illustration of woman

Toni Cashnelli’s 25 year career as Communications Director for the Province of St. John the Baptist is commemorated in this illustration by Brenda Grannan.

Celebrating 25 years as the Province Director of Communications

The Franciscan friars of the Province of St. John the Baptist honor Toni Cashnelli on the occasion of her retirement.

woman sitting at desk

Toni Cashnelli at her desk in 2006

Thanks, Toni, for 25 powerful years as our Communications Director. In many ways you have been, like Lady Jacoba, our “Brother Toni” and part of the family. Present at every major event, with your prowess as a reporter, you gave us insights to ourselves and elicited interviews that few others could have obtained. I will personally miss you greatly.
Mark Soehner, OFM

Through the years, I’ve marveled at your dedication and professionalism. Always pleasant, kind, and cheerful, you will be missed by every friar. May retirement bring you rest and happiness.
Dominic Lococo, OFM

Toni, may you feel the Lord’s blessings especially in your future projects and endeavors! Peace and love! Thanks for all the work that you have done for me!
You will be missed!
David Kohut, OFM

woman and friar with cat

Toni with one of her beloved cats and the late author Fr. Jack Wintz, OFM

Thank you, Toni, for encouraging me to write one of the most memorable articles written for “your” Newsletter. It is probably the only three-part article ever written for the Newsletter on a subject dear to the hearts of all the Friars. It took courage for you to request it, and even more for you to publish it . But so typical of you through the years to keep the Provincial Newsletter on target for whatever you felt would benefit the Friars. That is why you deserve a Pulitzer Prize for your ministry!
Tom Speier, OFM

Toni, you have crafted newsletter after newsletter that are graphically attractive and informationally interesting, really helping to form us friars in our own charism. Thank you for the fine service you have rendered to us friars and our province.
Alex Kratz, OFM

As provincial, I found you the perfect press person when needed. You are the consummate professional. Even still today you respond to email at all hours of the day or night. Your ministry to the friars has clearly been a passion. And I have great respect for your other passion—so Franciscan—rescuing abandoned kittens. You deserve a blessed retirement.
Fred Link, OFM

Thank you and blessings to you and your family; I always looked forward to your newsletters!
Louis Zant, OFM

woman and friars

In a sea of brown habits, Toni covers the Provincial Chapter in 2019

Toni, you’ve helped us look at ourselves and each other in a way that makes me proud to be part of this fraternity and proud of your way of telling our story. And you’ve communicated the Franciscan message in a way that tells our news as a reflection of Good News. Thanks.
Dan Anderson, OFM

Toni, it’s been a pleasure working with you on the newsletter these years. I attempt to get pictures that make the friars look good. You capture our soul and spirit. I’m always proud to share News Notes with my friends and colleagues.
Frank Jasper, OFM

No more 1 AM newsletters; you can now get a good night’s sleep. A sincere thank you for your dedicated and creative service to the Friars. You have helped us to know each other a little bit better.
Damian Cesanek, OFM

Working with you, Toni, while in the FriarWorks office was always a pleasure. And thanks for keeping our Jamaican mission on the front burner. You have been a blessing to us!
Jim Bok, OFM

friar and woman

Provincial Vicar Bill Farris and Toni in 2017

Toni, you are uncanny in your ability to spot a story, or a pattern of stories in the lives of the friars. You also made sure the newsletter contained information from the less known friars when you could.
Bill Farris, OFM

Thanks for all your work, Toni. And thanks for the fine front-page article and photo about me on November 6, 2019.
Louis Lamping, OFM

God bless you, Toni. You greatly helped our Province to grow and stay close to one another. Thank you very much.
Dennet Jung, OFM

Toni, whenever I read the News Notes, I feel proud, inspired, and connected. You have helped us share Good News and the Franciscan Spirit. I am grateful for all you have done for us all these years; you have been a integral part of our Franciscan Family, and we will miss you! Enjoy your well-deserved retirement. The cats will!
Jeff Scheeler, OFM

2 women

Toni with her assistant Sr. Mary Frank, OSF, in 2006

I feel privileged to have been a part of your hiring process 25 years ago! We certainly made a good choice! I appreciate all the excellent work over these 25 years. I know more about our friars through your excellent articles.
Al Hirt, OFM

Toni, thank you for your years of service to the Province. Thank you for helping make the friars look so good in print and pictures. Thank you for the best newsletter among the Provinces.
Page Polk, OFM

