DECEMBER 8, 2016

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If you looked at the pedometer app on my cell phone, you would think that I walked about 50+ miles during our eight-day visit to Br. Tim Lamb in Nairobi, Kenya.  We did walk, but instead of counting steps, my pedometer literally counted the bumps in the road, of which there were many!  Provincial Councilor and Mission Director Br. Vince Delorenzo and I visited Tim Nov. 13-23.  Tim lives at St. Anthony Friary and serves as Secretary of Formation and Master of the House of Theology for the Province of St. Francis in Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius.  If that sounds like a big job, it is!  Tim is doing well, and his ministry is much appreciated.

It is pretty spartan living: The 24 friars in the community share two cars; we ate little meat; the electricity went off for several hours about five times during out eight-day visit; we washed clothes by hand with homemade soap and let Brother Sun dry them.  There weren’t many mosquitoes, but the net over the bed was helpful for the pesky few that were around.  I had to brush my teeth and shave a few times by the light of my phone!  We ate fun things like ugali (a white corn mix that is often used like bread to eat other foods), matoke (bananas in a light tomato sauce), a millet porridge for breakfast (kind of like a dark cream of wheat), scrambled or hard-boiled eggs in a tomato sauce, and lots of rice and beans with greens grown in the garden – all of which were quite tasty.  Tim has lost 40 pounds, not from lack of food, but from a different style of eating.

Liturgies in the house were quite lovely.  The student friars used drums and sang beautiful songs in English, Kiswahili, French, and Portuguese with incredible harmonies.  There are two common meditation periods each day along with Mass, morning prayer, evening prayer, and night prayer.

Students crowded

Tim accompanies 20 philosophy and theology students.  Usually the students study philosophy at an inter-obediential school (Capuchins, Conventuals and Friars Minor) in Lusaka, Zambia, but they are so crowded that five students were sent to study philosophy at an Apostles of Jesus school in Nairobi (the Apostles of Jesus were founded in the 1960s in Uganda).

Fifteen of the brothers study theology at Tangaza College.  This is the school where our brother Fr. Andre McGrath served as Principal (President) many years ago.  Tangaza, similar to our Catholic Theological Union (CTU), is sponsored by 22 men’s religious communities.  We visited the Apostles of Jesus school and met with the current Principal of Tangaza, an American Carmelite who happened to be a friend of an old friend of mine whom I met maybe 30 years ago. Talk about a small world!  The friars also remember Fr. Max Langenderfer, Fr. Joe Hund, and Br. Giovanni Reid.

On the grounds of the friary there are also two hostels housing 62 female students studying at nearby schools.  Schools often do not have dorms, so students need a place to stay and this provides some income for the community.  Funding is one of the major concerns that Tim and the Province face.

Out in ‘the bush’

Tim took us to the Provincial House and we met with Provincial Carmelo Gianonne.  Carmelo gave us a tour of the house and an overview of the Province.  We were disappointed that the monkeys which sometimes come to visit the veranda chose not to come while we were there, but Italian-born Carmelo did provide us with some wonderful spaghetti and meatballs! Carmelo and Tim both told us that since they have so many students in formation and so little money and space, they are considering placing a moratorium or severe limits on inviting more students into initial formation.  I can’t recall the exact numbers, but the number of students in formation is about the same as the number of friars in the province.

One of the great treats of the experience was a three-and-a-half hour trip to a region called Subukia, where the friars serve.  Subukia is really in “the bush.”  After we left the main road, we traveled about 15 miles on a dirt road to reach the area.  Traveling in a packed 14-passenger van along the famous Rift Valley, we saw zebras, donkeys, sheep, and cattle. We passed coffee and tea plantations.  Because of the winding road, we crossed the equator twice along the way!

The mission and friary are lovely.  In a friary that used to serve as a postulancy, Fr. Miro and Br. Florentius have created a beautifully landscaped and prayerful oasis.  The friars have 16 outstations (branches), 10 of which are in pretty good shape.  It was a happy coincidence for us that a new church was being dedicated during our visit.  Because its construction was largely funded by the General Secretariat for the Missions in Waterford, Wis. (near the novitiate in Burlington), Fr. Teofil Czarniak, Executive Director, and Ms. Tyler Curtis, Operations Manager, were also present for the celebrations.  We had some nice evening gatherings and conversations with them.  Mass, with lots of exuberant singing, dancing, and words of appreciation, lasted three-and-half hours.  Many of the kids were curious and stared at the white folks, whom they call mzungu.

Wild kingdom

You can’t go to Africa without going on safari, so we also visited a Giraffe Centre where we were able to get up close and personal with the animals. They ate from our hands and allowed us to hug them.  On the last day we visited the Nairobi National Park, not far from the friary.  We hired a driver to drive us through the park where we saw more giraffe, water buffalo, antelope, baboon, ostrich, and other flora and fauna.  Someone said there were lions in the distance, but I could not see them.  The mud was thick and deep; our first car broke down; the second car tried to pull out other stuck cars and almost got stuck itself!  We visited an animal orphanage within the park and did get to feed the lions, and scratch the neck of a cheetah.  Our guide put peanuts on our heads and the monkeys came and ate them.

It was a great experience.  We felt most welcomed and heard the phrase expressing that “karibu!” very often.  We are most grateful to Tim, the Province, the students for their kindness, welcome and hospitality.  We say “asante sana” (thank you very much) for the experience.  In appreciation we told the students that our Mission Office would be sending about $2,000 so that Tim could purchase more bikes for the students to get to school.

Chinese mission welcomes friars

BY FR. FRANK JASPER, OFM

Pastor Bonaventure with his new congregationOn Nov. 20 Fr. Bonaventure Huber was installed as pastor at Ascension Chinese Mission in Houston, Texas, marking a new chapter in the history of SJB Province. He and fellow friar Fr. Joe Hund were treated to a lively celebration dominated by three languages—Mandarin, Cantonese and English.  The Chinese choir led the traditional singing.  Monsignor Daniel Scheel received Bonaventure’s profession of faith and his pledge to serve his people as their shepherd.

Following the Mass the parishioners provided a dinner and entertainment by the pre-school, the grade school, the youth group and the seniors.  A young girl played a traditional song on the zither and a boy played another stringed instrument that I had never seen before.

PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMLeft, a family in the diverse congregation;
right, kids provided entertainment.
Left, children at the reception; right, E.J. Stein came from
Galveston for the installation.
Left, Bonaventure and Joe; right, the recently built church.
1 - 3<>

The Mass and reception let Bonaventure and Joe know what they would experience as they move into this new ministry.  The congregation is really diverse with people from mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Mexico, the Philippines and Cleveland.  After the reception I was talking with a girl and her brother, 4 and 5 years old.  They switched effortlessly between Spanish, Mandarin and English.  They were kind to me and spoke to me only in English.

Children shared their talents.Ascension Parish orients its activities to families.  Young people are active in every part of the parish, with special emphasis on religious education and group activities.

The mission was established in 1991 and numbers 417 families. The whole parish plant showed the pride people take in their church and their dedication to their faith.

Bonaventure and Joe face challenges in setting up a new friary and adjusting to a new community.  “I am so grateful to our Province of St. John the Baptist for being open to this multicultural ministry to our very diverse congregation,” Bonaventure said. It is already very clear how much the people appreciate and value the Franciscans.  Everyone wanted to talk with Bonaventure and Joe.

If any of you are traveling through Houston, take time to check out our newest parish and visit with Joe and Bonaventure.

If you can’t sleep, relax!

AwakeningStop catastrophizing if you’re awake for a while.  For many of us, it’s just part of a normal pattern.  When your ruminating brain won’t let you sleep, breathing exercises are the best.  Just focus on your breath - inhale, exhale, repeat.If nothing else works, go to another room that is dimly lit and do something calming (meditation) until you feel sleepy, then head back to bed.Having trouble sleeping and not feeling rested in the morning?  Snoozing comes faster when you relax into it by, say, reading a book, praying, or jotting thoughts in a journal.  We don’t tend to downshift gradually to ease into slumber.  So, it is a good idea to get in the habit of a nightly routine by doing something you find relaxing.

Close your eyes and love to sleep.  “Good sleepers will tell you that they close their eyes and savor sleep.”

Wakefulness in itself isn’t so bad; what keeps you up longer is worrying about it.  Don’t let the eight-hour myth make you cuckoo.  Everyone’s needs are different, but many people do fine with less.

We’re all going to have a rough night every once in a while.  So, manage your next day with a plan and try to stick to your schedule (and not take a nap because you had a bad night).  This will throw off your circadian rhythm.

Secondly, have regular, healthy meals by emphasizing protein and complex carbs (veggies, whole grains) and avoiding heavy meals and sugar.  Alcohol NEVER helps with sleep.  Booze depresses the central nervous system and as it wear off, the system rebounds - which can make you wakeful in the middle of the night and have less dreamy REM sleep.

Thirdly, unplug yourself early from electronic devices.  The blue light stops your melatonin from rising and working its slumber land magic.  Lastly, be extra vigilant about simple things:  Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and as noise-free as possible; avoid caffeine six hours before bed; and stick to a regular exercise schedule, but don’t work out too close to sleep time.  Goodnight, everyone, and sweet dreams!

– Michelle Viacava, RN

Province Nurse

  • On behalf of my sister Joanne, my nephew Rusty, and niece Colleen, I thank the friars for the many expressions of support that you have sent since the death of my brother-in-law Bob.  I shared them with Joanne.  My family was especially grateful for the friar presence at the funeral.  The people loved hearing the Ultima.  I appreciate the fraternal support.

– Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

  • Thanks to all of you for your prayers and messages expressing sympathy for the loss of my dad, Vern. Your continuing prayers are greatly appreciated as we continue to adjust to life without dad.

– Sr. Vickie Griner, OSC

  • Left to right, Colin King, John Aherne, John Barker, Juan de la Cruz Turcios, Henry Beck, and Dan Horan.St. Benedict’s Abbey in Benet Lake, Wis., is a special destination for the friars of Blessed Giles Friary in Chicago. Nov. 26, the community concluded an overnight “time of recollection”, the third year they’ve gathered at the same spot. “We try to go two or three times during the year all together,” says Fr. Henry Beck. “We have had some very significant conversations there.” The six-bedroom cottage they use has a living room and dining area that overlooks the lake. “The grounds are beautiful,” Henry says. “This has become a sacred place for our fraternity.”
  • Blessed Giles now has two Doctors in the house. Congratulations to Fr. Dan Horan of Holy Name Province, who successfully defended his PhD thesis at Boston College on Monday. Dan, who is teaching at CTU this year, says his subject area was “systematic theology” and the title of his dissertation is “Imagining Planetarity: Toward a Postcolonial Franciscan Theology of Creation.” In April, Br. John Barker of Blessed Giles successfully defended his dissertation (also at Boston College) on “Disputed Temple: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Book of Haggai”.
  • Blooms for ChristmasObviously someone at St. Paul the Apostle in Lafayette, La., has a green thumb. Pastor Robert Seay e-mailed this photo with the message, “Our poinsettias from last year getting ready to bloom for Christmas.”
  • Br. David Crank recently heard from former classmate John Neumann, a Secular Franciscan, about a service trip he was taking to Uganda. In November John and 10 other Seculars and Lifeteen members volunteered with Georgia-based “To The Nations”, founded by another Secular Franciscan. In the past two years, John wrote, “They have gotten water to two villages, food and clothes to 2,000 kids orphaned by AIDS, built three soup kitchens, built nine houses, and provided tons of Bibles, rosaries and sports equipment.” Working near Masaka, Uganda, John helped build a house for nine orphans and a widow and served at a soup kitchen and hospital. Learn more about To The Nations at: tothenationsmissions.com
  • Br. Carlo Shivel has decided to leave the formation program Dec. 18.  We wish him well.
  • PHOTOS BY CHARLIE SMIECH, OFMLeft, the old boiler; Right, they expect at least 100 years from its replacement.“I felt like I lost an old buddy, a dear friend, when it gave up the ghost,” Fr. Charlie Smiech says of the demise of the boiler at St. Joseph Interprovincial Friary in Chicago. Ten days ago, “We were sitting around and noticed the house getting colder and colder,” so they called the family that had serviced the boiler for 107 years, ever since the house was built. Alas, they discovered, “Sister Death came and got the boiler.” Waiting for a new one to arrive, “We were without heat for some time,” Charlie says. “We’ve been living with space heaters and suffering with cold in larger rooms, but we got through it. The heat actually was just turned on last Tuesday. It kind of brought us to our knees in thanksgiving for the new boiler.” Charlie says the experience “somehow helped us identify with the poor who may not always have heat – how easy it was for us to get a new boiler and how hard it would be for them.”

Merry BRICKmas!PHOTO BY BR. TIM SUCHER, OFM Models of St. Francis Seraph Church, Music Hall and the iconic Roebling Bridge are among the large-scale LEGO displays featured in BRICKmas, a family-friendly event at the newly remodeled Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St. in Over-the-Rhine (Cincinnati). There’s an interactive children’s area where kids can build their own “brick” masterpieces; LEGO Duplo displays; and an area for writing letters to Santa.  BRICKmas is presented by American Legacy Tours, the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana LEGO Users Group (OKILUG) and 3CDC. Ticket info: http://www.brickmas.com/.

 Franciscan Christmas

Live Nativity at ‘A Franciscan Christmas’ in Cincinnati.  Enter the courtyard of St. Francis Seraph Church in Over-the-Rhine to meditate on the Holy Family or pet the goats, sheep, and donkeys in this Live Nativity. The Nativity is open 1-7 p.m. daily through Friday, Jan. 6.

A Franciscan Christmascontinues at the nearby Christian Moerlein Event Center, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine. You’ll see a Christmas Creche display featuring nativities from around the world, model trains, a Dickens Christmas village, a huge Santa Claus display, and lots of decorated Christmas trees with comfortable chairs where you can sit and enjoy a beverage or food from the Christian Moerlein Taproom. A Franciscan Christmas is on display through Sunday, Jan. 1, when the Christian Moerlein Taproom is open for business: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Fridays 4 p.m. –Midnight; Saturdays Noon to Midnight; Sundays Noon – 7 p.m.

