January 29, 2015

Ermin Werle, OFM

Ermin Werle, OFM

Sr. Rose de Lourdes, OSF

Philibert Ramstetter, OFM

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Our favorite teachers

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My favorite teacher was an Oldenburg Sister, Sr. Rose de Lourdes.ᅠ I had her for 5th and 6th grade.ᅠ She was amazing.ᅠ First of all, she was young.ᅠ Most of our other Sisters were older, or so we thought, even though they were only in their late 30s and early 40s!ᅠ But Rose de Lourdes was in her late 20s.ᅠ And she was beautiful.ᅠ She had eyes that could see into your soul and a smile that warmed one’s heart.

One day at noonday recess, we were in our classrooms because it was raining outside. The nuns had not yet come back from lunch at the convent. A classmate had brought a “whoopee cushion” to school and we were all taking turns blowing it up and sitting on it. It was my turn.ᅠ I blew it up, put it on my desk chair, sat on it and as the air left the bag making its infamous sound I let out a satisfied “Ahhhhh” in response.

Suddenly the room became dead silent.ᅠ I opened my eyes and directly in front of me was the silver crucifix the Sisters wore.ᅠ Rose de Lourdes was glaring at me as I foolishly said, “Sister!ᅠ How did that cushion get under me?”ᅠᅠ (What was I thinking?)ᅠ She took it to her desk and, in the dead silence of all of us onlookers,ᅠcut it into strips and threw it away.ᅠ The rest of the day she totally ignored me.ᅠ I was devastated.ᅠ The next day I did not want to go to school but when I entered the classroom, Sister Rose greeted me warmly and never said a word about the whoopee cushion.ᅠ Life went on as usual.

About 20 years later I made Solemn Vows as a Franciscan.ᅠ By then Sr. Rose de Lourdes had gone back to her real name, Sr. Joan Rogers.ᅠ She came to my vows ceremony, and while at the reception she handed me a gift and said, “Go ahead and open it now.”ᅠ I did.ᅠ It was a whoopee cushion!ᅠ I broke into tears and said, “You remembered that day.ᅠ I was devastated.”ᅠ She replied, “I know.ᅠ I told the Sisters that night and we all had a hearty laugh!”

Well, I was the one who had the last laugh.ᅠ Joan died rather unexpectedly.ᅠ I was not able to attend the funeral but did go to her grave about six months later.ᅠ I spent time there in prayer and before I left, I placed a red whoopee cushion on her tombstone!

She was an amazing teacher.ᅠ Next to my parents, I think she was the most significant person in my life.

John Barker, OFM

Murray Bodo, OFM

Hilarion Kistner, OFM

J.J. Gonchar, OFM

Leonard Foley, OFM

Nick Lohkamp, OFM

Mark Hudak, OFM

Gene Mayer, OFM

Tom Speier, OFM

Adam Farkas, OFM

Paul Desch, OFM

Tom Richstatter, OFM

Our favorite teachers

Dan Anderson, OFM

A teacher who had a great influence on me was Ermin Werle, OFM, my freshman English teacher and head of the theatre program at Roger Bacon High School.ᅠ I learned a lot from him in both areas, and his interest in and support of me was a very strong influence to join the Franciscans.

John Barker, OFM

Catholic Theological Union

My favorite teacher was Sr. Teresa, who taught speech and drama. She was always a lot of fun, but serious about public speaking. I will always be grateful that she convinced me, a very shy kid (it’s true!), that I could act and speak in front of others with “confidence and composure.” I wouldn’t be doing what I do today without Sr. Teresa.

John Bok, OFM

Sr. Therese Marie Haggarty, SNDdeN, my first and second grade teacher at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School in Reading, Ohio, was my favorite teacher.ᅠ She helped me learn how to read, to write, to compute and to think, and in the process she made learning interesting, something that stayed with me throughout life.

Dennis Bosse, OFM

Zachary Hayes, OFM, Teacher of Theology at CTU. What I remember from his class is that the mystery of God is beyond all understanding, and classes like theology gave us only a “glimpse” into the mystery of God. Also, talking with him one-on-one was fascinating because he showed the relationship between theology and spirituality in conversation like spiritual direction.

Mike Chowning, OFM

John L. Sullivan; my algebra teacher in high school, who tutored me after classes when he realized I had forgotten everything over the summer.

Friars Paul Desch, Hilarion Kistner, Nick Lokhamp:ᅠ Each of them were dedicated not only to their field of expertise, but even more so to their students. Without their support and encouragement, I would not be a Franciscan or a priest today.

