My Franciscan Journey
By Frank Bucaro, Covenant Companion
I was raised in Bartlett, Illinois. I belonged to St. Peter Damian parish. Myself and 5 other kids made our 1st Communion there and our priest was Fr T. Barry Horne, from the Archdiocese of Chicago who was a weekend priest.
All of my junior high/high school religious education was taught by Franciscan Seminarians at Christ the King Seminary in West Chicago, which was their final four years of training before ordination. In my high school years in the 60’s we started a youth group called “Christians of the Left.” (There were about 15 teens from Bartlett, Wayne, and West Chicago).
The Franciscans who led this group were Tom Lapointe, Eric Jazab, and Rob Galinac. They decided that going on a retreat would be a good experience for the group, so Tom, Eric, and I went to check out the Bridge. This was the Fall of 1967. The sisters, Theresa, Eunie, Frannie, Maggie, and Artie were there to greet and show us the building. We were sold and our first retreat there was in 1967.
I was also sold on The Bridge, its ministry and the Sisters, and started as a part-time volunteer staff and weekend resident there and helped with the retreats, while I was a Jr at St. Procopius College and going to the Bridge on weekends. Friends of my parents (Frank and Lois) would ask them, “Don’t you miss seeing Frank on weekends when he goes to the Bridge Retreat house?” Their answer was “He’s spending time with nuns; how bad can it be!”
From 1967-1970, I was at the Bridge on weekends. During that time a young lady by the name of MaryAnn Porter came into my life. She worked for two of the Sisters as a secretary at the convent. I was planning on going into the Franciscans when I graduated from college, but God had something else in store.
Fr. Rob Galinac was ordained at Christ the King Seminary in December of 1969. Maryann and I attended and it was the turning point where I decided to ask her to marry me. On June 27, 1970, we were married at Sacred Heart Parish in Lombard and had our reception at the Bridge!
Sr. Theresa and all were most accommodating and it was a spiritual and joyous experience for both of us, the Sisters, and our families.
After we were married, I worked in parishes and Catholic high schools and would bring teens to the Bridge for retreats. Then, as soon as I learned about the Covenant member option I “signed on” immediately and am here to this day. We then brought our children, Beth, Meg and Adrian to visit the Sisters at times, and to have ice cream with Sr. Bernadette! My children, now parents, still have memories of those visits. Oh, how the Sisters loved to see the kids! What a Blessing for us all.
My life for the past 59 years has been and is today, my Franciscan Journey. I will always be most grateful for ALL the sisters I have known, worked with, and who are still an integral part of my life.
The Sisters had an influential role to play in me getting degrees in Theology, in that, I wanted to do “Church work” and needed an academic background to do so.
I got my B.A. in History and Theology at St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University) in Lisle and my M.A. from Loyola in Religious Studies.
I taught at St. Francis High School, St Edward High School in Elgin and Benet Academy in Lisle and in parishes as DRE (Director of Religious Education).
I learned the skill of speaking through teaching, then in 1986, I “de-theologized” my training and began a career as a Professional Speaker on Ethics and Values in the Workplace. Thirty-five years later I’m still speaking on values, morals and ethics.
It all began at the Bridge, retreats, the Sisters.
In the words of St. Francis:
I wish you Peace and All Good!