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

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June 11, 2020

A moment of crisis, a chance for change

BY MARK SOEHNER, OFM

Novices at the Interprovincial Novitiate at Old Mission Santa Barbara shared these quiet but powerful messages.The protests after the death of George Floyd have led us to a moment of crisis.  A crisis is a turning point, a moment of both opportunity and danger.  Today’s moment has been compressed in the pressure cooker of quarantine and economic pain.

Protests in the United States are actually important ways for us to change, when ordinary means don’t work.  I do not condone the destruction and looting done by a few of the protesters.  But no one can stand by while someone has a foot on the neck of another, lest we all become complicit by merely looking on.  In his recent statement Pope Francis said,  “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

The friars this week have received material to begin to discuss the concept of “white privilege”.  And while that is probably too complicated to explain in this short column, my letter to them has developed it a bit more.  What can most of us do?

I think it’s important to engage in conversations that matter with people of ethnicity other than our own.  We could ask, “How did you experience the protests?”, “How did we historically come to this moment?”, “What is the one thing important for me to learn from your experience?”  Our dialogue can make us richer and wiser.

Secondly, we need to work for specific actions of justice.  The scholar Dr. Cornel West used to say that “Justice is what love looks like in public”.  If we love others, we need to work to change laws so that everyone can receive health care, that everyone has access to safe housing, decent food and gainful employment.  We need to vote for laws that protect all human life, and at this moment, for racial minorities.  At this time, that black lives matter.  Justice is what love looks like in public.

And always, we need to pray.  Those who move into God begin to experience certain periods of unknowing, confusion, embarrassment.  Spiritual masters have called this a “dark night”.  Sound like this crisis?  I think so!

This crisis puts into sharp focus our spiritual smallness and collusion with powers of evil. Those in relationship with God feel as though God is breaking open their own smallness. Just their recognition of their spiritual impasse is a gift.  Then the Spirit provides healing, a balm in Gilead, that makes the wounded whole.  God helps us to see one another as brothers and sisters, to develop new ties that bind as members of God’s Beloved Community.  Only deep prayer will help us to see our interconnectedness, that vulnerability with each other IS a treasure, that we belong to each other, to God, and to the universe.  Yes, this moment of crisis can help us to demand that Black Lives Matter.  This crisis is a turning point for all lives to matter.

Signs of hope

PHOTO BY PIXABAYParishioners from St. Monica-St. George Parish in Cincinnati are staging a peaceful, hour-long demonstration for racial justice at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 12. “We hope to line Clifton Avenue from its southern corner at McMillan as far north as we can stretch on Clifton Avenue, with people standing (or sitting) at least 6 feet apart, holding signs in support of racial justice,” according to a Facebook post.  To participate, bring a sign, a chair (if needed), water, and “wear a mask, please.” There will be no marching or chanting. Those who arrive by 5:30 should meet in the church parking lot.

The City of Southfield, Mich., and its Police Department are sponsoring Southfield Unity Day – Kneel to Heal from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 14, along Evergreen Road. Participants who are able will be asked to kneel for 8 minutes and 42 seconds to honor the life of George Floyd. “Participants are asked to meet at the large SFLD letters at the Donald F. Fracassi Municipal Campus, 26000 Evergreen Road.” They are encouraged to wear face masks and stand 6 feet apart.

Marching for Justice

PHOTOS BY CONNOR WALL/River City NewsThe march was part of a nationwide protest mounted by public defenders.As Matt Ryan sees it, “There’s a systemic problem when a segment of the population is disproportionately poor and disproportionately incarcerated.” He’s speaking from the perspective of a former public defender with 13 years of experience in Northern Kentucky. Newly arrived in Cincinnati for ministry based at St. Clement, Matt saw a Facebook post about a march organized by former colleagues to protest the deaths of George Floyd and other African Americans and to support the statement, “Black Lives Matter”.

Monday, June 8, he joined other “Black Lives Matter to Public Defenders” protesters as they marched from Newport, Ky., to Covington, stopping at the Campbell County and Kenton County courthouses to take a knee for nearly nine Matt Ryan, right, joined former colleagues in a peaceful march in Northern Kentucky.minutes, the length of time Floyd was restrained with deadly force. “Right now the African American community is hurting,” Matt says, “and it’s important to walk with them.”

He was encouraged by the positive reception marchers received. “We didn’t hear any negative comments, and many people honked in support as they drove by.”  The Northern Kentucky march was part of a nationwide protest mounted Monday by public defenders.

