficulties,” he announced to a laughing crowd. Bill had made off with the papers and left them on the sacristy garbage can.
An emotional Jim Crosby could cite the day he met Bill – Oct. 28, 1991 – because “it changed my life.” He heard Bill read the Gospel story of the blind beggar of Bartimaeus and then ask listeners, “How many ways can we be blind?” As Jim said, “It turned my life around.”
Celebrant Jeff Scheeler’s most vivid memory of Rocky was a harrowing experience they shared. In 1989, both were in El Salvador for a Central American ministry program when six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered. “Our Franciscan guide pulled us into a chapel and said, ‘We’re concerned for your safety.’ They sent us to Guatemala City,” Jeff said. Later, “We were told the funeral was held in that same chapel. Such a powerful story; that was a connection we shared” and relived in the telling.
Relatives talked about Bill’s German-born parents William and Maria, who immigrated to the States in the 1920s. “Fr. Bill has been a part of my life since I was born,” said nephew Fred Westermeyer, a frequent visitor in his uncle’s final days. In 1938 when the Reichels re-visited Germany with their young son, “Bill’s dad was arrested by German police because he refused to say ‘Heil Hitler’ or give a Nazi salute.” Fortunately, authorities accepted his American passport as authentic and let him go. Back in the States, the Reichels were investigated by the FBI when a rascally Rocky, then 5 years old, was seen marching down the street, giving the Nazi salute he had seen in Germany.
Many knew him as a grown-up version of that playful kid.
Fr. Paul Desch, a fellow resident at St. John the Baptist Friary, is a talker, as was Bill. “I’m really gonna miss him a lot,” Paul said. “He had these little zingers, boom! And the next minute he would show that big heart of his.” Disappointed he could not have a dog at the friary, Bill turned his attention to squirrels. “He just loved animals. He was a good man, a good man.”
Jill Chasto’s goal as a personal trainer was to help Bill shed some weight and boost his walking ability. But after a workout at the gym, she would find him at a nearby pizza parlor. “He liked to eat too much.” Though their sessions were both fun and frustrating, “It was my absolute pleasure to know and work with him. He was a treasure to my family.”
According to homilist Fr. Fred Link, “Rocky had great highs. He also experienced significant lows,” in part from physical issues. Fred had earlier traded memories with three other friars. “One talked about Rocky’s ministry to Native Americans in the Southwest. Another noted how Rocky loved to preach. Another noted the great devotion Fr. Bill had for the folks at Good Shepherd.
“I asked the guys if they had any idea why Rocky chose the Beatitudes” for the Gospel reading. “Someone jokingly reminded me of the movie, Life of Brian.” In one famous scene, listeners two fields away from the Sermon on the Mount heard Jesus’ message as, “Blessed are the cheesemakers? What’s so great about cheesemakers?” Maybe, Fred said, it was Rocky’s way of “wanting to make people laugh.” But more likely, “He’s probably saying to us, such is the stuff of a blessed life.”
Fred said he “sort of lived” with Rocky twice in 50 years, the first time in the summer of his deacon year at St. Stephen’s in Hamilton where Rocky ministered. Fred recalled “going to confession with him and experiencing his great compassion early in his priestly life.” Decades later when St. John the Baptist Friary was Fred’s home base during a sabbatical, he and fellow resident Rocky commiserated over weight loss struggles.
“He was human through and through and wasn’t afraid to let us see that side of himself,” Fred said. “Isn’t that why God sent Jesus, to be human through and through?”
Rocky would end sermons with, “‘The Mass is finished but God is not.’ He made others feel loved and touched and completed by God. He spent his life assuring others they were somebody to love. I believe he preached what St. Paul wrote: ‘Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.’ It was his message to me my deacon year and his message 50 years later as a preacher and sacramental minister.”
Rocky was a big man, Fred said, “large on the outside, large on the inside, human through and through, easy to identify with, with a heart as big as all outdoors.” In death, “May our brother Bill intercede for us and keep us living life with a similar gusto.”
The production crew: Director Yorgos Lanthimos far rightBY TONI CASHNELLI
Sept. 28, we heard that a film crew had taken over Roger Bacon High School the previous day. Problem was, we couldn’t tell anyone.
That’s because Bacon signed a confidentiality agreement with the makers of the movie, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. On Sept. 27, classes were canceled and a caravan of trailers took over the parking lot for the day. The production was shrouded in secrecy: No pictures were permitted and the news could not be leaked in case reshooting was required.
The next day we talked to Brandon Cowans, Director of Admissions and Communications, about what went on. “They were here the whole day, starting at 4:45 a.m., until probably 8 at night,” he said. “They were great to work with.” Brandon, a student and the guidance director were asked to be extras in the movie (no friars are onscreen). Irish actor Colin Farrell was in several scenes shot on campus. “A scene where a girl faints in choir was shot in the new theater,” Brandon said.
Shooting on the movie, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and also starring Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone, wrapped Oct. 7. This week Bacon got the all-clear and was finally able to share the news with the public. According to Brandon, “It’s a psychological thriller. The premise is that Colin Farrell is a cardiac surgeon who loses a patient on the operating table. He befriends a young boy whose father was the patient.”
The film crew scouted two other locations and contacted Roger Bacon with news of the school’s selection this summer. No word on when The Killing of a Sacred Deer will show up in theaters. Like everyone else at Bacon, Brandon is excited about the film’s release. “I think it’ll be neat to see.”
How do we deal with guilt? There are those folks who may even add to these guilt feelings by chiding us, challenging us, or patronizing us for our lack of DOING. Be that as it may, guilt can be countered only by FORGIVENESS. If we are doing the best we can with what we have in terms of our time, our temperament, our talents, our health issues, and our intuiting the Lord’s call to us in the present moment, then we trust in the forgiveness of a merciful God. If God is so forgiving and understanding, then we need to forgive and understand ourselves.
Guilt will eventually give way to gratitude as we prayerfully pursue the light of God’s truth. And if indeed we are guilty of past failings in our work, retirement is another opportunity to begin again the all-important “work” of prayer, fraternal ministry, and ongoing formation. Maybe we are finally growing into the simple life, the real poverty, the real surrender of just BEING sons of our Heavenly Father.
Retirement may be the opportunity to rediscover our inner child and thereby heed the comforting words of Jesus: “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
– Fr. Dennet Jung, OFM
for the Senior Friars Committee
Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic, reports that most heart attacks happen in the daytime, generally between 6 a.m. and 12 noon. Having one in the night, when the heart should be at rest, means something unusual happened. Somers and his colleagues have been working for a decade to show that sleep apnea is to blame.
The recommendation: Take a baby aspirin once a day at night. The reason: Aspirin has a 24-hour “half-life”; therefore, since most heart attacks happen in the early hours of the morning, the aspirin would be strongest in your system.
If you don’t like regular aspirin, Bayer is making crystal aspirin to dissolve instantly on the tongue. Aspirin that is chewed or dissolved works much faster than the tablets.
Keep in mind that aspirin lasts for years in your medicine cabinet (when it gets old, it smells like vinegar).
Why keep aspirin by your bedside? It’s about heart attacks: Besides the pain in the left arm or possibly chest pain, also be aware of an intense pain in the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating. The majority of people (60%) who had a heart attack in their sleep did not wake up.
1. Immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water. Afterward, call 911.
2. Phone a neighbor or family member close by and say “heart attack!” and that you took two aspirins.
3. Take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door and await their arrival. Do not lie down!
– Michelle Viacava, RN
Friars in Syria need prayers and financial support.Holy Land Franciscans in SyriaSyriaFriarsLarry Dunham
10/14/16 eNews Notes
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PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMGuests checked out plans for St. Anthony Center.
St. Anthony Center main entrance
The other ministries are: 1) Center for Respite Care, providing care for homeless people who are released from the hospital; 2) Franciscan Ministries/Haircuts from the Heart, providing hair care for inner city folks at a deep discount; 3) Mary Magdalen House, providing shower and laundry service for the homeless; 4) Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, providing diapers for infants below the poverty level; 5) TriHealth Outreach Ministries, providing home nursing services for low-income people in the neighborhood.
Chris Schuermann of St. Francis Seraph Ministries welcomes guests.
Overall, this collaborative venture will allow the Franciscans to have a lasting impact on the Over-the-Rhine community. The building which is currently underutilized will be devoted to care of the poor, hungry and homeless who continue to increase in the area, in spite of the gentrification that is happening all around.
A buffet was part of the festivities at the Open House.
– Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM
Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
2014 • Third Quarter
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2015 • Second Quarter
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2016 • First Quarter
2016 • Second Quarter
2016 • Third Quarter
Steve as a student and with wife LisaIt’s impossible to exaggerate how much my classmates mean to me. Many of us have stayed in close contact all these years, and even with those I see infrequently, the years always disappear the moment we reconnect.
Six non-profits are coming together in this collaborative venture. St. Francis Seraph Ministries is heading the project. The space will provide a new dining area and kitchen to serve the Mother Teresa Dining Room (former Soup Kitchen). It will St. Anthony Center main entrancealso house the Sarah Center, which trains women in sewing and jewelry making and running a business.
Chris Schuermann of St. Francis Seraph Ministries welcomes guests.They set up a style of collaboration and decision-making that respects each organization’s independence while sharing critical services with one another. For example, Mother Teresa Dining Room will supply food service for Respite Care and Haircuts from the Heart will keep the residents neat and glamorous.
Transitus and ‘the ultimate letting go’
BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM
Friars in Syria need prayers and financial support.• Friars at the Monastery of the Holy Land ask that you share this video about Holy Land Franciscans in Syria: SyriaFriars. “The Holy Land friars need your help. Syria has been devastated by a conflict that has displaced half of the country’s population. The friars refuse to abandon the Christians and others in need. Help us raise awareness, prayers and financial support for the friars in Syria, who continue to celebrate Mass, provide pastoral care and offer humanitarian aid – water, medicine, food and more – in the midst of this devastating conflict.” As Guardian and Commissary Larry Dunham says of Syrian Christians, “If we don’t support them, if we don’t care for them, they’re going to be gone.”