August 13, 2015

Email To a Friend

BY TONI CASHNELLIPHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLILeft, Tim Lamb is preparing for his departure; above, the mission cross he will take to Africa; below, the novitiate in Uganda.To obtain his visa, Tim had to have a yellow fever vaccination.   PHOTO FROM

Visa? Check.  Flight plans? Check. Vaccinations? Check.

A well-prepared Tim Lamb is ready to start his life as a missionary, but one mystery remains. “What I don’t know, and it’s OK that I don’t know this, is what I’ll be doing,” Tim says. “That’s the exciting part of it.”

Exciting indeed. On Aug. 23, Br. Tim will have an official sendoff – a missioning service at St. Francis Seraph Church in Cincinnati – before he leaves for Belgium, the springboard to his destination, East Africa.

At the three-month Inter-Franciscan Missionary Program in Brussels, Tim and other outward-bound friars will focus on history and missiology, as well as culture and adjustment issues. He’s been asked to present talks on trauma and recovery from trauma.   “Eventually I would like to be focused on working with returning refugees in South Sudan; that’s where I want to be if they want me to have a role.”

While most Americans are confused by the region’s geography, they know its history of instability. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to neighboring countries following a civil war and the partitioning of the Sudan in 2011. Despite continuing conflicts, “People are coming home to South Sudan, and that’s good news,” Tim says. Unfortunately, “There’s not much to return to.” Outreach to emotionally scarred refugees is one of the ministries of friars of the Province of St. Francis in East Africa, with whom Tim will be living.

But first things first. After he completes the program in Brussels, Tim will fly to Nairobi for acclimation Dec. 1, then settle into the novitiate in Mbarara, Uganda, four hours from an interprovincial friary in Juba, South Sudan.

In the next few weeks, “There are odds and ends I still need to do,” such as rethinking his clothing strategy for Equatorial climates. “South Sudan tends to be warmer than Uganda by some 10 degrees. Right now it’s winter,” with highs in the 80s and 90s.

“Just today I bought a [laptop] computer. I’m going to be writing a blog called ‘Omnes Donum Est – All Is Gift.’” (Find it at

The title says a lot about his missionary mindset. “The focus is not all on work; it’s learning to be with the friars and be a friar there and the rest will fall into place.” Tim is still processing all of this. “I never would have dreamed of going to Africa when I entered,” he says. The decision was a result of “being open to the urging of the Spirit and following it.”

Even though the job description has yet to be written, “I’ll do what I can and do the best I can.”

Br. Tim Lamb’s Missioning Service to the Province of St. Francis in Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23, at St. Francis Seraph Church in Cincinnati. A reception follows. Please RSVP by Saturday, Aug. 15, to the Franciscan Mission Office at 513-721-4700, ext. 3220.A proper sendoff

His smile said it all


He met everyone with a grin, and answered each “How are you?” with the same reply:


Life was so good that Curt Lanzrath just had to share his joy in it.

When friends gathered Aug. 10 for Curt’s funeral at St. Clement, they talked about his gentle spirit, his authenticity, his devotion to the fraternity. All of them mentioned his upbeat attitude, a positivity that attracted people of all ages throughout Curt’s 90 years of life. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him when he wasn’t smiling,” Norbert Bertram said during the Reception of the Body.

“He was a wonderful, wonderful man,” said Jeanne Heiman, whose friendship with Curt dates back 40 years to his time as a pastor in Olpe, Kansas.  Jeanne and her husband Tom lived across the street from the church. Whenever their toddler son Andrew crawled away, they knew where to find him: He would be sitting in the rectory with Curt. Today, Andrew is a priest in the Diocese of Wichita. He and his parents came all the way from Kansas to reminisce and pay their respects.

“Fr. Curt was very influential in my high school years,” said Mike Kuhlmann, another former parishioner from Olpe. “He had a great smile, a booming voice and a memory that was unsurpassed. He could remember every person’s name, even their dog’s name.” That memory was tested six weeks ago when Mike and his wife drove here from Above, a memory board at St. Clement; below, Young friar Curt Lanzrath in 1957.Wichita to fulfill a bucket-list wish, re-connecting with the former pastor.  Curt was no longer his old, sharp self, Mike said, but by the end of their hour-and-a-half together, “He remembered me and my family. We had a magical visit.”

