Franciscan Renewal Center

Keeping the Good Work Alive

The Casa has been an important part of my life since 1976 when my wife, Judy, and I were married here. Judy loved the Casa since she came for counseling in 1971 during a very difficult period. She credits the counseling she received here as literally saving her life.
As the years moved on, we worshipped at different places, but when Judy died in 2011, I knew it was time for her to come home to the Casa and have her funeral here. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to a Renewing Lives Breakfast and learned more about all of the good works offered here, and I knew it was time for me to come back to this special community. I completed my RCIA in 2014 and have been a regular at Saturday evening Mass ever since.
I decided to make a pledge to the endowment fund and become a member of the LaVerna Legacy Society because I wanted to keep the good work of the Casa alive for generations. In talking with my three grown children about my wish to leave some of my assets to the Franciscan Renewal Center, they understood how much the Casa has meant to me and to our family and they fully support my decision.
— Rupert

Charitable Contributions

We have appreciated the gift of several Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from our community. At 70 ½, one must start pulling money out of the IRA, workplace 401(k), or similar type retirement accounts or face consequences. There are exceptions, such as if you’re still working and participate in these style programs. But, the general rule is to start making withdrawals after hitting 70 ½. Failure to pay heed can mean a 50% tax penalty on the amount that was supposed to be withdrawn but wasn’t. Many account owners, upon reaching 70 ½, are finding that they don’t yet need to live on money withdrawn from their account.
You can donate your RMD directly to a qualified 501(c)(3) public charity. As long as the charity qualifies, this distribution can be made tax-free. Charitable contributions can only be made from IRAs, not 401(k)s or similar types of retirement accounts, so you might need to roll funds over from a 401(k) to an IRA if you want to make tax-free charitable contributions part of your retirement plan. You don’t need to itemize your taxes in order to make an IRA charitable distribution. However, you cannot additionally claim a charitable contribution tax deduction on a charitable distribution from your IRA. Anyone who is interested should contact their accountant or Tax Preparer for advice. Thank you for the many ways you support the Franciscan Renewal Center.
— Charlie Brown, General Manager

Family Faith Activities – October 14 – The Twenty-eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

REFLECTION: What must I do to inherit eternal life?Jesus makes two requirements of the wealthy man who approaches Him. First, he must give up his possessions. Does this mean give up everything, or to hold our possessions loosely, not making them the focus of life, making Christ the focus instead?
The second requirement is the invitation, “Follow me.” Jesus very much wants this man to be His disciple. Jesus very much wants us to be His disciples, too. In reply to the disciples’ astonishment at the strictness of the standard that Jesus speaks about, they are reminded that nothing is impossible with God. Salvation is determined by our ability to rely completely upon God.
Jesus acknowledges that those who have given up everything for the sake of the Gospel will be rewarded. This reward begins now, in the new community that one will gain in this life, and will continue in the eternal age to come.

CONVERSATION: How difficult would it be for you to give something you treasure to someone else who needs it more?

Who came to Jesus asking about eternal life?
What does Jesus tell the man to do?
Does the man do what Jesus asks?

ACTION: Set aside a day and a time to go through closets, cupboards, and drawers together. Gather any outgrown clothes or unused items that are clean and in good shape. Take them to a donation center or the André House collection box at church.

PRAYER: O God, Help us say yes to Your invitation to follow Jesus. Amen.

Generations of Belonging – Part II

“Feeling like I belong here” is a common statement I’ve heard from hundreds of people after they have discovered the Casa. A friend invites them to a Discover the Vision or they are introduced to me after Mass, and I see them again somewhere on campus—or many times off. Invariably, they say the same thing, possibly with different wording, but always around the comfort of being here and how much it means to them. I understand it because it is exactly how I felt.

In 2013, I came out of early retirement to become a small part of the capital campaign team, working with Fr. Joe and Charlie Brown to help the Casa move into the future and all that entails. As I have told my family and friends along the way, it has been, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable things that has occurred in my life. Part of that future is now realized as we approach the first anniversary of the dedication of our beautiful Our Lady of the Angels church. We should all be proud, for it stands as a place of welcome for those who built it and those we have yet to meet.

Yesterday evening, the rest of our Sustainability Team and I welcomed about 23 of our community to a reception for our table hosts for this year’s Renewing Lives Breakfast. Each is a member of the Casa’s TAU Society and they are eager to welcome their guests, many of whom are new to the Casa. I like to imagine the connections that will happen in that ballroom that morning as they all hear from each speaker about coming to the Casa and having that wonderful realization as I did — this is exactly where I belong.

