One of the best of many gifts my parents gave me is my middle name, Francis, after my dad’s best friend, Francis Canfield, S.J.
Fr. Frank ran the table on the Sacraments with me. He baptized me, gave me First Communion, sponsored me at Confirmation (where I also took his confirmation name, Aloysius), married Maritza and me, and even heard my most recent Confession two months ago.
Fr. Frank passed away last week, leaving a huge hole in the world. In addition to being a priest, he was a teacher, coach, and counselor at U of D Jesuit in Detroit for 23 years, St. John’s Jesuit in Toledo for 15, and St. Ignatius in Cleveland for 8. After being forced to retire due to health issues about ten years ago, he faithfully served the men in Oakland County Jail every Saturday at noon until the pandemic prematurely ended his prison ministry in 2020.
Fr. Frank, my grandfather, and me at brunch after my
First Communion in 1977.
Some of my fondest memories as a child were sitting on our front porch in Detroit as Fr. Frank and my dad (also a teacher and coach at U of D) would sip on a Pabst Blue Ribbon and talk about their students and some of the trials and victories those students were experiencing. It strikes me as I write this that the joy I found in their stories is likely the inspiration for me to write these Reflections about our scholars 40-some years later.
Fr. Frank was the very best listener and storyteller. He listened to each story like he was watching his favorite movie. Whenever a character appeared in a story being told, he couldn’t help but interject with a reference to them from a previous story or experience.
“Aye, yes, Michael!” he would exclaim any time I mentioned any of my family members or friends from the class of 1987. “How is Freddie Hunter, still smiling, is he?”
That was the thing about Fr. Frank. He always saw the best in us. All of us. And he was quick to bring it up, remind us of it, and celebrate the best we were to each other. We were all the heroes in his stories.
And that’s what you are to me. Whether you are one of our scholarship students overcoming great challenges or one of our supporters making their scholarship possible, please know how grateful we are to you for being on this mission together. You are the hero in my story.
Fr. Frank and I doing our IntSam Global 1-Mile Walk together in 2020.
Mike Tenbusch, IntSam President
Mike joined IntSam in 2018 after two decades of leading social change in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. He’s a University of Michigan Law grad and author of The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty. He and his wife, Maritza, have three children who keep them young.
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