Franciscan Alumni Reunion 2017
Spirit of Francis strong in alumni
BY TONI CASHNELLI
"Most people associate reunions with a specific milestone" like 20 or 25 years, says Mark Kling. For those who attended St. Francis Seminary, "These reunions are more about the friendships that were formed while we were in high school, no matter what graduating class, and how each has continued to grow their Franciscan spirituality."
Last weekend about 40 members of the Franciscan Alumni Association and their families met in Cincinnati to reminisce about teachers, classes, sports. But what made it memorable was "the Franciscan camaraderie that we have in common," according to Mark, class of 1975. Amidst the picnic, parties and sightseeing there was worship, reflection, and the chance to honor their own.
"When I look back, I am so grateful for the outstanding role models that were there for me while I attended the ‘Farm’," Mark says. "I feel certain that each of us can attribute so many successes to our early Franciscan formation."
For Rick Kasper, class of ’70, and Paul Landers, ’76, this year’s highlight was the appearance of three of those role models. "I had invited Frs. Ric Schneider, Valentine Young and Tom Richstatter to come Friday evening and share memories of seminary days," says Rick, and they did not disappoint, revealing the truth behind some storied incidents.
Saturday morning Rick and classmate Fr. Henry Beck led a mini-retreat for alumni on Franciscan Spirituality in the former seminary chapel. Rick is impressed that "So many of them do continue the spirit of St. Francis in their work and volunteer efforts."
Vision and dedication were recognized as two friars were honored for their continuing efforts to walk the walk of St. Francis. The Christian Life Award was presented to former Provincial Minister Jeff Scheeler "for his gracious pastoral service throughout his religious life and during his 21 years in provincial administration." According to Henry, "Jeff also was very supportive of the FAA and planted seeds for how it might grow and include alums from the more recent formation programs."
Fr. John Quigley received the Humanitarian Award for his justice and peace work in the Order and for his commitment to Franciscans International in promoting human rights around the world. Booked for a wedding, John was unable to be there. Paul LaRou, class of 1962, spoke about John’s humanitarian service, and Savio Russo received the award on John’s behalf.
"My highlight of these gatherings with Franciscan alums and their families is to see how deeply we are united in our Franciscan charism," Henry says. "Each reunion I have a deeper experience of my brotherhood with classmates, alums in other time periods, and their family members. I am amazed how deeply St. Francis and St. Clare and their common vision have touched us and continue to call us forward in our lives."
No matter how many reunions he attends, says Mike Thomas, class of ’74, "The same sense of belonging to something far greater than myself happens every year."
Learn more about the FAA at http://www.franciscan-alumni.org/