The offices of Franciscan Media are nestled in the heart of a neighborhood called Over-the-Rhine (OTR to locals), one of the most iconic—some might say notorious—neighborhoods in Cincinnati.
It’s a beautiful but bruised part of the city. If you look out of our office windows, you might see a less-than-discreet drug exchange or police trainees out for a morning jog. You might see mothers walking their children to day care or homeless people walking to nowhere. Three weeks ago, there was a fatal shooting two blocks south from our building. It barely made the news.
The friars are not here by accident. They first came to OTR in the 19th century from Austria to serve German expats in the area. Over the decades, the neighborhood changed, but the friars remained. They are in this neighborhood to bear witness to its struggles and to be a presence to its residents. St. Francis laid that groundwork. His friars today continue the mission.
And with this issue, so do we. The five articles presented in our June/July issue are each inspired by a formative moment in the life of St. Francis—when he embraced the leper outside of Assisi. Here we profile individuals or organizations that lift “the others ” in our uneven society. But I would encourage you to look closer. What each article says, implicitly, is what Francis preached all along: There is no “them. ” There is only “us. ” From those who are trafficked to those who seek asylum in our country; from LGBTQ youth to minority voters, we are one family. These five articles celebrate that.
We hope you enjoy this issue.