Marchers met with miles of smiles
BY FR. FRANK JASPER, OFM
"It’s the friars!" "Hey, Roger Bacon!" "We love you, friars!" "Hey, Br. Gene!" Those were some of the comments that we heard during the Opening Day Parade for the Cincinnati Reds on April 3.
The parade began at noon under threatening clouds. We were located at the end of the parade so we didn’t reach the starting point until 2 p.m. It was a long wait and we lost Fr. Hilarion Kistner along the way in the crowd. Several senior friars rode in convertibles provided by Jake Sweeney Chevrolet and they waved and received as much applause as the Reds players at the beginning of the parade.
The parade isn’t so much about baseball as it is about community. It is clear that the Franciscans are a vital part of this community from the number of people who recognized individual friars Dominic Lococo, John Bok, Pat McCloskey, Tim Sucher, Gene Mayer, Al Hirt, Fred Link and Tom Speier. It seemed that they each had their own fan club along the way. Probably our most common recognition is that we are associated with Roger Bacon High School. Many people identified themselves as graduates from Roger Bacon and others knew us from the parishes or from our Over-the-Rhine presence.
We are truly a part of the community and have been for more than 150 years. Even people who are not Catholic know us for our generosity and service to the poor. After the long delay in getting started, it was fun to march along, waving to the people and taking part in this Cincinnati tradition. Special thanks to Colleen Cushard for organizing our effort and her husband, Steve, for chauffeuring friars.
As Al Hirt and I were walking back to the friary, one young boy about 8 or 9 said, "Good parade, friars!" And it was!