Monday, December 22, 2014

St. Thomas More's Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, good digestion,
and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and
the necessary good humor to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to
treasure all that is good and that
doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
but rather finds the means to put things
back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom,
grumblings, sighs and laments,
nor excess of stress, because of that
obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke
to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.

- St. Thomas More, OFS

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Franciscan Litany of the Saints

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
God, the Father, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Queen of the Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Holy Father Francis, pray for us.

All you holy martyrs of the Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Saints Berard, Accursius, Adjutus, Otto, and Peter, Protomartyrs, pray for us.
Saints Daniel, Angelo, Domnus, Hugolinus, Leo, Nicholas, and Samuel, Martyrs of Africa, pray for us.
Saints Nicholas Tavelic, Deodat of Aquitaine, Peter of Narbonne, and Stephen of Cuneo, Martyrs of the Holy Land, pray for us.
Saint Thomas More, Martyr of England, pray for us.
Saints Nicholas Pick, Anthony Hornaer, Anthony of Weert, Cornelius, Francis, Godfrey, Jerome, Nicasius, Peter, Theodoric, Willehad, Martyrs of Holland, pray for us.
Saints Peter Baptist Blasquez, Martin de Aguirre, Francis Blanco, Philip of Jesus of Mexico, Gonzalo García of India, and you holy seventeen Japanese members of the Third Order, Saints Anthony of Nagasaki, Bonaventure, Cosmas, Francis of Fahelante, Francis of Miyako, Gabriel, Joachim, John, Leo, Louis, Matthias, Michael, Paul Ibaraki, Paul Zuzuki, Peter, Thomas Danki, and Thomas Kosaki, Protomartyrs of Japan, pray for us.
Saints John Jones and John Wall, Martyrs of England, pray for us.
Saints Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Protomartyr of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, pray for us.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr of Auschwitz, pray for us.

All you holy priests of the First Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Saint Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Gospel and Wonderworker, pray for us.
Saint Bonaventure, Seraphic Doctor, pray for us.
Saint Benvenute of Osimo, Bishop, pray for us.
Saint Louis of Tolouse, Bishop, pray for us.
Saint Bernardine of Siena, pray for us.
Saint John Capistran, pray for us.
Saint Peter Regalado, pray for us.
Saint James of the March, pray for us.
Saint Peter of Alcantara, pray for us.
Saint Francis Solano, pray for us.
Saint Joseph of Leonissa, pray for us.
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Church, pray for us.
Saint Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us.
Saint Pacificus of San Severino, pray for us.
Saint John Joseph of the Cross, pray for us.
Saint Theophilus of Corte, pray for us.
Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, pray for us.
Saint Leopold Mandic, pray for us.

All you holy lay brothers of the First Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Saint Didacus of Alcalá, pray for us.
Saint Salvator of Horta, pray for us.
Saint Felix of Cantalice, pray for us.
Saint Benedict the Black, pray for us.
Saint Paschal Baylon, pray for us.
Saint Seraphim of Montegranaro, pray for us.
Saint Charles of Sezze, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius Laconi, pray for us.
Saint Francis Camporosso, pray for us.
Saint Conrad of Parzham, pray for us.

All you holy virgins of the Second Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Holy Mother Clare of Assisi, pray for us.
Saint Agnes of Assisi, pray for us.
Saint Colette of Corbie, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Bologna, pray for us.
Saint Veronica Giuliani, pray for us.

All you holy priests of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Saint Yves of Brittany, pray for us.
Saint Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, pray for us.
Saint Vincent Palotti, Founder, pray for us.
Saint John Mary Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests, pray for us.
Saint Joseph Cafasso, pray for us.
Saint Michael Garicoits, pray for us.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Founder, pray for us.
Saint John Bosco, Founder, pray for us.
Saint Pius X, Pope, pray for us.
Saint John XXIII, Pope, pray for us.

All you holy foundresses of religious congregations who were members of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.
Saint Jane of Valois, pray for us.
Saint Angela Merici, pray for us.
Saint Mary Bartholomea Capitanio, pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalen Postel, pray for us.
Saint Vincentia Gerosa, pray for us.
Saint Joachima de Mas y de Vedruna, pray for us.
Saint Mary Josepha Rossello, pray for us.
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us.

All you holy men of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Saint Ferdinand, King of Castile and Leon, pray for us.
Saint Louis, King of France, Patron of the Third Order, pray for us.
Saint Elzear of Sabran, pray for us.
Saint Roch of Montpellier, pray for us.
Saint Conrad of Piacenza, Hermit, pray for us.

