everyday heroes

Deacon Fred Morris and his wife, Madge, are longtime residents of Savanna-la –mar. totally dedicated to the people of the small sugar plantation congregation of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church in Grange Hill, Westmoreland, Jamaica.
Deacon leads the Sunday liturgy when Fr. Max Langenderfer celebrates the Eucharist at another village.  Madge helps teach the St. Mark children, as well as assisting during the Sunday liturgies.  Through their work, and that of Sr. Louis Therese, 30-50 children from the village of Kings Valley now attend a highly participative and spontaneous children’s liturgy at St. Mark.

Knowing the local community well, especially the Catholic shut-ins, is important when Fred and Sr. Louis Therese visit them with Holy Communion and food packages.
Fred is active in parish council and is often the backbone of activities. He oversees many maintenance needs for the church, taking the lead, after the electric power line was stolen, in building a concrete tower and installing underground cable.  Besides his parish maintenance work he has also organized the repair of floors that collapsed in some shut-ins’ houses. 

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Br. John Bok, OFM

A dear friend sent me a text right before Lent asking me what I was giving up. Her question reminded me that we tend to focus on what we give up for Lent. It is so much more important to focus on the purpose of Lent. There is not much won in giving up sweets, beer, soft drinks or whatever. But much is won if each time we do our penance (like not having that beer), we remember our need to make changes in our lives to better conform to living the way Jesus teaches us to live.

Lent is an Old English word for “springtime.” The image of springtime can help us focus on our need to clean out the shrubbery (the sins and failings) in our lives before spring (Easter) to enable new growth (loving God and our neighbors with new commitment and vigor) to spring up.

St. Anthony of Padua preached, “Seek God’s kingdom above all else. Make it the most important thing in your life. Everything else must be sought in view of this kingdom.” May God help each of us to have a very fruitful Lent.

Fr. John Bok, OFM
Co-Director, FriarWorks / Ministry & Mission

Friars' Work
In Loving Memory

When word got out that Fr. Bernardin (Bernie) Schneider, OFM, was in danger of death, fervent prayers from hearts filled with gratitude for all he had meant to them filled his last hours on earth.  Fr. Bernie died in Japan on Jan. 8, 2015, at the age of 97.

Bernie was a legend, respected around the world for translating the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into a critical annotated Japanese edition. The impact of the translation in evangelization cannot be measured; he made the word of God alive and meaningful to the hearts and lives of many Japanese people.

Fr. Bernardin’s wake and funeral took place at St. Anthony Seminary in Tokyo on Jan. 12 and 13. The small church where Bernie had spent so many long hours in prayer was filled to overflowing at his wake. Fr. Michael Yuzawa, his guardian, conducted the liturgy.

The wake included a series of scripture readings with a meditation, hymn and prayer for each and concluded with a reverent offering of flowers in the Japanese tradition. On Jan. 24, Fr. Ric Schneider, OFM, Bernie’s brother and the youngest of 11 siblings, presided at a memorial Mass at St. Anthony Shrine Chapel in Cincinnati. “He was a great brother of mine, a wonderful friar and a phenomenal scholar. There were so many areas in which he excelled. He was a man of deep faith and obedience,” said Fr. Ric.

May you rest in the loving arms of the Lord, Fr. Bernie.  We miss you. 

Photo: Pope John Paul II meets the four Schneider brothers, all Franciscan priests: Aquinas, Bernardin, Ric, and Chris