Friday, September 26, 2008

A New Franciscan Priest Is Ordianed!

Metropolitan Archbishop Basil Schott, OFM (middle) intones God's blessings on the congregation at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy for the priesthood ordination of Fr. Jerome Wolbert, OFM. (Please notice that Fr. Jerome (on the right) is vested as deacon and served in the capacity of deacon until his ordination later on duirng the Divine Liturgy.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008, beautiful and memorable day! It happened in Homer Glen, IL. At Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Archbishop Basil Schott, OFM, the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Arcbishop of Pittsburgh, ordained our brother, Fr. Jerome Wolbert, OFM to the priesthood! What a blessed celebration and prayerful event.

Fr. Jerome's family was represented by his parents, Jerome, Sr. and Judy Wolbert, his brother and sister-in-law and their sons, his sister, and several uncles, aunts and cousins.

Fr. Jerome's Dad -- Jerome Wolbert, Sr. and Mom -- Judy Wolbert -- and a nephew, at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen, IL before the Divine Liturgy.

Many of his Franciscan brothers celebrated with him, including friars from St. John the Baptist and Sacred Heart Provinces. Our novice, Bro. Galen Osby, OFM was also present. Guests came from Pittsburgh, from Cleveland, from Chicago, from Cedar Lake and Munster, IN and from the Milwaukee, WI area.

Bro. Deacon Jerome Wolbert, OFM is ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands of Metropolitan Archbishop Basil Schott, OFM according to the Byzantine Rite.

Prior to the ordination, Fr. Jerome stayed with two of our friars who serve in pastoral ministry at the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago in Lemont, IL (close to Homer Glen).

Four members of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago (OSF) came as guests to Fr. Jerome Wolbert, OFM's priesthood ordination. They live at their Motherhouse in Lemont, IL and graciously hosted our brother overnight. Two of our friars, Bro. Mark Zapczynski, OFM and Fr. Warren Rector, OFM serve the Sisters and the residents at Franciscan Village in Lemont in pastoral ministry.

"The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago graciously hosted me--two of our friars work with them in Lemont, not far from Annunciation Church. I was moved by their request for blessings. Even the staff at their convent lined up for a blessing from this "new priest." Also, many of the parishioners were glad and honored that they would be able to host an ordination nine years after the first Divine Liturgy in their church. I feel invigorated in my own faith, seeing the graciousness and awe of others who were able to be part of the celebration." --Newly ordained Fr. Jerome Wolbert, OFM

Friday, September 19, 2008

New School Year Begins for Formation Students

from Bro. Jason Welle, OFM

The last few weeks have been a joyful and exciting time for the Franciscan friars in initial formation, but after a series of celebrations, the community at St. Joseph Friary in Chicago has settled down for another school year. In three consecutive weeks, the friars here witnessed the solemn vows of three brothers: Jason Welle in Pulaski, Wisconsin; Thinh van Tran in Chicago, Illinois; and Andrew Stettler in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Bro. Jason Welle, OFM being installed as Lector last year at St. Joseph Friary in Chicago, IL
All three had lived together at St. Joseph’s in the past, so the community took a very active part in the permanent commitments these brothers made to the Order of Friars Minor. The celebrations continued unto Labor Day, the quintessential American outdoor grilling tradition. Resting from their various labors, friars from around the city gathered at St. Joseph’s to share some hamburgers, bratwurst, and the last free weekend before school began.

The friars in formation at St. Joseph’s study at several different schools in greater Chicago, depending on their course of study. Most go to the Catholic Theological Union, located a short walk away here in Hyde Park. From the earliest days of the order, scholars like Alexander of Hales, Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, and Blessed John Duns Scotus saw study as an important part of the Franciscan charism. Saint Francis of Assisi, though not a scholar himself, encouraged Saint Anthony of Padua to teach theology to the friars, provided they did not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion.

Friars outside of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL

In addition to their studies, our friars engage in different volunteer ministries around Chicago. Working in parishes, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other locations, helps student-friars integrate their academic pursuits with the pastoral needs of God’s people. While we study and minister at different locations, friars come together daily for common prayer and discuss the need to balance these aspects of our lives with our commitment to prayer and community. It can become difficult as the semester progresses…but with the support of the brothers in the house and the strength that comes from prayer, we all find ways to persevere!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Journey of Hope Immigration Pilgrimage -- Franciscan-led Project in Green Bay, WI

What do you do when you see something that needs to be addressed and you just don't know where to turn? Sr. Mary Ann Spanjers, OSF and Sr. Julie Ann Sheahan, OSF of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc, WI took the lead along with others of the Diocese of Green Bay to promote a march in the City of Green Bay to raise awareness to the reality and plight of immigrants.

Sr. Mary Ann Spanjers, OSF speaking with Fr. Joachim "Kim" Studwell, OFM at St. Philip Parish prior to the March for Hope for Immigrants (photo courtesy of Mark Kolter of Kolter Creative Consult)

The Journey of Hope Immigration Pilgrimage was held on Sunday afternoon, 7 September 2008. It began at St. Philip Parish on the East Side of the city, stopped at St. Mary of the Angels Parish en route to the cathedral of St. Francis Xavier downtown. The entire event was encompassed within a prayerful context -- beginning with prayer and a blessing, continuing with prayer, including a decade of the Holy Rosary in various languages (Chinese, Spanish, Irish, Italian, Hmong, French, Dutch, German, Polish and English) and concluded with a welcome and Sunday Mass at the cathedral with the newly installed bishop, the Most Rev. David Rickens.

You can view a slide-show of the Journey of Hope Immigration Pilgrimage below (thanks to Sam Lucero of The Green Bay Compass [diocesan newspaper])

The march was a pilgrimage of faith. It was an act of faith (first of all to put it together!). It pointed to the need for all people of European descent, for instance, to remember their immigrant roots and those of African descent to remember their often painful story of slavery and emancipation and subsequent struggles for Civil Rights here in the USA.

The pilgrimage also called upon people to respect the human rights of immigrants, regardless of their legal status.

Finally, it was a public demonstration of the Catholic Faith -- consistent with the US bishops' declarations and also papal declarations to respect the rights and respond to the needs of migrating peoples. Something that was pointed out was that migrations, particularly from the south to the north, are not unique to the Americas, but is also happening from Africa to Europe.

Bro. Steve Herro, O. Praem., Fr. Kim Studwell, OFM and Sr. Mary Spanjers, OSF confer with other pilgrims at St. Philip Parish in Green Bay, prior to beginning the March for Hope (Photo courtesy of Mark Kolter of Kolter Creative Consult)

Finally, it was very much a Franciscan event -- Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity [as above], Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Cross [Bay Settlement] and Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province participating. Likewise the participants in the pilgrimage included the Norbertine community, officials of the Diocese of Green Bay and the Sisters of St. Agnes from Fond du Lac, WI!

Franciscans certainly helped to organize it and get it off the ground. Franciscans also provided welcome and hospitality, especially at St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Green Bay, which is staffed by the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province.

And it was Franciscan in its attempt at peacemaking -- a response to a seemingly overwhelming situation -- a call to prayer and a call to respond in a public demonstration of Catholic Faith.