All you holy women of the Third Franciscan Order, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Third Order, pray for us.
Saint Rose of Viterbo, Virgin, pray for us.
Saint Zita of Lucca, Virgin, pray for us.
Saint Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
Saint Clare of Montefalco, Virgin and Religious, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, pray for us.
Saint Frances of Rome, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Genoa, pray for us.
Saint Hyacintha Mariscotti, Virgin and Religious, pray for us.
Saint Mariana of Jesus of Quito, Virgin, pray for us.
Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, Virgin, pray for us.

All you holy Cordbearers of St. Francis, pray for us.
Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop, pray for us.
Saint Joseph Calasanctius, Founder, pray for us.
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette Soubirous, Virgin and Religious, pray for us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

Let us pray:
Almighty everlasting God, we thank You for granting us the joy of honoring our holy Father Francis and his sainted followers and enjoying the protection of their unceasing prayers. Grant us also the grace to imitate their example and so attain their fellowship in eternal glory. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(From Franciscan Focus.)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Official obituary for Father Groeschel



Famed author, speaker, psychologist, and spiritual director, Father Benedict Joseph (Robert Peter) Groeschel, CFR, 81, died at St. Joseph’s Home for the elderly in Totowa, New Jersey on October 3, 2014, after a long illness. The eldest of six children, Father Groeschel was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on July 23, 1933 to the late Edward Joseph Groeschel and Marjule Smith Groeschel and attended Catholic schools in both Jersey City and Caldwell, New Jersey. Ten days after his 1951 graduation from Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair, New Jersey he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. Joseph in Huntington, Indiana. Adopting the name Benedict Joseph in honor of St. Benedict Joseph Labré, he pronounced his first vows as a Capuchin in 1952 and his final vows in 1954. Father Groeschel completed his theological studies at the Capuchin Franciscan Seminary of Mary Immaculate in Garrison, New York in 1959, and on June 20th of that year was ordained to the priesthood in Sacred Heart Church, Yonkers, New York.

His first priestly assignment, that of interim Catholic Chaplain at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York, a residential facility for troubled children, was a post he expected to occupy only for a few months. However, he stayed at Children’s Village for fourteen years, working with hundreds of troubled youths, quite a few of whom remained his friends for decades. He often described his years at Children’s Village as "the happiest time of my life," and in many ways that period set the tone for the rest of his life, prompting him to begin graduate study in psychology to better serve the children in his care. After earning a master’s degree from Iona College in 1964 and a doctorate from Teacher’s College, Columbia University in 1970, he began lifelong work as a counselor who always endeavored to unite effective psychological methods with true Christian compassion and a vibrant spirituality.

In 1973 at the request of Terence Cardinal Cooke, Father Groeschel left Children’s Village to become the founding director of Trinity Retreat in Larchmont, New York, a retreat house primarily for
Catholic clergy and religious. During his forty years there, he became known throughout the Catholic world for the depth of the spiritual and psychological direction he offered, as well as for the extent of his caring for all who came to him for help. During this period he was urged by colleagues and friends to try his hand as a writer, and so he began work on a manuscript that he called Spiritual Passages. Published by Crossroads in 1983, Spiritual Passages is still in print and has been read by people the world over. Known for his inexhaustible energy, Father Groeschel continued writing throughout the rest of his life, becoming popular among Catholic and non-Catholic readers alike. In all he published forty-six books, most of which remain in print, and was for years a much-sought-after author by Catholic and secular publishing houses. At the time of his death he was working on a memoir to be published by Our Sunday Visitor and entitled The Life of a Struggling Soul. He also wrote a large number of articles, which have appeared in various periodicals, including First Things and Priest Magazine.

Despite his many commitments, in 1974 Father Groeschel took over the Office of Spiritual Development of the Archdiocese of New York, at the request of Cardinal Cooke. In that capacity he organized widely attended classes, conferences, events, and symposia aimed at deepening the spiritual lives of Catholics, lay, clergy, and religious throughout the archdiocese and beyond.

In constant demand as a retreat master and a speaker, Father Groeschel, always in his Franciscan habit, traveled the globe for years, bringing the Gospel message to any who were willing to listen. His unique blend of prayerfulness, penetrating insight, scholarship, and gentle humor was as irresistible as the spellbinding power of his preaching was undeniable. He became for many a badly needed voice of orthodoxy, as well as of common sense in a world that seemed beset by shrill contradictory voices and uncertainty. His monthly "afternoons of recollection," events held at various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of New York, drew large crowds for decades. Many people credit those afternoons of prayer, liturgy, and inspiring preaching with reviving their faith and teaching them

how to live a truly Christian life in an aggressively secular world. Despite his unfailing devotion to Catholic doctrine, he was deeply committed to ecumenism, speaking in both Protestant churches and synagogues and counting among his good friends ministers of several denominations as well as rabbis.

An invitation to conduct a retreat for the Missionaries of Charity in India was the beginning of Father Groeschel’s long relationship with that community and his deep friendship with its founder, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and in the early 1970’s he was instrumental in helping her establish her first convent in New York.

In 1987, striving to live more faithfully the Franciscan life, Father Groeschel left his religious order with seven other friars to form a new religious community, of which he became the first Servant (Superior). The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, based in the south Bronx and dedicated to the service to the poor, have grown from eight to 115 members, and in the same year a similar community for women, the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal was formed, which currently has 35 members. Although he was deeply proud of his new community and always believed that its foundation was a "work of God," Father Groeschel often said that his separation from the Capuchins was the most difficult and painful day of his life. He never lost hope that a reunion might one day be possible.
Always eager to find new ways to spread the Gospel message, Father Groeschel took to the airways 30 years ago, appearing on EWTN television network, at the invitation of Mother Angelica. He became a regular on the network in various formats, the last of which was his Sunday Night Live show, which drew a large audience week after week, as people tuned in to listen to Father Groeschel interview guests from throughout the religious world or simply to hear him speak deeply and movingly about the faith that meant so much to him.

Father Groeschel’s compassion for the poor and those in any kind of trouble was legendary. And it was never a compassion that was limited to words or even to prayer. It always overflowed into

deeds, and usually very energetic ones. For decades he distributed food to hundreds of people in the South Bronx who could not afford to buy their own. As the holidays approached, he would be especially determined to make sure that people who otherwise would have no Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter dinner would be given enough to have a small feast. He was a master at finding generous donors to help him purchase hundreds of turkeys and hams and other foodstuffs which he delighted in distributing with the help of a small army of volunteers.

In 1967, very aware that the needs of older adolescents could not be met by institutions such as Children’s Village, Father Groeschel founded Saint Francis House in the Green Point section of Brooklyn. Its goal was to give some stability to the lives of young men who have no home to go to and no one to care for them. Since its first days, Saint Francis House has guided generations of young men as they made the difficult transition from a chaotic adolescence to a stable and productive adulthood.

Moved by the plight of young woman who were pregnant, alone and who had no place to turn, he along with Chris Bell, founded Good Counsel Homes in 1985, to give such women not just a safe and supportive place to live, but help in the care of their children and the tools to begin to build a new and better life.

Deeply committed to education, Father Groeschel, taught pastoral psychology for nearly four decades at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York. He also taught various times at Iona College, Fordham University, and the Maryknoll School of Theology. During the 1970s he and theologian Ewert Cousins organized a regular series of lectures at Fordham University featuring many of the most prominent thinkers in the Catholic world.

On January 11, 2004 Father Groeschel suffered a near-fatal car accident, leaving him with a shattered left arm and a number of other permanent injuries. He was in a coma for ten days and his recovery took many months. Most people expected that he would be an invalid for the rest of his days

on earth. Yet within a year he was at work again. He was somewhat bent over, and he walked slowly and with the aid of a cane from that point on. Yet his astonishing determination didn’t waver nor did his profound faith. "God still has some work for me to do," he said, and in little more than two years, with remarkable resiliency, he returned to the same grueling schedule he had kept for years.

Over the past decade, despite his decline in health, Fr. Groeschel continued to serve the Church generously and with great fidelity. In 2012, after Fr. Groeschel experienced great difficulty in communicating, following a minor stroke and other health complications he officially retired from public life and was welcomed by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Totowa, NJ. There he realized the time had come to slow down and enter a new chapter of his priestly life. Daily visits of family and friends were the highlight of his days along with spending time in the chapel, concelebrating the Holy Mass and making his daily holy hour. To the very end, Fr. Groeschel exhibited his sincere care for others and great love for being a priest.

Father Benedict Joseph Groeschel is survived by his sister Marjule Drury of Caldwell, NJ, his sister Robin Groeschel of Glendive, MT, and one brother Garry Groeschel of St. Petersburg, FL and nine nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers Ned and Mark.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A few profession pictures (Dick and Ann Marie Kunz)

Dick and Ann Marie Kunz were professed September 19, 2014, at the St. Padre Pio Chapel, the newest members of the Franciscan family. (Though they have been active in the fraternity for several years.)

And, of course, being a Franciscan celebration it had to include food! 


Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I Thirst - For You (St. Theresa of Calcutta)

     Jesus wants me to tell you…how much love He has for each of you – beyond all you can imagine.  I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus – one to one – you and Jesus alone.  We may spend time in the chapel – but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love?  Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books but from being with Him in your heart?  …Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it.  Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able to hear Him saying “I thirst” in the hearts of the poor.
     Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person – not just the idea.  How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say “I love you” – impossible?  Our soul needs that as much as the body needs air.  If not, prayer is dead – meditation is only thinking.  Jesus wants each of you to hear Him – speaking in the silence of your heart.

   Be careful of all that can block that personal contact with the living Jesus.  The Devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes – to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is cleaving to you.  This is a danger for all of us.  And so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you.  Not only that He loves you, but even more – that He longs for you.  He misses you when you don’t come close.  He thirsts for you.  He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy.  When not accepted by others, even by yourselves sometimes – He is the one who always accepts you.

     My children, you don’t have to be different for Jesus to love you.  Only believe – you are precious to Him.  Bring all your suffering to His feet – only open your heart to be loved by Him as you are.  He will do the rest. 

     You all know in your mind that Jesus loves you – but in this letter Mother wants to touch your hearts instead…That is why I ask you to read this letter before the Blessed Sacrament, the same place it was written, so Jesus Himself can speak to you each one.
     His words on the wall of every MC chapel [“I Thirst”], they are not from the past only, but alive here and now, spoken to you.  Do you believe it?  If so, you will hear, you will feel His presence.  Let it become as intimate for each of you, just as for Mother. – This is the greatest joy you could give me.  Mother will try to help you understand – but Jesus Himself must be the one to say to you “I thirst.”

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peter Maurin on St. Francis

Peter Maurin, co-founder (with Dorothy Day) of the Catholic Worker movement, was often called a modern-day St. Francis. Maurin wrote a number of poetry-lie essay called Easy Essays in which he outlined a vision of Catholicism that St. Francis might have celebrated. in several of those essays, Maurin cited St. Francis. Below is an excerpt from one essay:

What St. Francis Desired

According to Johannes Jorgenson,
a Danish convert living in Assisi,
St. Francis desired
that men should give up
superfluous possessions,
St. Francis desired
that men should work with
their hands.
St. Francis desired
that men should
offer  their services
as a gift.
St. Francis desired
that men should ask
other people for help
when work failed them.
St. Francis desired
that men should live
as free as birds.
St. Francis desired
that men should go through life
giving thanks to God for His gifts.

The Third Order

"We are perfectly certain
that the Third Order of St. Francis
is the most powerful antidote
against the evils that harass
the present age."


"Oh, how many benefits
would not the Third Order of St. Francis
have conferred on the Church
if it had been everywhere organized
in accordance with the wishes
of Leo XIII."

Pius X.

"We believe that the spirit of
the Third Order,
thoroughly redolent of Gospel wisdom,
will do very much
to reform public and private morals."
Benedict XV.

"The general restoration of peace and morals
was advanced very much by the
Third Order of St. Francis,
which was a religious order indeed,
yet something unexampled up to that time."

Pius XII

(From “The Case for Utopia”)


Pax et bonum

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Prayer from St. John XXIII

Prayer by Pope St. John XXIII
O Jesus, come back into our society, our family life, our souls, and reign there as our peaceful sovereign. Enlighten with the splendor of faith and the charity of your tender heart the souls of those who work for the good of the people, for your poor. Impart in them your own spirit, preserving the flame of enthusiasm ever alight in their hearts.  
Pax et bonum

Strive to be joyful every day

We know that we aren’t always going to be happy. Sadness, even tragedy, is going to cross our paths more than once. But if we strive to be joyful on a daily basis, we seem to develop reserves upon which we can draw.

-from Pope Francis and our Call to Joy -(Diane Houdek)

Pax et bonum

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Local Franciscan rises to CFR leadership

In June, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal met in General Chapter and Father Anthony Baetzold  of St. Leo's Parish in Hilton was elected Vicar. We know him from so many days of prayer he's led for the local Secular fraternities over the last few years.

The entire leadership team is:

Servant – Fr. John Paul Ouellete, CFR
Vicar – Fr. Anthony Baetzold, CFR
Council – Br. John Joseph Brice, CFR
Fr. Solanus Benfatti, CFR
Fr. Isaac Spinharney, CFR
Fr. Emmanuel Mansford, CFR

May God be with Father Anthony and all the other members of the leadership team.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Socializing with Franciscans 2

Here are more pictures from our fraternity picnic July 26.

Pax et bonum

Monday, July 28, 2014

Socializing with Franciscans

One of bits of advice from the Handbook for Franciscan Leadership is allowing time for social time at meetings. "... social time provides an opportunity to experience each other as family in a relaxed atmosphere. How well do we know each member of our fraternity? We also need times to celebrate together."

This past Saturday, we took the call for social time a step further with a midsummer fraternity picnic.

Good food. Good friends. Good discussions. Lots of laughter.

Here's a few pictures. More to come.

Pax et bonum

Monday, July 14, 2014

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Pray for Us

Today is the feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American woman to be declared a Saint. Our region of the Secular Franciscan Order is named after her.

Here's a prayer from online.

St. Kateri, Star of Native People and Bright Light for all!

We thank God for your heroic courage, constant perseverance and deep love of the Cross.

Pray for us that our love for Christ may deepen.

And may we imitate you in following God’s Will even when difficulties arise.

In Jesus’ name we pray. 


Pax et bonum

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Franciscan Servant Leadership - characteristics

"Three essential characteristics when one assumes a Franciscan servant leadership role are:

1. that the call or commission is initiated by God;

2. that the response or commitment is wholehearted; and

3.that the leader has or is open to receiving the vision necessary to serve in a servant leadership capacity.

The vitality and growth of fraternal life is usually related to the absence or presence of these characteristics in its leaders."

From The Handbook for Franciscan Servant Leadership (2010) 

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Canonization of Two Popes: An Unexpected Invitation!

Elizabeth Annechino, OFS
     As I reflect on the Canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII what immediately comes to mind are the words:  miraculous and sublime.  When you are open to God’s invitation miracles take place.  Our minds were on God alone and our hearts were eager and open to receive all that God had invited us to that day.

    You see when Gwen and I started planning our Franciscan Pilgrimage it was to be our “Assisi Pilgrimage” with the privilege of also spending a couple of days in “Rome sweet Home.”  We were well into planning before they announced the canonizations of these two great Popes.

     Anyone who knows me well knows I hate crowds and don’t enjoy big celebrations.  I experience God most profoundly off by myself and in silence.  That was my heart’s desire and as for Gwen she was marveling at how God had provided the time and means to go.  After this occurred, an awareness emerged that we were no longer in charge and that Someone far greater than us was inviting us on this pilgrimage. We were humbled and felt honored to accept this invitation.

     We got up very early that morning to arrive at St. Peter’s Square by 7am. With no breakfast, we just swiftly went to get to our destination nice and early.  Mass would begin at 10:00 and we were going to be there to receive all that the Lord had invited us to, no matter what.

     Our excitement soon turned into frustration and terror as we stood for hours while the crowds emerged. They say there were close to a million people. People were pushing and shoving and not acting very Christian at all. There was garbage all over the place from people who had camped out the night before.  Gwen and I were hanging on for dear life and I was getting very upset that people were forgetting they were on holy ground!

     The first miracle happened when the holy Mass began and Pope Francis and Benedict embraced and the people responded to Mass parts in Latin.  God transcended our humanity and we were on holy ground. My heart melted and my anger turned to an overwhelming sense of God’s Mercy on His people…one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.  Gwen who had been standing on her once injured leg, that made normal walking difficult at times, was somewhere other than earth in adoration. 

     We were both humbled and honored to be at this historic moment in history. Four Popes at one Mass! We were immersed in our heavenly Father’s love and mercy for His poor, broken and sinful people on this Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014.  I’m sure only a tiny speck in His Ocean of Divine Mercy!  So after the three and a half hour Mass we headed back to our hotel. There were no buses or taxis due to the masses of people in Rome. So we walked and we walked and we laughed and we cried for literally hours until we arrived at our hotel close to seven pm. It was only the next day that we learned we had walked ten miles. I certainly do believe in miracles.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Lourdes Hymn (Immaculate Mary)

In honor of Mary during her month.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

He is Risen - Alleluia!

Pax et bonum

Good Friday Stations of the Cross for Life (2014)

Hundred of area pro-lifers - including Franciscans - joined together April 18 to pray the Stations of the Cross for Life, citing many life issues in their prayers, as they processed to a site where abortions are performed.


Pax et bonum

Friday, April 11, 2014

St. Francis on Kickstarter

Franciscans using social media to beg!

St. Francis on Kickstarter

Pax et bonum

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stations of the Cross for Life, April 18

The Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion will take place April 18.

The event will begin with a 9 a.m. prayer service at McQuaid Jesuit High School, 1800 South Clinton Avenue. The service will be followed by the Stations of the Cross for Life recitation as we march to a nearby abortion facility. The march, which is led by priests, deacons, and religious, has attracted 150-200 people in the past.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fair Share - From the National Minister

Beloved National Family,

As part of your Lenten "penance," please permit me to share with you another look at "Fair Share" with a short and a long answer.

First, the short answer:

People continue to raise questions about what "Fair Share" is.

Briefly, "Fair Share" is NOT an assessment on an individual. It is NOT a "tax" or "the dues" that an individual must pay.

"Fair Share" is members taking care of members at all levels of fraternity.


Second, the long answer:

Permit me to proceed in three steps. One, the confusion over, yet the importance of understanding, what "Fair Share" is. Two, a look at some "Scriptural help." Three, a look at our documents, plus some commentary.

One. Questions continue to arise from across the membership and country about what exactly "Fair Share" means. At every election, every three or six years, different individuals, groups or even nationalities get confused about "Fair Share." For two examples, a professed Secular Franciscan recently wrote our beloved National Treasurer an email saying he lacked a fraternity, but wanted to send an $85 check for "fair share dues" so that he could continue receiving the TAU-USA. Then, a newly elected Minister of a non-English speaking fraternity "assessed" each member of the fraternity with set "dues" to be paid at each meeting AND suspended members of the fraternity for non-payment after several meetings.

This whole matter is very important for us at National not only during Lent when we are called to sacrifice, to give charitably and always to care for our own, but additionally because the National Fraternity is responsible to provide "fair share" numbers to the International Fraternity (CIOFS) at their Election Chapter in 2014, numbers for which the National family will be held responsible for the next three years, as they (CIOFS) do not perform year to year accounting as Local, Regional and National Fraternities do, but hold us to numbers for each three-year cycle.

This is one reason we recently sent out to all the Regional Ministers that dreaded, numbers-heavy Annual Report from which we try in good faith to report our true "Fair Share" to International for the next three years. Our job becomes harder when if every year as last year, 1/10 of our Ministers (3 of 30) do not even bother to submit their Regional Reports. Yikes! Please, Regional Ministers, submit your reports!

Two. Let’s look for "Scriptural help" with one reading from the Old Testament, two from the Gospels and one from St. Paul.

Let’s start with the Old Testament. My favorite Lenten reading on the Biblical meaning of "fasting" is this passage from Isaiah 58:5-7:

"Is this the manner of fasting I would choose, a day to afflict oneself? To bow one's head like a reed, and lie upon sackcloth and ashes? Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke? Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own."

Please note the "not turning your back on your own" even if they are in nursing homes or unable to contribute financially, but are still "your own," and continue to pray and offer what service they can.
From the Gospel of St. Matthew, our Lord evaluates us: "'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:34-40).

Please remember these words when Secular Franciscan Rule 25 stresses the FOUR necessities for our expenses.

And in Luke’s Gospel, our Lord says: "Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you" (Luke 6:38).

In my local "St. Thomas More" fraternity, which meets between the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, each month with the Newsletter a brown envelop is inserted which members return with whatever contribution they measure. We have always had enough to meet "Fair Share."

Finally, St. Paul encourages us, "Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

Three. Keeping these Scriptural passages in mind, let’s look at our Secular Franciscan Rule #25: "Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils."

Please note at least three things here.

First, this is where the notion of "Fair Share" originates, and as you can read, there is no mention of individual responsibility. Rather, the responsibility is a collective one: "all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means."

Second, the Secular Franciscan Rule has only 26 Paragraphs or Rules, so we only get to "expenses" at the next to the last one, thus offering some sense of their overall importance.

Third, the word "necessary" is paramount, but note the four "necessities": the life of the fraternity, the needs of worship, the needs of the apostolate and the needs of charity. How many of us in leadership think persistently about all four of these "needs" in our budgets? Remembering Matthew 25 above, how many of us have line items in our budgets to cover the needs of the apostolate and the needs of charity?

In addition, the "Official Commentary to the Rule" prepared by the national spiritual assistants' commission, Benet A. Fonck O.F.M., coordinator might be helpful here as well:
 Secular Franciscan Rule 25 "points out that the voluntary contributions of the members finance the fraternity’s spiritual and temporal needs and activities. The fraternity, according to its means and agreed-upon arrangements, also contributes to the support of the regional, provincial, national and international fraternities. This paragraph is a contemporary application of the traditional Secular Franciscan values outlined in the very first rule that the members are responsible for taking care of their own in whatever way is necessary."

This sense of co-responsibility is stressed in the General Constitutions Article 30, which, to this reader, puts the question of "Fair Share" into a wider context of co-responsibility that includes, but transcends, mere "expenses":

"1. The brothers and sisters are co-responsible for the life of the fraternity to which they belong and for the Secular Franciscan Order as the organic union of all fraternities throughout the world.

2. The sense of co-responsibility of the members requires personal presence, witness, prayer, and active collaboration, in accordance with each one's situation and possible obligations for the animation of the fraternity.

3. Rule 25 In a family spirit, each brother and sister should make a contribution to the fraternity fund, according to each one's means, to provide the financial means needed for the life of the fraternity and for its religious, apostolic, and charitable works. The brothers and sisters ought to provide the means necessary for supporting the activities and the operations of the fraternities at higher levels, both by their financial assistance and by their contributions in other areas as well."

In his Spiritual Commentary on the immediately preceding and very similar version of our current General Constitutions entitled "Called to Rebuild the Church," Friar Lester Bach O. F. M. Cap., in his observations on an almost identical Article 30.3 to the one given above, contrasts how the world views and how we Franciscans should view money:

"Money is used in buying and selling in the world. But it is not meant to be so engrossing that God is forgotten and our neighbor receives no love. Instead, it is a gift to share. Within fraternity life, we share our resources in a way that builds up the common fund. . . . For Franciscans money is a tool to build up, with living stones, a vibrant community centered on Jesus."

How many of us really think of money as "a gift to share," as "a tool to build up, with living stones a vibrant community centered on Jesus"?

Friar Lester’s final words on this Article 30.3 make good Lenten reading: "Money is a source of power and control. It can drag us into making it our golden calf. Part of the goal of sharing this resource with the fraternity is to gain freedom from such idol worship. Generosity for the sake of others replaces self acquisition for one's own sake. When we have little money, we give the gift of our service and love in other ways within fraternity life."

Combining Secular Franciscan Rule 25 and General Constitutions Article 30, we now visit the National Statutes, particularly Article 18.7, which reads:

"The Local Fraternity is responsible for contributing to the Regional Fraternity on a fair share basis from its common fund to underwrite the costs of that fraternity [cf. General Constitutions, article #30.3]. A fair share contribution is made based on the number of active and excused brothers and sisters, but not for those who are deemed lapsed.

a. An active fraternity member is one who participates both by attending fraternity meetings and by providing financial support to the community, or whom the fraternity has excused from such obligations.

b. Those brothers and sisters who neither attend meetings, support the community financially, nor have valid reasons due to health, family, work or distance, and who, after personal invitations to return to fraternity, consciously and deliberately reject or ignore the invitation, will be termed 'lapsed' and will not be carried on the fraternity membership roll nor be reported as a member to higher fraternity Councils [cf. General Constitutions, article #53.3]."
Similarly, National Statutes Article 25.3 reads:

"The Regional Fraternity is responsible for contributing to the National Fraternity on a fair share basis from its treasury to help provide for the expenses of NAFRA."

Please note that from Local to Regional and from Regional to National AND from National to International, the responsibility is on the whole fraternity, not the individual member. And remember from the Official Commentary to the Rule that all of this goes back to "the traditional Secular Franciscan values outlined in the very first rule that the members are responsible for taking care of their own in whatever way is necessary."

In summary, again: "Fair Share" is not dues. "Fair Share" is not a tax on individuals. "Fair Share" is not even, really, an individual responsibility. "Fair Share" is the fraternity taking care of its own, members (plural) caring for members.

Please, perhaps especially during this Lenten Season, but always, let us consider creative ways to care generously for all our members.

Again, please accept my prayers for a Peaceful and, yes, Joyful Holy Lenten Season,

Deacon Tom Bello, OFS

Pax et bonum

Friday, March 14, 2014


By Brother Joseph Michael Fino, CFR, Paterson, NJ

My heart longs for silence—not always; let's not get crazy.  But in my more romantic days, it wants to be alone with quiet, to leave the crowded place for the silent.

Now be careful not to confuse silence for loneliness, because I've learned that the quiet heart loves one thing only: company, and with company comes (usually) sound.  Strange, right?  But it can't be an articulate sound like voiced speech.  It must be something more like the low rumble of fire over wood, the thud of gathered snow falling from a branch, the tweet of a bird or even the beat of another heart, tears dropping on a shoulder—a whimper, or perhaps soft-spoken and giggled laughter.  You see silence isn't an end but a means (and certainly not a means to isolation as may often be thought).  It is a means of heightening one's sensitivity to sound and its revealed company.  Thus silence becomes a means to community.

Let's go a step further because the silence-breaking sound most adored by the quiet heart is not heard with the ears of the head but those of the heart itself.  Even when the heart experiences the subtle beating of another heart in a quiet embrace there is still a boundary of flesh between them, but when it is the heart of the living God pressing itself upon the quiet heart, there is nothing to separate their communion.

We love silence because there we experience more fully the other's presence—be it in nature or person—but the greatest achievement of silence occurs when it is punctuated by the presence of the person of God.  This is the longing of every heart and the important role of silence.

Pax et bonum

A Spiritual Assistant!

Our Minister, Carolyn Barth, OFS, has announced that we finally have a Spiritual Assistant.

Deacon Bill Coffey, OFS, has agreed to be our Spiritual Assistant for the coming year.

Please keep him in your prayers.

Also continue to pray for all those involved in his ministry, as they hold vigils at the sites of those who have met a violent death in the greater Rochester area. We join them in interceding for those who have died, for those who are involved in these crimes and for all the family and friends whose lives have been affected in any way.  

Anyone interested in contacting Deacon Bill can email him at:

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Our region

Our fraternity is part of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Region of the Order.

Here are the fraternities in this New York based region:

  • Holy Family Fraternity - Vernon, NY
  • Immaculate Heart Of Mary - Hilton, NY
  • Our Lady Of Angels - Lewiston, NY
  • Saint Anthony - Catskill, NY
  • Saint Anthony Fraternity - Lockport, NY
  • Saint Bernardine Of Siena - Albany, NY
  • Saint Bonaventure - Allegany, NY
  • Saint Elizabeth Of Hungary - Buffalo, NY
  • Saint Elizabeth-Saint Louis - Albany, NY
  • Saint Francis - Binghamton, NY
  • Saint Francis - Buffalo, NY
  • Saint Francis Of Assisi - Athol Springs, NY
  • Saint Joseph - Buffalo, NY
  • Saint Joseph - Utica, NY
  • Saint Joseph - Reactivating - Schoharie, NY
  • Saint Joseph Cupertino - Watertown, NY
  • Saint Michael - Amsterdam, NY
  • Saint Patrick - Buffalo, NY
  • Saint Peter - Erie, PA
  • Saint Pius X - Corning, NY
  • Saint Stephen - Croghan, NY
  • Saint Thomas More - Cheektowaga, NY
  • Saint Thomas More - Fonda, NY
  • St. Irenaeus Fraternity - West Clarksville, NY
  • St. Marianne Cope - Syracuse, NY
  • The Glory Of the Most High - Rochester, NY

Pax et bonum

Friday, February 21, 2014

Alert for Fans of G. K. Chesterton

St. John Bosco Schools
Dale Ahlquist
President of the American Chesterton Society
to speak at the St. John Bosco School
at 7 PM on Thursday, March 6
in the school gym.

Mr. Ahlquist will speak on the topic of
What is Chesterton Academy?
Why did we found it?

St. John Bosco School is located on Garfield Street in East Rochester.
Street parking is available.
All are welcome!
Call (585) 348-9401

Visit our website:
Find us on Facebook:

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fr. Simeon Gallagher, OFM Cap, to speak March 15-19

Father Simeon Gallagher, OFM Cap, will be leading a parish mission at St. Theodore's Church, 168 Spencerport Road, where we hold our fraternity meetings.

Father Gallagher will be addressing the topic "I'm Spiritual but not Religious: Constructing Faith for the Modern Age." The mission will explore the connection between religion and spirituality.

Stay tuned for more details. 

Pax et bonum

Put the glory of God and the salvation of souls first

Let your intentions in the fulfillment of your duties be so pure that you reject from your actions every other object but the glory of God and the salvation of souls. -St. Angela Merici                  

Pax et bonum

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Preaching with our deeds

“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today”  - St. Francis of Assisi

Pax et bonum

Monday, January 20, 2014

Our Christian call to action

A Christian can never remain silent in the face of violence, poverty, hunger, corruption or abuse of power. - Pope Benedict XVI

Pax et bonum