September 10, 2015


Double ordination

    twice as ‘awesome’

BY TONI CASHNELLIPHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER,OFMTop, Roger Lopez and Clifford Hennings with Bishop Joe Binzer at St. Clement; above, acknowledging the applause.

When there’s a standing ovation, “It means something awesome has happened,” said Auxiliary Bishop Joe Binzer. He was so right.

This particular ovation was aimed at Br. Clifford Hennings and Br. Roger Lopez. With proud parents looking on, both were ordained to the Order of the Diaconate on Aug. 29 at St. Clement Church in Cincinnati. Most people present felt a sense of parental pride in two men they had known for years, men who had grown into roles they seemed born to inhabit. It was the most natural thing in the world.

Bishop Binzer, at home among the friars, made it real and relaxed.  “Three months ago Roger called me,” he said in his homily. “He said, ‘Clifford and I were wondering if we could go to lunch so you know what we look like.’” They decided to meet for chili. “We’re sitting in Skyline and we’re having this wonderful conversation.” After lunch they were informed by the waitress, “Someone paid the bill,” a woman who had left quietly. “What a kind, generous person,” Bishop Binzer thought. “That’s when I realized again how great it is to be with the Franciscans.”

Words of advice

His homily was a call to service. The first advice that came to mind, the Bishop said with a backward glance at celebrant Jeff Scheeler, was “to obey your superiors.” But the best advice he could offer was simply, “Follow the Lord”. Last November, the Bishop said, Pope Francis reminded us “that bishops, priests and deacons can serve with humility. We’re blessed by Franciscans and Clares [who show] what it is to follow Jesus with humility. I encourage you to lead with your hearts,” he told Roger and Clifford.

“Show yourselves to be the servants of all. Top left, Clifford and Roger with Jeff Scheeler; left, crucifer Michael Charron; above, Bishop Binzer officiating.May the word of God come alive in you.” Outreach to those in need is likewise a part of this ministry of charity, the Bishop said.  Do not forget, “We serve not because of our strength but because of the strength of Jesus Christ. The strength we draw [by seeking God’s will] allows us to evangelize, to share what we have heard. People need to hear and see that message.” Speaking for all, he said, “We offer our fervent prayers not just for today but for every day to come.”

From the Promise of the Elect to the Welcome to the Order of the Diaconate, all went smoothly for Roger, moved by emotion during the Litany of the Saints, and Clifford, who sighed with relief after receiving the Book of the Gospels.

Humbly serving

After communion Jeff offered his own take on the Bishop’s Skyline experience with friars. “I have a sneaky suspicion that the lady who paid the bill at Skyline did it because you were with the Bishop, not the other way around.” Addressing the new deacons, Jeff said, “I would like to suggest that as you exercise this office that you continue to do so as Friars Minor, as a brother who is humbly serving his brothers and sisters.”

 To the Hennings and Lopez families, he said, “We will try to love and cherish them as much as you do.”

At the reception that followed, Clifford’s dad, Karl, admitted he had more on his mind that day than the ceremony. “I was remembering the day he was born. It was the best day of my life.” Roger’s mom, Carlotta, said, “I knew that he had a calling, but I didn’t know what calling. I never thought it would come to this. I pray that he’ll be guided by the Holy Spirit to serve God with all his heart.”

And despite the mantle of responsibility that has settled on her son, “He’s not gonna change,” she says. “He’s still the same Roger.”

Above, Clifford and Roger perform their new duties; right, “Follow the Lord,” the Bishop advised.Left, the Bishop and Richard Goodin lead the applause; below, the Litany of the Saints.  

PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER,OFMTim Lamb with the cross he will carry to Africa.Tim takes the road less traveled


More than once Br. Tim Lamb has been asked, “Why Africa?” “Why now?”

One answer lies in the reflection Fr. Mark Soehner gave for Tim’s missioning service Aug. 23 at St. Francis Seraph Church.  “What is the meaning of life?” Mark asked, then skewed it slightly. “Jesus offers a different version,” he said. “He addresses himself to what gives life meaning.”

How do we know what feeds our soul? For Tim, the decision to become a mid-life missionary (he’s 61) was not an easy one. But ultimately, the decision was rooted in his love for God, Mark said. “This deep love has led him to trust, to take risks, to hear an inner call from this One who loved him so much. And it’s because God who started this journey, this adventure, first found Tim on the edges of that life. Now Tim wants to give back to his Beloved by going to the peripheries, to what looks to me like falling off the edge of the world to another world, to South Sudan.”

Right, Tim and familyCenter, Elaine and Tom Lamb, left, and Bette Bell, right, with Tim; above, Al Mascia. It looks that way to most people. Tim’s siblings, here from Texas and New Hampshire, were asked about his distant deployment. “It’s exciting,” said sister Bette Bell. “We have a new place to visit.” “Oh boy,” said Tim’s brother, Tom Lamb. “It’s exciting and a worry.” Tom’s wife Elaine said she’ll be offering “lots of prayers.”

