April 09, 2015

Waiting game precedes the parade

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Armed with a Game Plan, Adam Farkas is ready to roll.

“I watched the video from last year,” says Adam, the youngest rookie on Team Friars, the band of brothers marching in Monday’s Findlay Market Opening Day Parade in Cincinnati. “Everybody was saying, ‘Go, Reds!’ I’m prepared to do some hollering.” Besides his Reds cap and the official uniform, his habit, “I’m wearing loafers. They’re pretty comfortable.”

The day after Easter, about a dozen veterans and newbies are gathered in the refectory at St. Francis Seraph Friary for a last-minute briefing from Colleen Cushard, who marshalled the friars for their first-ever entry in last year’s parade and is attempting to herd them to their assigned spot in the lineup a few blocks away. “Attempting” is the operative word. Before things get started, two cars carrying several friars are lost, separated from the contingent that’s walking behind Roger Bacon High School’s rock band.

It’s no wonder, given the behind-the-scenes bedlam in Over-the-Rhine, the starting point for the parade. Backstage at the world’s largest circus you are surrounded by clowns, floats, singers, dancers, Clydesdales, cool cars, fire trucks, a lawn mower brigade and marching bands with trumpets all warming up at the same time. Every possible rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, from calliope to guitar, is playing in the distance.

‘Smile a lot’

When walking friars finally converge at their appointed spot on Elm Street at 11:30 a.m., the waiting begins. Number 118 in the lineup of a parade that starts at noon, they expect to be here for a while. “The most difficult thing is the interminable standing and waiting once we get in line,” says veteran marcher Gene Mayer, who, along with Tim Sucher drew a slew of shout-outs from the crowds last year. It was no cakewalk. “I was one of the banner carriers,” Gene says, “and no matter what I did I was running into the streetcar tracks.”

Jeff Scheeler’s advice for first-timers: “Smile a lot, wave, and have fun.” Last year, “I was surprised by how many people knew us.”

Teacher Mark Hudak will be carrying – or wearing, he isn’t sure – a sign identifying Roger Bacon as “A Franciscan High School.” He admits, “I’ve never done this before.” First-timer Pat McCloskey practices his Royal Wave. Tom Speier is saving his arm: “I don’t want to wear my socket out.”

As a child,  Fred Link marched to Crosley Field in Cincinnati’s Holy Name Parade and got to play the cymbals. Today, as a passenger in a vintage car, he’ll have to resist the urge to jump out along the parade route. “I’m going to see people I know and I’m going to want to talk to everyone.”

The real attraction

Habited friars attract attention. Today they’re overshadowed by fake friars – the rowdy gang from Christian Moerlein Brewery wearing phony habits – and two of the most beautiful Packards you’ve ever seen that will transport three friars along the parade route in style.  People are fawning over these classy cars. “Beautiful,” a woman says simply, leaning in the window to congratulate Roger Pierson, proud owner-driver of a silver ’41 model. (John Wintz, cousin of friar Jack, is driving Roger’s ‘54 Packard.) “Nice wheels,” says a kid who is generations removed from the car’s glory days.

After an hour of waiting, Kenn Beetz, Al Hirt and Adam are resting on the nearby Sunbelt Bakery float. Cartoon characters and unrecognizable furry mascots scamper by. “Pretty chaotic,” is how first-time parade marcher Carl Langenderfer describes it. “It brings out everybody,” Kenn says.

Spying the float from St. Rita School for the Deaf,  John Bok leaves the Packard to catch up with staff he knows from his days as Executive Director.  Frank Jasper is out there somewhere, being a roving photographer.

Energy at the bursting point, band kids are breaking into dance in the middle of Elm Street. Finally, after 1 p.m., a collective “Yay!” erupts down the block. There is movement on Race Street. It’s show time.

Mission accomplished

A couple hours later, after a mile-and-a-half of smiling, waving and walking, the marching friars are bone-tired. “It was fun,” says Carl. “I was amazed at the crowds. People were lined up 20 or 30 deep around Music Hall. It seems like the whole city was there,” including his nephew Tim and his wife. “They yelled at me and I recognized them in the crowd.”

Adam is sold on the parade idea. “I think it’s kind of neat for people to see the friars because many don’t know who we are. The habit is such a witness to show there’s a different kind of lifestyle.”

For true-blue fans like Al, the parade is a blast. “There’s no Opening Day like Opening Day in Cincinnati,” he says. “It’s nuts – and we’re part of it.”

Mom’s Easter gift?
Home cooking


There’s a saying that goes, “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” ᅠWell, what do you get when you bring a professional chef with 26 years of experience into a friary?ᅠ Let’s just say the house has redefined the meaning of “Perfect Joy”.

Most people like to say that their mothers/grandmothers are the best cooks they know: How can you beat a home-cooked meal, after all?ᅠ But I have a bit more legitimacy when I claim my mother is the best cook out there.ᅠNot only is my mom my best friend and the best mother I could ever ask for, she can cook anything and everything and isn’t afraid to experiment with new dishes and still make them delicious.ᅠ I’ve never had a single meal I didn’t like that she cooked.

Working in all kinds of settings, from nursing homes to restaurants to where she works now at the Cleveland Art Museum, she’s been a chef her whole adult life and loves every second of it.ᅠ Not many people can say they love their job and then come home and essentially continue that same job for another two-plus hours, but when you love something and you can see the satisfaction and direct results of your work, I suppose you don’t mind doing it all day.ᅠ Being a single parent, working at times two jobs and going to school, she would still come home every night and spend another few hours cooking for me.ᅠShe even passed on some of her knowledge to me in simple things (herb, spices, and onions are your best friends in cooking) so I could help out here and there to cook with her, though a lot of times I just made a larger mess to clean up.

Anyway, when I began Postulancy at St. Anthony’s, one of the first things she asked me was if she could come and cook for the friars sometimes, and needless to say, if you’re offering to cook for friars, the answer will always be yes.ᅠ So she and I had been planning on a time she could come down, since working and going to school for a degree in Dietetics and Nutrition has been eating up her time. Easter turned out to be the best time for her to come. Not only would I get to see my mom for the first time since Christmas, but I’d get to share an Easter meal with the friars that my mom and I would prepare for everyone.

Right, Mom Lydia Tucholski with her son, Jonathon Douglas; below, friars at St. Anthony’s were treated to an Easter feast prepared by a pro.

Left, Lydia’s cheesecake. Below, Jonathon and Lydia with Joe Ricchini.


When Easter finally came, it was so good to see her. When we got to cooking, we pulled it off without any problems.ᅠ With enough food left over to feed us all here at St. Anthony’s for at least three or four more days, we made a real feast, as Br. Leonard would say, “A recipe for four can feed four men, three women, or two friars.” We prepared two hams, a massive fresh salad, and three hotel pans: one with a green bean, bell pepper, and onion medley; one with roasted root vegetables; and the final one full of a savory bread pudding (not the dessert kind most are used to!). For dessert there was a berry-topped cheesecake to which Trevor Blum, one of the postulants remarked, “Is there a way you can mail me down a cheesecake?  No, seriously, I need this air-mailed down.” All 13 of us were very well fed (especially since I’m pretty certain most everyone went up for a second helping).

My mom was invited back to cook anytime she wanted. Fr. Joe Ricchiniᅠtold her, “You should come on down every weekend, we’ll get you a little house right here to stay in, too!” ᅠGetting to see my mom really made this Easter for me, and getting to cook with her for the friars here was such a blessing. I think I can say for the friars here at St. Anthony that everyone was more than pleased with the meal.ᅠ And from all of us here, a warm Thank You to my mother.

I love you, mom.

I am doing visitation in Galveston this week. I was also able to stop for a short visit at Rice University in Houston, where I served as campus minister for four years. I enjoy coming back to Texas, and especially Galveston, because I Jeff was on hand for the going-away gathering for John Paul Flajole in Galveston.learned so much here; it is where my ministerial career began, and in some ways it is where I learned to be a priest. Though I am not BOI (born on the island), I do, as the locals say, have “sand between my toes.” Things are dramatically different since I was here was as a newly ordained almost 35 years ago, and even more complex since Hurricane Ike a few years ago. Now there is just one parish with six worship sites. But some of the same staff and parishioners are still here. They kid me about my gray hair and the weight I have put on, but I give it right back to them. It is interesting to come back every once in a while to the place and relationships where important things happened. More than just a source of memories, it is also barometer of personal growth, development, and change that happens on the journey.


— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM Email To a Friend

  • Family and friends gathered at the Cabarita River in Jamaica on Easter Monday to watch Fr. Max Langenderfer baptize Simone Smalling, Kenneth Graham and Vanessa Ferguson by immersion.
  • The granddaddy of fund-raising raffles, the one mounted by St. Mary’s Parish in Bloomington, Ill., has reached a milestone. For the first time the year-long raffle has grossed $80,000. “We clear about $65,000 for the school and parish,” says Pastor Ric Schneider, whose persuasive appeal letter is a major part of the success of the daily raffle.
  • If you’re driving through the Northside area of Cincinnati, you might come across a street sign that caught the eye of Fr. Al Hirt. “Of course, it is POPE ALLEY, but it looks good!” he says.
  • “March 27 to 29, Derek Rankins (left) and Caleb Reed (right) joined the Franciscan community at St. Anthony Friary in Cincinnati for a Come and See weekend,” Fr. Don Miller reports. “Derek (23) is from New Orleans, La., and is in his second to last semester at Tulane University studying sociology and African Studies. Derek also attends our St. Mary of the Angels parish in New Orleans, La. Caleb (19) is from Loveland, Ohio, and recently graduated from high school and is looking into colleges for next year.”