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Friars and guests celebrate the Transitus at the St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati. Photo by Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM

Friars from throughout St. John the Baptist Province joyfully marked the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi on and around Oct. 4, inviting others to join them in celebrating the beloved saint who lived his life in imitation of Christ, emphasizing poverty and simplicity, love for the marginalized, care for creation and respect and dignity for all people.

Transitus service at the St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati, Oh.

On Oct. 3, approximately 125 people joined the friars at St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati for Transitus, or crossing, referring to the “time of passage through death to life.” In an evening of joy, story, song and prayer, the life and enduring influence of Francis was commemorated. The friars in the Detroit area joined the Felician Sisters of North America in Livonia, Mich., to mark Transitus.

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Friars Al HIrt, Bill Farris, and Mark Soehner participated in the Transitus service at the Shrine. Photos by Frank Jasper.

St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, Pa.

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Henry Beck blesses dogs at the SFRH. Photo by Sr. Eileen Connelly, OSU

Feast day Masses, pet blessings and a parish festival were among the ways the Franciscan family came together for the occasion. During the pet blessing at St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, Pa., Henry Beck smiled at a barking dog, and said, “You’re praying already.”

“Pets are an extension of God’s love for us and an extension of our love for Him,” Henry noted. “That’s why we take time to thank God for them and bless them.”

Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg, Ind.

At Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg, Ind., the friars, parishioners and local community members enjoyed Turtle Soup, delicious turkey and beef dinners, games for both adults and children and raffles and a silent auction in advance of the feast day at the annual Fall Festival, always a joyous and fun-filled event.

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The annual parish festival at Holy Family church in Oldenburg, Ind. Photos by Fr. Carl Langenderfer, OFM

St. Francis Seraph Church in Cincinnati, Oh.

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Friends at the pet blessing at St. Francis Seraph. Photo by Marilyn Wilson

During his homily at Mass at St. Francis Seraph Church in Over-the-Rhine on Oct. 2, Al Hirt noted that following in the footsteps of Francis is trying to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to listen to the Gospel. “The St. Francis that we honor and hopefully try to emulate, first of all in my own mind, begins with brotherhood and sisterhood. Francis saw everyone as brother and sister and he extended that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood to everything in creation. That’s a wonderful vision of his we also need to aspire to.”

Another aspect of Francis that we must aspire to, added Al, is his absolute desire to be among the outcast, the poor, those who are put aside by society. “Francis made every effort to align himself to everyone who didn’t seem to line up straight, those who didn’t seem to fit in with the established society,” he said. “That’s where Francis’ heart was, and hopefully, we are growing in that kind of love, concern and compassion for those who are outside of the standard.”

Members of the congregation were invited to bring their pets to Mass at St. Francis Seraph, and a blessing of the animals followed the liturgy.

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Fr. Al Hirt blesses animals on the street in front of St. Francis Seraph Church. Photo by Marilyn Wilson

St. Mary of the Angels Church in New Orleans, La.

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Veronica Downs-Dorsey, organist during the feast day Mass, Br. Herman Johnson, OP, and Joe Hund

Friars and parishioners at St. Mary of the Angels (SMA) in New Orleans celebrated the feast of St. Francis on Oct. 4 with a joyful Mass. Among those who joined the faith community were Br. Herman Johnson, OP, assistant professor of Spanish at Xavier University of New Orleans, who preached during the liturgy; Fr. Geoffrey Muga, FMH, pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord Church; Sr. Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, O.Carm., vicar for religious for the Archdiocese of New Orleans; and a number of former friars who served at SMA over the years.

“For a weekday Mass, we were very pleased with the turnout,” said Joe Hund, pastor. “It was such a joy to have so many people there celebrating St. Francis with us.”

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Top left, Br. Herman Johnson, OP, Kenn Nadler, Mike Haney, Dan Barret, Joe Hund, Paul springer, Jerry Pelayo, Juniper Crouch and Fr. Geoffrey Muga, FMH

Pet Blessing at Church of the Transfiguration in Southfield, Mich.

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Pet blessing at the Church of the Transfiguration. Photos by Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

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Pet blessing at Church of the Transfiguration in Southfield, Mich. Photo by Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

St. Francis Seraph friary feast day liturgy

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Friar pray the liturgy for the Feast of St. Francis at St. Francis Seraph Church. Photo by Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM

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Click the image for more photos celebrating St. Francis on our FLICKR album, Celebrating St. Francis 2022