Friars honored in Bloomington, IL

At St. Mary’s in Bloomington, IL, friars Fr. Ric Schneider, Br. Kevin Duckson, and Fr. Neri Greskoviak were honored at a going-away party that started in the church – packed to the rafters – and continued with a buffet of snacks and desserts at the school. All three church choirs performed, and when one of them sang And the Father Will Dance, Fr. Neri pranced down the aisle.

"We had a good time," Fr. Ric says. The parish gave each friar an iPad and "cards and cards and cards; it took me two days to open them." In lieu of gifts, they had asked parishioners to contribute to a Franciscan Fellowship Legacy Fund "for keeping our Franciscan heritage alive by supporting future parish ministries."

Earlier in the week the intersection of Mason and Jackson streets was renamed Franciscan Way in honor of the many friars who have served St. Mary’s.


"For 135 years, since 1881, 128 friars have lived or ministered at St. Mary’s Parish in Bloomington, Ill. (Stop a minute, and reread those numbers.) By all accounts, those are astonishing statistics! The numbers only hint at the history of our ministry and presence, or as Fr. Ric Schneider likes to say, the "action on Jackson" instigated by the friars for so many years! So it was sad when I joined the obviously much loved Fr. Ric, Br. Kevin Duckson and Fr. Neri Greskoviak for our final weekend liturgies on June 4 and 5.

On behalf of the Province, I blessed and presented a large San Damiano cross as a sign of our gratitude for the privilege of serving there, and as a symbol of our ongoing Franciscan connection. There were lots of tears and hugs, but a sense of understanding as well. Though I did not contribute to the numbers, among the myriad of feelings, I felt pride and a sense of connection with the pastoral commitment and zeal of the brothers who served there, most of whom I never knew. There is a Franciscan legacy there. I think the Franciscan spirit will remain and continue to inspire the action at 527 W. Jackson, St., Bloomington, thanks to Ric, Kevin, and Neri, and the 125 friars who preceded them."

--Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, Provincial Minister

History maker

Guess who got the biggest hand at this year’s History Makers Gala in Bloomington, Ill.? Sixty friends made sure it was Fr. Ric Schneider.

Fr. Ric returned to Bloomington June 16 to be honored as one of four local History Makers by the McLean County Museum of History. He was nominated for "building a community and supporting the needs of poor residents, regardless of their faith." Also selected were women’s basketball coach Jill Hutchison; Jack Porter, a retired Presbyterian minister, social justice attorney and activist; and cattleman Gordon Ropp, former state Director of Agriculture and State Representative. All were commended for their impact on the community.

The annual event attracted 600 guests to the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University. Fr. Ric was impressed with the program, "a beautiful setup," he says. "They had a clever way of introducing people [the honorees] to the crowd," with four "contestants" enacting a quiz show in which they answered questions like, "Which honoree said this or that?" When plaques were presented, "They had a really nice writeup on everyone."

The rooting section for Fr. Ric, which made up a tenth of the crowd, was composed of people from St. Mary’s and the school as well as Cusillos. Fr. Ric has led parishes where he subbed for 23 years.

"It was a fun evening," he says, "more than I expected."