April 4, 2019
BY TONI CASHNELLI
PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLIStandard-bearers Bill Farris, Fred Link, Al Hirt, Tim Sucher, Pat McCloskey and Gene MayerJohn Fogerty
But with their cord-wrapped sign that says, “Connected to Our Community”, they fit right in. Marching in the parade is about being a good neighbor, something they’ve been to people of Over-the-Rhine since 1844.
Staged near the site where friars first settled in Cincinnati, the Reds’ parade is a circus in the streets. It’s always chaotic, as humans and animals scramble to find their places among almost 200 entries. This year, the 100th anniversary of the event, the chaos starts early.
March 28, the morning of parade day, two friar participants had to cancel at the last minute. The others meet organizer Colleen Cushard at St. Francis Seraph Friary at 11 a.m. to make their way to their spot, far back in the parade lineup. While some set off on foot, others needing a ride wait for the electric golf cart that will take them six blocks to Elm Street, then transport them the mile-and-a-half route of the parade.
Minutes tick by, but the cart is nowhere in sight. Many phone calls later, they learn their cart was in an accident. A substitute cart showed up at the wrong place. With roads blocked off and crowds jamming the streets, friars will have to walk to the starting point.
On this mild spring day, perfect for a parade, they don baseball caps and head west, passing food vendors, miniature ponies and bands warming up on flatbed trucks. A red-wigged clown named Barrels dances up to Tom Speier. “How are you?” Tom asks politely, extending his hand to the white-gloved performer. Steps away, someone in a gorilla suit jogs past Fred Link.
After stopping off at Pleasant Street Friary, they walk the last two blocks, around a corner redolent with the smells of popcorn, sausage and waffles, and find their spot on Elm Street near the end of the parade. It’s next to an Evendale Fire Dept. truck and behind a float for Bombay Grocery that features a papier-mache temple surrounded by glittery parasols and Indian food laid out on gold-fringed shawls. Quite impressive.
The golf cart that will carry some of the friars is here, but it doesn’t have the Franciscan signage they were expecting. This year they will ride in a cart that promotes a temp agency. Coincidentally their amiable driver, UC student Oliver Acomb, attends Mass at Al Hirt’s parish, St. Monica-St. George. “I haven’t been to the parade since I was a kid,” says Oliver.
At noon, the waiting begins. Walking in the parade is fun. Waiting to walk in the parade is not as much fun. Many blocks south, the action is underway. But it may be 1:30 before the people and animals in this section start moving.
In the meantime, friars mingle with people from nearby cars and floats. Photos are taken by curiosity-seekers intrigued by the habits. Bill Farris, former Roger Bacon President, talks to students at the nearby Chatfield College float. Earlier, he found several friends from the Greenhills American Legion Post 530 Concert Band, with whom he played the trumpet. Apparently the friars know everyone here, and vice versa.
John Bok greets philanthropist Roger Grein, who’s sitting in the passenger seat of the Evendale fire truck. Roger, who will today attend his 64th consecutive Opening Day game, says John’s dad used to handle his family’s taxes. The truck’s proximity is helpful. When a friar trips and falls, cutting his cheek and chin on the pavement, they rummage through emergency supplies for a bandage.
Jennifer Vollmer, a fire fighter for 13 years, is asked about her work. “It’s something different every day,” she says. “You actually feel like you’re making a difference, being able to help people who are calling us on their worst day.”
One friar – the ultimate good sport – dons an enormous baseball head and gamely poses for pictures. There’s time to shoot video in which friars answer questions like, “Who’s your favorite Reds’ player?” and, “What position would you play on the team?”
When they get the signal to march, Colleen helps friars assemble the pole for the vinyl sign they will carry. John, Fred and Tom climb into the golf cart, with Oliver behind the wheel. Known by many for his ministry in Over-the-Rhine, Tim Sucher is already in high gear, glad-handing kids at the curb, waving his arms to pump up the crowds lining the street. “Go Reds!”
