August 28, 2015


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In World War II, friar chaplains were an important part of

The Greatest Generation


They saw it all – and lived to tell about it.
World War II ended on Sept. 2, 1945, when Japan officially surrendered to the Allies aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Alongside hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who wept with joy and relief were the friar chaplains who stood with and supported them from England to Germany, from North Africa to New Guinea.
Where the troops went, Franciscans followed, sometimes praying on the sidelines, often standing directly in the line of fire. When war was declared, 14 friars of St. John the Baptist Province volunteered to serve our soldiers and their country. When it ended, all 14 returned and were invited to tell their stories in a Special Number of the Provincial Chronicle produced by J. Forest McGee in June of 1947.
They are gone – the last of the chaplains died in 1996 – but their voices still resonate in the stories they wrote for the Chronicle. To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the deadliest conflict in human history, we share with you their names, their faces, and some of their memories.

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‘I was no hero’

A number of friar chaplains in World War II were decorated for their courage and dedication. Maj. Gerald Beck brought home seven battle stars, an Air Combat medal and seven other ribbons and citations. Maj. Barnabas McAlarney received a Purple Heart; he didn’t explain how he got it.

Maj. Aloys Schweitzer, Maj. William Faber and Capt. Herman Felhoelter were all awarded the Bronze Star, a medal presented for “heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement or meritorious service in a combat zone”. Herman did not live to receive his most prestigious medal, a Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military honor in the Army. It was given for “extraordinary heroism” after he was killed in Korea in 1950 while ministering to wounded soldiers.

“I was no hero,” wrote Capt. Seraph Zeitz, who landed in southern France with the troops on D-Day. “More real courage goes into living well the humdrum routine of everyday life than in charging down the valley of death.”

Toni Cashnelli

Page Polk, a Texan in New York.Hello, New York!


If anyone had told me a year ago that I would be living in New York City at the Southern tip of Manhattan (in the SoHo district), I would have laughed and shaken my head…  No way!

Since Feb. 1, 2015, I have been living in New York City at the Southern tip of Manhattan (in the SoHo district).  Some days I still shake my head.  Who, me? It is a fact, nonetheless.

The Spirit of God moves in mysterious ways,  Last October, via a discernment process, Bill Beaudin of Holy Name Province, Richard McManus of St. Barbara Province and I  were selected to provide a unique ministry and service to the OFMs of the United States.

The name of our team is Franciscan Interprovincial Team (FIT).  We were asked by the seven Ministers Provincial to live and work together to help move forward a process entitled:  Brothers for the Twenty-First Century:  A Process for the Revitalization and Restructuring of Franciscan Life in the United States, 2014-2017.

How can the friars re-kindle the fire and energy of being a missionary order? How, with the declining number of friars, can the friars live and work together to serve the Church in America?  How will the senior friars be cared for with appreciation, love, and dignity?  How might the friars be better stewards of time, talent, and treasure?


What am I learning from these efforts?

  • Friars are a group of men trying to live the Gospel life guided by the Rule of St. Francis.
  • We are a fraternity in mission.
  • We need each other.
  • Every friar is a unique gift to our brotherhood.
  • We are men who want to love God and provide care for God’s people.
  • We have different provincial histories, experiences, memories, and cultures – yet, our common bond is our Franciscan vocation.
  • We are asked to build bridges and not fences/walls.
  • We are asked to join hands and hearts to be placed at the service of the Gospel.
  • We are led by God’s Holy Spirit.
  • Nothing belongs to us; all is gift; all is transitory; change is inevitable.
  • The challenge to bring the Good News to a waiting world can be done in a number of ways and in a variety
    of settings and locations.
  • We are going to have to leave ministries and places.
  • As friars we are called to be mendicants; on the road; not always sure or certain of where we are being called, where we are going, and how we will serve.
  • It is critical to be open to the grace of God and open to the reality of moving forward.


A year ago, I would never have dreamed of living in New York City.  I am learning to say, “Hello , New York”!

Where might each of us be challenged to say in the future:  Hello, ______?

Time will fill in the blank.

To what place might you be saying “Hello” in the future?

Do not be afraid.

