FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

May 16, 2019

What’s on your bucket list?

Gregory Friedman, OFM

50 Years Profession

 When I was on sabbatical in the summer of 2013, I took part in a wonderful experience in Assisi, the “Art Workshop International.” For two weeks I studied writing with an American professor teaching in Rome, and befriended other writers with whom I’ve maintained a friendship ever since.

We wrote “flash fiction”, very short and concise stories. These exercises morphed over time into a series of vignettes about my family and growing up. Murray Bodo has encouraged me to turn these into a personal memoir.

My writing and pilgrimages for the Holy Land haven’t left much time for personal writing. My goal is to connect once again with the Art Workshop, where one of the staff, a well-known author, has agreed to mentor me in jump-starting this project. I’d like to connect the roots of my Italian immigrant grandparents from their beginnings in Italy to the U.S.


Ric Schneider, OFM

60 Years Priesthood

 When asked if I had anything on my bucket list, I had to admit that I don’t have one.  I have done about everything I’ve wanted to do and been happy to go wherever the Lord sent me. I would have liked to have visited Lourdes and Fatima.

And I would have liked to be a pilot.  I have flown a Taylorcraft, took off and landed four times.  A friend let me take the controls of a Stearman biplane.  I have flown a glider and sat in the right seat of a Citation III jet from Chicago to Batesville.  I never had any instructions.  I learned it all from flying radio controlled planes for 55 years.

Life has been good.  Thank you, Jesus.


Scott Obrecht, OFM

50 Years Profession

 In 18 years in the Mission Office, I was able to visit numerous countries, including three times to Assisi. For that, I am grateful. On my bucket list, for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to visit Australia and England. I never got to either country. At this stage of my life, I am not too excited about flying long distances. So much for lunch with the Queen of England.

My personal goals have been ongoing throughout my life and have become a higher priority as I have gotten older. I strive to have a positive outlook, to be interested in what others are doing, not to complain and to find joy in daily living. Overall, I think I am succeeding in reaching these goals. I think they are very Franciscan. Some days are better than others; I just keep trying. I have been so blessed in my life.


Gene Mayer, OFM

50 Years Profession

 To be honest, I have never been much of a goal person.  I live pretty much in the “right now” – my only goals are to accomplish what I need to do for today and then to get up tomorrow morning.

When I was Secretary of the Province and the Provincial Council would devote significant time to “goals” or “future planning”, I would die a thousand deaths.   I want action, not planning – even though “patience is my middle name.” [Editor’s note:]


Bert Heise, OFM

70 Years Profession

 I have always done lots of writing, especially about trips and our family life, and am currently working on a book or short story I have wanted to write called The Island.

I would like to visit Lourdes. Another goal I had was to take piano lessons at home while on vacation from the minor seminary. I had no piano. So I used the one in the basement of Duns Scotus College a few blocks from us. It was right under the choir of the chapel. I got a request to PLEASE STOP!

And as Merton said, I would like to go to heaven.....


Alex Kratz, OFM

25 Years Profession

 One idea, perhaps a dream I’ve had that is over-the-top but never leaves me, is creating a “Communion of Saints Park” in a scenic, woodsy outdoor setting like Cumberland, Ky.  It would have a saint from each country chosen by the country, with a biography, and would be maintained by a person from that country to show the universality of our Catholic Faith and its resplendent diversity.

Situated outdoors, it would have long nature trails to induce people to hike, families to visit, and secular seekers to have their curiosity piqued by seeking out spiritual giants from their own cultural origins and beyond – all to help us in our pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem.


Robert Bruno, OFM

50 Years Profession

 My bucket list includes, and this is in no particular order: travel to the other islands of Hawaii besides Oahu (been there many times for Air Force Chaplain Corps duty), travel to Iceland, New Zealand, Machu Picchu in Peru and Liechtenstein; continue to water ski and downhill ski for as long as age and health permit; learn to scuba dive.

Personal goal: Slow down enough to make more time for: family events; reading; classical music concerts; re-connecting with dear friends I’ve made around the USA and the world; and finish visiting all the U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums.


Jeremy Harrington, OFM

60 Years Priesthood

 At 86, I’m very grateful to have the health to live with my brothers and minister in a Franciscan parish.  My goals are to live joyfully now and prepare for the life to come.  I love to read, especially periodicals.  I love to walk in nature.  I enjoy walking near water – lakes, rivers, oceans.  Now I take walks by the Detroit River.


Brian Maloney, OFM

50 Years Profession

 I never thought much about a bucket list, nor have I ever created one.  I guess I am too much of a here-and-now person rather than a dreamer.

I do have two aspirations, however.  Ever since college days I have had a great interest in creative writing.  And since I have had two poems published and have written a number of short stories (which I am trying to sell to a magazine), I have put pen to paper yet again in striving to write a murder mystery novel. I really enjoy writing and find it to be very relaxing and imaginative.

My other aspiration is getting to know the more contemplative side of Franciscan living. With a good spiritual director, I have come to appreciate the challenge in developing a true and loving relationship with the Lord.  I love to take time each day to sit quietly before the Blessed Sacrament, not saying a word, not using any type of prayer; just be present to the Lord in the stillness and quiet, while trying to drown out the noises of inner-city living.  It is at this time before the Lord that I strive to listen attentively and open myself to hear how God wants to communicate with me.  This spirit of contemplation seems to now permeate much of what I do each day, and I am grateful.


Francis Tebbe, OFM

50 Years Profession

I don’t have a bucket list.  My prayer continues to be to grow in patience and forgiveness.



Blane Grein, OFM

65 Years Profession

On my bucket list I would like to have closure; if I start something I like to get it done. There are two things I started in Chinle, Ariz., and finally, one of those things is going to be accomplished:  restoring the old stone church and getting it on the National Historic Register. On June 2 after the 10:30 Mass at Our  Lady of Fatima, we’re finally going to have the opening ceremony for the church, restored to its original state, an idea we worked on since 1989. People can just stop in and pray, or do things like renew their marriage vows there.

The other thing I started in Chinle which has not been completed was finishing the second story of the food bank we built. When I was there we had the bottom floor open and had a nice food bank and it’s still going. That brings joy to my heart. But nothing was ever done upstairs. It would have taken more than $200,000 to finish it. The second floor is a big old empty room with insulation peeling off the walls. That was going to be a meeting room with a nice kitchen, two showers and beds for overnight accommodations for retreats and that kind of stuff. It pains me when I see it going to pot.


Leonard Cornelius, OFM

50 Years Priesthood

My hope is to live out the remaining years of my life in a more contemplative setting.



Kenan Freson, OFM

60 Years Profession

I don’t have any bucket lists.  I enjoyed my teaching years at Roger Bacon High School. My 25 years in the Treasurer’s Office were good and filled.  I met some fine business/finance people and, because of the OFM-ESC treasurers’ group, had interesting relationships and meetings.

 I am not interested in more travel. Because of connections with the National Religious Retirement Office and helping the Franciscan Monastery, I had many opportunities for visiting Europe and the Middle East, from France (and to the top of the Eiffel Tower), to Germany (including a divided Berlin when my travel companion and I went into East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie), and Turkey (on a St. Paul Pilgrimage).

I am happy to continue my weekend assistance, rotating in three parishes. I have gotten to know many fine people, from grandparents to grandchildren. I will be happy to work on the grounds here at St. Anthony Shrine, make my trips to Ft. Myers Beach, and probably do a few more NRRO assignments.

Praise the Lord for these blessings.


Anthony Walter, OFM

60 Years Priesthood

I want to have better balance before I die so I can stand on one leg for a minute, and then on the other leg for a minute.



Humbert Moster, OFM

70 Years Profession

 I’m pleased that I was chosen to join three younger brothers in 2000 to help them get started in the missions in Jamaica; I was 70 then! After returning from three years in Jamaica, I enjoyed being Sacramental Minister at St. Peter Parish and St. Mary of the Rock in Indiana. I’m grateful to our Provincial, Fr. Mark, for my move to Oldenburg, Ind. Now I’m fully retired with only occasional Sunday liturgy at St. Mary of the Rock.