Loren Connell, OFM

From grade school through college: Philibert Ramstetter, Leander Blumlein, John de Deo Oldegeering, Paul Desch, Cyrin Maus, and Larry Landini.  I cannot overlook Ms. Vera Gordon and Srs. Marie Angele, Marie Hildegard, Mary Maxine, and Mary Timothy.  My favorite was Sr. Mary Loretta, SP, my 11th-grade English teacher.  I don’t remember studying much of anything in her class.  What I remember is a woman passionately interested in the lives of her students. I remember someone who believed in me.

No list of teachers would be complete without my favorite guardian, the old curmudgeon himself, Qoheleth Ebenezer Kistner.  He led a seminar on John Raymond Brown’s Anchor Bible edition, Volume 1, on that gospel that had just been published.  I owe my appreciation for Scripture today to Hilarion and that seminar.

Adam Farkas, OFM

Roger Bacon High School
My favorite teacher was Sr. M. Lillian, OSF. She was the school librarian and was always very supportive of me, especially when I was becoming interested in religious life and the priesthood.

John Joseph Gonchar, OFM

It was a certain Fr. Cyril Shircel, OFM. He was able not only to make Philosophy enjoyable, but brought it down to our level, making it easy to understand.ᅠ I always looked forward to his classes.

Mark Hudak, OFM

Roger Bacon High School

My favorite teacher was Sr. Antoinette Severn in high school. Her knowledge of biology and her classroom management skills were impeccable. She also had a beautiful voice and sometimes sang solos during all-school liturgies. Sr. Antoinette’s joy inspired me so much that I majored in biology in college.

David Kohut, OFM

My favorite teacherᅠis Sr. Mary Lucretia, CSSF,ᅠa FelicianᅠSister who resides as well asᅠministers to theᅠpeopleᅠin andᅠaround theᅠinfirmary convent in Lodi, N.J. Well intoᅠherᅠ90s, she continues to spend herᅠtime bringing others towardᅠappreciating better health with her creative spirit and unfailing persistence.

Roger Lopez, OFM

Br. Rahl Bunsa with the Brotherhood of Hope taught me freshman high school religion. I vividly remember him teaching how creation and evolution does not contradict itself. For when God willed it, He breathed His spirit into that ape and it became human.

Gene Mayer, OFM

I would first think of Murray Bodo, fresh out of ordination my junior year of high school – the only English teacher who has EVER made me appreciate poetry. Never appreciated it before, never since.ᅠ Thomas Speier was, without question, my best professor in college; he was a great biology teacher!

Gregg Petri, OFM

My favorite teacher was Leonard Foley, OFM, my sophomore English teacher at St. Francis Seminary.ᅠI certainly developed my love of reading from him.  I remember one day when I was reading Shakespeare in class I was not pausing at the comma. He told me that when I got to the comma, stop, look at the clock, and then continue – a lesson I never forgot.

Tom Richstatter, OFM

St. Meinrad School of Theology

Roger Huser at St. Leonard’s College for Canon Law really stands out in my memory.ᅠ I admired his ability to give importance to the important things by memorable stories and examples. “The difference between a peregrinus and a vagus is if he left the friary and just took his wallet and the car keys, he’s a peregrinus, but if he took his long underwear and his parakeet, he’s a vagus.” It could be that his teaching influenced my decision to write my doctoral dissertation on “Obedience to Liturgical Law” and the fact that today I am a member of the Canon Law Society of America.

 Recently, a man came to me after Mass and identified himself as the nephew of Sr. Mary James, the principal at St. Clement School while I was there.  He loved to visit his aunt because she would give him such cool toys – guns, rubber snakes, pocket knives, slingshots – whatever she confiscated from the students since the last visit.  I wondered if any of my items were among his treasures.

 He sent my thoughts back to those grade school years which were so exciting and fun.  It was truly a community of learning.  We learned about the arts and the sciences and we learned the basics of our faith.  We learned to live and work and play together – skills that will last a lifetime.  We had a solid basis to draw upon as we moved to higher levels of education and into a complex and diverse world.

 Things are quite different today.  Ipads have replaced the textbooks and notepads, computers have replaced the filmstrips and Wikipedia seems to know everything about everything, replacing the Encyclopedia Britannica. The delivery system has changed, but the community of learning in the context of faith remains the same.

 I’m grateful for my Catholic education and for the many lifelong friends that I made in the process.  Let’s show our appreciation for our Catholic schools and the parents, teachers and administrators that made it happen as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week.



— FRANK JASPER, OFM Email To a Friend

Bernardin Schneider, OFM

‘There was something about him’


“This is one homily I didn’t think I would ever preach,” Ric Schneider said at the Jan. 24 memorial Mass for his oldest brother, Bernardin. “It should have been Aquinas. He knew him best.” But with Aquinas gone to God the task fell to Ric, who drove to St. Anthony Shrine in Mt. Airy after presiding at the funeral for their sister, Jeanne Gravatte, in Louisville. If he was tired, you wouldn't know it.