  • For die-hard tennis fans, it doesn’t get any better than this. Last week Br. Scott Obrecht andScott with the legendary Roger Federer  PHOTO BY ALLYSON BOSSE CFO David O’Brien snared front-row seats to the Western & Southern tennis tournament in Mason, Ohio, courtesy of Investments Advisory Board member John O’Connor. “We were probably 15 feet at most from the players,” says Scott, who got to see his favorite, Roger Federer, in action. “We constantly had our hands in front of our faces” to deflect any errant 130-mile-per-hour returns from the court. This year when Western & Southern gave its top clients tennis balls to be autographed by Federer, Scott got to do the honors. “A lady in charge gave me four tennis balls and said, ‘We’ll go out and he’ll autograph the balls.”’ The announcer read Scott’s name and he strode to center court, where he was greeted by the gracious Federer. “He’s really a nice guy, real friendly,” says Scott, who still can’t quite believe, “I’ve got this tennis ball with his name on it. He’s my favorite player.” Federer later cruised to his seventh W&S championship by beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
  • Sr. Ilia Delio is the presenter of the Fall 2015 Duns Scotus Lecture, scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 6 at Catholic Theological Union. Dr. Delio’s topic is “Evolution and the Primacy of Christ: From Scotus to Teilhard.” A brochure with more information is attached to News Notes.
  • Reminder: The ordinations of Br. Clifford Hennings and Br. Roger Lopez to the Order of the Diaconate is at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Aug. 29, at St. Clement Church in St. Bernard. Asked how he thought the ordination might change his life, Roger said: “Over the past months, I have been meditating on the prayer of ordination for the diaconate. ‘May there abound in him every Gospel virtue: unfeigned love, concern for the sick and poor, unassuming authority, the purity of innocence, and the observation of spiritual discipline. May [God’s] commandments shine forth in his conduct, so that by the example of his way of life he may inspire the imitation of your holy people.’ These are grand aspirations and powerful exhortations. And while this is the invitation of all the baptized, the People of God are asking me to witness them in a healthy, joyful and life-giving manner. May I, like our Blessed Mother, act as a sign post that always points to her Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
  • “Franciscans: On the Road to Emmaus” is the topic of the next Interprovincial Retreat, Jan. 4-8, 2016, at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Las Cruces, N.M. A flyer with details is attached to News Notes. Friars from all OFM provinces are invited to attend.

It has been a very exciting last few days!  On Aug. 15, Carlo, Jonathon, Tom and John.PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFMCarlo, Jonathon, John, and Tom joined eight other men and were welcomed as novices. Please keep these brothers in prayer.  Immediately following their reception, from Aug. 16-19 the seven Provincial Councils of the U.S. Provinces met in Techny, Ill., and chose four models for possible restructuring that will be discussed during the coming year.  On Aug. 19-20, the Provincials, Secretaries for Formation and Studies and novitiate team met to discuss our novitiate program.  On Sunday, Aug. 23, we missioned Br. Tim Lamb to his new ministry in Africa.  This past week, the SJB Council met at Clifty Falls State Park in Madison, Ind., for our annual long-range planning session.  It is a feast of riches! We will be unpacking all of this with you in the coming weeks through the News Notes, Council Minutes, and the annual letter from Clifty Falls.  Stay tuned!

— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

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Novices embrace
a life Top, Mark Soehner congratulates John; Above: The novitiate team with 12 of the 13 new novices.PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMof service


BURLINGTON, WIS. - About 40 friars gathered at the Interprovincial Novitiate here on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin to celebrate the reception into the novitiate of 13 men from six ESC Provinces.

The morning prayer service included readings, recitation of the psalms, a reflection by Novice Master Ralph Parthie, OFM (SH) and the washing of the feet of the new novices by the Novitiate Team to symbolize the life of service these young men are embarking upon as Franciscan religious.

Received as novices were:

•  Br. Salvador Baca, OFM - Immaculate Conception Province

•  Br. John Boissy, OFM - St. John the Baptist Province

•  Br. Jonathon Douglas, OFM - St. John the Baptist Province

•  Br. Thomas Murphy, OFM - St. John the Baptist Province

Br. Carlo Shivel, OFM - St. John the Baptist Province

•  Br. Eufemio Dimas Robaina, OFM - Holy Name Province

•  Br. Angel Vazquez, OFM - Holy Name Province

•  Br. Aaron Richardson, OFM - Holy Name Province

•  Br. Hadijanto Djojo, OFM - St. Barbara Province

•  Br. Shant Ohanees Khokasian, OFM - St. Barbara Province

•  Br. Tony Pensiero, OFM - St. Barbara Province

•  Br. Donald McGeragle, OFM - Christ the King Province


Also received today was Br. Tom Robinson, OFM, of the Custody of the Immaculate Conception (England). He was received in the novitiate in Ennis in Ireland and will join the fraternity in Burlington as soon as possible.

The Novice Team was also officially commissioned by the Provincial Ministers and their representatives present. The current team includes: Novice Master Br. Ralph Parthie, OFM (SH), Guardian Br. Joachim Studwell, OFM (ABVM), Br. Dennis Schafer, OFM (SH), and Br. Jeff McNab, OFM (SB).

Brothers share and celebrate

Over 75 Brothers attended the Right, Philip Wilhelm was among the attendees.Above, Kenn Beetz and General Minister Michael Perry; right, Brian Maloney with Bill Herbst of HN Province.first ESC Convocation of Lay Franciscan Friars from Aug. 10-14 at St. Francis Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista, Calif.  Participants included brothers from all seven U.S. Provinces as well as Australia, Korea and Singapore.  Presenters included Bill Short, OFM, and Marist Bro. Sean Sammon, FMS. General Minister Michael Perry, OFM, and our Definitor Caoimhin Ó Laoide, OFM, also took an active role at the Convocation.  The gathering was a celebration of the vocation of the Franciscan Lay Friar.  Speakers talked about the past and present, and a member of the FIT committee talked about our future together.  The real focus, however, was the dialogue and sharing with each other that took place in small groups and the assembly at-large.

(Members of the province who participated were:  Brian Maloney, Juniper Crouch, Kenneth Beetz, Philip Wilhelm, Phillips Robinette and Vincent Delorenzo.)

Brian Maloney, OFM

Zambians receive an editorial education


Francis Kasenga and Anthony Salangeta at Franciscan Media. PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIThey came here to learn. But as often happens, the students have become the teachers.

Last month two Conventual friars from Zambia arrived in Cincinnati to glean ideas from Franciscan Media. When they leave in September, these first-time visitors to America will take away more than print and electronic know-how. They will remember the people who taught them and the friars who made them feel welcome.

Back home, Fr. Kapambwe Anthony Salangeta and Fr. Francis Kasenga have a bright future. “These two brothers have been given responsibility for editorial and publishing responsibilities at Mission Press [run by the Conventuals] in Ndola, Zambia,” according to a letter of introduction from Jim Kent, Minister Provincial of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation at Mt. St. Francis, Ind. The problem? “They were thrust into these positions without much preparation, and they seek some help or direction.”

Anthony and Francis have found both at Franciscan Media by shadowing team members through the electronic universe and the process of publishing. In the process, each has emerged as an effective ambassador for a country that is a question mark to most Americans.

“Diverse” doesn’t begin to describe their homeland. An independent republic since 1964 (and formerly known as Northern Rhodesia), Zambia is home to 73 tribes speaking almost that many languages. Since the official language is English, Franciscan Media was a logical choice for their observation internship.

First impressions of America? “The country itself is big, beautiful and the people are good, very hospitable,” says Francis, although he is troubled by “the number of shootings” reported on the news. “Sometimes Americans take the freedom they have and abuse it.”

Asked to describe Zambia, he says, “It is a beautiful country with hospitable people. There are a very good number of Catholics at Sunday worship.” In Africa, says Anthony, “People want to take long Masses. They enjoy singing the songs.” At American Mass, Francis says tactfully, “The singing is solemn and different than ours.” What they have noticed about the friars is “their closeness,” says Anthony. “There is a sense of belonging. They know each friar.”

The weeks here have been productive. At Franciscan Media, “They work as a team and share ideas and implement ideas, whether they come from a friar or a lay person,” says Anthony. “They have given us the opportunity to explore.” When they leave, Francis says, “Whatever we have learned here we will try to implement and reach out to the masses and go with technology.”

They’re issuing an open invitation. If you ever get to Zambia, “You have us to visit now,” says Francis. “You can see the country at large.”

(A video about Zambia and the work of the Conventual Franciscans is posted at: