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Friar Alessandro is coming to St. Louis!


We received word this morning that Sister Death has called another one of our brothers home to God.  Fr. Eugene Michel, OFM, spent many years working  in ethnic minority communities both as a teacher and as a pastor.  He was known for his hospitality and for his energetic cleaning.  Cancer forced him to leave his parochial duties in St. Paul, MN; and he spent the past months in hospice care.

Rest in Peace

Sacred Heart Province has lost two friars to Sister Death this week.

Fr. Blane O'Neill was, for many years, an English teacher at our minor seminary in Oak Brook, IL.  In more recent years, he worked among Spanish-speaking immigrants in the area around Ruston, LA.

Fr. Charlie Payne was also a high school teacher, though his assignment was at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago.  He had a Ph.D. and was trained as a psychotherapist.  If memory serves, he worked at Chicago Osteopathic Hospital.

Both friars gave many years of service to the Church.  May they now find eternal peace in God's Presence.

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St. Vincent de Paul Parish traces its roots to St. Katharine Drexel. Started in 1932 as a mission from Holy Family Parish, St. Vincent was made a separate parish in 1940 with Fr. Samuel Homsey, CPPS, as the first pastor. The Franciscans took over care of St. Vincent's in August of 1942 with Fr. Theophane Goett, OFM, as pastor and teacher at Fr. Ryan High School. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament operated a small school starting in September of 1933. A one-story brick house was purchased in 1945 to serve as the friary. In addition to the parish and school, the friars also served the college campuses of Fisk University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University. Fr. Myron Landolt, OFM, built a new school with five classrooms, a gym, and a kitchen in 1950. A new friary was built next to the church in 1953. The present church was built and dedicated in 1960. In 1977 the school began to operate at two locations, St. Vincent and Holy Name Church on Woodland Avenue. However, administrative and transportation difficulties led to the discontinuance of this effort in 1980. Under the leadership of Fr. Fernand Cheri, OFM, a new school building was built and the old school renovated in 2000. Fr. John Eaton, OFM, was the last Franciscan pastor at St. Vincent de Paul.

Retreat Opportunities: St. Louis Area

IL Ritiro Franciscan Retreat Center
P.O. Box 38
7935 St. Francis Lane
Dittmer, MO 63023;

“The Life of Serenity” Saturday, March 11, 2017 9:00 am – 3:30pm
Mark your calendars and come join us for a day of prayer, rituals, song input and discussions regarding having “Life to the Full.” All are welcome.
Presenter: Sr. Alacoque Burger, O.S.F.

“A Lenten Day of Reflection” Saturday, March 25, 2017 9:00 – 3:30 pm
Join us during this midpoint time of Lent to reflect on this sacred season and the Feast of the Annunciation – “Mary’s Fiat.” The day will end with the “Stations of the Cross.” All are welcome.
Presenter: Mary Wainscott

1938-1950. ST. BENEDICT MISSION, QUINCY, ILLINOIS. In 1938 a group of women met with Fr. A.J. Stengal as members of the community to explore ways of providing educational and social services to Black Catholics. Black Catholics could attend services in Catholic churches but had few other services available to them.

In September of 1938, a hall was donated for their use on 11th and Broadway. On December 11, 1938, the first Mass was celebrated at St. Benedict Mission. Present at the Mass were Fr. Vincent Schremp, OFM and Fr. John Koebel, OFM. In December 1939, Fr. Reginald Doyle was appointed the first pastor. The Mission was closed in 1950.

Black History Month

February is celebrated as Black History Month.  As time allows during this month, I will try to post material about Franciscans and Black Catholic history.  Here is an entry adapted from one of the province sources:

1877-1889: ST. JOSEPH NEGRO MISSION, Quincy, IL. The earliest recorded reference to the Friars of Sacred Heart Province being involved in and supportive of ministry in the African American community was with our Friars in Quincy, IL. Fr. Michael Richard began a Sunday School in a former Protestant church in October 1877. A day school was opened by Sr. Herlinde of St. Mary's Academy in February 1878. Fr. Brennan, Fr. Hoffman and Fr. Samuel Macke continued to work with the church until the arrival of Fr. Augustus Tolton in 1886. Fr. Tolton was a former slave and the first clearly African American priest ordained for the United States. St. Joseph Church prospered and grew under his leadership; but due to jealousy and prejudice among some of his fellow clergy, Fr. Augustus Tolton was transferred to Chicago in November of 1989. The church, without any leadership, soon closed.

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Retreat Opportunity:

Give yourself a New Year's Gift! Do you desire a life of serenity? It is possible through song, prayer, 12 step rituals, storytelling and sharing life's experiences, and time for private prayer. Mark your calendars and join others at IL RITIRO Franciscan Retreat Center in accepting your Higher Power/God; your desired life of serenity, enhanced by wisdom and courage. All are welcome.

Presenter: Sister Alacoque Burger, OSF. Sister Alacoque is a Sister of St. Francis, Oldenburg, IN. The mission of her congregation is a call to vibrant Franciscan living of the Gospel with special concern for peacemaking and justice for the poor, so her life speaks a word of hope. Her ministry background includes: teaching, nursing, pastoral ministry, twelve step retreats & workshops, community leadership, spiritual direction and pastoral care.

Registration fee is $24. ($40 for two) before March 1, 2017 and $34 ($60 for two) after March 1, 2017. Registration is non-refundable. Lunch is included. Scholarships are available. Register online at and pay by PayPal, or call 636-274-0554, or email us at Receive a 15% discount on additional overnight accommodations in conjunction with this program.

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Today, January 25, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul--a good reminder that God's call and grace can overcome intransigent self-righteousness and the compulsion to act with violence. As long as prayer is possible, let's not give up on anyone.

Also, today marks the close of the Week of Christian Unity. Jesus' prayer that "all might be one" has yet to be fulfilled. Perhaps it is good to recall a favorite maxim of some Christian peacemakers: "in necessary things, unity; in uncertain things, freedom; in everything, charity."

(The picture is from the Church of St. Anthony in Hamrun, Malta. Acts of the Apostles records that Paul was shipwrecked at Malta, and he is the patron saint of the province there.)

Il Ritiro, the Franciscan retreat center in Dittmer, MO, is offering a retreat on January 28.  Here is some preliminary info:


Saturday, January 28, 2017 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Scripture and song remind us that we are united as One body in Christ. What does it mean to live in the spirit of this profound and vital unity? Voices of wisdom today are urging the human family to recognize our oneness with each other and with all of creation. Today we’ll reflect on the notion of living as One. What impact does it hold for each of us individually? What hope does is offer for our fragmented global community and common home?

Presenter: Kathleen Davis Kathleen holds a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Aquinas Institute; she is a certified Spiritual Director and Youth Minister. While studying at Aquinas, she was introduced to feminine theology. She feels called to work with women spiritually to help them discover the richness of our own instincts, the value of our feminine experience and the extravagance of a God of many faces.

Registration fee is $24. ($40 for two) before January 20, 2017 and $34 ($60 for two) after January 20, 2017. Registration is non-refundable. Lunch is included. Scholarships are available.
Register online, call 636-274-0554, or email us at

Receive a 15% discount on additional overnight accommodations in conjunction with this program.
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