Friars respond to waves and shouts of recognition all along the parade route, from Findlay Market to the P&G Plaza. Near Washington Park, one observer says, “Look, there’s Fr. Al Hirt. He’s such a great guy.”
On this festive day, when the community comes together, it’s good to be a Reds’ fan. And it’s good to be a friar.
(Watch the parade interviews on YouTube)
BY TONI CASHNELLI
Joe Haley in 2009The epitaph for friar Joe Haley is as obvious as the moral from the story of the Tortoise and the Hare:
Slow and steady wins the race.
“Joe had two speeds: ‘slow’ and ‘off,’ ” said Frank Jasper, homilist for Joe’s March 4 funeral at St. Clement Church in St. Bernard, Ohio. “And he valued his slack time along the way.”
Meticulous and orderly, Joe had skills that are prized in any friary: a good grasp of business and accounting. One section of the memory board at his funeral was covered with certificates awarded for training at Notre Dame in areas like Tax Considerations and Principles of Budgeting.
PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIMembers of Joe’s family gathered for a portrait at the funeral.
In his last years at St. Clement, before Parkinson’s disease took its toll, “Joe would faithfully come to all the events,” said Fred Link. “It spoke well of his commitment and devotion.”
Joe was “a man of science” who wanted “to grow and learn,” said Frank Jasper.Carl Langenderfer recalled Joe’s passion for order. He once took on the task of “very carefully” cataloging hundreds of books at St. Clement Friary, sticking neat little labels on the spines. “He was precise, routine, and did things in an organized way,” said Carl. “He lived his life as a friar in that fashion.”
Joe’s neatness extended to the dinner plate. “Every meal, Joe would take food and never let any of the other foods touch each other,” said novitiate classmate Brian Maloney. “He would say, ‘If I want to eat potatoes, I want to taste potatoes.’” Joe was so deliberate, “When he went to the beach, by the time he got all his sunscreen on, he was burned to a crisp.”
Celebrant Mark Soehner welcomed Joe’s sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews to “this celebration of the life and death of our brother Joseph. We are both sad and glad to be able to be here tonight.”
Homilist Frank acknowledged the sadness, but called this “a time of relief because his sufferings are over. Parkinson’s was not kind to Joe.” Greeting Joe’s many relatives, Frank said, “I was glad to find out his family nickname for him was the same as ours: ‘Slow Joe.’ He walked slow, he talked slow, he ate slow.”
Portraits from the funeral programWhatever the speed, he was “one of those guys who kept our institutions running,” a backbone of internal ministry. “He was an accountant, bookkeeper, business manager. He was constantly wanting to grow and learn. When many were moving into retirement, Joe studied Library Science.”
In ministry, Frank said, “He was always meticulous. He wouldn’t take ‘It’s about 100’ for an answer. It had to be ’94.72’. That’s what made him so good at what he did.” Joe was so consistent, “You could set your clock by him.” Working behind the scenes, “He wanted our organizations to succeed. He wanted to help friars.”
He appreciated his family, “their thoughtfulness and goodness, and the treats they brought when they visited.” And true to form, “He only opened one package at a time.”
Simple, direct and easy-going, Joe was for the most part “very calm. In my whole time living with Joe I don’t think I ever saw him angry,” Frank said. But “several years after living with him, I got a phone call once and he was really angry. He said, ‘I’ve never been this angry. I had to talk to someone.’ I thought, ‘Oh, he’s human.’”
Eventually, “Life became burdensome because of Parkinson’s. He didn’t act like Br. Joe. He didn’t look like Br. Joe. He finally yielded to Jesus’s call to come home. Tonight we’re celebrating his transition to eternal life.”
There was little doubt about Joe’s destination, reflected in the day’s reading from the Book of Wisdom: “The souls of the just are in the hands of God.”
Slow and steady, he got to where he was going.
(Pastor Loren Connell of St. Aloysius in Detroit shared this reflection in the March 30-31 parish bulletin.)
Loren: “I have to turn for help.”Dear Sisters and Brothers,
My smartphone is now working! Two weeks ago, you may recall, I wrote about my frustration with passwords and a new smartphone which I could not use. The codes which I had forgotten have now been replaced with new ones which should be easier for this old man to remember.
Two weeks ago the techno-klutz who calls himself your pastor was discouraged and just about ready to give up on a nearly new phone, but neither panic nor despair was going to get me anywhere. So for a week and a half I simply put my unusable smartphone aside and relied on my old familiar flip phone.
Last weekend I decided to try again. I sat down at my computer, followed a few prompts, replaced the last of the lost passwords, and went to my service provider to have my phone re-activated. The skilled and patient gentleman behind the counter worked his techno-magic, and I now have a working smartphone.
I see a spiritual lesson here. I can no more take care of my spiritual life than I can take care of my smartphone. I have to let go. I have to turn for help. Sometimes that help takes time and leaves me frustrated. I have to let go some more and get out of the way. In due time God’s grace will guide me. That’s something for me to think about in these last weeks of Lent!
Peace and every blessing,
Sharing and renewal with the ESC
Mark Soehner, right, in a selfie with Vicar Provincial Marcellino Micallef of MaltaAt times friars might wonder what happens when the provincials of the English Speaking Provinces (ESC) get together. The group includes provincials from England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Canada and the seven from the U.S.
Our current meeting, at the Siena Center in Racine, Wis., began April 1 and ends on April 5. We’ve heard reports on issues affecting the entire Order from Caoimhin Ó Laoide, updates from Canada, the U.S. and Europe, a Franciscans International report, conversations on Post Novitiate Formation and the World Synod on Youth, and a review of the position of the Church and our Order.
This macro view reminds me that while all of us belong to a Province, we are also members of a worldwide fraternity. And we have similar struggles and joys. Repeatedly, both the methodology and content of the recent Plenary Council in Nigeria have been suggested as a model for our Provincial Chapters.
PHOTO BY JOHN EATON, OFMESC provincials gathered for a portrait at the Siena Center in Racine, Wis.Larry Zurek
Immediately before the ESC meeting, the US-6 provincials met to continue the progress on the Revitalization and Restructuring of our provinces. This added to the already crammed agenda. These days are full, but with some space to catch my breath as well. I hope to bring back to our Provincial Council the emphases that our entire Order is encouraging as we move forward with Revitalizing and Restructuring the Province of St. John the Baptist.
— Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
Send comments or questions to: email@example.com
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PHOTOS BY TONI CASHNELLIStandard-bearers Bill Farris, Fred Link, Al Hirt, Tim Sucher, Pat McCloskey and Gene MayerThere they are, walking among dozens of baseball-themed bands, clowns, horses, puppets, dogs, celebrities, fire trucks and floats blaring “Put me in, Coach,” from the John Fogerty song. Friars would seem to be an anomaly in the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade.
PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIMembers of Joe’s family gathered for a portrait at the funeral.But it wasn’t all business with Joe, whose loyalty and devotion impressed younger friars like Roger Lopez. “In 2011-12, I was in simple profession,” said Roger, then living at St. Clement. “One memory of Joe was powerful,” the sight of him putting up his breviary with a rosary dangling from his hand. “This older friar still had this devotion to prayer.” For Roger, it reinforced “the importance of prayer not just at the beginning of my life, but near the end.”
PHOTO BY JOHN EATON, OFMESC provincials gathered for a portrait at the Siena Center in Racine, Wis.In between these weighty topics there is opportunity to renew friendships as brothers. We take time for each provincial to present some story of his ministry in which faith, love and courage shine. These stories range from the tragic to some very funny things that have happened. Each provincial opens his journey to the group, and that helps increase our fraternal bonds. Of course, we have time to see some part of the hosting province and experience that culture. Here in Wisconsin we were treated to fried cheese curds and cheese on pretzels and sausage. We visited the Basilica of St. Josaphat and connected with Larry Zurek.