Volume 4 ~ Issue 1; Release: January 5, 2019
  • Camp Fire Evacuees Welcomed at SDR

  • Christmas Wrap-Up
  • Keith Warner in Africa

  • Charles Talley in Sweden
Dear Brothers,
Starting with this issue, I will continue to send you OFM.FYI two times per month. However, because of my travel schedule for the next several months, I may not always be able to send it out on the exact target release dates (the 1st and the 15th). Be assured, however, that you will continue receive ongoing and current coverage. Thanks-- Charles
Caring for Camp Fire Evacuees:
Laity Lead the Way! 
San Damiano Retreat
Danville, California
By Friar Charles Talley

The staff and Franciscan Friars of San Damiano Retreat in Danville hosted some very special families for Christmas week, December 20-26. The guests included 45 families and individuals—upwards of 100 people in total-- impacted by the recent Camp Fire (pets were welcomed as well). The conflagration, which raged from November 5-27, 2018 was the deadliest fire in the US in a century. Causing some 86 deaths, it covered an area of 150,000 acres and destroyed 19,000 structures. Insured damage has been estimated to be $7.5–10 billion. Thousands of individuals and families have been displaced in its wake, which destroyed 90% of the housing in the town of Paradise (pop: 26,000) alone.

Although the friars hosted the respite week at no expense to guests, and provided a ministry of presence and accompaniment, the real leaders behind the effort were the remarkable lay staff, workers, and volunteers at San Damiano. In fact, the project was the inspiration of Lisa Briones, Director of Retreat Planning & Hospitality, who was herself a victim of the devastating Butte fire in 2015. Having lost her own home and all of her belongings from that disaster, Lisa was especially keen to do something for the survivors of the Camp Fire. Other staff involved included Peter Wise, Executive Director, Jan Stegner, Janet Gardner, Kateri Kautai, Barbara Bucher, Linda Summers Pirkle, Ron Roncarati, Juan Villaneuva, Angel Zavala Lopez.

More than 200 volunteers from throughout the nearby community also pitched in to help with hospitality. Meals, snacks, games, crafts, basketball, WIFI, and laundry facilities were among the offerings to guests. Not to mention access to the grounds and gardens, hiking trails, and views overlooking Mt. Diablo. Dozens of volunteers and donors came forward to help in remarkable ways, and every child received multiple Christmas presents. And the kids themselves were invited -- at no cost—to do their holiday shopping at “Santa’s Workshop” (the Retreat Center’s gift shop). As Lisa put it: “ I wanted the children to be able to pick out gifts for mom, dad and siblings”. She added, “they could also be Secret Santas for those who did not have family with them while at San Damiano this Christmas.” 

As Friar Rusty Shaughnessy, Guardian, expressed to the media at the time: “As Franciscans in the Catholic tradition, our calling is to serve so we friars are hugely delighted and grateful that San Damiano Retreat will be 100% full over Christmas week with guests impacted by the Camp Fire. We support their perseverance.” He added: “Our world needs joyful, welcoming, peace-filled places such as San Damiano Retreat. These guests bless us, our many volunteers, donors and staff with their presence.” 

If there is any doubt that the Franciscan charism of simplicity, joy, hospitality, and outreach to the poor and marginalized—which extends far beyond ourselves as vowed religious-- is alive and well, this spontaneous outpouring of community help, friendship, and love is certain proof of its vitality and healing power.

Camp Fire Christmas at San Damiano
Media Coverage

Upwards of 87 new media outlets covered our story. Local and regional media flocked to San Damiano Retreat during the recent Christmas week for Camp Fire evacuees.  And word spread throughout the region and across the country. As Friar Brian Trawick wrote in a recent email:  Merry Christmas Eve Everyone. I’m at my mom’s up in Oregon and the local TV station in Bend, OR (KTVZ) had a report on the good work and hospitality for the fire victims staying at San Damiano Retreat. Word is out beyond the local area about the great work all of you have done to to provide a respite to those in need. What a witness to the meaning of Christmas.

Here are some links to relevant video clips:

Photos: All photos: Dick Tandy OFM
Provincial Minister David Gaa
Christmas Letter, 2018

Dear Brothers,
Peace and all good! I’m writing to you in these final days of Advent to wish you a blessed Christmas. I hope you don’t mind my reaching out by email—it just seems a good way to touch base.

As you’ve probably heard me say before, Christmas was really important to our founder, St. Francis, 800 years ago. He saw a struggling Church, and bemoaned how overlooked the true needs of the people were. To St. Francis the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, God becoming one of us, was something to be celebrated in a big and new way. Jesus’ Incarnation cuts through all of the imperfections of our lives, all of the shortcomings of Church and society, by showering us with love.

People on the margins hear that most clearly. That’s why we see Jesus in the stable; that’s why shepherds and other very poor people are the first to understand the Good News. People who know their poverty know that we need to turn to God for help.

God loves us! How often we forget. Let us, this Christmas, rededicate ourselves to love one another. Whether it’s within family, Church or beyond, love will show us the way. That’s the gift of the Incarnation, the best Christmas gift of all.

God bless you, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting our Franciscan ministries. Thanks be to God, we all are in this together.
Merry Christmas!
Brother Michael A. Perry OFM
Minister General 
Christmas Letter 2018

The theology of exodus permeates the revelation of Jesus, who is presented as the liberating God, “the One who is” (cf. Jn 8:28). The evangelist John offers us this interpretative key because he shapes the theology of his Gospel based on the revelation that God himself gave to Moses (cf. Ex 3:14). The God who became flesh in the midst of his people is the One who continues to listen to the cry of his sons and daughters whose lives are under threat. In the theology of exodus, we find different traditions that reflect real events. God is always present and is the central character of history. He hears the cry of his people, goes down to see their suffering at first-hand and brings them out of Egypt, freeing them from slavery (cf. Ex 20:2).

Thus, the experience of the exodus is a paradigm for all the various situations of people who are forced to flee their homeland escaping threats to their lives, hunger, violence, persecutions, wars and armed conflicts, or for other reasons.  CLICK HERE FOR FULL TEXT.
A Christmas Letter 
Sts. Simon & Jude Parish
Huntington Beach, CA
By Friar Dan Barica

Dear parishioners, visitors and extended SSJ community members,

A warm and joy-filled greeting to all of you in these last days before the celebration of our Lord's Nativity. 

I know that I am a true, dyed-in-the-wool Franciscan when I feel the excitement growing in my heart as I contemplate the awesome wonder of God becoming a human being and entering our world for the sake of love. That mystery alone led St. Francis (and his followers) to experience an unquenchable joy and the deepest expressions of gratitude. But God pushes the love factor exponentially as we consider his manner of entering the world: quietly, unpretentiously, and humbly lacking every possible privilege due him as our Lord and Savior. The fact that God takes as his first earthly throne a trough meant to feed animals and then welcomes shepherds as his first guests - these important details of the Christmas story brought St. Francis to ecstatic rapture and likewise, his followers. Francis never lost sight of the humility of God and the Franciscan family has clung to that notion over the centuries, becoming the theological basis for Franciscan works of hospitality, mercy and outreach to the marginalized up to today. Only pure, divine love could have schemed such a plan. And our hope for a better world lies in Christians that prayerfully immerse themselves into this aspect of God, forming them into agents of God's peace, mercy, hospitality and love.

Let us celebrate together this wonder of wonders and share our joy in heartfelt prayer and exuberant song during the Christmas liturgies. CLICK HERE FOR FULL TEXT :

Throughout the Province, friars have been celebrating the Christmas holidays with parishioners, retreatants, colleagues, family and friends. This letter to parishioners by our brother, Dan Barica, pastor at Sts. Simon & June, HB, captures something of the spirit we friars have tried to conveyed in our ministries.—ct 

Above - Artwork: Dan Barica OFM
Below Left - Friars at SSJ fraternity (front, l to r): Friars Vincent Nguyen, Joe Baur, Ryan Thornton. (rear, l to r): Rufino Zaragoza, Dan Barica.
Below Right - SSJ Parish, HB 
Christmas in Guaymas
From Friar Tommy King

The Fray Ivo Toneck Youth Symphony gave another wonderful Christmas concert on December 15 in the Guaymas Civic Auditorium (also named after Brother Ivo). It was a wonderful blend of Christmas classics, Beethoven, Handel and Mexican symphonic music accompanied by the youth chorus and dancers. Under Ivo´s inspiration, the whole music, choral and dance institutions continue to flourish.