One of things I most appreciate about the wonderful work you have done is your obvious affection and respect for the friars. I hope you know that we have tremendous affection and respect for you, too. Many thanks, Toni, for chronicling our life with such warmth and dedication!
John Barker, OFM

Toni: What an important part of our Province you have been these past 25 years! Not only have you presented an attractive, interesting face of who we are through your newsletters, but you have helped us communicate with one another. You will always be a part of who we were and who we will become. Thank you.
Murray Bodo, OFM

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Toni with Franciscan Communicators of the English Speaking Conference in Ireland in 2016

I remember when you joined the provincial staff in 1996. I was in leadership then. You came from the Cincinnati Enquirer as a very qualified professional. In the past 25 years you have exceeded even our highest expectations. Thanks for everything. God bless you in this next stage of your life.
John Bok, OFM

Toni, you are amazing artist in our midst. Without fanfare or ego, you put together an outstanding newsletter that tells readable, honest stories without gloss about our friars. We have a NL that is informative and so well designed that it sets a very high standard that hopefully will be carried over into the new province. Thanks, Toni. You are terrific.
John Quigley, OFM

Thank You, Toni. Over so many years, you have shown me great kindness and patience working with me as we prepared articles for the News Letter. We covered stories from Pakistan, Jerusalem and of course time and again from Easton. Indeed, it has been a joy working with you. You always made us look “good”. May our God bless you. May the years to come be filled with good health, inner peace, and great joy!
Charlie Smiech, OFM

woman with bear wearing red

With her “Reds bear’ at the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parade

Thanks for your years of writing our News Notes, especially for your insights into the many friars you featured week after week. Your research and insights helped us all to appreciate our brothers in ways that we may not have considered before. I appreciate that you asked my opinions and suggestions more than once, and I hope my offerings were helpful. May you continue to be blessed by the Lord as you move on to other challenges and adventures.
Carl Langenderfer, OFM

St. Francis said that wherever the brothers meet one another they should show that they are members of the same family. You have professionally and fraternally enabled us to do that for friars of St. John the Baptist Province and beyond. Many thanks and all the best in your retirement!
Pat McCloskey, OFM

Thank you, Toni, for your years of service to the Friars with the best Newsletter and other communications. I remember the time you came to Jamaica to do an article for the Newsletter and even helped an emaciated pup while you were there. God bless you and your future plans.
Mark Gehret, OFM

man and woman by van

Toni reports on serving the poor with Br. Ed Gura, OFM

Acronym for Toni—Telling Our News In-depth.
Thank you,
Robert Seay, OFM

Toni, since I couldn’t adequately express my feelings about you in just a couple of sentences, I chose to do so in a simple Haiku:

And reliability,
To have both is rare.

Al Mascia, OFM

Toni, it is difficult for me to imagine life in our province without you! You have been a blessing beyond words for all of us. I particularly relish the many fun moments and conversations we have had together. You always laugh at my stories! And we have another bond in our common love of God’s creature, the cat! Loving care seems to be in your very DNA. We friars have all seen it in the care with which you have given to your job as Director of Communications and in your care for each one of us. You will always be a part of us.
Mark Ligett, OFM

2 women and a man

Toni with Barb Coyle and Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, at St. Clement Church

I met you 23 years ago, Toni. I had just begun ministry with our senior friars after my ministry with the gay and lesbian community in Houston. I feared being accepted. I remember a friar being quoted saying, “What has happened to our Province having a funeral director working with our seniors.” You calmed my fears by your genuine interest in our seniors. You were always available when I reached out to you. You’re the best, Toni! You’re retiring and leaving us, but you will always be in my heart. Wishing you the abundance of God’s goodness and blessings!
David Crank, OFM

Toni, of all the interviews and stories you and I have done together over the years, the one that will be most memorable and for which I will always be grateful is the magnificent News Notes edition you produced for my retirement from the US Air Force Chaplain Corps seven years ago. It was distributed widely; and for those who were unable to attend, you wrote it in a way that made them feel as if they were there. Thank you — from all of us.
Bob Bruno, OFM

Toni, we’ll soon have another communications director, and I trust that she will be capable and competent, but we’ll never have another Toni. Thanks for giving us the classiest provincial newsletter in the country. Thanks for helping us grow closer as a brotherhood. Thanks for being a part of our provincial life. Thanks for being you.
Loren Connell, OFM

