Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The Gospel for today, Sunday July 26th, was from St. John's Gospel;and it tells

the story of the feeding of the 5000. I just found out today that Father Floyd Lotito, OFM,

had passed away and this Gospel is perfect for inspiring thoughts about Floyd and his life.

If you have ever seen a mountain lake early in the morning, the water is perfectly

smooth. It looks like glass. If you toss a stone into that water, the ripples caused will

eventually reach the other side of the lake. In our lives we create ripples. The ripples effect

all who encounter us and not always in a positive way. The goal of life is to evaluate the

ripples we cause and determine their value. If we don't like the effect we are having, we can

change and go in a new direction.

Father Floyd Lotito, OFM, made not just ripples, but waves, throughout his life.

He washed over his community of Franciscans, his family and friends, and the people he

served as a priest; a friar and a person. Floyd took over the St. Anthony's dining room

(the miracle on Jones St.) from Father Alfred Boedekker, OFM. Floyd imbued St. Anthonys

with his spirit and innate kindness. Floyd greeted everyone he met as "brother or sister".

At first I thought it was quaint (it was language St. Francis used). As I got to know him, I

realized that it wasn't quaint, it was true. He believed all people were his brothers and

sisters; and he treated them as members of his family.

Floyd loved his fellow friars. He loved community. He lived a life in the spirit of

St. Francis, and he showed obvious affection for all his fellow Franciscans. Floyd encouraged

his community to embrace St. Anthonys and to become a part of it. His arms were always

open; and St. Anthonys became a living sacrament of Francis and Jesus and God, and Floyd

loved that spirit.

For over thirty years Floyd helped direct St. Anthonys; and it must have been so

hard to watch the needy grow and grow. What started out as an attempt to serve a mostly

male clientele from the city's skid row, turned into a multifaceted foundation that fed more

and more men, women, and children (35 million and counting); as well as providing clothing,

furniture, medical care, drug rehabilitation, protection from domestic violence, and so much

more. Floyd oversaw an explosion of services necessitated by an explosion of need. I once

asked him if he got depressed when he saw so many people in need coming through his doors.

Did he get angry that in the richest nation on earth (a Christian nation some say) that so

many people needed the help of St. Anthony's? He smiled and said I didn't understand. The

people he served "evangelized" him. The men, women, and children he greeted each day

showed him the face of God. He pointed out that they had so little, struggled each day for

food and shelter, were treated as second class citizens; and yet each day in the dining room

they would greet him with smiles, tell him how grateful they were, and wish him a good day.

Floyd was inspired by their humanity and the love they showed for each other. Floyd was

challenged to rise up above petty grievances or inconveniences, and had an appreciation for

life he says he never would have had had it not been for the people who came to the dining

room each day. They were his brothers and sisters.

Each year Floyd would hold the "Blessing of the Animals". He was inspired by

St. Francis' love of animals. Every year people brought dogs and cats, hamsters and guinea

pigs, and birds and snakes to St. Boniface to be blessed. It was noisy and messy and chaotic;

but it was typical Floyd. In the midst of the cacophony of animals and their owners, adults

and children, Floyd had a huge smile on his face and loved every minute.

One year, Floyd took his vacation by going to the island of Molokai and saying

Mass; and ministering to the lepers who lived on the island made famous by St. Damien.

A community that had been exiled to this island by those who were afraid and appalled

by them. Floyd would light up when talking about how they "allowed" him to be a part

of their community. He would tell stories about his time there, and the love and affection

he felt from them and for them. They were his brothers and sisters.

For eighteen years I sat with Floyd on Thanksgiving. We would talk about what

we should be thankful for and how grateful he was for all who made St. Anthonys possible

because St. Anthonys allowed him to serve his brothers and sisters. We would talk about

the needy, and how as a nation we had to care less about war and weapons, and more about

love and caring for each other. I brought my children to experience Floyd and the miracle

of Jones St. We left each year with our feet barely touching the ground. He had washed

over us all and reminded us about what was truly important, and to be grateful for the love

and affection we showed with each other.

Floyd Lotito created ripples amongst the weak and the powerful, the rich and

the poor, his fellow friars, and his friends. Jesus said "...I come to bring you life and life

to it's fullest", and Floyd Lotito lived a "full life" in every sense of the word. He took a vow

of poverty, but left a legacy of riches that may never be totally calculated.

In St. Matthew's Gospel, Chapter 25, people are standing in line to get into heaven.

Jesus reminds them that He was naked, hungry, sick, and in prison; and those who helped

were welcomed into paradise, and those who turned away were themselves turned away.

"When did we see you naked or hungry or sick or in prison?" they asked. "Whatever you

did for the least of your brothers and sisters, you did for me." Floyd lived out Matthew 25

his entire life. He is being escorted into Paradise by the angels and prophets. He listened

as he heard God say "...well done my good and faithful servant". I will miss him and his

ripples so much. Please send your comments to


  1. ripples, thanks friend for the reminder. I remember on sunday morning you awaken me with that idea and it has changes things for the better. tour a good man

  2. Good one. I remember in the mid-90s your God Talk was about your uncle who had passed away - the one who didn't become a priest. I laughed and cried through that one. My mother had just been diagnosed with cancer and wouldn't live out the year. I've always remembered that great story. Thanks Bernie!!!