“He was a great brother of mine, a wonderful friar and a phenomenal scholar,” said Ric, the baby in a family of 11 siblings. Three years old when Bernie left home to pursue religious life, “I really didn’t know him that well.” But Ric did remember the family trip to Bernie’s first Mass after ordination March 3, 1944 (“We had to siphon gas out of one car to get to Oldenburg and back”), and Bernie’s first assignment at St. Boniface in Peoria. “He was only there a year but, my gosh, he made so many friends. I still get e-mails from people who remember him. Once you met Bernie you were a friend for life.”

As Ric said, “There were so many areas in which he excelled. He was a man of deep faith and obedience. That faith was demonstrated in a great way in his prayer life. Oh man, he was a great pray-er. He prayed in tongues. Chris and I witnessed that one time” at the house of a relative who longed for a baby. Nine months after Bernie prayed over her, “She had twins.”

As accomplished as he was – he spoke eight languages and his scholastic achievements were historic – Bernie was as much admired for the positive energy he projected. “There was a presence about him,” Susan Vergamini said of a man she saw only a couple of times in her life. Like others at the memorial service, Susan was describing an intangible quality that attracted people like moths to light. “There was something about him” was how it was usually phrased.

Susan met Bernie in Batesville, Ind., when Ric was pastor there in the 1980s, and she later accompanied the family on a celebratory trip to Japan in 2002 for a convergence of anniversaries surrounding Bernie’s groundbreaking work in Bible translation. “I spent maybe two weeks there” on a tour arranged by Bernie. “It’s hard to describe,” she said. “There was an aura about him.”

This was the feeling shared by generations of people whose lives intersected that of a remarkable friar. “He was a great guy, a great brother, a wonderful godfather and friar,” said Ric.

Maybe that was his biggest achievement.

(The Communications Office has a number of copies of The Lord Is the Spirit: Essays Honoring Bernardin Schneider, OFM. Please contact Sr. Daria at dariam@franciscan.org if you would like one.)


I received so many sympathy cards and e-mails from the Friars on the passing of Bernie and my sister Jeanne.ᅠ What a blessing to have brothers who are with you in prayer at times like this.ᅠ A special thanks to all the friars at St. Anthony, Mt. Airy, and the other friars who were able to join us for the memorial Mass for Bernie.

Thank you.

– Ric Schneider, OFM


Tim Lamb, OFM

  • Tim Lamb leaves in September to begin missionary training for an assignment that will take him to Kenya and Uganda. When he volunteered for a Project of Missionary Evangelization for the Order, the General Council decided that some of the greatest needs were in Africa. After spending three weeks at a training school in Belgium, Tim will move to the provincial house in Nairobi, Kenya, to become accustomed to the weather and the culture. “I’ll begin my assignment in Uganda, helping out at the novitiate as well as helping friars in the South Sudan” who assist returning refugees suffering from trauma, says Tim, who was asked to make a six-year commitment to service in Africa. Read more about his new ministry in the Feb. 12 edition of News Notes.
  • Check out this article Jeff Scheeler found on the ESC website “about the discovery of a new Franciscan document which appears to be a Vita of Francis written by Thomas of Celano which was written between 1 and 2 Celano.” It's posted at: http://www.escofm.org/news/early-celano-umbrian-legend-discovered
  • Impressive stats: When we decided to feature current and former friar teachers for Catholic Schools Week, we asked Dan Anderson to help us pull together a list. By the time he was finished, Dan found that 67 SJB friars had served in schools in some capacity (most as teachers). Thanks to each of them for their commitment to this vital ministry.
  • Marilyn Wilson of FMU passed along this link to a fun story from The New Yorker about “Frater Francesco: Traces, Words, Images”, a recent exhibit of medieval books and manuscripts related to Francis, displayed at in Brooklyn Borough Hall. Read it at: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/looking-st-francis
  • Oprah Winfrey interviews Richard Rohr on the new season of Super Soul Sunday, premiering at 11 a.m. Feb. 8 on the OWN network. On the program Oprah interviews “top thinkers, authors, visionaries and spiritual leaders,” according to this promo posted at: http://www.oprah.com/app/super-soul-sunday.html
  • Jeff Scheeler shared a number of short videos from “Provincial School” in Italy:  Mass at Greccio with the Minister General; an audience with Pope Francis; adventures in dining; the sights and sounds of Rome. They’re on our province Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Franciscanfriars

Richard Rohr, OFM