Friar Jack's Letter to the Mayor of San Francisco

July 30, 2001

(Attention: P. J. Johnston, Press Secretary)

Willie L. Brown, Jr., Mayor
City Hall, Room 200
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear Mr. Mayor:

The purpose of this mailing is to share with you a children's book I have written about your famous city and its patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. I would like to request, furthermore, that a copy of the book be formally presented to you sometime in early October or mid September in the name of Franciscans living in your city and beyond. As you can see, the book's title is St. Francis in San Francisco.

One of the items enclosed in this packet is a copy of St. Anthony Messenger, a national Catholic (Franciscan) magazine (circulation 340,000), which contains a cover story about San Francisco's Father Floyd Lotito, O.F.M., and his "Blessing of the Animals"-a ritual which he conducts each year around the feast of St. Francis (October 4). Father Floyd is a Franciscan friar like me, and a good friend. In 1996, I attended his pet-blessing ceremony in San Francisco and prepared the enclosed photo story that appeared the following year in our magazine (October 1997), "Blessing of the Animals in the City of St. Francis." Father Floyd was pleased with the article.

Father Floyd was also pleased with the recent publication of the children's book, St. Francis in San Francisco, because it communicates the same Franciscan love and respect for creation that he himself tries to communicate through his annual Blessing of the Animals. In fact this year, he has invited me to join him for the blessing (on October 6) and to bring copies of the book and make them available for anyone who wishes to purchase them. I already told Floyd that I would be happy to join him in San Francisco on October 6.

In the book St. Francis in San Francisco, St. Francis comes to visit modern-day San Francisco, the city named after him, on his feast day, October 4. St. Francis blesses and talks to the animals in Golden Gate Park, visits the old Franciscan Mission of San Francisco de Asis (popularly known as Mission Dolores) and takes a cable-car ride. Other famous landmarks of the city are featured in the book. I like to tease Floyd that St. Francis has already come to visit San Francisco and now is walking its streets and blessing its pets in the person of Father Floyd Lotito! I think there is some real truth in that.

I think Father Floyd would be the perfect person to present you, Mr. Willie L. Brown, Jr., the Mayor of San Francisco, with a copy of St. Francis in San Francisco. And I'm sure he's agreeable to the idea. I would also be honored to accompany him along with book's illustrator, Kathy Baron, of Eugene, Oregon, if her schedule allows.

St. Francis is a very appropriate patron saint for the city of San Francisco. Mathew Arnold, the nineteenth-century British poet, called St. Francis "a figure of most magical power and charm." Those words, I believe, also describe well your delightful city, with its "tiny cable cars climbing halfway to the stars." Like St. Francis, your city is full of joy, playfulness and imagination. Like its patron saint, the city loves its animals and pets and is surrounded by natural beauty. Like St. Francis--a great peacemaker and a creator of family wherever he went--San Francisco is known as an international city that embraces people of all nations and cultures and races and helps them come together as family. At least, that truly seems to be an ideal of your city.

The book, St. Francis in San Francisco, conveys admiration for these ideals, both as seen in Saint Francis as well as in the city named after him. For these reasons, I hope you are open to our idea of presenting you and the city of San Francisco--in the name of the Franciscan family--a copy of St. Francis in San Francisco. Another reason such a ritual would be meaningful is that the city of San Francisco and the city of Assisi, Italy, the birthplace of St. Francis, are sister cities.

It would seem that the feast of St. Francis, October 4, would be the perfect date for this presentation….

Peace and everything good!

(Father) Jack Wintz, O.F.M.

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