Into the unknown

Adventure awaits: That was the consensus of relatives, friends and friars who gathered to share this going-away moment with Tim. There was anticipation mixed with the realization that much of what lies ahead is unknown – perfectly articulated in a song Br. Al Mascia wrote for the occasion. “Oh my God, where am I going,” Al sang, strumming his guitar. “The road I cannot see. I don’t know for certain where the road will end….”

Tim does know what the next few months will bring. After he completes the Inter-Franciscan Missionary Program in Brussels, Belgium, he flies to Nairobi, Kenya, for acclimation to the Province of St. Francis in East Africa. “He’s assigned to the novitiate in Mbarara, Uganda,” Mark said. “He may help out in South Sudan,” counseling returning refugees, but that remains to be seen. “He’s not even sure whether he will get around by bus, or motorcycle, or camel or wildebeest. But by this inspiration of the Lord, this breathing of God in him, he wants to ‘listen reverently to others with unfeigned charity, learn willingly from the people among whom they live, especially from the poor, who are our teachers.’”

Tim’s job, Mark said, “will be to take off the shoes of his own culture and be in awe of the ways that ordinary bushes are on fire with God.” For those back home, “Br. Tim becomes for us a model, but even better, a catalyst,” inspiring others to take risks, to let go.

Using your gifts

Letting go is never easy for the relatives of a departing missionary. After celebrant Jeff Scheeler called Tim forth to serve, sister Bette read an emotional blessing on behalf of her family. “Tim, as we all gathered for your Baptism, we witnessed your birth of new life which started your journey. Over the years while you made this journey you showed us your generous soul, which you gave freely and openly. Your wise soul, which always saw the best in all people, and your gentle soul, which was always sensitive to the feelings of others. All your gifts have brought you here today for your new journey.”

As for the questions, “Why Africa?” and, “Why now?”, they were answered on Tim’s new blog, a spiritual diary called “Omnes Donum Est” (All Is Gift).  As he wrote in one of his first entries, “I have been on this journey all my life.”

(Follow Tim’s story at: omnesdonumest.)

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ILLUSTRATION BY VEER.COMThe double helix helps explain Franciscan DNA.The interprovincial process that is now upon us is one which involves two goals: “revitalization/renewal” and “restructuring.” In some of our discussions we have wondered about how these are related. Does one precede the other? Is one more important than the other? Should we focus on one of them first? It is probably a bit like the chicken and the egg. We have tried to come up with an image that might capture the relationship we sense. At one point we said they were “parallel tracks,” but we realized that with that image, the tracks might not ever meet! OLG Provincial Minister Jack Clark Robinson has suggested the image of “double helix” from molecular biology, and that has helped many of us. Both part of our Franciscan DNA, they are intimately connected and intertwined; each is necessary and nourishes the other in an ongoing dynamic life process. At our moment in time renewal will involve restructuring and restructuring will involve renewal. Whatever image we might choose, we expect that the journey of the next few years will involve both, probably pretty much at the same time. We expect that the ongoing renewal we experience will need to take flesh in some form, and the restructuring we choose – in faith – will result from and lead us to a renewed and deepened of fraternity and minority. We will experience, no doubt, over and over, the Paschal Mystery in our hearts, and lives, fraternities and even our provincial organizational structures.


— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

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Just a note to sincerely thank you for the recent article in the newsletter on the friars who were Current and former chaplains responded to the stories from World War II.chaplains in WW II. I appreciate your wonderful presentation. These were the friars who inspired me to consider serving as a chaplain. They were truly great men and dedicated priests of our Franciscan fraternity. God bless them all and reward them for their heroic service to our country and to the men and women in uniform. They were truly “instruments of  peace” and signs of faith and hope for the troops in a very tough time in their lives.

– Fr. Matthias J. Crehan, OFM


Reading your current newsletter brought many remembrances to mind when reading the stories about chaplains in WW II. In the years 1954-1960 I was stationed at our friary in Washington, D.C., to study for a master’s and doctorate, and at the same time as auxiliary chaplain at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Our province had 26 friar/chaplains during the war. I knew most of them, and even lived with a few after the war. Two died in the line of duty during the war. I recall some of their stories as much like those you published. Once again, I appreciated reading the stories of your province’s chaplains.

– Fr.  John Ostdiek, OFM,

Sacred Heart Province


Using a millennial expression, the newsletter was seriously awesome.  I didn’t realize the province had such a rich legacy of friars providing pastoral care to our men and women in uniform.  Thanks so very much.  I greatly appreciate it.

– Chaplain Col. Bob Bruno, OFM

Are you ready for the Pope?

Orders are already pouring in for a book that will In the Church, the God we encounter is not a merciless judge, but like the Father in the Gospel parable. You may be like the son who left home, who sank to the depths, farthest from the Gospel. When you have the strength to say: I want to come home, you will find the door open. God will come to meet you because he is always waiting for you … that is how the Lord is, that is how the tenderness of our Heavenly Father is. The Lord wants us to belong to a Church that knows how to open her arms and welcome everyone, that is not a house for the few, but a house for everyone, where all can be renewed, transformed, sanctified by his love, the strongest and the weakest, the sinners, the indifferent, those who feel discouraged or lost. The Church offers all the possibility of following a path of holiness, that is the path of the Christian … will we let ourselves be sanctified?“Pope Francis on the Holiness of the Church”, Jan. 7, 2014Compiled by Sr. Daria Mitchell, OSF commemorate the Pope’s historic visit to the United States. Set for release at the end of October, Love Is Our Mission: Pope Francis in America is a joint venture of Franciscan Media Books, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic News Service (CNS) and Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the official publishing house of the Vatican. CNS will provide stories and photos and the editorial team at St. Anthony Messenger will compile the 128-page glossy hardcover book. “This partnership between Franciscan Media and Catholic News Service is an exciting partnership designed to bring Catholic media giants together for an in-depth look at the pope’s visit,” says Fr. Dan Kroger, CEO and publisher for Franciscan Media. “We are excited to help capture this historic event and to bring this book to the public so soon after the World Meeting of Families and just in time for the holidays.”  Love Is Our Mission retails for $19.99. To order or to learn more, visit

Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C., is hosting a Pope Watch Party from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Read more on the Monastery Facebook page at: “Join the friars as we welcome Pope Francis to Washington, D.C.! Watch his arrival on large-screen TV, venerate a relic of Junipero Serra and see our exhibit, light a luminaria for the Holy Father, pray in the historic church and gardens, take your photo with our Pope Francis cut-out. Plus: gift shop and food trucks.” Serra’s Sept. 23 canonization will take place at the nearby Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University of America.

The USCCB posted an hour-by-hour schedule of the Pope’s whereabouts during his visit. See Francis/papal-visit.

St. Clement Parish shared a link to “18 things to know about the Pope’s visit to D.C.” on its Facebook page:

In case you missed it, ABC News posted last week’s virtual audience with Pope Francis on its website: You might catch a glimpse of IT Director Chris Meyer in the segment at Cristo Rey High School in Chicago. We saw a couple of ABVM friars in the audience when the Pope spoke to parishioners and immigrants gathered at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas.

School’s back in session as of Aug. 31. This year’s freshman class is the largest in five years, and “the student body has maxed out at 470 students,” Roger Bacon High School reports. “Since 2012, applications to attend Roger Bacon have increased 79% and there has been a waiting list for admittance four years in a row.” A video from Freshman Orientation and the first day of classes is posted at:

Roger Bacon’s Underwater Hockey Team was featured in an Aug. 28 story on the Cincinnati Magazine website. It says in part: “Founded in 1997 by Coach Paul Wittekind, the RBHS underwater hockey team is the only high school team of its kind in the country. And that’s probably because the sport is awesomely weird. Or weirdly awesome. Or both.” Read more at:

“Thanks be to God!” Bonaventure says.

  • Only the swearing-in to go, and Fr. Bonaventure Bai will become an American citizen. Last Friday Bonaventure was over the moon when he reported to Jeff Scheeler and Frank Jasper that he passed his U.S. naturalization test. “Thanks be to God! I waited for this moment for years!” he wrote. “Can you imagine if my mom was still alive? I will jump in the air!” Bonaventure thinks the swearing-in ceremony will happen within the next couple of weeks. He expressed his appreciation to Jeff, Frank, Fred Link “and all our province for all the efforts and help.”
  • Congratulations to Fr. Francisco Ó Conaire, newly appointed as visitator for St. Barbara Province.
  • “Everything went well; I had a great time and saw lots of the country,” Fr. Carl Langenderfer wrote when he returned from his pilgrimage to Ireland. “It is so green and lush, and the people are so friendly and helpful. We visited castles and ruins of monasteries; we had Mass each morning at a church, cathedral, or chapel. We had 47 people on the trip, mostly older, retired people, plus the tour guide and bus driver.  We attended several shows of Irish music and dancing and had our final banquet in an ancient castle, complete with musicians, dancers, and lots of fun.  I kissed the Blarney stone in Blarney castle, and bumped my head getting back up. We visited the Cliffs of Moher our first day after we arrived at the Shannon Airport, and got soaked by the strong blowing rain.  After that we had good weather, with only an occasional shower.  I took over 350 pictures, and hope someday to have time to see them all again.”


This new gazebo was Juniper’s latest project.

  • Adam Farkas has decided to discontinue his formation.  A request for a dispensation from his temporary vows has been sent to Rome.  We wish him well.
  • Al Mascia posted this brief but priceless video in July after the Care’avan from the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace visited City Covenant Church in Detroit. Check out a dancing  David Crank at:
  • Here’s how Br. Juniper Crouch spent part of his busy summer, building a gazebo in back of St. Paul the Apostle Friary in Lafayette, La. “I had a design in my head that I wanted to do, but then I saw this design which was close to what I wanted, so I went with it except for a few changes,” he says. “Still have a couple of things to make it fit our idea, but it’s coming along.”