Inspiring youth

Carl Hawver was a senior in high school when Curt led a student retreat. “One day I came upon him when he was by himself,” Carl said. He told Curt, “You know, I think I like your clothes.” And Curt replied, “Kid, how’d you like to wear them for a lifetime?” Over the years, Carl often reminded Curt “that he brought me here. Thank you, Curt, thank you very much.”

Curt’s rapport with young people was most evident in his unofficial ministry as a confessor and spiritual director at Texas A&M University. He moved to Texas to minister to Poor Clares in Brenham. But as their population dwindled he took on another role, becoming a wisdom figure – almost a grandfather – to the students and faculty at College Station. Jim Van Vurst remembered how the Clares “sang Curt’s praises about all he did for the students.” To show their gratitude when he retired, 23 Texans accompanied him on a “buscapade” to Cincinnati. Jim is convinced that those students “are now carrying on what Curt gave them. God uses us to do more than we can possibly imagine.”

Celebrant Jeff Scheeler gave thanks to God “for Curt’s positive, joyful spirit, for the great blessing he was, the great blessing he continues to be.”

Gifted and complex

Few friars knew Curt better than Fred Link, stationed with him at St. Clement, at Holy Rosary in Houma, La., and at the interprovincial novitiate in Cedar Lake, Ind. “He was a complex man, a remarkable friar-priest, a man of deep prayer, 100% committed to spiritual life,” Fred said in his homily for Curt. “He was profoundly in touch with his humanity, very fraternal, aware of his brokenness” – qualities that helped him mentor and support so many others.

Curt was fueled by a passion for sharing the Good News – whenever he could. One morning in Houma, Fred said, “I’d gotten up at 6:30 or so for the 7 o’clock Mass and was making coffee when the door from outside opened and Curt came in. He was excitedly eager to share an experience he’d had while sitting on a tombstone.” Curt, who typically slept only four hours a night, would go to the cemetery to pray, read and smoke cigars. His appetite Left: Mike Kuhlmann, Tom and Jeanne Heiman and their son, Fr. Andrew Heiman; below, Jack Wintz discovers Curt’s “Aggie” memorabilia. PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLIFrom 2007, the year Curt left Brenham, Texas.for spiritual reading – especially the works of Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier and Thomas Merton – was insatiable. That morning, “He was moved by an insight he just had to share.”

A self-proclaimed Kansas farm boy, “Curt was truly at home in Brenham,” helping the sisters, who raised miniature horses, and tending a garden in his overalls. When he needed to find another outlet, assisting at St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M seemed the perfect fit. There, “He was deeply influential” in the lives of young men and women, Fred said. “College students are attracted to authentic people.”

An eloquent preacher

A proud follower of the 12-step program, Curt made no secret of his past struggles with alcohol. In some way, “Everyone here is wounded,” Fred said. “Curt knew that. He was, as one of his spiritual directors said, ‘a wounded healer’.” Being in control was important to him, or at least the appearance of being in control. “He liked to come off as being all put together. He loved to demonstrate competence.” Ironically, “Curt would never let anybody into his room because his room was a disaster – stuff everywhere. It was a side he was out of control of.” But “God had the last laugh,” Fred said. When a major storm tore the roof off Curt’s double-wide mobile home in Brenham, “All the insides were exposed.” And Curt finally had to admit, “The secret’s out; I’m messy!”

His gifts were considerable. “What a preacher he was, and he didn’t need a microphone. Something was driving him to make eloquent – and loud – the story of the Gospel.” Wherever Curt preached, “His message was always positive, good, life-giving. He was a mentor to me, a support when I was down, an encourager.”

When Curt smiled, you had to smile back. “He was so positive every time I visited,” Jeff said following Communion. “If you asked how the food was, how the care was, it was always, ‘Wonderful!’”

Nouwen, one of Curt’s spiritual heroes, once wrote: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

The choice Curt made was a blessing for everyone he knew.

Destination Africa

Countdown begins for Tim’s missionary journey

Loading the page...

Next week, from Sunday, Aug. 16, through Wednesday, Aug. 19, the seven Provincial Councils of the U.S. Provinces will gather at Techny Towers, a conference center north of Chicago sponsored by the Society of the Divine Word. We will be joined by General Minister Michael Perry and our new ESC General Definitor Caoimhin (Irish for Kevin) O Laide. Richard McManus (SB), Bill Beaudin (HN) and Page Polk (SJB) of the Franciscan Interprovincial Team will share with us some possible models for future restructuring of the U.S. provinces. The Councils will discuss and work with the various proposals, and then various possibilities will be sent out to all the provinces for their discussion and discernment. That reflection will be gathered and used when the Councils gather again next April (2016) at our retreat house in Easton, where we will attempt to narrow down the options. Discernment will continue until we make our decision at our Chapters or other gatherings in 2016. That’s the plan, so look for some materials to come your way soon. The discernment in the coming year will be primarily in the provinces, with the discernment the following year being more interprovincial. Thanks in advance for your prayerful support and participation in shaping our future!


— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

Email To a Friend

Young volunteers deserve our applause

 PHOTOS BY JIM BOCK, OFMAbove, John and Parker help Dwayne with a ceiling; right, Hugh and Annie at Risen Messiah; above right, Hugh and Annie at St. Anthony’s Kitchen; lower right, it was Lauren’s fourth trip to Jamaica and Jackie’s third.BY JIM BOK, OFM

While the summer months bring a slowdown in tourism, they also open the door for visiting high school volunteers.  June 24, six volunteers (three moms and three high school students) from Los Angeles arrived for 10 days of work.  They carried with them six large boxes and two giant suitcases of school supplies (including 50 backpacks), clothing, books and toys.  I still marvel that they came through customs without paying $1 in duty. Two of the students, Hugh and Annie, are co-founders of Education for All (EFA).  Their intention is to begin chapters in various high schools in LA for the purpose of assisting poor children with their education.  EFA is still small but already they are exploring how and where they might assist.  A happenstance phone call from Hugh to Mary Gate of Heaven Church and a “yah mon, come!” set the ball rolling.

On the first day they were loaded into the pick-up truck, after a reminder that they were no longer in the U.S., and assisted in the distribution of 45 food parcels to elderly and shut-in folks.  No volunteer presence would be complete without meeting Ms. Pearl and sharing out the food at St. Anthony’s Kitchen and assisting in the thrift shop with Ms. Bilouxi.  Time was spent cleaning the church and hall in anticipation of painting.  The highlight of their visit, though, was time spent at Risen Messiah Basic School.  The connecting of volunteers to children was instant.  Upon his return home Hugh wrote, “We all had a great time in Jamaica and thanks for all you did for us.  I look forward to staying in touch and coming back next summer.”  Hugh, Annie and fellow volunteer Christine worked very hard to raise funds for the trip.

Above, Amy keeps Damario afloat; right, Mia (a mom) at Risen Messiah; below, Jim and the crew after they painted Ms. Enid’s house.The LA folks departed on Friday and the following Monday 11 volunteers from Cincinnati arrived. John, Amy, Lauren and Parker Getgey were making their fourth trip to The Capital of Casual and Lauren’s friend, making her third.  This time they brought other high school volunteers – and school supplies, clothing and arts and crafts for a “camp day.”  Lauren and Jackie, having been here in the past to assist with Bible Camp, wanted to organize a volunteer mission trip from Mariemont High School.  After months of planning and fundraising their dream was fulfilled.

Assisting Ms. Pearl at the Kitchen was a given.  A visit to the Infirmary in Savanna-la-mar was first on the agenda.  Residents are indigent men and women who require assisted care.  They came bearing heartfelt gifts for the residents.  Driving into the parking lot is a stark reminder that you are not in the USA any more.  Lauren, having delivered the monthly food baskets in the past, was insistent that they do it – a special delivery.  They purchased the necessary supplies (about $800 USD) and broke down the 100-pound bags of flour, cornmeal, rice, peas and more into individual parcels. All packages loaded up, everyone piled into the pickup and off we went.  Ms. Enid’s house got painted and Millie’s ceiling got repaired.  Then there was the mini-Bible camp ministering to 40 children from ages 5 to 16.  And the finale was taking those 40 kids to the Boardwalk Village beach for swimming, football (ah, that would be soccer) and lunch.  The water trampoline was in place, half the kids can’t swim and everyone wants to jump on the tramp. Both the Jamaican and Cincy kids had a great time – and so did the grown-ups!

While groups of volunteers require a lot of planning, time and attention, how can one not be inspired by their generosity, hard work and above all, their care and concern for others?  One of my old, now deceased, friar friends used to say, “The trouble with youth is that it’s wasted on the young.”  These youths don’t seem to be wasting their youth at all.  Seems to me they are spending it very well and I am grateful that they are spending some of it here in The Capital of Casual.   They will be back next year!

Young adults find faith and fellowship


Last week 30 young adults between the ages of 18 and 33 gathered at CTU PHOTO BY RONIT BEZALELeft to right: Henry Beck, Dillon (N.M.), Lydia (Ill.), Christopher (Mo.), Catherine (Nova Scotia), Peter (Alberta), and Sarah (Ohio).in Chicago for the annual Catholics on Call Conference, hosted by the Bernardin Center.

The week was full of spiritual and theological input, small group sharing sessions, beautiful liturgies, one-on-one confession/counseling times, meals, and fun times together.  The overall goals for the conference were to bring the young adults together so they could listen to one another’s stories and questions about faith and ministry in the Church and in the world for God.

The input sessions presented the Biblical foundations of Call, a theology of vocation, foundations and dynamics of prayer, friendship, intimacy and vocation.  We also visited three ministry sites in Chicago: “Harmony, Hope, and Healing” (a music and dance ministry with seniors), “Precious Blood Ministry of Restorative Justice” (a center for reconciliation for African-American teens and young adults in the “Back of the Yards” neighborhood), and “St. Ailbe Parish” (a vibrant African-American Parish in South Side Chicago).

The quote from Frederick Buechner that “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” truly came alive as we visited these sites and listened to the persons ministering there.

Several religious communities are also beginning to send their prospective candidates to this conference as a step in their discernment journey.  The participants receive helpful insights into the “process” of discernment and the various vocations in the Church, such as, lay ecclesial ministry, religious life, and ordained ministry.

I am grateful that we are a partner as a province to this conference and this office at CTU.

From their solemn professions: Above, Roger and his mom; below, Clifford with Jeff Scheeler.

  • Reminder: The ordinations of Br. Clifford Hennings and Br. Roger Lopez to the Order of the Diaconate is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, at St. Clement Church in St. Bernard.
  • Fr. Jim Van Vurst sold 15 of the 20 paintings displayed at the recent showing of his works at St. Clement Church. He also took on commissions for three new renderings of his painting of “Tulips”.
  • At a press conference Aug. 5 at St. Monica-St. George Parish in Cincinnati, Pastor Al Hirt joined Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and more than 30 organizations in explaining how parishes and offices are putting Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and climate change, Laudato Si, into practice. “Archbishop Schnurr, along with other local and national Catholic leaders, highlighted efforts to reduce their archdiocese’s carbon footprint, striving to reduce energy costs through conservation measures and by exploring how to integrate more renewable energy sources throughout its 19 counties,” according to an Aug. 6 online posting by the Catholic Telegraph at:
  • Pope Francis has established a “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which will be celebrated annually on Sept. 1, according to Vatican Radio. Read more at; World Day of Prayer
  • The newest member of the Communications Team of the General Curia is Alvin Te, Vocation Director for Immaculate Conception Province. You may remember that he assisted Tom Washburn with communications for the ESC during the recent General Chapter. Alvin will move to the General Curia in Rome in September.
  • General Minister Michael Perry talked to Catholic News Service about the sainthood cause of Friar Junipero Serra in a video posted at Serra will be canonized in September during Pope Francis’ trip to the United States.

My family members and I wish to thank you for your prayers, cards and presence at my beloved sister Claire’s funeral. Fr. Jim Van Vurst preached a memorable homily and the staff at St. Clements were so hospitable.

– Sr. Doris Gerke, OSC

  • Gene Mayer heard from classmate Bill Metzger that William J. Wirth, brother of the late Justus Wirth, OFM, and Elaine Wirth, died Aug. 1 in Columbus. Bill, 87, was a Navy veteran and a retired pipefitter. His obituary is posted in the Columbus Dispatch at:
  • Thomas Vigliotta, OFM, of Holy Name Province, died July 4 at the age of 66.