I’m just grateful to God for preserving my health this long. I do have a few slow-down disabilities – nothing to hold me down entirely.


Damian Cesanek, OFM

50 Years Priesthood

 I don’t have a bucket list like Tom Speier [who did a parachute jump last fall at age 86]. Actually my quick bucket list is to get on the road again or working on the parishes. [Damian is recovering from hip surgery.]

What I think is something I’ve read from Thomas Merton in which he says, what if our life is basically like every one of us is a cog in the wheel of God’s plan? He was referring to the fact that people want to do outstanding things, but the reality is that most people do not achieve that. What if our basic plan is simply to do God’s will as it comes to us?

Every one of us has certain talents and has been called to use those talents to the best of our abilities. I’ve never been aggressive to be noted for this or for that. I don’t have any great aspirations. I do what I can. If people get to that point where they’re satisfied with their lives and can overlook the mistakes they’ve made in their lives, that’s something good.


John Bok, OFM

65 Years Profession

 The only goal I still have is to live to the age of 90.  I felt that way since turning 80 in October of 2015.  I think it is connected to my enjoyment of life.  If God is willing, I would like to enjoy life for another six or seven years.

(A reminder that this year’s Jubilee Celebration is Monday, May 27, at St. Monica-St. George Church in Cincinnati, with Eucharist at 4 p.m., followed by a reception and dinner in the Parish Hall.)



Dealing with chronic pain

Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks to six months.

Acute pain, on the other hand, is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury.  Acute pain goes away, but chronic pain does not.  Common causes of chronic pain are nerve damage, disc disease, arthritis, burns, scarring, or cancer pain.

When a person is suffering from chronic pain, it can affect every aspect of his or her life.  The constant suffering can affect a person’s mentality in a number of different ways. It can influence thoughts, feelings, sleep patterns, memory, concentration, and even connections with others.  Here are some tips for living with Chronic Pain:

Learn deep breathing or meditation to help you relax.

Reduce stress in your life. Stress intensifies chronic pain.

Boost chronic pain relief with natural endorphins from exercise.

Cut back on alcohol, which can worsen sleep problems.

Join a support group. Meet others living with chronic pain.

Don’t smoke.  It can worsen the pain.

Track your pain level and activities every day.

Get a massage.

Eat a heathy diet.

If over-the-counter drugs do not provide relief, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications such as muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, or NSAIDs such as Celebrex.  For most seniors, the safest over-the-counter painkiller is acetaminophen (like Tylenol).  However, older adults must NOT take more than 3,000 mg. of acetaminophen in one day.  In high doses, it can cause serious or fatal liver damage.

One more tip: It is important for you to find ways to distract yourself from pain so you can enjoy life more.

-Michelle Viacava, RN

Province Nurse

(The next Health Matters column will appear in July.)

Welcoming sisters from Memphis

The Clares’ monastery in MemphisYour Poor Clare sisters in Cincinnati are happy to announce some upcoming changes in their membership. The Poor Clares in Memphis, Tenn., are closing their monastery. There are four sisters in the Memphis community, and two of those sisters will be coming to Cincinnati.

Sr. Alma is expected to arrive in Cincinnati sometime in June. Pending approval of all paperwork, Sr. Alma will reside at Mount Notre Dame’s health care center. Sr. Anthony (who made a visit to Cincinnati earlier this year) is expected to arrive in Cincinnati before the end of the calendar year.

Sr. Marguerite and Sr. Claudia are currently visiting and discerning with other Poor Clare communities in the United States and hope to make their decision soon. Our sisters have asked for prayers during this transition process.

