Two years ago this was office and warehouse space no longer needed by Franciscan Media after downsizing and outsourcing. Today the freshly painted building is abuzz with energy and expectation as civic and religious leaders join friars, friends and tenants to bless a ground-breaking project based upon a simple, sensible plan: Let’s join forces to help the homeless.
It took vision, prayer, persistence and generosity to create St. Anthony Center, a new home for seven non-profits working to improve the lives of their neighbors in inner-city Cincinnati. St. John the Baptist Province, owner of the property, invited groups to move here rent-free and refurbish the interior. Obstacles in construction and paperwork slowed but did not stymie the year-long project.
The end result is an impressive example of collaboration, a bright, modern, safe facility where outreach services for the poor are conveniently clustered, from meals to medical care, from showers to social services.
There’s an air of giddy excitement among the 400 folks gathered for today’s dedication – some of whom can’t quite believe it’s happening.
All of this is acknowledged in remarks by former Vicar Frank Jasper after a ribbon-cutting by friars and heads of the agencies involved. Frank worked closely to guide the process with Chris Schuermann, Executive Director of the friar-sponsored St. Francis Seraph Ministries, now housed here.
“What a big day!” exclaims a woman scrambling for a seat in front before a short program starts. Shifting to make room, her friend responds, “It is huge!”
In thank-yous to all involved, one name is central and often repeated. Community activist Tom Klinedinst, whose dedication fueled countless province projects over the years, first suggested the Center to Frank. “Well, Father, what do you think?” Tom asked, outlining his plan. Frank’s response was, “I think you’re nuts.”
Tom persevered, and the project moved forward. Sadly, he died last summer before his dream was realized. “I’m really grateful to Tom for his heroic efforts,” Frank says. “He’s watching us and blessing our efforts from heaven.” Frank addresses Chris, the dynamo whose determination kept things on track. “You’re the feet on the ground that made this happen.” He thanks Franciscan Media for donating furniture to the project and for graciously enduring the disruptions of “noise, dust, dirt, hot air in summer and lack of heat in winter” while partners refurbished their parts of the complex.
Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Mann and Councilmember Yvette Simpson have official roles to play today. But they also have a message. In recent years Over-the-Rhine, this diverse and historic neighborhood, has seen much progress through gentrification. “But if we look carefully, we know many are not being reached by this renaissance,” David says, referring to the poorest residents. “Lord knows their needs are beyond what these agencies [at St. Anthony Center] can do.” We should never rest “until every human being receives support and love from the community at large.” Yvette agrees. “We know collectively we have a lot of work to do.”
She reads a proclamation listing the many contributions of Tom Klinedinst and unveils a street sign with an honorary designation. Hereafter, the intersection of Liberty and Republic streets will also be known as “Thomas J. Klinedinst Jr. Way.” Tom’s family, overwhelmed by the surprise, poses proudly with the sign. “It’s humbling,” says son George.
It’s also a reminder of the power of one, and of how faith can move mountains.
Auxiliary Bishop Joe Binzer will walk through the building with leaders from the seven non-profits to bless each space and its mission. But first, he offers a prayer:
“Let us ask God’s blessing on all those who will be served here,” he says. “May all who enter this space be healed in spirit and body.” And he has a prediction. “This is just Day One for the Center. Thousands will receive help; thousands will receive hope.”
Later there are tours of the renovated areas and a reception in the Mother Teresa Dining Room, named for the revered champion of the poor. Formerly housed in the basement of nearby St. Francis Seraph School, the new facility that seats 250 guests is expanding service from three to five weekday dinners and adding breakfasts Monday through Friday.
Among the guests is Sr. Bonnie Steinlage, FSP. In 1988 she founded [Franciscan Ministries’] Haircuts from the Heart, which operates a mini-salon in St. Anthony Center. Now Bonnie is a volunteer providing a grooming service that helps the homeless regain their dignity and self-esteem. Two years ago when she toured this vacant space and heard about plans for the Center, “I didn’t believe it was possible,” Bonnie says.
As John Quigley joins other friars at a table, a woman stops by to shake his hand.
“I just want to thank you and all of the Franciscans,” she says. “What a fabulous gift to Cincinnati” – a gift that with God’s grace will have an enduring impact.
The Center for Respite Care provides medical and nursing care to homeless people who are sick and recuperating as well as assistance in breaking the cycle of homelessness: www.centerforrespitecare.org
Franciscan Ministries’ Haircuts from the Heart provides haircuts for people who are homeless, elderly, disabled or poor at its mini-salon or mobile salon: www.franciscanministriesinc.org
Mary Magdalen House, a personal care facility for the poor and homeless, offers guests a place to shower, use a toilet, receive clean clothing, use a telephone and receive messages and mail: www.marymagdalenhouse.org
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Welcome Home Collaborative is a transitional housing program through which the homeless and working poor can gain work experience by turning distressed or vacant buildings into affordable housing: www.poplcmscinci.org
St. Francis Seraph Ministries, sponsored by St. John the Baptist Province, feeds the urban poor, provides bag lunches to day laborers, teaches women life and work skills through its Sarah Center and helps families learn to cook healthy, affordable meals: www.sfsministries.org
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank provides diapers to low-income families and helps raise awareness of community needs. Website coming soon!
The Tri Health Outreach Ministries Community Health Worker Program inspires clients to live a healthier lifestyle to improve birth outcomes and infant survival: www.trihealth.com
It happened, three years prior to his death, that St. Francis of Assisi decided to celebrate at the town of Greccio the memory of the birth of the Child Jesus with the greatest possible solemnity, in order to arouse devotion. So that this would not be considered a type of novelty, he petitioned for and obtained permission from the Supreme Pontiff.
He had a manger prepared, hay carried in and an ox and an ass led to the spot. The brethren are summoned, the people arrive, the forest amplifies with their cries, and that venerable night is rendered brilliant and solemn by a multitude of bright lights and by resonant and harmonious hymns of praise. The man of God stands before the manger, filled with piety, bathed in tears, and overcome with joy. A solemn Mass is celebrated over the manger, with Francis, a levite of Christ, chanting the holy Gospel. Then he preaches to the people standing around him about the birth of the poor King, whom, whenever he means to call him, he called in his tender love, the Babe from Bethlehem. A certain virtuous and truthful knight, Sir John of Greccio, who had abandoned worldly military activity out of love of Christ and had become an intimate friend of the man of God, claimed that he saw a beautiful little child asleep in that manger whom the blessed father Francis embraced in both of his arms and seemed to wake it from sleep. Not only does the holiness of the witness make credible the vision of the devout knight, but also the truth it expresses proves its validity and the subsequent miracles confirm it. For Francis’s example, when considered by the world, is capable of arousing the hearts of those who are sluggish in the faith of Christ. The hay from the crib was kept by the people and miraculously cured sick animals and drove away different kinds of pestilence. Thus God glorified his servant in every way and demonstrated the efficacy of his holy prayer by the evident signs of wonderful miracles.
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — In a move designed to strengthen both academics and mission, St. Bonaventure University has merged the Department of Theology and School of Franciscan Studies.
The university’s Faculty Senate officially dissolved the School of Franciscan Studies to pave the way for the consolidation. The new department, to be called Theology and Franciscan Studies, will be housed under the School of Arts and Sciences.
The School of Franciscan Studies had been housed under the internationally renowned Franciscan Institute, which has been based at SBU since the 1940s. The school was established in 1991 to distinguish the teaching program from the research and publication work of the Institute.
The administrative reorganization will allow the Institute to focus its attention on scholarly research and publishing, said Friar David Couturier OFM Cap., executive director of the Institute.
The merger, he said, will strengthen theology and Franciscan studies offerings to undergraduates.
“This will put a greater number of professors with a wide range of expertise at the service of our students looking for a wider variety of courses in theology,” David said.
Five Institute faculty members with wide-ranging expertise will bolster a distinguished theology faculty featuring three full professors, each having more than 17 years of classroom experience at SBU.
“These (Institute) professors have special skills in historical theology, Islamic theology, Jewish theology and pastoral theology,” said David. “At the same time, this expertise will allow us to strengthen our Catholic Franciscan offerings.”
Friars Dominic Monti OFM, Michael Calabria OFM, Kyle Haden OFM, David, and Bob Donius will be transitioning from the Institute to the new department. They’ll also continue their scholarly work in the Institute.
The move will enable the department to offer more courses and strengthen majors and minors in theology and Franciscan studies, David said.
A search to hire a new chair to oversee the department will begin soon, said Dr. David Hilmey, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Both Hilmey and David said the merger will only enhance the Franciscan mission of the university by making the core values of the mission more accessible academically.
CHICAGO — Over 100 friars from the three branches of the Franciscan first order converged in a spirit of fraternity and joy at the Catholic Theological Union here on Nov. 4, 2017, to attend “Looking to the Future Together: Beyond Ite Vos.”
This Franciscan Study Day was convened at the behest of the ESC after Pope Francis urged friars to work together for an “authentic and profound reconciliation” of the three branches of the first order in the hopes that such unity would renew the power of the spirit of Francis and Clare in the modern world. The day was organized by Friars Joseph Rozansky OFM, Michael Kolodziej OFM Conv. and John Celichowski OFM Cap.
After a powerful prayer service developed by friars in formation, Friar Dominic Monti OFM began the session with “The History and Context of Ite Vos,” placing the papal bull, which formally divided the First Order into the first two separate obediences, into its historical and cultural context. In doing so, he brought to light the common values of fraternity, minority, conversion, and mission that the branches share.
This set the stage for “Common Franciscan Values,” during which Friar Regis Armstrong OFM Cap., highlighted the ways in which St. Francis of Assisi was open to the revelation of the Lord when dealing with this brothers. Regis also commented on Francis’s use of John 17:11 (“may they be one, as we are one”) in the Early Documents.
Friar Jude Winkler OFM Conv. rounded out the morning with “Common Franciscan Projects,” by raising up some of the interobediential work that is already being done in the order, including Franciscans International, the Franciscan Action Network, the consolidation of the Antonionum and Seraphicum in Rome, interobediential intentional communities, and coordinated formation programs in places like California and Zambia.
In describing the bridge building being done by the ministers general and their councils in Rome, Jude pointed out that “sometimes more work gets done over the picnic table than at the conference table.”
This proved to be the case in Chicago as well. During the breaks, lunch, and the small group discussions in the afternoon, the friars from the three branches ate, got to know one another, and brought to life the common fraternity they already share. In addition to sparking some ideas about how the three branches might work together—many involved social media and even more involved food—these informal times and sessions were clear indicators of the shared spirit of Gospel joy that burns in the hearts of the brothers, no matter what branch.
Friar Vito Martinez OFM Cap was particularly inspired by the practical bent of the study day. “I felt that the Symposium wasn’t just an opportunity to think about an abstract future of collaboration but I had the chance to network with other friars who shared similar ministries. I’m hopeful that opportunities of collaboration can occur at the local level.”
It also sparked some serious questions about the work we as Franciscans are called to do moving forward. We acknowledged the scarcity of brothers devoting themselves to the Franciscan intellectual tradition and were challenged to think more deeply about how well we were living out our charism and what kind of prophetic voice a unified Franciscan family might be able to raise, especially in the midst of the toxic political climate in the United States.
In thinking about the symposium further, Friar Joe Nangle OFM questioned, “After hearing in great detail the history of Ite Vos, it would be interesting to speculate on what Pope Francis would write if he issued a similar call today. Might he not say: ‘Three families or one, go out as Franciscans and smell like the sheep”?
While working on the Early Documents, Regis Armstrong came to the realization that what the text taught him about the Franciscan charism was being lived out in the experience of working on the texts in an interobediential team. This was also the case during the Ite Vos study day. In learning and discussing that which divided us, we wound up celebrating that which unites us and put ourselves on the path of even greater unity.
In 1217, Pope Leo X issued the bull “Ite vos,” also known as the “Bulla unionis,” which divided the Franciscan order into two separate families: the Friars Minor of the Regular Observance and the Friars Minor Conventual.
On Saturday, Nov. 4, over 100 OFM, OFM Conventual and OFM Capuchin friars are expected to gather at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago for a symposium commemorating the 500th anniversary of Ite Vos. The morning session will be available via live video stream. Speakers will include:
Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap. — “Common Franciscan Values”
Dominic Monti, OFM — “The History and Context of Ite Vos”
Jude Winkler, OFM Conv. — “Common Franciscan Projects Around the World”
SILVER SPRING, Maryland — On Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, 16 postulants entered the postulancy program for the Order of Friars Minor in the US, at Holy Name College here.
Andrew Aldrich, 26, is from Mishawaka, Indiana.
Matt Lorch, 40, is from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Loren Moreno, 33, is from New York City.
Matt Ryan, 46, is from Covington, Kentucky.
Andrew Dinegar, 51, is from New York City.
Rafael Ozoude, 22, is from Lagos, Nigeria.
John Neuffer, 33, is from Durham, North Carolina.
Josh Tagoylo, 24, is from Hayward, California.
Ian Grant, 33, is from North Brunswick, New Jersey.
Daniel Mayer, 24, is from Houma, Louisiana.
Richard Phillip, 40, is from Camden, New Jersey.
Nhan Ton, 40, is from Saigon, Vietnam.
Chase Lopez, 27, is from Storm Lake, Iowa.
Salvador Mejia, 47, is from Acambaro, Mexico.
Carlos Portillo, 32, is from San Vicente, El Salvador.
Steven Young, 29, is from Canton, Massachusetts.
As you can see, we have men from a diverse group of ages and heritages. God is good! After orientation, we took part in an in-house compass retreat, where we shared with each other and reflected on the directions our lives are taking.
Our first weekend, we joined the friars at the church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City to witness the Aug. 26 solemn vows of Friars Casey Cole OFM, and Ramoncito Razon OFM. The solemn profession of our brothers before the Franciscan community, including our MinisterGeneral, was a poignant way to mark so many fresh beginnings.
On Aug. 31, Friar Mark Soehner OFM, the provincial minister of St. John the Baptist Province, was the celebrant for a welcome Mass at Holy Name College, officially marking the beginning of the United States’s first interprovincial OFM postulancy program. Members of the formation team presented each postulant with a Tau cross that was handmade by one of the novices, Friar Luis Rosado.
The secretaries of formation – Friars Martin Ibarra OFM (St. Barbara Province), Carl Langenderfer OFM (St. John the Baptist), Ralph Parthie OFM (Sacred Heart), and Kim Studwell OFM, (Assumption BVM) – as well as friars from Holy Name College and St. Camillus Parish – all joined in the Eucharist and ceremony. They were followed by a festive social and dinner. The postulants look forward to a fruitful year of discernment and service.
— Matt Ryan and Joshua Tagoylo are members of the 2017-18 postulant class.