5 students

Roger Bacon students are committed to service to others.

The social media posts and pictures of smiling teachers and students say it all: there’s a lot of joy at Roger Bacon High School, and that can largely be attributed to the friars who radiate it through their presence, example, love and Franciscan vocations.

students in front of car with toys

Roger Bacon’s St. Vincent de Paul Conference joined other high school students from Cincinnati at the annual St. Vincent de Paul “Trunk or Treat,” an annual tradition to bring Halloween cheer to those in need.

Few high schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati have the gift of religious still remaining on staff. In their respective ministries at Bacon, Chris Cahill, Mark Hudak, Roger Lopez and Gene Mayer help maintain an environment rich in Franciscan values, where students come to recognize that God has created each of us for some definite purpose.

Gene Mayer recalls that the school went through a lengthy process to determine 16 specific Franciscan values, among them fraternity, humility, compassion, gratitude, contemplation, acceptance and joy. “Each quarter of a school year, one of these values is singled out and to be emphasized, by every discipline, in every circumstance,” Gene explained. “Therefore, during a student’s four years here, all 16 values are emphasized at some point.”

Drawing on his 32 years as a friar, Mark said he has found no better word than “family” to describe the culture of Franciscan community. “In an authentically human family, each person has value as each person is a child of God,” he said. “At Roger Bacon, we preach, and hopefully practice, on a daily basis our basic human vocation to be brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ and to love others as we love ourselves. Many students and teachers discover this love by doing community service. All the little acts of kindness and courtesies we show one another, like picking up other peoples’ trash and holding open the doors for the next person in line, demonstrate this ‘we are family’ kind of love. Jesus taught us to love every person. To love is the great human vocation!”

students in front of church

Roger Bacon students in front of St. Francis Seraph Church during Freshman Service Day.

“Yes, I have my vocation posters on the wall, but way more than that, I give each kid that comes to the technology help desk a friendly face and promptly fix their broken things,” he added. “It gives me a chance to talk to a lot of them and to ask them how things are going. I treat these clients as members of my own family and receive a lot of joy from doing them this service. We have friars teaching theology and leading community service. We have friars begging for funding and sometimes vacuuming the carpets. We don’t float above anyone around here. We fit in and our love is a guiding light.”

Last year, in response to a request from the province to examine ways to revitalize their presence at Bacon, the friars conducted a survey among members of the school community to obtain their thoughts. “That really gave us some direction, because what we realized is that people just really enjoy being around the friars,” Roger said. “So we began to look at ways of deepening the encounters faculty and staff have with us.”

The result was tailgate parties, hosted by the friars at the nearby Brother Juniper Friary, before every home football game this season. One night, there was Mexican food, on another, Greek delicacies. “We just set up tables outside, and people came and went. They brought their spouses and their families. It was just people having a good time. It was great as everyone shared food, laughter and stories” Roger said. “That’s the gift we give when you meet us. We’re all just works in progress like everyone else. Francis realized that and lived joyfully among the people just as we do.”

Visit our Flickr album to see photos of Roger Bacon’s Open House by Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM.

friar with two students

Fr. Roger Lopez, OFM, greets two students at the Roger Bacon Open House. Photo by Fr. Frank Jasper