–Your Poor Clare Sisters

  • PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMTop, Michael with Roger Lopez and Mark Soehner; left, with mom Angie; right, a diploma from Dean Sandra Keen McGlothlin Congratulations to friar Michael Charron, who on May 4 was one of 47 students receiving a Juris Doctor degree from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va.  Frank Jasper, Mark Soehner and Roger Lopez joined Michael’s mom, Angie Charron, his sister, Monica, and his niece, Dominique, for the graduation, which featured Judge Rossie Alston Jr. of the Virginia Court of Appeals as the commencement speaker. After three years of mind-numbing law classes, Michael is not letting up. He’s steeped in studies for the Ohio Bar Exam, July 30-31 in Columbus.
  • After Cyprian Berens died this week, the Catholic Telegraph re-posted a nice interview conducted with him by News Editor Eileen Connelly in 2012. Read it at: Cyprian
  • Episode 2 of #FollowingFrancis, the new 30-minute podcast from the Monastery of the Holy Land, is now available for streaming on iTunes:, Spotify:  and Spreaker: Lou Maroulis, CEO of the Franciscan Monastery Garden Guild, and Amy Bachman, Director of Procurement at DC Central Kitchen, explain how the Monastery gardens follow St. Francis’s teachings and support the local community.
  • If you plan to attend the Franciscan Alumni Reunion, June 20-23 in Southfield, Mich., there’s still time to snare the special hotel rate. Through tomorrow, May 24, rooms are available at the Best Western Premier Detroit Southfield for $89 per night. (Ask for the “Franciscan Alumni School Reunion” group block.) Call 248-358-7600 or click here for the reservation page: Bestwestern. For more information on the reunion visit
  • Bob Bruno was one of 46 priests attending the 2019 Air Force Retreat last week at Bethany Center in Tampa, Fla. He’s pictured here with Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA.
  • Former friar John Killop died in Michigan on Feb. 4, 2019, at the age of 82.

Moving forward in formation


PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFMCyprian and Mark at the 2018 JubileeWhen I was in grade school, months seemed like eons.  Time passed so slowly while we were in school, but at the end of May or beginning of JuneÑthen began summer vacation!  The delicious hours walking through the fields behind our house searching for black raspberries, some cool sparkly rock, or squirmy salamanders.  The daylight was certainly longer in those summer months.  The luxury of time stretched to infinity.  That was how I viewed time as a young person.

I suspect that for most of our Jubilarians, time passes rather quickly now.  We get engrossed in our Franciscan life, doing the many things that need to be done:  prayer; tasks to accomplish “for the Kingdom”; hours of listening to broken hearts; healing words; cooking; sweeping floors; and a thousand other details on our To Do lists.  All of the sudden we look up, and it’s time to celebrate a Jubilee.  Each year in our lives is precious.  But Jubilees stand as a milestone, a remembrance, a celebrationÑnot so much about what we have done, but how God, Whom we love, has used us as Instruments.  Looking back, it is amazing what God has done.

Last year our senior Jubilarian was Cyprian Berens.  I thanked him at his Jubilee for the many “yeses” of assent he had given to God over his 75 years of Franciscan profession.  This year he will celebrate God’s goodness in the Arms of God, as he died on Monday, May 13.  Cyprian said yes many times:  working in the General Curia; giving God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St. John Lateran; becoming our Communications Director during the 1970s; serving as a pastor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; and finally as a chaplain, then resident, at Little Sisters of the Poor in Cincinnati.  May Cyp enjoy his endless Jubilee, like kids in summer, in the eternal summer of God’s Kingdom.

How many years have you been professed?  This time of year, we can all look back and see what God has done.  We are grateful.  What is on your “bucket list”?  What stops you from taking the next risk on this adventure of Franciscan living?


— Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM


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FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

  • PHOTOS BY FRANK JASPER, OFMTop, Michael with Roger Lopez and Mark Soehner; left, with mom Angie; right, a diploma from Dean Sandra Keen McGlothlin Congratulations to friar Michael Charron, who on May 4 was one of 47 students receiving a Juris Doctor degree from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va.  Frank Jasper, Mark Soehner and Roger Lopez joined Michael’s mom, Angie Charron, his sister, Monica, and his niece, Dominique, for the graduation, which featured Judge Rossie Alston Jr. of the Virginia Court of Appeals as the commencement speaker. After three years of mind-numbing law classes, Michael is not letting up. He’s steeped in studies for the Ohio Bar Exam, July 30-31 in Columbus.
Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist