August 08, 2019
BY TONI CASHNELLI
For record-keepers, the Chapter of Mats was historic, the largest gathering of American friars that anyone could remember. For each of the nearly 400 brothers who gathered in Denver, it has become part of their personal history. All of them left with something to remember, whether it was a chance encounter, a homily that gave them hope, or an especially powerful presention. Several friars share their favorite moments on Page 4. Here are some of ours:
Casey Cole interviewed novices.Frank JasperOctavio DuranUSfranciscans
Video from the Reception of Novices (by Chris Meyer of SJB Province) is posted on YouTube at: Youtube
Interviews with the new novices, shot by Casey Cole of Holy Name Province, are available at: Videos
An awakening: At first I was startled, surprised and momentarily uncomfortable. The liturgy at Mass felt different and foreign, but yet, maybe not. Then it dawned in my heart. This way of celebrating the liturgy with its carefully crafted intermingling of languages mirrors who we truly are as an Order, as a new Province gestating into being, and the cultural reality of the United States of America called to be the one People of God. Thank you to those friars who so thoughtfully planned the liturgies and birthed in me a new possibility of prayer.
–Mike Chowning, OFM
Like old times: I really enjoyed seeing the former novices I had when I was part of the novitiate team. Lots of good memories, and lots of good stories. There was so much energy in the room and Franciscan joy at its best. I took a tour Wednesday to the see the life of St. Francis Cabrini. There was a big picture at my church back home, and I really did not know anything about her. I bought a book about her life and it is something I will always remember. I just wish the time had not gone by so fast.
–Norbert Bertram, OFM
A moving film: One experience that stood out for me was our watching together a new movie about Pope Francis: Call Me Francis. The segment about his struggles as a young provincial superior in the midst of the oppression of the Pinochet regime deeply touched me. The movie helped me see new sides to Pope Francis’s story, and it also challenged me to want to be a better religious.
–Henry Beck, OFM
Missions matter: What I liked were the Interest Groups I went to on Foreign Missions and Native American Ministry. There were positive ideas given to continue them with the new [provincial] entity through an effort to involve more people. There was strong feeling that the missions overseas should continue.
–Blane Grein, OFM
Rejuvenated: I was very blessed to be able to attend the Chapter of Mats in Denver, excited to meet friars from the different provinces and to reconnect with friars that I hadn’t seen in many years. This gathering was a great opportunity to begin to learn about each other and the various talents and gifts that we each have to offer. One event that really touched me was the Reception of the Novices. I was a moving experience for them, I am certain, to be received in front of 400 of their peers. I feel rejuvenated after having spent a week of fraternity. I am looking forward to the beginning of this amazing journey that we are embarking on.
–Eric Seguin, OFM
Breaking bread: There are many things from the Chapter of Mats which I remember, but the one event which struck me most was sitting down and eating meals with friars from other provinces. It was interesting just listening to the stories from their provinces, especially Holy Name – I did not know any of their members – but it was also an opportunity to reconnect with friars I know from the other provinces whom I have met throughout the years.
– Dennis Bosse, OFM
BY LOREN CONNELL, OFM
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Mt. Elliott Cemetery, Detroit
A memorial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in SouthfieldHow many visits have I made to Mt. Elliott Cemetery since moving to Detroit seven years ago? At least a dozen. It lies right across the street from the Capuchins, and many a day of recollection was spent, in part, in the cemetery at the grave of our brother, Engelbert Peter. Many a day was spent, in part, wondering about the whereabouts of our other brothers, Anthony Daeger and Peregrin Matschy. When we finally learned that the cemetery had misrecorded their burials and lost track of their graves, the decision was made to erect a new stone at Engelbert’s plot and record on it the names of all three friars. We dedicated that stone last All Souls Day.
That should have been the end of the story. . . except that the cemetery did not remove Engelbert’s dismantled old stone. It lay flat on the ground right in front of the new stone throughout the winter and spring. Correspondence with the cemetery office seemed to bring no results. Maybe the winter snow was too nasty for a stone to be removed; maybe the spring ground was too soggy. Last week the old stone was still there. Another communication with the office. . . and this time with results. Today the old stone and its pedestal are gone, and the new stone stands alone. Engelbert, Peregrin, and Anthony, you have been part of my life more than all the other deceased friars together. May you rest in peace. I am!
Saturday, July 20, 2019
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield
After visiting Mt. Elliott in Detroit, I visited Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield. What a mess! The headstones are flat with the ground, and most of them were partly covered with grass and soil. Elwin Harrington’s, Sebastian Wintering’s, and Bertrand Labinski’s were hardly visible. Bare hands alone could not accomplish much.
Tuesday of this week I returned to Holy Sepulchre with gloves, trowel, and brush and began to clear away the accumulated growth. Weather was hot and humid, and unfamiliar muscles were getting sore, yet I experienced something holy. As I pulled and dug and brushed, I was reminded of Tobit burying the dead in Nineveh. It was a grace for me to perform this service to the memory of our deceased brothers. Eventually aches and weather got the better of me, and I returned to Transfiguration Friary. Yesterday Eric Seguin joined me at Holy Sepulchre, and we completed our task. Today I returned for one final visit.
Thirty-five friars are buried in Holy Sepulchre, from Claude Mindorf in 1936 to Rock Travnikar in 2016; and most of them I personally knew or at least met. I was in temporary vows at Duns Scotus when Edgar Casey died, the first friar with whom I lived to pass away.
The last night that Edgar lay in state in the darkened chapel at Duns Scotus, Cletus Suttmann, the guardian, and Leander Blumlein, the artist, thought that he should be buried with a stole. By the flickering light of candles they tried to determine which of them should cover the deceased with a stole. The guardian politely deferred to the artist, the artist appropriately deferred to the guardian, and Edgar never got his stole! Gus Steele and I lived together at St. Francis High School Seminary. When he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while on vacation in Canada, I was privileged to go there and be with his mother in the hospital. Gus was a year behind me in profession and the first of my contemporaries to die. How blessed I am to be a part of this marvelous brotherhood!
A ‘Feud’ brought friars together
Provincials prepare for the ‘Feud’.I’m still riding high from the energy of last week’s Chapter of Mats. The week spent in Denver with 400 friars present allowed the Holy Spirit to move from table discussions to the fun game of Family Feud between the Provincials and the Vicars. I was pleasantly surprised to hear from other friars just how much this meant to them.
Most meaningful to me were the small one-on-one conversations that happened spontaneously. I was catching up with a friend from 1991 with whom I went to school at Loyola. Other friends from the time of working in formation. And naturally, with the Provincials I now work with pretty regularly. I am amazed at the good bond between us – how we are able to disagree and still work toward a solution acceptable to all.
If I have to pick one specific incident about the Chapter of Mats, it would have to be our own version of Family Feud. When I first heard about it, my initial response was, “Oh, no, we’ll have to make fools of ourselves in front of everyone.” But Caoimhin Ó Laoide as “host” really made it fun. He was a natural! When the scoring went sideways, Caoimhin spontaneously came up with the Applause Meter – which made it even more hilarious as it was very clear the Provincials couldn’t win. (I’ll concede, it might have been because we didn’t have the best of answers!)
Besides the sheer fun of it all, I believe that a new spirit of fraternity was engendered that will serve us well as we walk into a new future together.
— Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM
Aug. 4, Provincial Minister Mark Soehner responded to the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, with this message on Facebook:
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