DECEMBER 21, 2016

Our Christmas wishes

Illustration BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COMIn this season of hope and miracles, it seems as though anything is possible. We asked friars, “If you had one wish this Christmas, what would it be?”


Fr. Robert Bruno, OFM

With profound sadness and prayers for the people of Aleppo, Syria, and all victims of   ISIS from a friar and veteran, here is my “Grown-Up Christmas List” for a world in need [from the song of the same name]:

“No more lives torn apart, that wars would never start, and time would heal all hearts. And everyone would have a friend, and right would always win, and love would never end.  This is my  grown-up Christmas list.”

–Music by David Foster, lyrics by Linda Thompson Jenne

Robert Bruno, OFM

Michael Charron, OFM

Larry Dunham, OFM

Mark Gehret, OFM

Edward Gura, OFM

Chris Meyer, OFM

Bruce Hausfeld, OFM

Don Miller, OFM

John Quigley, OFM

Tim Sucher, OFM

Br. Michael Charron, OFM

I wish the United States would take in as many Syrian refugees as possible.

Fr. Larry Dunham, OFM

My wish would be for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East, where the Friars Minor have been for 800 years. I really don’t have much hope for this – those lands have been in turmoil since before the time of Jesus, and there seems to be little to no progress looming on the horizon. Maybe I don’t have a lot of hope, but it is faith that makes me believe peace will break through one day…faith in the Christmas gift of God’s undefeatable love for us.

Br. Mark Gehret, OFM

My wish would be that many people in our country and the world would turn back to God. I think a lot of the disunity, drop in Mass attendance, eroding values and many other symptoms are in large part a gradual separation from faith in God and a commitment to prayer and practice which nourishes that relationship. I wish that hearts would accept Jesus’ invitation to come to him who is meek and humble, loving and merciful.

Br. Edward Gura, OFM

May we draw ever closer to the poverty of the Son of God and the mercy of Christ our Savior.

Fr. Bruce Hausfeld, OFM

I wish my whole family – my mom, dad, sisters, brothers, who are all gone of course except for Bryant – I wish we could all be together this Christmas, which would be really, really nice.  I know it’s just a wish. But I know we’re with them in spirit.

Br. Chris Meyer, OFM

Patience. In our world of technology, instant gratification and demand, we miss the opportunity of waiting: “I need dinner and I need it now!” Remember that old adage, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? I’ve prayed about this. My wish is that we would enter into life with patience. Of course I’d [also] like greater distribution of the world’s resources and clean drinking water.

Fr. Don Miller, OFM

My deepest wish is that the renewal of Religious life take us to a place where we are truly living a “different” lifestyle; one that challenges our middle-class value system to which we seem so dearly wed.

Fr. John Quigley, OFM

My wish is that Pope Francis would remain pope for 20 more years.

Br. Tim Sucher, OFM

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, I wish for a true and lasting  peace, mutual respect and unity among the people of our country and all people throughout the world.

  • Elijah Smoot with the kids at St. Francis Seraph Church.The most delightful rendition of Jingle Bells you’ll hear anywhere was delivered last week at a Christmas concert by the beautiful children of St. Francis Seraph Elementary School in Over-the-Rhine. Their performance, led by music teacher Elijah Smoot, is not to be missed. Watch and listen at:
  • After 46 years, the Board of Trustees of the Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury, England, has decided to close the facility on June 30, 2017. Read more on the Order’s website at:
  • “We’re all moved in, pictures on the walls, it’s really, really nice,” Fr. Bruce Hausfeld says of the home he and brother Bryant recently moved into in Cerrillos, N.M., 20 miles south of Santa Fe. For years, Franciscans were pastors in Cerrillos. “We knew about it all our lives because friars were stationed here,” Bruce says.
  • “When OLG Province was formed and Fr. Donnan Herbe died, the new province did not send a Franciscan to take his place, so the Diocese took it over. The last pastor was a Dominican who was called back to his headquarters,” leaving the residence vacant. Bruce and Bryant, in Albuquerque at the time, read about it and contacted the Diocese. “They were thrilled to death we volunteered to come here.” Using his scooter, Bruce says, “I can say Mass again” at the church in Cerrillos. “Bryant goes to Galisteo [in Santa Fe County] and has Mass on Sunday.”
  • The January 2017 issue of St. Anthony Messenger magazine features an article by Fr. Jim Van Vurst, “The Hour of our Death.”
  • Tom Shumate of Franciscan Media writes: “Your article on Merry BRICKmas has more significance to SJB than you may realize.  The builder of these models is Mark Clark and he worked with us extensively as a consultant at Franciscan Media a number of years ago.”
  • PHOTO BY JIM BOK, OFMChildren got gift bags from Santa.Christmas came early at St. Anthony’s Kitchen in Negril, Jamaica. Check out a video snippet to see just how crazy things were at Monday’s holiday lunch: They served 250 lunches and distributed 120 grocery bags (thanks to the Negril Rotary Club). Santa surrogate Richard Ramey gave gift bags to about 200 very excited children.
  • Check that same link for news about the annual Bishop’s Cup sports competition, held last weekend in Montego Bay, Jamaica. For the third time in four years, the Westmoreland-Hanover Deanery (where friars serve) won handily. “The competition PHOTO BY JIM BOK, OFMThe winning deanery team celebrates a victory.consists of football (soccer), netball, and various track meets,” wrote Fr. Jim Bok, pastor at Mary Gate of Heaven in Negril. “While we take the competition seriously, it is a fun day for the kids and grown ups.”
  • Monday, WCPO-TV featured an interview with Br. Tim Sucher about the Christmas creches from around the world being displayed through Jan. 1 as part of “A Franciscan Christmas” at Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. in Over-the-Rhine. See more at: Nativity. Tim explained how, when he was a preschooler in Price Hill, he and his brothers saved pennies to purchase their first crèche.
  • “This beautiful time of year gives us the opportunity to express our love, affection, and gratitude to the people in our lives,” Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler says in a video thank-you produced by Franciscan Media and posted on YouTube at:
  • Students at Roger Bacon High School showed their love for others this season by raising $2,378.39 and donating 602 gifts to the St. George and Bond Hill food pantries in Cincinnati. The Advent project was coordinated through the Community Outreach Board’s Assist-a-Family program. Freshmen and seniors got a shout-out on Facebook for donating the most. Merry Christmas, Spartans!

PHOTOS FROM facebook.comAbove, students package some of the 602 gifts they’re distributing, assisted by teacher Roger Lopez.

Santa brings comfort and joy

PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLISaleem Amir, aka Santa, with a young guest.Guests at St. Francis Seraph Soup Kitchen A universal symbol of loveSanta was assisted by Jacob Locaputo and Kyle DoergerWise Temple volunteers prepare and serve the Christmas meal1 - 5<>BY TONI CASHNELLI

As a stand-in for Santa, Fr. Saleem Amir is a little on the slim side.

But that doesn’t matter to guests at St. Francis Seraph Soup Kitchen in Over-the-Rhine. They’re here for a Christmas party, and that means a visit from Santa, in this case portrayed by a Pakistani friar wearing a costume so large it threatens to swallow him up.

“Do you recognize me?” Santa asks the crowd. A fair question, since Saleem has been a regular volunteer for the past few months while he waited for a visa that will allow him to join SJB friars at their missions in Jamaica. “Nooooooo,” the soup kitchen clients respond in playful unison.

Tuesday’s dinner is special, not only because of Santa. It was prepared, donated and is being served by members of Wise Temple, some of whom have been coming here for decades to give their Christian brethren a break during the holidays.

They’ve done their best to gussy things up, with candy canes strewn on tables topped with paper Christmas trees colored with crayons. This is as festive as it gets for some soup kitchen guests, who tote their belongings in backpacks or nylon bags strapped to carts.

When dinner is served – an aromatic plate of turkey and gravy with mashed potatoes, green beans and applesauce – Santa Saleem roams the rows of cafeteria tables, leaning in close to give hugs or offer a listening ear. Each diner leaves with a welcome gift, a red travel blanket donated to St. Francis Seraph Ministries by Delta Air Lines.

Asked if he’s had practice at this Saleem says, “Sure. In Pakistan, they will do this also.” Dressed as Santa, friars visit children in slums to bestow similar greetings. “I’m here bringing wishes for Christmas and New Year’s blessings,” they will tell the kids.

Wherever he appears, Saleem says, “Santa is a good soul.”

On a silent, holy night long ago, on a midnight clear in the little town of Bethlehem, joy came to the world.  Angels sang sweetly and proclaimed peace and goodwill to all, from heaven’s all gracious king.  A star of wonder, shining with royal beauty, caused kings bearing gifts to traverse afar and shepherds keeping watch in the fields to feel jubilee and to come and adore him.  Souls sensed their worth and the weary world felt a thrill of hope at these tidings of comfort and joy!  Gloria in excelsis Deo, indeed.

I hope and pray that all the friars, our families, friends and benefactors will rest merry during this beautiful season. May your hearts prepare room for him, and may your hopes and fears be met by this dawn of everlasting light.  May your loved ones sleep in heavenly peace.  Thank you for your generosity, and let’s continue to tell everyone everywhere, that Jesus Christ is born!


— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM



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