May 2, 2019
when Friars Club salutes four all-stars
BY TONI CASHNELLI
PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIFriars Kids Jailyn and Douglas Thorne at the Community Dinner.There are a lot of all-stars in the room tonight. Some of them play basketball.
But most are supporters, coaches or staff of Friars Club. Four are honorees, people so selfless they give us pause about our own attempts at altruism.
All are here for a common cause, to raise funds that will ensure kids a safe and nurturing place to call their own. At the Friars Club’s 47th Annual Community Dinner, not everyone gets an award. But they probably deserve one.
On this night, April 26, they are gathered on courts converted into an elegant dining room, with poshly decorated tables in a space that normally swarms with kids shouting, dribbling, and shooting basketballs. Seated near the front are four folks to whom the evening is dedicated, people “who exemplify in their lives the Franciscan tradition of service to others.”
Among them is Sr. Rose Ann Fleming, SND deN, adviser to Xavier University’s athletes since 1985 and a pillar of its academic excellence. “Under her leadership, the Musketeers’ basketball team has showcased a 100% graduation rate,” according to the program booklet.
PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMLeft, Rob Braun congratulates Bengal Sam Hubbard; right, Sr. Rose Ann Fleming.Kevin Coker
Scattered throughout the audience are present-day Friars Kids like ninth-grader Douglas Thorne and his younger sister, Jailyn, who are hoping their presence will inspire generosity. Asked about their favorite activity, they respond in unison, “Basketball!”, and Douglas explains. “It’s a pleasure to play here, and an opportunity to meet new kids” from different walks of life.
Top, Rob with George Wilson and Tom Thacker; above, Annie Timmons.
The host for the dinner, news anchor Rob Braun, considers himself family. “I’ve been here for most of my life, as was my father [TV personality Bob Braun] before me,” he says, then promises, “We have a big night and it’s gonna be fun.” Thanking a long list of supporters, he invites Provincial Minister Mark Soehner forward to bless the food. A video projected on the wall, a microcosm of Friars Club, shows kids being kids, engaged in unbridled fun – just as it should be.
After dinner Rob hands the spotlight to Executive Director Annie Timmons, the face and heart of Friars Club for 41 years. “She runs Friars Club,” says Rob. “In fact, she carries it on her back.”
Annie reminds the audience, “We’re here for two reasons: to honor some incredibly deserving people, and second, as a fund-raiser for Friars Club. Friars Club is a great place for kids. Sports is the hook, but the more they’re here, the more they develop life skills and positive values.”
PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIScott Obrecht of Friars Club welcomes Nicole Dowdell; she and husband Gary are Board members.This year, Annie dedicates the evening to her late niece and goddaughter, Danyelle Echoles Byrd. A Hall of Fame basketball player at Northern Kentucky University, Danyelle died unexpectedly last year of a brain aneurysm at the age of 31. “I am asking tonight on behalf of my little Danyelle,” says Annie, the pain still evident in her voice. “I’m asking you to give.”
As the program proceeds, two tall, distinguished men troop to the podium, one after the other, to accept The Francis Award, “presented to those who demonstrate the Franciscan spirit through their community leadership on behalf of others.” Covington native Tom Thacker was a basketball standout at the University of Cincinnati and went on to play for the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals and Boston Celtics, and the ABA’s Indiana Pacers. His post-sports career was in teaching. Tom calls Friars Club “an organization that keeps kids on a good path to righteousness.”
George Wilson, another Bearcat basketball alum, played for the gold-medal-winning 1964 U.S. Olympic team before joining the Cincinnati Royals. An educator in retirement, he has devoted his life to at-risk kids.
PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMTop, Colin King, Roger Lopez and Gene Mayer; above, Dan Anderson with Marilyn Duke and John O’ConnorIn a video intro for The Friars Award, Rose Ann is described as “a lawyer, educator and motivator” who has been “a persistent and passionate academic adviser to Xavier student athletes.” Years ago, she says, her three nephews played basketball here. One of them, Michael, told her, “I love Friars for the kind of people I was able to meet. I had friends not as advantaged as I.” For Michael, “Friars Club opened up a whole world of inclusion,” Rose Ann says. During her service as a Board member, “I was overwhelmed with the kindness and goodness of Friars and their staff.”
The final award for Player of the Year is presented to Sam Hubbard, a former Friars Kid, now a defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals. This summer he will launch Camp Hubbard at Moeller High School to teach PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIAnnie with Toby and Dorothy Riverskids football skills and raise money for his scholarship fund. “Years ago, I was just another kid benefiting from Friars Club,” says Sam, who played in an intramural league. “My athletic career got its start here,” propelling him into football at Moeller and the Ohio State University. As a local boy, “It’s hard to describe the pride in running out of that tunnel [at Paul Brown Stadium] in my hometown every week.”
The auction that follows – with big-ticket items from generous donors – is spirited and productive, raising a substantial amount for Friars’ programs. Not everyone here manages to score a trip, a dinner party or tickets to a Broadway show.
But they still feel like winners.
BY FRED LINK, OFM
PHOTO FROM PIXABAYThe median age of disaffiliation from the Catholic Church is 13.On March 12, four parish leaders from St. Clement and I attended a professional development day entitled “Going... Going... Gone: Post-Modernism and Its Effects on Faith and Faith Formation of Catholic Youth and Young Adults.” It was sponsored by the Cincinnati Religious Educators Association at Cooper Creek Event Center in Mason, Ohio, and attracted several hundred people, including Pastor David Kohut and a parish leader from St. Francis Seraph.
Presenter John M. Vitek, MA, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Press, gave us statistical data on today’s youth and religious disaffiliation in every age group – both Catholic and other religions – provided by a 2015 study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
For example, in 2007, 37 million U.S. citizens listed no religious affiliation; in 2014, 57 million did so, which is 23% of the U.S. population. Vitek noted that religious disaffiliation is in every age group, just more so in young adults, and it’s not unique to the Catholic Church. In fact, “It has very little to do with the Catholic Church,” and is happening in every single religion except Buddhism! Nor is it unique to the U.S. In fact, Western Europe is 35 years ahead of us.
The median age of disaffiliation from the Catholic Church is 13! Where do folks go when leaving the Church? About 35% go to no church, 29% go to a Christian, but non-Protestant church, and 9% go to a Protestant Church. However, only 14% are agnostic; so, 86% have an idea of God. Vitek noted that disaffiliation is a process which begins at a young age and happens over time; it’s one thing after another that contributes. He was emphatic in saying that we “must pay attention to everything that children say; nothing is insignificant.”
John M. VitekThings like secularization, globalization, capitalism, rationalization and pluralization all contribute; as does a growing mistrust in all institutions, e.g. government, banks, the medical system and religions. Mistrust in the leadership of religious organizations has grown worse. As a result, “Religious identity is becoming increasingly personally constructed and piecemealed.”
Vitek gave examples of several programs that seem to be working among millennials. Two he mentioned were CrossFit, which combines faith and fitness, and Nones and Nuns, intentional communities of religious women and young seekers who come together to dialogue and explore religious issues. (Some Oldenburg Franciscan Sisters are gathering with young adults at Pinecroft to possibly launch a Nones and Nuns program here in Cincy.) Vitek suggested that formal religions/local churches can learn from these sorts of programs what kinds of things work.
Bottom line: Our parishes have to create opportunities reflecting an appreciation that “every human person longs to be known and to be in a place where their true self is nurtured and welcomed, free of judgment and fear of rejection, and where they are free to express their troubles and hopes, and know that they would certainly be missed if they were gone.”
His last statement is providing fodder for the St. Clement staff and Pastoral Council to reflect on and to strategize around. I left the meeting feeling energized and determined.
By the way, Vitek said this was the largest gathering of the many they’ve done in dioceses around the country.
(Fred Link is pastor of St. Clement Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.)
For More Information
The book Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics (A Study by St. Mary’s Press of Minnesota, Inc.), is available from St. Mary’s Press at smp.org. It contains not only the quantitative research done by CARA, but also the results of qualitative research done by John M. Vitek and associates at St. Mary’s Press, which included personal narratives that reveal the dynamics of disaffiliation.