 Franciscan Artists and Friends Art Exhibit and Sale, Dec. 10 & 11 at Christian Moerlein, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine –  Friars John Quigley and Martin Humphreys with friends Cedric Michael Cox, Mary Barr Rhodes, and Joe Pearce will exhibit and sell their original works of art all day Saturday and Sunday.

Lessons and Carols – 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at St. Anthony Shrine in Mt. Airy,  a program of six scripture readings and Advent carols sung by the choir and the congregation to help us prepare for Christmas. The service will be followed by light refreshments in the friars’ dining room. Admission is free; all are welcome.

– Compiled by Marilyn Wilson

His hobby fulfilled a knead

PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIChris Cahill makes Sweet ‘N’ Savory Sour Cream Muffins.BY TONI CASHNELLI

Br. Chris Cahill had a powerful motive for learning to make bread.

“I needed the exercise,” he says. “The biggest reason was at college I really wanted to do something that involved physical work instead of studying all the time.”

Hundreds – maybe thousands – of loaves later, all that kneading has paid dividends. Chris is famous for his bread, famous as in, they auction it off at fund-raisers. His creations fetch hundreds of dollars. Family, fellow friars and his students at Roger Bacon High School benefit from his baking skills year-round.

Last week in a seven-part series on our website, we shared some of Chris’ favorite baking techniques and recipes.The first installment, promoted on Facebook, drew 6,820 “Likes”.

Benefits of baking

Recently while he turned out 12 loaves for Roger Bacon’s Evening for Excellence, Chris gave us a front-row seat in his kitchen at Br. Juniper Friary in St. Bernard. “If you want fresh bread, it’s not the easiest of processes,” he says, “but it’s an enjoyable thing to do. It’s something creative. It certainly tastes better than what you get in the store.” Best of all, “There are lots of very nice smells along the way.”

Chris admits he is “something of a bread snob”, but says cooking from scratch runs in the family. Back home in Petersburg, Ky., his mother made jelly from home-grown grapes. When he and his seven siblings were children, “She let us make our own birthday cakes.” He adds, “My mom was very smart.” Boy Scouts helped him hone meal-planning and food-prep skills.

At college in the 1980s, Chris cooked on a popcorn popper in his room – “everybody did it; the food service was awful” – and worked his way up to the oven in the dorm at the University of Louisville. “I’d bring breads to events, and started going from there. I made the bread for our Masses at the Newman Center,” although it looked more like a loaf than a wafer. He still bakes it for Masses at Su Casa Hispanic Center, where he’s a longtime volunteer.

Crowd pleasers

After joining the faculty at Roger Bacon, Chris learned the quickest way to a student’s heart is through his or her stomach. When he taught Calculus, “I made pies for ‘Pi Day’,” a truly creative enticement to math class. Chris preferred apple or pumpkin, but, “The girls always wanted chocolate,” a pie crust filled with JELL-O pudding.

His skills as a baker are much in demand, “but I have a limited number of things I make. I don’t do as much as I’d like. I usually make things I like to eat.” And if it’s there, “I’ll eat most of it.” His favorite recipes are on yellowed clippings, mom’s hand-written cards and cookbook pages spattered with batter. Like any former Scout, Chris is always prepared, pantry stocked with a 50-pound bin of bread flour and pans of every dimension stacked in cupboards.

He rarely cuts corners in baking. “I tend to do stuff by hand. ”Remember, “The reason I started making bread was it was a physical activity.” He doesn’t even own an electric mixer. “Where’s the fun in that?”

(Recipes and baking tips are posted at Voices)

8 days in Africa

Immersed in a missionary's world

BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

ARCHIVES

  • Left to right, Colin King, John Aherne, John Barker, Juan de la Cruz Turcios, Henry Beck, and Dan Horan.St. Benedict’s Abbey in Benet Lake, Wis., is a special destination for the friars of Blessed Giles Friary in Chicago. Nov. 26, the community concluded an overnight “time of recollection”, the third year they’ve gathered at the same spot. “We try to go two or three times during the year all together,” says Fr. Henry Beck. “We have had some very significant conversations there.” The six-bedroom cottage they use has a living room and dining area that overlooks the lake. “The grounds are beautiful,” Henry says. “This has become a sacred place for our fraternity.”

 Franciscan Artists and Friends Art Exhibit and Sale, Dec. 10 & 11 at Christian Moerlein, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine –  Friars John Quigley and Martin Humphreys with friends Cedric Michael Cox, Mary Barr Rhodes, and Joe Pearce will exhibit and sell their original works of art all day Saturday and Sunday.

8 days in Africa

Immersed in a missionary's world

BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM

8 days in Africa

Immersed in a missionary's world

BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM