December 23, 2015


2015A year in the life of SJB Province


Last year when I did the 2014 Year in Review, I forgot Clete Riederer’s death and had to eat humble pie in the next News Notes.  So it is with some anxiety that I offer this trip down memory lane for 2015.  Deaths, jubilees, ordinations, professions and General Chapters (where I met Pope Francis!) are high moments, but the year is more characteristically marked by all kinds of ordinary expressions of fidelity and service where we experience the presence of the Word who has come to dwell among us.  One of our songs says it well: “We remember; we celebrate; we believe.”  For all that has been, we say thanks; for all that will be, we say yes.  Merry Christmas, and a New Year filled with mercy is our prayer for all.


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December 2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

31 Bob Lucero funeral

January . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

8 Bernardin Schneider died in Tokyo

17-29 Jeff attended “New Provincial  School” at General Curia

February . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

9-12 Council in Jamaica

Praesidium education meetings  held around the Province

14 Elgar Nadon died

24-26 Retreat for Senior Friars at St. Clement with Michael Blastic

24-26 U.S. Provincials meet in  Albuquerque on restructuring

March . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5 Uniontown Friary sold

9-12 Council in Cincinnati

21 Study Day at CTU with Andre Cirino, funded by Duns Scotus endowment

23-27 ESC in Lithuania

April . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

6 Friars march in Reds Opening Day Parade

27-30 Council in Chicago

May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4 Don Rewers died

10 General Chapter begins in Assisi

21 Michael Perry elected Minister General

24 St. Patrick Parish, Detroit, is closed as parish

25 SJB Province Jubilee celebration

June . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4 Gil Wohler died

7 Friars return Sacred Heart in Peoria to care of diocese

15-19 Council in Cincinnati, meets with Boards of Sponsored Ministries

22-26 Retreat at Fatima in Indianapolis with Michael Blastic

24 Feast of John the Baptist

27  25th anniversary of Cincinnati Poor Clares

26-28 Franciscan Alumni gather at old St. Francis Seminary

July . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

12  Mass Mob at St. Aloysius, Detroit

16  Simeon Cleves retires from Christ Hospital

22  Zambian friars intern at Franciscan Media

27-31 Retreat at Bergamo in Dayton with Michael Blastic

August . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2 90th anniversary of St. Mary of the Angels in New Orleans

2 First Profession of novices (none from SJB this year)

4 Curt Lanzrath died

10-14 ESC Brothers’ Convocation in California

15 Reception into novitiate for John Boissy, Jonathon Douglas,
Tom Murphy,  Carlo Shivel

16-19 U.S. Councils meet in Techny, Ill., to decide on four models for restructuring

21 Praesidium accreditation annual review (positive!)

23 Missioning to Africa ceremony for Tim Lamb

24-28 Clifty Falls Council meeting

29 Deacon ordination of Clifford Hennings and Roger Lopez

September . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

7 Reception of Postulants at Duns Scotus, Berkley, Mich.: Dan Ward for SJB and Andrew Koon for OLG

21-23 Council meeting in Bloomington, Ill.

22-27 Pope Francis visits U.S.

23 Friars attend canonization of Junipero Serra in Washington, D.C.

October . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4 Feast of St. Francis, Open House at St. Francis Seraph

6 Study Day at CTU with Ilia Delio, funded by Duns Scotus endowment Restructuring meetings
held throughout the Province during the fall

12-16 ESC meeting New York City

14 Al Mascia receives award from Interfaith Leadership Council of Detroit

19-22 Council meeting in Pittsburgh

24 Friar Works hosts Benefactor “Thank you” at Friars Club

November . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

10 Bonaventure Huber naturalized as U.S. citizen

15 Friars attend the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph Parish, Louisville.

27 Joe Rigali died

December . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1-3 Council meeting in Cincinnati

6 Felix Nowakowski (ABVM) died, lived with SJB friars in Pittsburgh

Left, Jeff is greeted by Pope Francis; right, Bernardin Schneider, OFM; below, friars in the Reds’ parade.

Above, the friary in Uniontown, Pa.; right, children congratulate Michael Perry.




Right, photos at Elgar Nadon’s funeral.

Above, Council member Vince Delorenzo at St. Anthony’s Kitchen in Jamaica; right, Gil Wohler, OFM.

New deacons Clifford Hennings and Roger Lopez.

Zambians Francis Kasenga and Anthony Salangeta.

Above, Al Mascia honored in Detroit; right, Curt Lanzrath, OFM.

Right, Joe Rigali, OFM; below, Don Rewers, OFM


Citizen Bonaventure

Hunger doesn’t take a holidayPhil Wilhelm unloads groceries.


A report is one thing. Reality is another.

John Grden comes face to face with it each day as executive director of the Franciscan Outreach Program at Transfiguration Parish in Southfield, Mich.

Monday John and some of his 18 volunteers bagged food for families who might otherwise have no dinner for Christmas. “I know how the news media keeps telling us that everything is getting better,” says John. “But if I was the one gauging it, I would tell you it’s not.”

For more than 50 years, people of faith in Southfield have been serving people in need. Founded at Duns Scotus as the Franciscan Poverty Program (and later moved to Transfiguration), it started with aid to 12 families referred to Br. Martin Humphreys. Last month volunteers in the church basement distributed food to 1,000 families – and the list keeps growing.  The help first extended one Christmas has become a year-round lifeline for families in Metro Detroit.  “They come from all over,” says helper Br. Philip Wilhelm, who unloads food, packs groceries and helps folks with their bags. No one is ever turned away.

Every month I see more clients than I saw the previous month,” says John. “We’re talking about whether we can open another day or change hours so we can serve more people. My answer to a reporter about whether things are better would be, ‘Not if you’re a senior on a fixed income.’ I’m seeing more and more seniors coming here.”

Unemployment is down, so people are better off, right? Not according to John.

Phil Wilhelm and Dan Ward prep grocery bags for clients.PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLI“The government tells seniors there is no inflation, so they’re not getting a cost-of-living increase. The rationale is, gas prices are down. They [government] haven’t gone to a grocery store and seen the price of eggs and milk going through the roof. Last year you could get a carton of eggs for $1.19 at Sam’s Club; today it’s $3.19.”

Ironically, “The government doesn’t suffer from a lack of programs to feed people, but we seem to suffer getting the word out that these programs exist. You have to dig and search. They make it difficult to find them. I think that’s ridiculous.”

Lighting words, but if one thing riles John, it’s wastefulness. “I see people in need and I question why we can’t take care of our own,” regardless of age. “We have 200,000 people getting food stamps [in this area]. People make an assumption that if you’re getting food stamps, you’re all set. The reality is, the government has cut back on those allocation amounts so people aren’t getting the amount of money they used to get,” and are falling short each month.

“A food bank like us serves as an important resource so they can stretch that. We can’t feed them for the month, either. But maybe the combination of this and their food card allows them to get through the month.” Postulant Dan Ward volunteers here because “I like the idea of being with the poor and with the community. As a Franciscan, you’re gonna be interacting with a lot of people in need and it’s important to be comfortable with that.”

Sometimes it’s hard to admit that need. “You can tell when a person is embarrassed to be here,” John says. “It’s nothing they say; it’s the way they act. They tend to talk quietly and don’t want anyone to hear.” To make things easier, “We try not to ask anything personal. We collect a minimum amount of information so we can do the reports we have to do.”  If a client answers “yes” to the question, “I am in need of emergency food,” then, “You’re automatically qualified. That could be any of us. Maybe I’m doing great today, but something major happens and I’m in trouble.”

What does John want for Christmas? “I’d like to see my business falling off. A good day would be the day that nobody would need food.” Unfortunately, “That’s not gonna happen.”

The true cost of hunger
and poverty

Why would anyone read a 260-page annual report? Because “it gives a very strong focus on poverty and hunger,” says Fr. Damian Cesanek, who passed along this link to “The Nourishing Effect”:

This 2016 update from the Bread for the World Institute charts progress in developing countries and links the health problems people face to poverty and the lack of nutritious foods. “I would also encourage all the friars to join Bread for the World ( in order to receive such reports and advocate for justice and peace,” Damian says. And If you can’t send money, you can always pray.

They found the perfect tree.


Night adds drama to the nativity.

  • Last week Postulants Dan Ward and Andrew Koon accompanied  Br. Michael Radomski on a Christmas tree-hunting expedition. They found and harvested this one for Duns Scotus Friary in Berkley, Mich.
  • In a recent blog entry, missionary Br. Tim Lamb writes of the friary in Kenya where he’s staying through Christmas: “I arrived here from Nairobi on Wednesday by car.  Sabukia is just under 200 km north from Nairobi. Several firsts occurred on the way.  I had my first sighting of a zebra in the wild, first sighting of a baboon (they are bad, don’t mess with them). The first time I saw the grandeur of the Rift Valley and finally the first time I crossed the equator. A lot for an old man in one day!” Read more at: Tim’s new address is in Directory Updates.
  • The theme of this video from Roger Bacon High School is: “Be the reason someone smiles this Christmas.” See why at:
  • Guardian Fr. Larry Dunham explores the meaning of Christmas in this video greeting from the Monastery of the Holy Land:
  • In his annual Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis talked about the virtues necessary for good leadership in the Church, according to a story in Tuesday’s Catholic Herald. “Last year, the Pope used his address to list 15 ‘illnesses’ the Curia is often prone to, such as ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s,’ ‘existential schizophrenia,’ ‘hypocrisy typical of the mediocre,’ the ‘terrorism of gossip’ and even ‘a poor sense of humour,’” the story reads. See what the Pope said Monday in his speech at:
  • Fr. Carl Langenderfer shared these two views of the crèche at St. Anthony Friary, day and night.

‘Letters’ recalls an incredible life


My sister, Marianne, and I saw the new film out about Mother Teresa entitled The Letters.

It’s an excellent film though kind of different in several ways. There is very little background music. At times it is kind of a documentary of Mother’s journey. All the scenes from India were really authentic. The Church was portrayed as it was in the 1940s. The actress, Juliet Stevenson, did well portraying Mother Teresa, although she seemed too tall and slender for my recollection. I remember Mother Teresa as almost tiny in stature. But her accent was well done.

All in all it was a very good film. One important note was that even though the movie is entitled The Letters, no letters were quoted. The priests involved in her canonization process talked about the “experience of desolation” for six decades, which might seem to some uninformed viewers as being very strange. Of course we understand that it only meant that Mother Teresa found God not in prayer, which was empty, but in the poor she served.