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
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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