Moving forward in formation
BY MARK SOEHNER, OFM
Matt Ryan and Raphael Ozoude are completing novitiate. Franciscan life in our Order begins with Initial Formation. This week I have been in Colorado Springs with the Secretaries of Formation (including our own Carl Langenderfer) and some representatives of each level of Initial Formation. I serve as the Provincial Liaison to Initial Formation and hope to communicate to the other five Provincials some of the discussion that has gone on here. The focus has been on the smooth transitions between the various stages in what will become the new Province’s single formation program.
Just a reminder of our own men in Initial Formation. Joshua Richter has completed his year of postulancy and will return to visit some ministry sites of the Province and learn about our history. He will then be received into the novitiate at the Chapter of Mats in July.
Joshua RichterMatt Ryan and Raphael Ozoude are completing their novitiate in July. If approved for vows, they will make their first profession on July 2. After a vacation they will come to the Chapter of Mats in Denver in July. They will then be in the Province for a few weeks before beginning the Post Novitiate experience at St. Joseph Friary in Chicago.
John Boissy will begin a staggered year of a Supervised Time in the Province by working and living with Page Polk and the St. Barbara friars this summer at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. This internship will include some time of learning catechesis from their top-of-the-line program at the Casa. He will return to Chicago in the Fall to complete his bachelor’s degree Ed Demyanovich, OFMat DePaul, with the hope of further time in Scottsdale during the Winter/Spring of 2020.
Eric Seguin is now living and working at Transfiguration Parish in Southfield, with Jeff Scheeler as a mentor. His initial supervised time was cut short due to visa difficulties. Now he will help out with the Poverty Program, as well as doing home visits, bringing Holy Communion to shut-ins and nursing home residents.
We are proud of our men in Initial Formation, but also of those friars who have gone the extra mile in accompanying these men. Carl Langenderfer has spent many years as a formator (including mine some 39 years ago!). He is now finishing his time as Secretary of Formation, having done a Eric Seguin, OFMgreat job in helping steer us into a fully interprovincial formation. Frank Jasper will take over the reins in July. Tim Lamb has been the new Vocation Director, with a prospective postulant moving toward Postulancy in August. Ed Demyanovich lives with the friars of the Postulancy in Silver Spring, Md., inspiring and teasing the postulants, and laboring to keep the building in working order. I am grateful for these brothers’ service to our new brothers.
With the recent shift in formation in other centers, some friars have walked with the new brothers through a week or two at our own Provincial sites: Jamaica, Detroit and Cincinnati. They teach our history, explain our work, introduce them to our regular lives, and reflect on its meaning with the Carl Langenderfer, OFMnew men. There are other friars who serve on our Admissions Board and Formation Council. Thanks!
Of course, special thanks goes to the friars whose expertise is providing space for discernment and growth. These brothers from the other five provinces serve as formators for the new brothers at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Santa Barbara Friary in California, and St. Joseph Friary in Chicago. They create a sacred opening for learning and growth in this Franciscan way of life.
I appreciate the many friars who have accompanied the new brothers over the 175 years of St. John the Baptist Province. It has led us into the adventure of our lives: a life of prayer, ministry with those in need, and a fraternity of brothers pledged to living the Gospel of Jesus in new ways in our world today.
Frank Jasper, OFM John Boissy, OFM Tim Lamb, OFM
— Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
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PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMLeft, Rob Braun congratulates Bengal Sam Hubbard; right, Sr. Rose Ann Fleming.Informed she would receive The Friars Award for 2019, “I was dumbfounded,” she says. Rose Ann is an alumna of sorts, a former Board member whose nephews were Friars Kids. At the dinner she is reunited with Kevin Coker, a 6-foot-6 former Xavier player who envelops her in a bear-hug. Kevin credits Rose Ann with much of his success as a three-time member of the Big East All-Academic Team. He is somewhat biased when he says, “She’s awesome, isn’t she?”