everyday heroes

Bubs Kindt, a member of St. Francis Seraph Ministries, has adopted the Franciscan charism of begging. And he has outdone us at our own game.

One day recently Bubs packed his van full of food from various businesses around Cincinnati.  His regular stops include Chipotle’s, the Yard House, Graeter’s, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cincinnati Bengals, and parishes around the city such as Good Shepherd. Bubs trucked in 60 cases of potato chips, 30 trays of meats (hot dogs, brats, sausages), 12 cases of onions, and stacks of buns, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes. He’s stocking up the larder for winter. 

School custodian Kent Schulkers helped Bubs unload and store the donations. Georgina Dye, the chef, turns these donations into tasty and nutritious meals for the 200+ guests they serve each night at their soup kitchen. Sometimes Britta, the assistant cook for St. Francis Seraph School, has an easy job when the restaurants send in large amounts of food for a banquet that didn’t happen. 

Bubs has his regular route where he begs food for the soup kitchen. Then parish volunteers make sandwiches for people to take to their day jobs so they’ll have a lunch during the day. Bubs’ motto is, “If I can’t find it, you don’t need it.” 

Bubs delights in begging for St. Francis Seraph Soup Kitchen. And he teases the Franciscans that he does a better job of it than we do. And he does! Thanks, Bubs!

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Br. John Bok, OFM

Welcome and 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.

As Franciscans, we’re continually working to develop new ways to respond to the needs of people in today’s world.                   

For the second year in a row this December, we friars will be evangelizing in a very different way. We want to share the Gospel by providing a Franciscan presence of warmth and welcome in the “marketplace” during the busy holiday season. Friars from this province will be on hand at a store in the Northgate Mall in Cincinnati, Ohio, from November 28 through December 23. 

We would like to simply be a place of peace, prayer, conversation and friendship during the hustle and bustle of the season. Our hope is that our presence will be a bit of a reminder of the real reason for the season.

Blessings for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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

Friars' Work
He offered Mass in Zulu

Fr. Gil Wohler seemed to be taken back when asked to be interviewed.  He is more comfortable flying under the radar. Though initially reticent, he soon shared interesting snippets of his 52 years of priestly life. 

At 79 years of age, after 60 years as a friar, Gil said his Franciscan life has “come full circle.”  He sat in the guest parlor of Mercy Community Winton Woods where he is chaplain to senior residents in 74 independent living apartments. The building and campus was converted from what originally was St. Francis Seminary in Mt. Healthy, Ohio, northwest of Cincinnati.    

“I first came here as a high school freshman. Then later on, after ordination, I was a teacher at Roger Bacon High School one year and for seven years was an instructor of Latin, History and Science here at the minor seminary. When I retired nine years ago, I came here again.”

It was the in between part where things started cooking!  The Wichita, Kansas, native talked about his other lifetime assignments. After four years as Director of Franciscan Candidates and three years as Director of Vocations he diversified and took on pastoral and other duties at St. Boniface parish in Peoria, Ill., for 12 years.
Father Gil then transitioned to his favorite assignment – as a missionary to Pretoria, South Africa. He was an instructor and spiritual director at St. John Vianney Seminary and spiritual director and guardian at St. Francis House of Studies for 10 years. He taught in the Sancta Sophia National Seminary for four years and preached at La Verna Retreat Center for two more years. “I didn't learn the language but became able to offer Mass in Zulu. During that time I worked with such good people!” In between he traveled to Kenya and Botswana. He journeyed through major cosmopolitan cities, deserts and ghettos.  “Those ghettos were nothing like what we call them in the States! I wanted to stay, but was interrupted by the need for triple bypass heart surgery. I had it done down there and was laid up in the hospital for three months. 

“Yes, I met Nelson Mandela and voted with the 97% of South Africans in those early democratic elections.”

After his recovery, he returned to the states and worked for three years in the inner city as pastor of St. Francis Seraph Parish in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati.

Then came retirement. But as Chaplain at Mercy Community, there isn't a lot of time for that as he offers Masses, is spiritual director, celebrates benedictions, visits residents in the hospital, and anoints the sick. He spends a lot of time talking with residents by phone. He has a passion for playing bridge, having been trained by the guru of bridge playing in South Africa. In between he will delve into a mystery novel or two.