Also in Guaymas: As usual, we spend a lot of time in December organizing piñatas, cake, candy and new balls for Posadas/Christmas parties with kids in poorer neighborhoods and villages around Guaymas. Last Saturday (December 15) we went to Guásimas, a fishing village of indigenous Yaqui people, that was about a half-hour drive south of Guaymas. They still remember our own Fr. Camillus Cavagnero who worked many years with them while living in a trailer. About 400 kids arrived with their parents.  Two children always dress up as Mary and Joseph who travel with the child Jesus (doll). The outside group sings pleading lodging (posada) after the long journey and the other group sings the (inside) part of the innkeeper who is reluctant to assist them. Our own Fray Mark McPherson, spending six months in Guaymas for his immersion experience, was a great hit as he dressed up as Santa Claus to distribute the new balls to the kids. Even though it was a cool morning, many kids arrived without shoes. However, it did not seem to diminish their ability to have fun. Altogether, we will serve around 900 kids at six different sites.  

Photos: Courtesy, Tommy King OFM
Below - Symphony concert in Guaymas (no caption).
Top Right - Fray Mark MacPherson
From San Xavier del Bac 
Sisters and Friars Celebrate Christmas 
From Friar Bob Brady

The Franciscan sisters at Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, hosted a Christmas Day dinner at their convent with both Franciscan and Discalced Carmelite friars in attendance.  

Photo: Bob Brady OFM
(l to r): Max Hottle, OFM; Sister Carla Riasch, OSF; David Costello, OCD; Juan Luis, OCD; Sister Leonette; OSF; Sister Mary Ann Spanjers, OSF; Manuel Viera, OFM; Mrs Dora Spanjers; Stephen, OCD; Sister Rosalyn, OSF; Godfrey, OCD; Sister Ellen Pachmeyer, OSF; Stephen Barnufsky, OFM
The God of Surprises . . . Surprises Again!
Africa: The Call to Help Religious Orders 
By Friar Keith Douglass Warner 

My teaching at Santa Clara University is coming full circle to connect with my religious life, in ways that astonish me. This past summer, two organizations representing religious orders in Africa requested formal partnerships with Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, where I am Senior Director of Education and Action Research. Both male and female religious orders have asked the Center to train them to apply innovation and entrepreneurship techniques to their social ministries in Africa. The leadership of the Center is now poised to undertake a significant effort in helping them create new models of serving the poor, protecting the planet, and fulfilling the vision of Laudato Si’ in Africa. 

Executive Director, Thane Kreiner attended the Third Vatican Impact Investing Conference in July. (Thane, by the way is not a Catholic.) This is a gathering of Catholic leaders to push forward an agenda of converting conventional forms of investment into practices that fulfill the Catholic social vision. Sister Eneless Chimbali, a Servant of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is Secretary General of the Association of Consecrated Women of East and Central Africa (ACWECA), also attended this conference. She heard Kreiner explain the concept of social entrepreneurship and asked Thane if the Miller Center could help. She suggested the Center enter into a formal, multi-year partnership to help Sisters’ congregations in East Africa to assist them in finding new ways to organize and fund their ministries to the poor, as well as provide leadership formation for their congregations. CLICK HERE FOR FULL TEXT.

Photos: Courtesy Keith Warner OFM
Top Right - Fr. Innocent Rugaragu SJ relates his own vocational journey, and how entrepreneurial leadership has become progressively more important to him as he grows in his vocation and ministerial service. Your humble servant listens on the left. 
Bottom Left - Sr. Eneless Chimbali of the (ACWECA)Association of Consecrated Women of East and Central Africa, expressing her vision of enhanced ministerial and congregational leadership among the Sisters.  
Bottom Right - ACWECA logo
Vinternatten: A Winter Night Report
The Island of Gotland, Sweden
December 13, 2018
By Peter Winquist

Peter, a member of Corpus Christi/ Kristi Lekamen parish in Visby, on the island of Gotland, has been a key figure in assisting the Roma people who have come to Sweden on short-term work visas from Romania in order to send remittances to their home villages. Thanks to a local ecumenical project, 30 adults have now found shelter in a former military barracks. Those who cannot find day work are often seen in the shopping centers, begging. The Winter Night project provides support and accompaniment, as well as assistance with job referrals. I visited the project with Peter on St. Lucy’s Day/ Luciadagen (December 13).-- ct

I came out to Winter Night with Charles Talley OFM, a Franciscan who has been visiting the Catholic Church in Visby. He had been with us earlier this past summer and it became a nice reunion with many of our friends who were very happy to have him with us again. We had with us a Christmas present in envelopes for everyone that Charles distributed to each. Then he sat down and got acquainted with the newcomers.

I myself continued with the CV (curriculum vitae/ job resume) question that continues to go forward. Many find of the Roma people it difficult to understand that this is something we do for the future and that there will not be any jobs coming from now until Christmas (unless people fill out the forms). They get frustrated and first say that they don’t care, but when you explain how it is supposed to be, they sit down and start filling out the paperwork.

A great pleasure was for me to be able to hand over a nice Samsung smartphone that I had managed to find at one of the sales sites on Facebook. Daniel Bechez, who belongs to the new family here, was very happy, since they had only a rudimentary phone that they shared among four people. So, we need at least three more. Everyone wants to be able to have contact with their children back home in Romania.

After some time during the evening, someone started selling both handmade wreaths and Julbockar/ Christmas “goats” to me. So when I had bought one “goat” and a wreath, everyone else came running out to me with wreaths and “goats”. In the end I had to buy at least one of each from everyone until my wallet was empty. There were 19 wreaths, two wreath “hearts” and two Christmas boughs in spruce altogether that I will now give to my neighbors instead of the Christmas flowers that we usually do. It was a lively and tumultuous evening where everyone wanted to talk and say something. I felt happy and satisfied, even though one feels that one can never do enough. God Jul! I wish all the volunteers of Winter Night and we hope to see you next year.

Photos: Charles Talley OFM

Father Elías Galvez. Our brother Elías died Sunday, December 23, 2018 in Tucson, Arizona. He was 89 years old. Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated on Friday December 28, 2018 10 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Tucson, with internment afterwards at Holy Hope Catholic Cemetery.  Vicar Provincial Martín Ibarra was celebrant and homilist.

From OFM.FYI ( February 1, 2018): “We found Elías eating by himself. David volunteered to scout the building to search for Joe. I pulled a chair and asked Elías about his daily routine. His younger brother, who lives in Tucson, picks him up every morning to go to mass together at Sacred Heart church. He tries to stay healthy by exercising on a stationary bike for half an hour every day. A book that he was currently reading was House of Yes: The Story of Truck of Love by Susan and Pete Fullerton. This couple came to minister to the Tohono O’odham people during the time that Elías was stationed in Pisinemo and then Topawa. Always simple and gentle, his only message to the friars was his gratitude for having all his needs provided for by the province.”

Photo: Charles Talley OFM
Maria Teresa Marquez de Garcia, the mother of Brother Javier "Tito" Garcia died today Monday December 10, 2018 in Cathedral City, California. She was 74 years old. The Vigil was held on Monday December 17, with the Mass of the Resurrection the following day at Our Lady of Soledad Church, Coachella, California.

Friar Fabian (Nicholas) Grifone, OFM, (93) of Immaculate Conception Province, who passed into eternal life during the evening of Friday, December 21, 2018. At the time of his passing, Fr. Fabian was affiliated with the community of Padua Friary, New York City, while under the care of the staff of Beth Israel Hospital, New York City.
Community Life Center Comes to Life!
Franciscan Renewal Center
From Friar Sam Nasada

Sam has been sending photos and progress reports. Here is the first one: “Today December 14, the construction crew started pouring concrete into the foundation of what will become the Community Life Center at the Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ. This building is where we will have our Chapter meeting in June 2019.”

Photo: Courtesy, Sam Nasada OFM
Reminder: Senior Health Care
From Provincial Secretary Tom West

Bob Valentine, Director of Senior Friar Health Care, is on sabbatical from December 1, 2018 through March 15, 2019. Richard McManus will be the interim director. Anita Pivato, RN, the nurse at Old Mission Santa Barbara will serve as medical consultant to Richard and Fr. David Gaa. Please use the following sources whenever you need to contact Richard: cell phone: (510) 390-1602. E-mail: rmcmanus@sbofm.org

Watch these new Salt & Light documentaries featuring the erection of the new Holy Spirit/ Saint Esprit Province in Canada, which took place on October 22, 2018. The union of the two Canadian Provinces (St. Joseph and Christ the King) has been formalized by a decree pronounced by Minister General Br. Michael Anthony Perry, OFM. The new Provincial Minister is Br. Pierre Charland, OFM.

“The creation of the new Holy Spirit Province of Canada takes us back to the roots of our Franciscan charism. It reflects a desire to be led by the Spirit, even to unknown paths. It takes us back to the experience of Pentecost, and to the core of the Gospel. This is what I hope will characterize the new Canadian province,” says the new Provincial Minister.
Many guests from across Canada came to join in this historical celebration. Peter Williams, OFM, General Delegate, as well as some Canadian bishops and Franciscan Provincial Ministers from the USA.

The new Province will include 87 friars from the ages of 32 to 97 present in Quebec (Montreal, Lachute, Trois-Rivières), British Columbia (Vancouver and Victoria) and Alberta (Edmonton and Cochrane). The Provincial Curia will be in Montreal at  La Resurrection friary.

Priesthood Ordinations 
In Sacred Heart Province
November 17, 2018
By Pepe Martinez (SH)

On November 17, 2018, a number of friars from different provinces, along with family, friends, and members of other religious communities, gathered at St. Peter’s in the Loop, Chicago, to celebrate the priesthood ordination of Ed Tverdek, OFM, and Dat Hoang, OFM. Auxiliary Bishop, Alberto Rojas, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, presided at the ceremony, and Provincial Minister, Tom Nairn, OFM, concelebrated. Congratulations to Ed and Dat as they take this step on their priesthood journey!! Photos by Hy Nguyen.

Photo: Friars Edward Tverdek and Dat Hoang at their ordination this month (Courtesy: Sacred Heart Province)
…. And Finally: Fraternal Visitation

Friars Philip Garcia and Tom Frost enjoy a bit of Chinese take-away at Piedmont Gardens, (Oakland, California) where Tom is presently living. Phil stopped by for an Advent/Christmas visit.

Photo: Courtesy: Philip Garcia OFM
Br. Christopher Best - January 4           
Fr. Sebastian Sandoval - January 5     
Br. David Cobian - January 10         
Br. Raul Diaz - January 13            
Fr. Charles Talley - January 15        
Fr. Patrick Evard - January 27        
Fr. Matthias Tumulty - January 27      
Fr. Leo Sprietsma - January 29        
Fr. Thomas King - January 30 
Fr. Rigoberto Caloca Rivas - January 4
Fr. Garret Edmunds - January 11
Fr. Thomas Frost  - January 13
Fr. Micah Muhlen  - January 18
Fr. Sebastian Sandoval - January 20
Fr. Raymond Tintle - January 23
Fr. Armando Lopez - January 23
Fr. Paul Botenhagen - January 25
Br. Timothy Arthur - January 26
Br. Hajime Okuhara - January 28
Br. Richard Tandy - January 29
2019 Calendar
~ From Lara Hansen ~

Chapter Agenda Assembly
January 7–10, 2019 ~ San Damiano Retreat, Danville, CA 

Inter-Provincial Retreat (2 sessions)
January 14-18, 2019, Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ
February 4-8, 2019, San Pedro Retreat Center, Winter Park, FL

Meeting of US-6 Provincials
January 27-31, Albuquerque, NM

Spring Convocations (2 sessions)
March 11–14, 2019 ~ St. Francis Retreat, San Juan Bautista, CA
March 25–28, 2019 ~ Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, CA

Chapter 2019
June 23–28, 2019 ~ Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ
OFM.FYI, the bi-weekly newsletter of the Franciscan Friars Province of Saint Barbara, is published on the 1st and 15th of each month. Editor: Charles Talley, ofm. 
Relevant submissions of texts, photos, etc., are welcome at any time 
and will be placed in the next appropriate issue. 
 Send submissions to: ofm.fyi@gmail.com