Besides supporting his former co-workers, “I was able to bring my former public defender life together with my Franciscan life,” Matt says.

–Toni Cashnelli

He happily went where he was sent

BY TONI CASHNELLI

PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFM“I think he enjoyed everything he did in life,” Jeremy Harrington said of Humbert Moster.As it says in Romans, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” – not even a pandemic.

Despite the masks and distancing, the funeral for Humbert Moster reflected that reassuring scripture. He believed it, preached it, and lived it in 60 years as a pastor, a chaplain and a missionary.

“Gone too soon” is not something we typically say when a 90-year-old friar dies. But Humbert still had a lot of living to do. And his unexpected passing on June 1 after a fall the day before felt like a life cut short.

Joyful, plain-spoken and self-effacing, he was the real McCoy. “I think he enjoyed everything he did in life,” homilist Jeremy Harrington said at Humbert’s funeral on June 5 at Holy Family Church in Oldenburg, Ind. Family, friars, friends, pretty much everyone who could fit into the church at safe social intervals agreed.

The separation dictated by COVID-19 was enforced by white ribbons blocking off every other pew. Masks muddled recognition among those arriving for visitation. Humbert’s extended family – he was one of 11 siblings – seemed to be everywhere. Brothers Leo, Ben, and Tony, the youngest at 84, came with their wives. Their sister, 101-year-old Beata Moloney, stayed safely at home.

Baptism at a Chapter at St. MeinradThe sharing of stories led to anecdotes about Humbert the carpenter, who left his mark on every parish he served. In Jamaica, he set about remodeling the friary and building a carport. When he took communion to rural areas, “Places were hard to find” because there were no street names or house numbers, said Max Langenderfer, who later served in Jamaica. Humbert decided to make signs, but the local ganja (cannabis) dealers objected. “People were afraid he would cause trouble for them,” by drawing undue attention, “so that didn’t go well.”

Humbert’s favorite hobby was playing cards; he never met a game he didn’t like. “I think he would have played four or five times a week if he could,” said his brother Tony. Was he good at it? “Oh, yes,” said Oldenburg Sr. Joan Schwacke, a Euchre-playing crony for 50 years. On the other hand, “I heard Pastor Humberthe sometimes overbid,” said Holy Family Pastor Carl Langenderfer.

According to celebrant Mark Soehner, “Everything about Humbert was honest and true – except for his card-playing.”

Taking chances

Homilist Jeremy amplified two passages from Romans, both reflecting Humbert’s outlook: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”; and, “Who can separate us from the love of God?”

Jeremy and Jeff Scheeler were Humbert’s chosen homilists. Jeremy, two years behind Humbert at the seminary, said he twisted Jeff’s arm to get the assignment.  But Jeff sent this message: When SJB was planning a mission in Jamaica in 2000, “We needed lay brothers and we needed priests. If Fr. Humbert had not volunteered, we could not have accepted the new mission.’’

Humbert, then 70, offered to go. “It was typical of Humbert’s life and spirituality,” said Jeremy. “He was willing to take chances, venture into new things he didn’t have experience in because he trusted so much in God. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’”

Left, “He was always cheerful,” Bert Heise said of classmate Humbert; Above, Vince Delorenzo and John Joseph Gonchar arrive for the funeralIn the 1960s, country boy Humbert was named pastor of St. Francis Seraph parish in inner-city Cincinnati. “I think it was a challenge for him to fit in,” but he wasn’t deterred. “After 20-something years in parish ministry, Humbert became a hospital chaplain.” His attitude was, ‘I’ve never been a hospital chaplain, but sure, if you ask and this is what God wants, I’ll do it willingly.”

When Jeremy surveyed friars, “Almost everybody said, ‘Humbert loved to work with his hands.’ He was always doing some kind of work in the parish,” evoking the end-of-life testament of St. Francis: “I earnestly desire my brothers give themselves to honest work.”

Humbert’s classmate Bert Heise told Jeremy, “He was always cheerful, a good-natured person, he took part in everything. I don’t think I ever saw him angry.” He happily accepted whatever came his way.

Time to rejoice

“The scriptures today capture our dependence and trust in God,” Jeremy said. “If God is for us, why do we worry somebody else is against us? What can separate us from the love of God? Death doesn’t separate us; it unites us with the great love God has for us. Jesus wants us to be with him. He wants Humbert to be with him.”

Left, Holy Family visitation; right, Humbert with parishioners in JamaicaThe day’s first reading from Isaiah was about the end of the world. Jeremy had recently been asked about that in light of the pandemic. “We don’t know when the end of the world will be,” he said, but as Isaiah reassures us, “God will destroy the veil that separates people. He will destroy death forever.” Isaiah also says, “Let us rejoice and be glad; God has saved us.” We can smile, as Humbert did, “because we believe down deep that God is with us.”

With COVID-19 interrupting our lives, “It’s hard to know what’s going to happen,” Jeremy said. But, “We know that God is with us and God is loving us,” no matter what. This was Humbert’s compass, his guiding light.

“We thank God for Humbert, for his witness and service. We all miss him and love him.”

After communion, Mark Soehner recalled the time when, as a young friar, he lived next door to Humbert. “I never experienced such mercy from God as when I went to confession with Humbert,” he said. “What a good man.” He repeated, almost to himself, “What a good man.”

Before the singing of the Ultima, Mark asked, “How many here are related to Humbert?”

The response was impressive, as, all over church, dozens of children and adults raised their hands. Even separated by masks and beribboned pews, they were one big, proud family.

  • Janie Obermeyer with Neri Greskoviak and Carl LangenderferFor 21 years, callers to Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg, Ind., have been impressed with Janie Obermeyer’s warmth and efficiency. This week Janie, who just turned 70 and sounds decades younger, retired from her job as Business Manager, a position so complex it requires a 2½-page job description. She’s leaving to spend more time with her ailing husband. “I love this job,” Janie says, “but it’s time to step down and let somebody else enjoy this chair.” Responding to a one-line ad in the church bulletin in 1999, she was hired by then-pastor Sylvester Heppner and has worked with dozens of friars since. “I really liked each and every one of them,” she says, saving special praise for Pastor Carl Langenderfer (“He’s fantastic”), Neri Greskoviak (“He’s the best”) and everybody’s friend, the late Leonard Kireski (“I absolutely loved him”). A parish-wide celebration will be held when social distancing guidelines are eased, says Carl. “We will miss her!”
  • Charles Dufour, second from right, with Fred Link, Jeff Scheeler and John Bok at a provincial meeting.June 4, Jim Bok picked up the phone in Negril, Jamaica, to hear a familiar voice. “Jim, this is Charlie!”  said the caller. “Charles, how in the heck are you?” Jim asked Archbishop Emeritus Charles Dufour. As Bishop of the Diocese of Montego Bay from 1995-2011, Dufour worked hard to bring friars to Jamaica in 2000. He left for Kingston in 2011, serving as Archbishop until 2016. “Charles noticed on our Facebook page that Humbert Moster died,” Jim says. “He called to extend his sympathy and expressed his gratitude for Humbert’s ministry here in the Diocese.  I thought that was very touching! Also, he mentioned that he turned 80 on April 15.  He is still the Administrator of the Diocese of Mandeville.  It has been four years!  Unbelievable!”
  • Live from Mt. Airy: It’s the Feast of St. Anthony. This year’s celebration, starting at noon Saturday (June 13) with Mass celebrated by Mark Soehner, contains all the prayerful and inspirational elements you would expect onsite, but is being brought to you at a safe social distance via livestreaming at www.stanthony.org. Mass at noon is followed by a virtual tour, an appearance by Gene Mayer to explain the photomural in the back of the Shrine, candle-lighting by Guardian Vince Delorenzo, and a reading by Dan Anderson from A Retreat with St. Anthony by Carol Ann Morrow (Franciscan Media). Clifford Hennings will begin the Novena to St. Anthony at 2:30 p.m. Download the novena prayers at: stanthony.org
  • Soon after Miles Pfalzer died, a beautiful, homemade card arrived for him at 1615 Vine St. in Cincinnati.  Christine Wofford of Good Shepherd Parish in Cincinnati had seen a Facebook post about Miles’ upcoming 100th birthday, a milestone he sadly did not reach, and wanted to do something special for him. “She didn’t know Miles, but saw the notice on FB and loves making cards and is grateful for religious and the sacrifices they make,” says Marilyn Wilson, who called Christine to thank her and inform her of Miles’ passing. As Marilyn learned, “She was introduced to the Franciscans via Fr. Bill Reichel, whom she says was ‘wonderfully good hearted, always with a sparkle in his eyes.’”