2 women in warehouse

Toni covering the story of the ministry of Sweet Cheeks

I am most grateful, Toni, for your genuine interest and care for us friars. You have worked continuously and creatively through these years to discover stories and news that would bond us more fully together as brothers and connect us with our wider circle of staff, family, alumni, local ministry communities, and friends. You are a not only a true professional but a “sister and friend” to us also. Many thanks and my sincere care, Toni.
Henry Beck, OFM

You came and planted a seed that grew to a tree whose leaves are the stories and memories of the life of the friars from friary to friary and from ministry to ministry. Thank you for the tree you have watered and grown, for it has shown all of us of the Province of Saint John the Baptist how much you love us!
Ed Gura, OFM

Thank you, Toni, for all your hard work. You always knew just what to say, especially for us who didn’t.
Gio Reid, OFM

woman in santa hat

Smiling for the Christmas video in 2017.

Toni, I wish you all the best in your next chapter. Thank you so much for your sincere interest in my vocational journey and always making me feel welcome. Your encouragement for me to write and reflect have help our province to know me and all those in formation. Thanks for the prayers. We will be praying for you!
Matt Ryan, OFM

You have brought ‘communications director’ to a high level and made the news notes interesting to read, very attractive to read, and very informative. As soon as your notes appear, I read them as soon as I complete the matter currently in progress.
Kenan Freson, OFM

Toni, thank you for the wonderful work you did for the friars. You made us look like good and exciting friars doing all sorts of things.
Dan Kroger, OFM

Thanks for being part of us for all my years with the Friars, Toni. 100,000 Blessings!
David Kobak, OFM

Toni, thanks for your many years of great service to the friars! We really appreciate you keeping us up to date from the SW!
Bryant Hausfeld, OFM

I will miss our visits each time I came back to Cincy for my vacation. They were wonderful times together, catching up on everything!! Thanks. May the good Lord keep you healthy, happy, and holy. May our paths continue to cross in the future.
Blane Grein, OFM

woman on stair elevator

Toni rides up the stairs at the friary in Uniontown, Pa.

Toni, you are an excellent journalist! You have covered our province and Franciscan beat with distinction these many years. Thank you for your dedication and blessings on your retirement!
Jeremy Harrington, OFM

I want to express my gratitude to you and the work you have done over these many years. I feel that we are a better community because of your presence and talents. May God always be with you as the “WIND AT YOUR BACK!” Thanks many times!
David Kohut, OFM

One of the things that touched me, Toni, was when my parents passed away. You not only reported it in the newsletter but took the time to be present at the funeral liturgy itself.
Jerry Beetz, OFM

people in bowling alley

Bowling with friars and provincial staff in 2008.

Toni, words are inadequate to express my gratitude to you for your fidelity, skill, creative writing and personal relationship with us friars as Provincial Director of Communications. God bless you and give you a long, restful and happy retirement. You will remain in my prayers.
J.J. Gonchar, OFM

A million thanks to you for your dedication to us friars all these years. It’s always been a real pleasure chatting with you via phone. We will all miss you very much. Enjoy your retirement. You certainly deserve it.
Mike Lenz, OFM

Toni, thank you for your attention to making our friars’ work known. I am also grateful for your concern for God’s creatures. I wish you every good gift in the years ahead.
Tom Gerchak, OFM

Enjoy retirement. And thanks for all the wonderful newsletters about the friars.
Bruce Hausfeld, OFM

woman by lake

Toni on a mountain excursion during a break from the Chapter of Mats in 2019

I really appreciated how you were often able to focus on WHO the friars were in addition to what they did. Your emphasis on who we are as persons was very helpful. Thanks, Toni.
Max Langenderfer, OFM

Toni, thank you very much for your news notes. I have always lived in houses of formation outside the geographical boundaries of the province, and your news notes helped me stay connected with the friars from the province, and they kept me aware and up-to-date on all that was happening. Thanks for your diligent and wonderful work. You will be missed. Peace and all good,
Raphael Ozoude, OFM

During my religious life, you have chronicled my adventures – from pilgrimages in Virginia to papal visits in D.C. The idea of publishing these blessed events came not from me, but you. You understand the importance in evangelizing to God’s people found in the simple ways we live our Gospel lives as Lesser Brothers. It comes easy for you, Toni. You, too, live the ideal of prophetic living from the care of God’s small creation to the kind smile given in an interview. Thank you for witnessing the Gospel to us.
Roger Lopez, OFM

Thank you for all your years of hard work!
John Boissy, OFM

Read Toni’s farewell column, 25 years later, it’s time to sign off.