Fr. Fred Link is an idea man, a go-to guy. No matter the task, he’s ready for it and always looks like he’s enjoying it! Fred is a man you rarely see without a smile on his face. A friar for more than 50 years, he shows no signs of slowing down.
In 2008, after serving as the Franciscan Provincial Minister for nine years, Fred took a year-long sabbatical to St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y., putting behind the pressures of the work and the relentless travel schedule.
After that, he accepted his obedience as pastor at St. Clements Church and School in St. Bernard, Ohio. Along with school principal Jeff Eiser, Fred can be seen outside the elementary school every morning greeting the children as they hop off the buses and tumble out of cars. The school increased enrollment by 40 boys and girls this year.
In his role as pastor, Fred has found his niche. “I love these people. I look forward to all the meetings in the evening because the groups work well together and good work gets done. I want the people to find the love of God here. I want to create a welcoming community and reach out to all the people in my parish, especially those who may have felt excluded for one reason or another.”
Fred’s energy and positive attitude revitalized his parish. True to his nature, he always has plenty of ideas. He teamed with artist Fr. James Van Vurst, Associate Pastor Sr. Ann Vonder Meulen, OSF, an artist and a special education teacher, and wrote grants to create ways to reach young parishioners who had language barriers and needed to catch-up academically. Rounding out his team is Rosario Eiser (Miss Rosie), the volunteer librarian. A Latina, she translates whenever Spanish is needed.
Fred’s great love is music. He has post-graduate degrees in music and used his talent to start prize winning show choirs and student choruses at Bishop Luers High School in Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati.
He started the Ft. Wayne Choral Festival, bringing in the most experienced judges and best high school choirs from all around the country. It was a serious competition and remains that today. His design model for high school choirs and competitions has been emulated around the U.S. and in Russia. The movie Glee used quite a lot of his materials word for word in the production.
Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, Fred admits he thrives on overload. “I am getting better at taking care of myself and putting balance into my life,” he says. Though his responsibilities are very different now, modified by pastoral responsibilities, he is also at Roger Bacon High School serving as Pastoral Chaplain. Almost every day, Fred can be seen leaving his office next to the chapel to make himself available to students in the cafeteria. “I see this as my role to help bring St. Francis alive to the students.”