everyday heroes

Greg Allen is the “Guy Friday” to Brother Al Mascia's Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley, Mich. Greg, a former tree-cutter, experienced a “three-year homeless odyssey” when his parents died within 10 months of each other and their homestead was foreclosed. Greg brings the empathy gained from this experience to his work with the homeless. He gathered a list of tested resources for homeless people into a flyer which is tucked into the 300 CarePax distributed each week. Br. Al assesses Greg’s contribution to the projects. “He gives selflessly and has become an integral part of the outreach program. He helps keep it up and running for the homeless, unemployed and disenfranchised in the area.”

When Brother Al found Greg about to become homeless again when the apartment building he lived in was foreclosed, he enlisted his help for Song and Spirit Institute for Peace. In return Greg speaks to groups, sets up equipment and lighting at concerts, organizes, packs and distributes CarePax from the group's CareAVan.

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Br. John Bok, OFM

As we enjoy the beauty that the Month of May brings, let us honor and renew people who have made such a difference in our lives. We celebrate our mothers on Mother’s Day, the men and women of the military of Armed Forces Day and our war heroes on Memorial Day.

Thanks for visiting the Ministry and Mission pages. Friars Works / Franciscan Ministry and Mission is the office that generates charitable gifts that support our ministries and missions, our infirm and retired friars and our men in formation. The support of benefactors enables us to do some really great work.

Here you can learn what we do and how you can support our ministries and missions. Take a look around. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at friarworks@franciscan.org.

And speaking of honoring people that make a difference in our lives, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your continued support which allows our work to continue in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

May God Bless you.

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

Friars' Work
A pastoral legacy

Fr. Larry Zurek has loved and invested himself in pastoral work for more than half of his life. As he prepares to leave Peoria, Ill., he reflects upon his legacy and his closeness to the people of Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s, the two inner-city parishes he has served for 11 years. Larry believes two legacies of his tenure are leaving a beautiful church to worship in and a place for people to give their hearts and minds to God. On his watch he also saw to the major renovation of the parish hall.

In 30 years he has served five parishes full-time and several others with Sacramental Ministry as Pastor or Associate Pastor. “My pastoral work has been intense.  There hasn’t been much time for hobbies and personal interests.” But he can look back with pleasure on one thing. “When my Mother died in 2009, I wanted to honor her by planting a garden at the Friary. One of the parishioners helped me put it together. I am not sure if it will continue to be cared for, like trimming the roses after I leave, but I hope it will.”  In the early days of his priesthood, Larry enjoyed using his talent by making religious art – batiks, to be exact. Candle wax to use with the fabric work is always available. (It prevents the dye from penetrating the cloth.) The products were used for holidays and special occasions. Hopefully there will be some time in his new assignment to pick up where he left off.

Associate Pastor Fr. Luis Aponte-Merced is also leaving after 10 years there. Larry and Luis are preparing to turn the helm of their ministry over to diocesan priests. In recent decades many Catholic schools and churches have closed due to student attrition, change in population centers and budget constraints. But when the change was announced last November, Provincial Vicar Frank Jasper assured the congregation that Peoria’s current two Franciscan churches are not closing.

Both Fathers Larry and Luis will assume responsibility for the Vocational Team for St. John the Baptist Province and recruit men for the Franciscan Priesthood and Brotherhood. Although centered in Cincinnati at St. Anthony Shrine, they will go wherever applicants live for interviews and stay in daily contact with them as they make their life-changing decision. Father Larry explained, “We are very excited and are looking forward to these new challenges. We look forward to getting our feet wet. Already we have gone to planning meetings and have gone to a Vocational Conference”.