Christmas tree with decorations

We asked the friars to share special Christmas memories or traditions from their youth or time as Franciscans!

Headshot of Dennis Bosse

Fr. Dennis Bosse, OFM

Dennis Bosse, OFM:

On Christmas Eve, Mom and Dad would load up the family and drive to Grandpa and Grandma Suddendorfs, Mom’s parents, in Mt. Healthy, Ohio. On Christmas morning, we would go to the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Margaret Mary in North College Hill. When we got home, it was Christmas breakfast, followed by opening Christmas presents one at a time going from oldest to youngest. In the evening, we would go to one of my Dad’s siblings’ homes where my aunts, uncles and cousins got together.

Headshot of Loren Connell

Fr. Loren Connell, OFM

Loren Connell, OFM:

• Snow and slush along Calhoun Street
• Salvation Army volunteers in their booths with kettle and bell
• Accidentally breaking the cow’s head while helping to set up the creche
• That same cow with glued on head every succeeding Christmas
• Christmas bread baking in the oven on the 24th
• Dad’s birthday celebration on the night of the 25th
• Spanish Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Milford
• Dinner with the Senesac family because the weather was too nasty to get to Fort Wayne for Dad’s
• Dinner with Mother in the hospital cafeteria as Dad recuperated from his stroke
• Dinner for and with the area friars at St. John the Baptist, St. Clare, St. Aloysius and St. John XXIII

Headshot of Vince Delorenzo

Br. Vincent Delorenzo, OFM

Vince Delorenzo, OFM:

For me, the memorable Christmas times as a friar were at Duns Scotus College. There was always a lot of decorating to do in the chapel and the friary, and practicing the music for the Christmas Masses. We would polish all of the woodwork in the chapel with Murphy’s Oil. Buff up the terrazzo floors in the chapel. Cut down and bring in two very large Blue Spruce trees from the property to put in the sanctuary and decorate them with mini white lights. They would glisten in the terrazzo floor that was just buffed up. Midnight Mass was always jammed, with entrance by ticket only. There was powerful preaching by the friars, such as Jim Van Vurst, Paul Desch and Tom Speier. It was always a very beautiful and moving celebration of the Lord’s birth.

Headshot of Al Hirt

Fr. Alan Hirt, OFM

Al Hirt, OFM:

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas is a favorite story of mine. I lost the cassette recording of Dylan reading it himself, but I have since purchased the little book. It is most enjoyable when I have a couple of people who like to hear it read (20-25 minutes) but it can be wonderful time spent. Before the Christmas season ends, I know I’ll sit and read this story to myself, probably out loud! Fr. Ed Hayes also has published The Christmas Eve Storyteller that has a number of delightful stories that I have even used in homilies.

Headshot of Frank Jasper

Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM

Frank Jasper, OFM:

I have two memories, both at Duns Scotus. The Christmas Eve service in the chapel highlighted the devotion of the people who packed the chapel to hear the friars sing and to enjoy the solemn Christmas Eve celebration. The service was the culmination of months of work by the friars, with practicing, cleaning and decorating. The second was the intimate Christmas celebrations that we had in the recreation room with an extended Evening Prayer, blessing of the fire, the tree and the crib. We ended with a lovely festive meal in front of the roaring fire. A really special time for all of us!

Headshot of Carl Langenderfer

Fr. Carl Langenderfer, OFM

Carl Langenderfer, OFM:

One Christmas while I was stationed at Holy Rosary Parish in Houma, La., somewhere between 1986 and 1996, we had a sudden cold snap a couple days before Christmas. We had a blizzard of an inch or less of snow and ice that froze on the streets and made a 20-minute trip across town take two hours or more. (They don’t have snow plows or salt trucks in south Louisiana.) The church was all decorated for Christmas with lots of poinsettias and other flowers. We didn’t usually keep the heat on in the church, and the next morning, Christmas Day, the beautiful flowers were frozen! Someone recognized the tragedy and very deftly brought artificial poinsettias from somewhere and put them in vases in place of the frozen flowers. Christmas Masses went on as planned, but without the beautiful live poinsettias. That was one time when I was thankful for artificial plastic flowers!

Headshot of Fred Link

Fr. Fred Link, OFM

Fred Link, OFM:

I was always proud to say that Santa visited our home in person each Christmas. We actually saw him and talked with him. On Christmas Eve, we were all gathered in the living room and suddenly there was a commotion in our basement, a pounding on the furnace, and then heavy steps climbing to the first floor. Honestly, we kids would hide behind whatever we could, because Santa was carrying a big switch and a heavy black book. Even though he was doing his usual “ho, ho, ho’s,” he still had that switch, and we were worried. He settled down, and one by one, called each of us children to appear from our hiding places. He would page through the black book to find something to scold us for, ask for a firm purpose of amendment and then give us our gifts. Fortunately, the switch was just for show, but it had me fooled.

Headshot of Pat McCloskey

Fr. Patrick McCloskey

Pat McCloskey, OFM:

During the Dec. 17-23 Evening Prayer at the General Curia in 1985, the guardian (a Brazilian friar who had worked with Mel Brady in the Mission Office), arranged for friars from various countries to speak about Christmas customs in their countries. I think they also shared a local Christmas hymn. For many of the approximately 50 friars living there, this was their first Christmas away from their home country. It was for me, and I was very grateful for this prayerful experience.

Headshot of Brian Menezes

Br. Brian Menezes, OFM

Brian Menezes, OFM:

During Christmas in the Middle East, my family would prepare numerous delicious baked goods and sweets that we would put together on serving trays and offer to friends and neighbors when they came to visit us. They would also offer us sweets and lovely baked items when we went over to their homes.

Headshot of Robert Seay

Fr. Robert Seay, OFM

Robert Seay, OFM:

As a young kid in Mississippi, we had many trees on our property, and I remember going out with my father to find our Christmas tree. We would cut it down, bring it home, and then we would string popcorn for decorations.

Headshot of Jeff Scheeler

Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM

Jeff Scheeler, OFM:

For many years, it was the custom in my family to gather on Christmas Eve. We always had chili! As my siblings married and started having grandkids, we had too many to fit in my Mom’s apartment, and my siblings also wanted to gather their families in their homes and create the same memories for them. We evolved to gathering on some Saturday before Christmas, making Christmas Eve and Day available for their own family gatherings. While I was working in the Provincial offices, the friars of St. Francis Seraph graciously allowed me to host our gathering, since I had the largest home, using the refectory and Council meeting room. The adults loved Br. Tim’s Dickens Christmas Village and the international crèches, while the kids loved the outdoor Nativity with live animals. Some of my friar family came to join my blood family. It was a privilege and joy for me to be able to host such a gathering, something we are not always able to do as friars.

friar in Santa hat and little girl

Jeff and his great-niece Emma

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