How Friar Jack Got His Name
A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a Catholic subscriber
in India who was upset with--or at least questioned--the fact
that my name "Friar Jack" did not seem religious enough.
He argued that I should have a more obvious Christian name and
patron saint. He thought "Friar Jack" was too secular-sounding
and gave my "E-spirations" a worldly feel.
Well, that is certainly not the intention of this e-mail effort.
Let me give you the story of my name. It's a story with strange
twists and turns, but in the end I hope readers can decide for
themselves whether my name is religious enough.
I was given the name Ronald George Wintz when I was born in
1936 and was baptized in a Franciscan parish under that same
name. When I entered the Franciscan novitiate in 1954, I took
the name Alton from an obscure Irish monk, Saint Alto, who made
his way to Germany in 743. So I began my Franciscan life as
In 1959, during the presidential campaign of Jack Kennedy,
while I was a student in our Franciscan theology school near
Dayton, Ohio, my confreres began calling me Jack. They said
that my hair length at the time was like Senator Kennedy's.
Well, the nickname stuck and most of my friends called me Jack.
My official name, however, was still Friar Alton, and also Father
Alton after I was ordained a priest in June of 1963 (the same
year President Jack Kennedy was assassinated. I taught English
literature in Franciscan high schools in the Midwest for five
years as Father Alton. Then I spent three years in the Philippine
Islands, teaching literature to Franciscan seminarians, still
as Father Alton. More and more people, however, seemed to feel
more comfortable with the familiar name Jack than with Alton.
Sorry about that, St. Alto!
There's more to this story, so read on. You'll find my conclusion
at the end of this message.
ADVENT WREATH BLESSING AND CHRISTMAS COMMERCIALISM:
AmericanCatholic.org's annual Christmas feature provides resources
to help you celebrate the seasons in your home. New are an Advent
wreath blessing and practical suggestions for taking commercialism
out of Christmas. We continue to offer daily Advent meditations
from Catholic Update as well as streaming audio features and
the story of St. Francis of Assisi and the Christmas crib. http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Features/Christmas
St. Anthony Messenger Online features a Vatican II progress
report in "Vatican II at 35: An Interview With Cardinal
Keeler." As a young priest he was a media adviser at Vatican
II. He went on to become a bishop and then cardinal. Hear streaming
audio of John Bookser Feister's interview with this world leader
in ecumenism. http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Dec2000/Feature2.asp
LIGHT A CANDLE FOR ALL TO SEE:
Wrap up a copy of the new book, The Blessing Candles, 58 Simple
Mealtime Prayer-Celebrations by Gaynell Bordes Cronin and Jack
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prayer, the lighting of two candles, a reading and a prayerful
response to it, and a sending prayer. http://Catalog.AmericanCatholic.org/product.asp?prodid=0-86716-379-8
CELEBRATE THE CHRISTMAS SEASON AND SEND AN E-GREETING:
Catholic Greetings has commissioned new Christmas art from the
well-known illustrator Julie Lonneman. There are five new Catholic
e-Greetings depicting the scenes of the season: the Annunciation,
the Nativity,and the Epiphany. Save on Christmas cards and postage
-- send a FREE Christmas e-Greeting! http://www.CatholicGreetings.org/Holiday/.
HOW CAN GOD HAVE A MOTHER?
In December, Father Pat's "Ask a Franciscan" puzzles
over the Virgin Mary's title "Mother of God." Find
the explanation at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org/Messenger/Dec2000/Wiseman.asp.
As always, please continue to submit your questions about the Catholic faith to "Ask a Franciscan."
FRIAR JACK'S CHOSEN SITE:
Have you visited this site yet: http://www.worldprayers.org/
Very nice - and a great place to encourage Catholics to submit
CONCLUSION TO FRIAR JACK'S MUSINGS:
When I returned to the states in 1972 to begin working at St.
Anthony Messenger, I got my provincial's permission to officially
change my name to Friar or Father Jack since most people were
calling me that anyway. Since Jack is derived from the name
John, I have adopted John the Evangelist as my primary patron
saint, not a bad patron for a writer, but I also claim John
the Baptist as an honorary patron, too.
I'm happy to let you decide whether my name--and indeed its
story--is too worldly or not. I'm content with my two chosen
patron saints--and my link, as a Franciscan friar, to St. Francis
and St. Clare. I am also content to be working in the midst
of this world and in the midst of the human family, as an "ordinary
Jack." Christians are not called to "flee the world,"
or condemn it, but to live in its midst and seek to transform
it from within.
Jesus and St. Francis have been good models in this regard.
Jesus was not sent to condemn the world but to transform and
save it. The Incarnation does not represent a "flight from
the world" on God's part but, on the contrary, an entering
into it for the good. St. Francis took Jesus' message into the
city square for the same reason. We at St. Anthony Messenger
Press are bringing our presence into cyber space--into the world
of the Internet--to try our best to be a transforming presence.
As always, please E-mail your suggestions and comments TODAY:
--Jack Wintz, O.F.M.
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