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

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

Novices at the Interprovincial Novitiate at Old Mission Santa Barbara shared these quiet but powerful messages.The protests after the death of George Floyd have led us to a moment of crisis.  A crisis is a turning point, a moment of both opportunity and danger.  Today’s moment has been compressed in the pressure cooker of quarantine and economic pain.

Monday, June 8, he joined other “Black Lives Matter to Public Defenders” protesters as they marched from Newport, Ky., to Covington, stopping at the Campbell County and Kenton County courthouses to take a knee for nearly nine Matt Ryan, right, joined former colleagues in a peaceful march in Northern Kentucky.minutes, the length of time Floyd was restrained with deadly force. “Right now the African American community is hurting,” Matt says, “and it’s important to walk with them.”

PHOTO BY FRANK JASPER, OFM“I think he enjoyed everything he did in life,” Jeremy Harrington said of Humbert Moster.As it says in Romans, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” – not even a pandemic.

Humbert’s favorite hobby was playing cards; he never met a game he didn’t like. “I think he would have played four or five times a week if he could,” said his brother Tony. Was he good at it? “Oh, yes,” said Oldenburg Sr. Joan Schwacke, a Euchre-playing crony for 50 years. On the other hand, “I heard Pastor Humberthe sometimes overbid,” said Holy Family Pastor Carl Langenderfer.

Left, Holy Family visitation; right, Humbert with parishioners in JamaicaThe day’s first reading from Isaiah was about the end of the world. Jeremy had recently been asked about that in light of the pandemic. “We don’t know when the end of the world will be,” he said, but as Isaiah reassures us, “God will destroy the veil that separates people. He will destroy death forever.” Isaiah also says, “Let us rejoice and be glad; God has saved us.” We can smile, as Humbert did, “because we believe down deep that God is with us.”

  • Charles Dufour, second from right, with Fred Link, Jeff Scheeler and John Bok at a provincial meeting.June 4, Jim Bok picked up the phone in Negril, Jamaica, to hear a familiar voice. “Jim, this is Charlie!”  said the caller. “Charles, how in the heck are you?” Jim asked Archbishop Emeritus Charles Dufour. As Bishop of the Diocese of Montego Bay from 1995-2011, Dufour worked hard to bring friars to Jamaica in 2000. He left for Kingston in 2011, serving as Archbishop until 2016. “Charles noticed on our Facebook page that Humbert Moster died,” Jim says. “He called to extend his sympathy and expressed his gratitude for Humbert’s ministry here in the Diocese.  I thought that was very touching! Also, he mentioned that he turned 80 on April 15.  He is still the Administrator of the Diocese of Mandeville.  It has been four years!  Unbelievable!”
FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

Monday, June 8, he joined other “Black Lives Matter to Public Defenders” protesters as they marched from Newport, Ky., to Covington, stopping at the Campbell County and Kenton County courthouses to take a knee for nearly nine Matt Ryan, right, joined former colleagues in a peaceful march in Northern Kentucky.minutes, the length of time Floyd was restrained with deadly force. “Right now the African American community is hurting,” Matt says, “and it’s important to walk with them.”

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

Humbert’s favorite hobby was playing cards; he never met a game he didn’t like. “I think he would have played four or five times a week if he could,” said his brother Tony. Was he good at it? “Oh, yes,” said Oldenburg Sr. Joan Schwacke, a Euchre-playing crony for 50 years. On the other hand, “I heard Pastor Humberthe sometimes overbid,” said Holy Family Pastor Carl Langenderfer.

  • Charles Dufour, second from right, with Fred Link, Jeff Scheeler and John Bok at a provincial meeting.June 4, Jim Bok picked up the phone in Negril, Jamaica, to hear a familiar voice. “Jim, this is Charlie!”  said the caller. “Charles, how in the heck are you?” Jim asked Archbishop Emeritus Charles Dufour. As Bishop of the Diocese of Montego Bay from 1995-2011, Dufour worked hard to bring friars to Jamaica in 2000. He left for Kingston in 2011, serving as Archbishop until 2016. “Charles noticed on our Facebook page that Humbert Moster died,” Jim says. “He called to extend his sympathy and expressed his gratitude for Humbert’s ministry here in the Diocese.  I thought that was very touching! Also, he mentioned that he turned 80 on April 15.  He is still the Administrator of the Diocese of Mandeville.  It has been four years!  Unbelievable!”