friar blesses dog in car

Pastor Fred Link calms an anxious guest at St. Clement. Photo by Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM

Still prayerful, pet-friendly

St. Clement Parish,
St. Bernard, Ohio

family with puppies

Two blue-eyed puppies are ready for their blessing at St. Clement. Photo by Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM

The Feast of St. Francis started early at St. Clement Parish, where they’ve been setting the stage – with Pastor Fred Link’s weekly livestream reflections on the life of Francis – and setting the scene, with a display in the church commons of photos of Giotto’s frescoes of scenes from the life of Francis, and a Franciscan display with a large statue of the saint in the sanctuary.

Oct. 2, students at St. Clement School all watched “age appropriate films” on the life of Francis during the day. “I had the joy of distributing ice cream sandwiches from Dairy Queen to all of our students during their lunch periods,” Fred says. “Probably 90 percent gave me a really gracious ‘thank you.’ (Of course, St. Clement has the best students!)”

Rain did not dampen parishioners’ enthusiasm for a drive-by pet blessing on Sunday afternoon. “Folks drove up in front of church and had their pets at the windows,” says Fred. “My first blessing was of a lovely pit-bull who greeted me warmly from the front window of the car. In spite of the awful weather, there were a number of folks who wished for the blessing. We also gave our guests free hot dogs or tamales prepared by our Latino community and Secular Franciscans.”

Transfiguration Parish,
Southfield, Mich.

2 women praying

The blessing of the Peace Pole at Transfiguration parish. Photo by Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

Parishioners at Transfiguration were invited to bring their best friends to the prayer garden on Oct. 3 for a “cheerfully chaotic event” – the blessing of the animals. Blessings extended into the evening as the parish dedicated its new multi-language Peace Pole, donated by the resident friars. Like a votive candle, it “prays” that peace may prevail on earth, in four languages: English, Arabic, Tagalog, and Polish. That evening a socially distanced in-person Transitus observance was livestreamed on Facebook.

St. Francis Retreat House,
Easton, Pa.

St. Francis Retreat House hosted a Franciscan Weekend Retreat Oct. 2-4. “We had 24 onsite and seven virtually participate,” says Henry Beck, part of the retreat team with Shirley and Steve Puccino. “Shirley is our new SFRH Board President, and she did a lovely presentation on St. Clare. Both she and Steve are longtime Secular Franciscans here at our St. Francis Fraternity.”

With lots of insight and conversation, quiet time and spiritual direction, “It was an inspiring weekend. We looked at the theme of ‘Who are You, O God, and Who am I?’ (often prayed by Francis). We looked at the journey to discover our True Selves through the Christian Tradition, Thomas Merton, St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Bonaventure, and John Duns Scotus.” The reception following Transitus at the Retreat House featured almond cookies in honor of Lady Jacoba and St. Clare.

Roger Bacon High School,
St. Bernard, Oh.

priest holds up the Eucharist

Fr. Roger Lopez celebrates Mass on a bracing fall day. Photo from Roger Bacon’s Facebook page.

On Oct. 2, “We made history as Roger Bacon students and staff braved the fall temperatures to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis, together, with an all-school Mass, held for the very first time at one of the city’s oldest and most hallowed venues, Bron Bacevich Memorial Stadium.” As it says on Bacon’s Facebook post, “The family that prays together stays together.” That wasn’t the end of it. “Our Mass was followed by the 2020 St. Francis Spirit Olympics, a chance for our students to continue the celebration together. Our senior class took home the championship as they dominated the obstacle course, ‘bubble soccer’ and teacher trivia.” The friar on the right in the tug-of-war is Roger Lopez, who earlier celebrated the Mass, encouraging students to be the “good news” to each other and the world around them.

Holy Family Church
Oldenburg, In.

car and sign

Cars of fam ilies lined up for the chicken dinners. Photo by Fr. Carl Langenderfer, OFM

On Sunday, the Feast of St. Francis, cars full of families lined up for as long as 90 minutes to purchase the chicken dinners that have made Holy Family Parish’s Fall Festival a much-anticipated tradition in Oldenburg, Ind. Times being what they are, a sit-down dinner was out, so parishioners spent days planning and preparing a “drive-thru” alternative. “I welcomed the bright sunshine and smiling patrons right after the 10 a.m. Mass, and thanked all who patiently waited in line for their chicken dinners,” said Pastor Carl Langenderfer. “Luckily we didn’t run out of chicken until the last vehicle.” Despite the afternoon showers, sales of turkeys and raffle tickets were also brisk. “Sorry to say, we did run out of some other items, but as they say in the sports world, ‘There’s always next year!’ It will be a few days before we have all the receipts and expenses tallied, but all indications are that we did very well, given the Covid-19 limitations.” And in keeping with the tradition of the Feast of St. Francis, many patrons brought along their pets to be blessed by the friars.

friar blesses pet

At Transfiguration, Fr. Jeremy Harrington soothes a shy pet. Photo by Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM