everyday heroes

Everybody loves a Cookie and Ruth (Cookie) Vogelpohl is right up there with homemade chocolate chip. A more empathic woman you will never meet!  In fact, Ruth, Cookie's baptismal name, is an ancient Biblical name which means “compassion” and is a perfect fit for her.

In 1981, Cookie worked with the Franciscan Friars in over the Rhine. One day on her lunch break she saw an older bearded man in a tattered black raincoat eating a half-eaten sandwich he had rummaged from the garbage. Cookie couldn't accept that people needed to beg for money for food, or worse yet eat from trash cans. With the permission of the pastor, Fr. Germain Krizmanich, she used the cafeteria of St. Francis Seraph School to start a soup kitchen. With family and friends volunteering and donated food and supplies from Bill Holohan, she served the first seven customers from the neighborhood on May 10, 1981. Now the St. Francis Seraph Soup Kitchen serves 350 meals several days a week.

Cookie went on to found a second soup kitchen, Our Daily Bread, in 1985. What started as a card table grew to be a multi-service daytime option for the homeless poor, the unemployed and elderly of the neighborhood. Though retired after 36 years, Cookie, as Executive Director Emeritus, still volunteers at Our Daily Bread.   Thank you Cookie, you are our Everyday Hero.

Photo: Fr Hilarion Kistner, OFM, with Cookie at Our Daily Bread

Post a prayer request, send a St. Anthony e-card, or read about the life and prayers of St. Anthony. And become a partner in the work of the Franciscans by donating to St. Anthony Bread at
Subscribe to St. Anthony’s Breadbasket—e-news from
Br. John Bok, OFM

Dear Friends,

Thank you for visiting the Ministry & Mission page. I am Fr. John Bok, co-director along with Colleen Cushard of the Friar Works/Franciscan Ministry & Mission office. This office generates charitable gifts to support our ministries and missions so that we are better able to spread the Good News of Jesus to others.

This month we will begin our novena to St. Anthony of Padua, one of the most famous disciples of St. Francis of Assisi. There is comfort in the belief that such a saint is interested in our human needs and takes them so seriously when we entrust him to carry our needs to the Lord Himself.

Please join us as we begin the nine-week novena to St. Anthony on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Many who pray this series of prayers find great comfort in the perseverance and trust involved. St. Anthony’s intercessory powers before our God are awesome. The Novena will conclude on the feast of St Anthony on June 13, 2015.

For more information about the novena, please visit http://www.stanthony.org/index.php/online-prayer-request/st-anthony-novena/

May the Lord through the intercession of St. Anthony look upon your intentions kindly and give you peace.

Fr. John Bok, OFM, Co-Director
Friar Works / Franciscan Ministry & Mission

Friars' Work
Modest and accomplished

Not everyone can say they have met Popes and Saints. Though quite humble about it, Fr. Cyprian Berens, OFM, has photos of himself with Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, and even Blessed Mother Teresa to prove it. He will tell you in his gentle voice that they are “group pictures” taken when he worked in Rome, adding, “One is of Pope John Paul II washing my dirty feet in a Holy Thursday service.”

Cyprian began life as the son of a high-end tailor who was trained in New York. His mother was a homemaker and two brothers and a sister rounded out his family. He became acquainted with the Franciscans when he attended Roger Bacon High School and transferred to St. Francis Seminary. Ordained in 1951, he served his first six years as Associate Pastor in Illinois parishes. 

In 1957, Rome called him to serve as the Assistant Treasurer and Secretary to the Minister General of the Franciscan Curia. “It took me all three years to learn Italian”, he said. He also used to pick up Mother Teresa from the airport and they would talk business. He preached at her six Missionaries of Charity houses in Rome and heard the confessions of her novices every week. 

Upon completing this curial assignment, he served in varied duties, including director of men discerning life as a friar, rector and teacher at Duns Scotus, Mich. But his reputation of competence caught up with him and he was again called to Rome to be General Treasurer of the Franciscan Curia. From the General Curia Fr. Cyprian was sent to Florence, Italy, for four years. He was assigned as Director of the Collegio San Buenaventura, a renowned research institution, and was also Superior of the House. 

After his return to the United States he served as the Treasurer of St. Leonard College in Centerville, Ohio, as Guardian at St. Anthony's, as Director of Brothers and 13 years as Director of Communications. Then a call to Rome came again where he served as a Penitentiary, an American/Italian speaking Confessor at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. When he returned to the States for the last time, he was named Pastor for 10 years at St. Paul the Apostle in Calumet, Mich.

Cyprian is resident Chaplain Emeritus of the Archbishop Leibold Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Cincinnati. At 91, being “retired” is a misnomer. His days are full saying Mass, preaching, being present to dying residents, counseling retirees, helping new residents adjust, and still driving 140 miles monthly to a prayer group in Madison, Ind. Although he says his memory is slipping, he knows the name of every resident (100-plus) and all the Sisters and workers at the home.