thank you on blocks

Everyday heroes go above and beyond

Unlike Superman, most heroes fly under the radar. What others consider selfless is for them an automatic response to a brother in need or to a job that must be done no matter how thankless or challenging. Throughout the pandemic, friars have stepped up to help each other in all kinds of ways. It’s time we acknowledged their kindness.

Reaching out
I’d like to say thanks to our brother Mike Chowning here at Holy Family Friary in Oldenburg, Ind. Mike is always the first one to reach out to any friar or parishioner who needs help or who is struggling with any kind of pain or loss. When Bob Weakley’s sister died last week, Mike immediately offered to drive Bob to Peoria for the funeral. Mike immediately reaches out to welcome anyone who visits us, offering them food or drink or a place to stay, listening to their concerns or needs, hosting them while they are here. He’s ready to take any Mass in the parish, or any other service he can perform. His homilies are always well-prepared and thoughtfully presented. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
–Carl Langenderfer, OFM

Safety first
I want to thank Jeff Scheeler for working to make Transfiguration Church a safe place during this pandemic. Masks are mandatory, the pews are roped off to provide safe distancing, the number of people limited, no servers or presentation of gifts. Communicants approach in single file. Pews are sanitized after each service. Hand sanitizers are everywhere. To protect me, he has taken Confessions and riskier ministries to the sick. I thank all the brothers in our community who protect me because of my age.
–Jeremy Harrington, OFM

Food and prayers
Just want to thank the friars at Lourdes Friary in Cedar Lake, Ind. Four weeks was a long time, but the good people who brought us food and drink and lots of prayers while we were quarantined were a blessing. There were four of us to do a lot of praying, and we did whatever we could to help each other out.
–Norbert Bertram, OFM

Hospitality
I would like to recognize my brother Phil McCarter for being supportive and for making me feel like part of his family during my summer break in Cincinnati. His thoughtfulness and generosity showed a true Franciscan brotherly spirit.
–Brian Menezes, OFM

Selfless service
Tom Gerchak goes above and beyond in his care for the friars, especially the senior friars. And he always does it graciously. Given my inability to drive at the present moment, he is always willing to take me anywhere. In fact, he’ll often initiate and offer, “Can I take you somewhere?” or check with others before he goes to Walgreens, for example. In addition, he is selfless in his concern for the safety of all. One will see him late at night or early in the morning, going around the house, wiping surfaces that get touched. And he NEVER expresses the sentiment of being overworked.
–Fred Link, OFM

Pinch-hitters
It was my last week at St. Monica-St. George Parish, preparing for a farewell Mass for the Franciscans outdoors on Wednesday and a chance to celebrate the Masses on the final weekend of June. Late afternoon on Wednesday, I got the word that one of the brothers with whom I had been in contact had tested positive for Covid-19. I called Clifford Hennings, who stepped in to celebrate that evening Mass (fortunately I had typed a homily). He also had to suddenly preside at a wedding on Saturday and celebrate all three Masses on the weekend. Bill Farris was kind enough to rearrange his weekend schedule so that he could preach the three weekend Masses on behalf of the Province Farewell. My personal disappointment at not being able to participate in these moments was softened by the willingness of these brothers to step in.
–Al Hirt, OFM

Generous heart
There are many brothers whom I could thank. Mike Chowning and John Flajole were there for me during some painful times in my life. Lou Bartko brought us joy in Houma, and Marcel Groth eased my transition to Sharonville. The friars at Transfiguration opened their home to me during my sabbatical. I have now lived here at St. Francis Friary in Easton for not quite 11 months, and I have come to find Ed Skutka to be a delightful member of our community. His generous heart supplies us with cheap candy and corny jokes (and watching Scott Obrecht cringe is an added treat). Ed’s simple lifestyle provides continuity and keeps us grounded. Thanks, Ed, for being our brother.
–Loren Connell, OFM

Food and shelter
During June, I caught Covid-19. I went to bed on Sunday and woke on Monday, feeling sick. I immediately packed a bag and made it to the Motherhouse. Thank goodness that the Provincial suite is still open. While I use the front office part with regularity, the back room has my art hobby supplies, while the bedroom/bathroom is fully functional.

When I arrived on Monday, I immediately called Tim Sucher, who graciously agreed that the best place for me to quarantine was St. Francis Seraph Friary. “But, Tim,” I cautioned, “It means that you and the other friars will need to bring me three meals daily.” Immediately Tim responded, “That is no problem at all!” I was tested that day for Covid and found out definitively on Thursday. Due to the graciousness of that friary fraternity, I received three meals a day – and a few snacks. I am grateful for the care that I received from St. Francis Seraph friars for those 15 days. I really felt that I was cared for with generosity as every day, three times a day, I would open the front door of that office to discover a fresh meal.

On another note, I am grateful to also experience daily fraternal care, fun, and deep conversations with the brothers that I regularly live with at Pleasant Street Friary: John Quigley, Al Hirt, and even when he’s on the road, Murray Bodo. I feel very blessed that I will be spending Thanksgiving Day with them.
–Mark Soehner, OFM

Gift of presence
I would like to acknowledge the friars from Mercy Winton Woods for their visits to St. John the Baptist Friary every first Thursday of the month. We feel very welcomed and hopefully bring a little respite from the day-to-day drudgery we all face during this terrible pandemic. Maybe it might spark other friars in the area to visit our brothers not only in Sharonville, but St. Margaret Hall as well….if allowed.
–Dominic Lococo, OFM

Meals and more
At Transfiguration Friary in Southfield, Mich., since our cook was not able to come in during the pandemic, Phil Wilhelm and Eric Seguin have really stepped up to shop and provide meals for the community! We are grateful. They have also helped livestream Masses to our parishioners and friends.

During the summer, Gleaners Food Bank of Detroit used Transfiguration Parish as a site for offering food to needy families every other week. Ed Gura was there each time to meet our guests, moving from car to car, sharing a Franciscan greeting.
–Jeff Scheeler, OFM

Our Mr. Clean
Tom Gerchak is my hero here at St. Clement’s. He sanitizes all the doors and handrails regularly to keep us safe. And he makes so many trips to Walgreens that they know him on a first-name basis. Thanks, Tom!
–Frank Jasper, OFM

Feed the spirit
I am especially grateful for Mark Ligett and Loren Connell and their generosity in preparing meals for us on the weekends at St. Francis Friary in Easton. A home-cooked meal and delicious desserts (think homemade pies and cakes!) has really helped all of our spirits during this time. Thank you, Mark and Loren!
–Henry Beck, OFM

Guardian angels
Thank you brother Bryant, Br. Duane, and Marta, the OLG nurse, for all you have done for me during this pandemic.
–Bruce Hausfeld, OFM

Amazing grace
There are many brothers who deserve my gratitude and praise, but there is one that stands out for me during these Covid-19 months. Over these months as the province prepared the audit, and since, Dan Anderson continues to amaze me with his exacting diligence and ready and generous help despite the burdens of his own office as provincial secretary! And in his execution of the Office of Provincial Secretary, I witnessed time and time again that Dan is a unique gift (an amazing grace) for the friars and has assisted tremendously my job as Special Delegate for Child Protection. Thank you, Dan!
–Mike Chowning, OFM