General Visitor Francisco Ó Conaire
Moerlein dedicated Emancipator to the friars.
Allan Schmitz, OFM
Damage from the Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Howard Hudepohl, OFM
Jeff with Cardinal Rodriguez
Joel Soldenski, OFM
Joel Byrne, OFM
Cletus Riederer, OFM
The new administration in May.
Jeff Scheeler and Kenan Freson with Bob Bruno
The new Friars Club.
Sr. Miriam Teresa
Bob Lucero, OFM
Friars at the mall.
5 - 17
BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM
BY BR. TIM SUCHER, OFM
This year many of the Christmas decorations previously displayed at St. Francis Seraph Friary moved to the Christian Moerlein Brewery Event Center across the street in Over-the-Rhine. This move has allowed me to encounter a number of young adults who came to the tap room looking forward to enjoying a few draft beers, not expecting to encounter a Franciscan Friar. For many of them it seemed to be just the opportunity that they had been seeking. They sure wanted to talk.
One 26-year-old was questioning everything: faith, science, and life in general. He shared with me how frightening this was for him. Our discussion centered on the journeys that we are called by our God to take throughout our lives. We can refuse to go. However, if we are to be faithful to God we will go despite the fear and difficulties that we must face along the way.
Tim welcomed two families (one from China) to Moerlein on Tuesday.
A young woman, after sharing casual conversation throughout the evening, sought me out as I was closing up shop because she wanted to talk on a deeper level. She was battling depression so serious that she had to drop out of her PhD program. She, too, was seeking meaning and purpose for her life. As one who has suffered from clinical depression, I could understand what she was experiencing.
A number of such discussions have taken place with older people as well. A woman who interprets the Bible literally is struggling with reconciling that belief with the world around her. A couple presently involved in the RCIA program had a million and one questions. Many other discussions dealt with the issues of our day such as Ferguson, Mo., and race relations in our country. I can see clearly now why Pope Francis is calling us to be in the marketplace. There sure seems to be a need.
Moving across the street to the other Christmas displays, the Nativity in the courtyard with the live animals has drawn many different people. I have talked with many from the suburbs; a number of them bring their children, just to experience this. Many mothers and fathers from the neighborhood bring their children not only to experience the Nativity but to pet the animals, a rarity here in Over-the-Rhine. It is not unusual to find men from the Joseph House, a rehab program for veterans just down the street, sitting on the benches praying and reflecting. Homeless people visit on a daily basis. One homeless man walking through the gate to exit suddenly remembered he had forgotten to leave a donation. He went back and dropped some change in the donation box.
“The Spirit of Christmas Tour” sponsored by American Legacy Tours has brought a couple of hundred people through the courtyard and halls of St. Francis Seraph Friary. In front of the live Nativity in the courtyard I have had the opportunity to share with people how central the Incarnation was to St. Francis’ spirituality and why in 1223 in the city of Greccio he had the desire to experience the birth of Christ in such a unique way.
From the courtyard the tour proceeds to the front hallway of the friary in order to view the 50 or so Nativity scenes from around the world. Many people are inspired. One mother told me that she brought her children before beginning their Christmas shopping. She wanted them to have an experience of the true meaning of Christmas before they got caught up in the material aspects of the season.
A number of groups have made a visit to St. Francis Seraph a yearly tradition at Christmas. Several senior centers bring a busload of people for their annual Christmas outing. A Boy Scout troop from Hyde Park stops here first before they
PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLI
Goats in the courtyard Nativity.
go ice skating on Fountain Square. A group of neighbors who hang out at a local watering whole together have come for the past three years, and the group gets bigger each year.
I personally have been blessed by all of these encounters. I am always humbled when people feel comfortable enough to open their lives to me. I experience these to be sacred times. I pray and hope that these times are as much of a blessing to the individuals as they have been for me.
During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, Br. Juniper Crouch captured these goings-on at St. Paul the Apostle in Lafayette, La.: The Knights of Peter Claver Council celebrated its 100th anniversary at St. Paul’s; Secular Franciscans hosted their annual Christmas meal for the homeless; Pastor Robert Seay signed and turned over a check for $4,000, made up of donations from the parish, to be used for building a well in an African village.
Ric Schneider, all fired up.
Santa had some canine help when he visited St. Clement School.
JUNIPER CROUCH, OFM
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