— Sarah Privée, Major Gifts Officer…call 480.355.0357

Family Faith Activities – September 23 – The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Taking the disciples to a private place, Jesus asks about the argument they had on the road. The disciples are uncharacteristically silent and afraid to answer. They have been found out. Then, to this select group of disciples, Jesus teaches that those who would be first in God’s kingdom must be servants of all.
To illustrate, Jesus calls forward a child and teaches that to receive a child in Jesus’ name is to receive both Jesus and the One who sent him. We might easily fail to understand the significance of this action. In First- Century Palestine, children were without status or power, possessing no legal rights. In this action, Jesus is teaching His disciples and us that when we serve the least ones among us, we serve Jesus Himself.
Who are the people without power or status in our society that Jesus is calling us to serve? Do we do so willingly? Jesus teaches that God’s judgment of us will be based on this criterion alone. (Paraphrased from Loyola Press Sunday Connection)

Gather your family and ask what they think makes a person great.

Read Mark 9:30-37 and discuss:
• What does Jesus try to explain to His disciples?
• What do the disciples argue about?
• What does Jesus say to them?

Service Centered: With your family, reflect on the many ways that people can be of service to others. Use a variety of magazines to cut out as many pictures of people serving others as your family can find. You can also draw, instead of cutting. Glue or draw onto a large poster board and discuss: How are the people in the pictures serving others? Who are people you know that can serve others? How can you serve others?

Concluding Prayer: God, our helper, You give us Your help when we are in need, and You show us how to help others through the example of Your son, Jesus. Thank You for showing us how to live. Amen.

Family Faith Activities – September 9 – The Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel today, the deaf man not only cannot hear, but because of this, is also closed off from the community. He is dependent on others for many needs and does not fit into society. This Gospel is about “hearing,” but also “belonging.” His friends bring him to Jesus, who, rather than just speaking a word, heals sacramentally — touch, gesture, word, and even spittle! Now the man can hear and is opened to a whole new world, taking up his place and responsibilities in the community.

This man is set free to hear and proclaim God’s message of love and mercy. We learn today that Jesus’ mission is to be of service to all — the handicapped, disabled, suffering, and even the Gentiles. No one is rejected because of their differences. This is what we, too, are called to do — to be open to the needs of all, with no place or room for prejudice. We must take people as we find them, whether we like them or not, agree with them or not, for all are God’s people, and God has touched each one of us.

Can you imagine what new possibilities might open to us if we meet and hear the words Jesus has for us? Pray that we, like the deaf man, have our ears opened to hear what Jesus wants us to hear.

Gather your family and recall a time when a family member was ill. What did you do
for them? How does it feel to care for a sick person? To be a sick person?

Read Mark 7:31-37 and discuss:
What was wrong with the man who Jesus cured?
How did Jesus heal him?
What did the people watching do?
What do you think were the man’s first words to Jesus?

Ears and Voice Activity: Create two lists for the family fridge or your prayer table. On
one, write, “With my ears I heard,” and on the other, “With my voice I said.” Invite your family to write things they hear and say in the coming week that express faith in and love of God and neighbor. For example: “With my ears I heard the birds singing,” or “With my voice I said thanks to Dad.”

Concluding Prayer: Caring God, You want us to be healthy and happy. Thank You for hearing our prayers for those who are sick. Amen.

You just never know…

Last year, the Franciscan Renewal Center received a very large gift from the estate of a man that we did not know anything about. It was a question that would rise to the surface every so often,
but with all that was underway, it was easy to set aside.

Then I discovered an email address that was linked to this gift last year. I sent off an email to another unknown person with a hope of some sort of “why” behind this most generous gift to us. In my mind, there had to be a reason that this place was special to him.

Weeks went by and then I received a phone call from a gentleman named Russ, who was attached to the email. Russ had befriended our donor years ago and what a story behind it all. It seems our donor had been a recluse who made very few friends and had little use for most people. He was not a wealthy man — he simply did not spend any money on himself or anyone. He had a very sad childhood and had little love in his life until he met his wife, who made up for all that he did not have as a child.

All was good until she died twenty years ago and our donor became consumed in his loss. Someone suggested that he contact the Franciscan Renewal Center to help him with his overwhelming grief. He came here and met with a friar who helped him move forward with the life that was left for him.

So, here’s the “why” behind our donor leaving such a large gift to us: this man repeatedly told Russ that he really liked the Franciscan Renewal Center because no one ever tried to get him to become a Catholic or clean up or dress nicer before he came for his counseling. Everyone that he encountered here was kind to him and welcoming and he never forgot that. I know for myself, I smile thinking that our donor must be very proud, as he watches from above. His gift ensures that the help that he received back in 1997 continues today so that others consumed with their respective grief can also see that love never really ends…and being kind is the start of it all.

— Sarah Privée, Donor Relations Officer

Am I a Champion?

Recently, I was asked by a community member if I thought she would qualify as a candidate to attend a Casa Champions Coffee and Scones Hour. Based on this question, I thought it the perfect time to write about my thoughts of what a Casa Champion might look like so you, the reader, can be on the lookout as well.

A Champion is someone who feels compelled to welcome a new person that they meet after Mass and invite them to join you in the Hospitality area for a nonfat donut and a cup of coffee. Or they think that the Casa has been a beacon in their own lives and want to share that same experience with others that they meet along the Road of Life. It could be the next-door neighbor, someone seated next to you on a plane, or another dog lover at the dog park. It doesn’t just happen here on these 25 acres — it is anywhere that the Champion might be. They invite their new friend to come to a onehour Discover the Vision event that we have twice a month and now both have increased their circl eof community.

At our last Casa Champions Coffee and Scones Hours last month, we had four of our Board Members, three longtime Champions, and Father Joe. Everyone came together to focus on all that we now have going on with the dedication of the new church, all the new community that will come and how we can meet, greet, and walk with those we encounter.

So here’s the test to see if possibly you might be a Champion:

Do you love the Casa and feel better when you are on these grounds?
Do you believe that you can reach out to those who are new to us and invite them to a one-hour event here at the Casa?
Do you have the time every six weeks on a Thursday morning from 8 am – 9 am to gather together?
Do you like butterscotch scones?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are very strong that you will be a great Champion for the Casa. Please call me and we can discuss further.

— Sarah Privée, Major Gifts Officer (and very proud Casa Champion) 480.355.0357

Community On Fire

I have been participating in discussions lately about how to create community—how does it happen and how to make it flourish. With these ideas swirling in my head, I thought about the apostles and how amazing it is that they created a community because they shared the same faith. The imagery in the reading made me think of the saying people use when someone’s passion shows through in their actions: “You’re on fire!” The converse to that is when they are not feeling
confident: “They’ve lost their fire.”

I was preparing for this column and came across a poem about Pentecost, written by William Blake,
which caused me to take some time to reflect. Part of the poem says:

Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.

During this feast of Pentecost, I pray that we all catch fire, each in our own way. My hope is that we dare to ignite the fire within ourselves, and by doing so, we kindle the flame of others. Perhaps, that’s how we create community and continue to fan the flames. I’m looking forward to seeing our community “on fire!”

Peace and good,
Rosa Rodriguez-Saiz
Executive Assistant to the Liturgy Office

All Are Welcome: The Foundation of Our Faith

When my wife, Cathy first brought me to the Casa for Mass, it was October 9, 2005, and Father Larry Dolan was preaching. His topic was “All Are Welcome.” As his homily evolved, I realized that he was speaking directly to me. As a lapsed Lutheran, I had only recently begun to miss being a member of a spiritual community. That Sunday was an awakening for me, and on April 11, 2009, after completing RCIA, I formally joined at the Easter Vigil. It was then that our commitment began to ensure that the Casa could remain a place where all would be welcome for years to come.

At the Casa, “All Are Welcome” is more than just a tag line or a postscript; it is the foundation of our faith. It is not only a song we sing, it is our soul that we proclaim. We recognize that being so is a manifestation of Christ in our world. It means inviting and gathering everyone to participate, especially the most vulnerable. It is a place where there is no hidden asterisk or “but.” No one is excluded here. It means being hospitable, helpful, encouraging, and charitable to all who come. And it is the foundation that we as a couple want to preserve.

So we have done as many other members are doing and have attended the Legacy Workshop, made our pledge, signed the forms, and joined the La Verna Society. We have worked with Mary Dunn, the Director of the Endowment Initiative, to designate a portion of our estate to ensure that the Casa will always have the means to be the place of welcome that we value so highly. Won’t you join us?

— Cathy and Doug Olesen

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