“Before graduation, you told me, Father Provincial, that I might enter the Franciscan Order before August 15, 1944. I have been going to Quigley but that life does not appeal to me. I would like the Order better.”
-Taken from a letter written by Joseph Affelt to Fr. Isidore Cwiklinski.
The vocational journey of Joseph Affelt brought his dream of becoming a Franciscan to the doorstep of Fr. Isidore Cwiklinski, Provincial Minister of the ABVM Province, Pulaski, Wisconsin. It was August 1944.However, the 18 year old began those formative vocation years earlier in Lemont, Illinois on July 11, 1926 when Joseph and Stella (née Kujawa) gave birth to their son, Joseph. He was baptized the next day, July 12, 1926 at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish Church, Lemont, IL.
Joseph’s elementary school education took place at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish Grade School, Lemont, IL. He then attended St. Bonaventure Minor Seminary High School, Sturtevant, Wisconsin from 1940-1944. After a brief stint at Quigley Seminary, Chicago, Illinois, Joseph entered the Novitiate of the ABVM Province, Pulaski, WI. on August 14, 1944, receiving the name, Francis. He made simple profession on August 15, 1945 and attended St. Francis College, Burlington, WI, from 1945-1949. On August 15, 1948, he professed solemn vows at ABVM Monastery, Pulaski, WI. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1952 at Lourdes Seminary Chapel, Cedar Lake, Indiana, by Bishop Leo Pursley.
In 1954, Frank began his service in internal ministry of the Province. His first assignment was as assistant provincial procurator, and for the next 42 years would be involved in the finances of the Province. However, he not only confined his gifts to the procurator’s office. He was often called upon to provide spiritual advice and encouragement to the students who attended St. Joseph Brothers School in Pulaski. In the midst of his administrative responsibilities, he was tapped by the General Administration in Rome to be Visitator General of the Commissariat of the Most Holy Savior (Slovak Franciscans). Once again, his keen insights and pastoral attention served the friars of the Custody in an excellent way.
Throughout the years of service in the Provincial Procurator’s Office, Frank was also an advocate for senior housing in the town of Pulaski. He worked tirelessly in obtaining affordable housing for senior citizens in the area. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and offered his expertise to the Historical Society of Pulaski.
When he was not in the office, Frank could be found in the woods that surrounded the friary. There he wielded a mighty axe, taking care of downed trees and clearing the walking paths. He delighted in the gift of God’s creation and enjoyed his regular visits to Villa Alvernia in upper Wisconsin.
In 1996, Frank was asked to accept an assignment that would take him from Pulaski, WI. There was a need for a friar to serve as chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Mishawaka, Indiana. Having just obtained his driver’s license, Frank set out for Mishawaka, arriving safe and sound and ready to serve. Once again, Frank’s ability to combine his spiritual insights with his academic mind made him a good fit for the Sisters. For the next 22 years Frank served the Sisters with due diligence. However, age and health concerns helped him make the decision to leave the Sisters and move to Queen of Peace Friary, Burlington.
With his body more and more frail, Frank agreed to move to the Milwaukee Catholic Home, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he would have round the clock nursing attention. It was there on June 24, 2022 in early evening that he made his way through the gates of Sister Death into the dawn of glory.
He was in the 96th year of his life, the 77th year of his religious profession and the 70th year of his priesthood.
May the soul of Frank Affelt and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.