Fr. Matt ’73 and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Dear St. Francis Alumni:

Peace and All Good. I hope this note finds you well.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has asked to honor the Conference of Charity of Old Mission Santa Inés and me at their annual Benefit this May 24th, 2017. I am both humbled and honored by this invitation.

This year, the Benefit will be highlighting the Society’s efforts to enrich, empower and transform the lives of children, especially the poor, through St. Vincent’s Circle V Ranch Summer Camp in Santa Barbara, CA.  As pastor I have supported this summer camp by celebrating Mass and promoting it among our needy children.

After much discussion and prayer, I/we have accepted this invitation for two reason. The first is obvious – to help these children grow in self-worth through the love of Jesus. The second goes to the heart of a parish’s Conference of Charity – to help a parishioner grow in holiness through their work with the poor.

You know me. I am not comfortable with being honored. Yet, for this greater good I am humbly requesting your support of these goals.  May I ask you to please join me in supporting these children who need this experience of Jesus in their lives? Your presence at the Benefit, gift, or sponsorship will help these children learn self-worth through His personal love. And you – you will grow in holiness.  This is Jesus’ promise, not mine.

Please visit the event website ( to explore ways to support this initiative.

Thank you for your consideration. As a fellow St. Francis alum, please know that you continue to be in my prayers.

Take care, and God bless,

Father Matthew G. Elshoff, OFM Cap. ’73


St. Francis Says Farewell to Sr. Barbarine

For the past twenty-seven years, Sister Barbarine Houdek has served as a pillar of Franciscan spirituality, a loving mentor, and a caring friend for the faculty/staff members and thousands of young men that have passed through the doors of St. Francis High School. Her steadfast commitment to embodying the Franciscan virtues has also influenced everyone she has encountered in the local community. During her long tenure at the school, she has worked diligently as a consummate educator, serving as the librarian and teaching English. However, Sr. Barbarine’s positive impact has certainly extended well beyond the classroom and library. As a participant and supporter of countless Kairos retreats, morning Liturgies, enriching school activities, service trips, pilgrimages, theater productions, and Golden Knight football games, she has always been on hand to offer an encouraging presence, a joyful smile, and sound advice. Most importantly, her commitment to prayer on behalf of others has undoubtedly impacted many lives well beyond her sphere of influence. Consequently, it is with a heavy, but grateful, heart that the St. Francis family must say farewell to this special member of our community as she retires at the youthful age of ninety and returns to live with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate in Joliet, Illinois.

St. Francis High School

St. Francis High School

Sr. Barbarine was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1925, in Calmar, Iowa. She discovered her vocation as an aspirant while attending high school at St. Francis Academy in Joliet, IL. Upon graduating, she became a postulant with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate and attending the College of St. Francis (now the University of St. Francis) and majored in history. After completing her undergraduate degree and her time as a novice, Sr. Barbarine transitioned into the classroom as a teacher. She completed her master’s degree in theater arts from Northern Illinois University in 1979 and moved to Southern California to work as a religion and theater arts teacher at Notre Dame High School in Riverside. Over the course of the next ten years, she taught at St. Monica Catholic H.S., Alverno H.S., Our Lady of Corvallis H.S., and Salesian H.S. With her heart set on working with the Capuchin Franciscans, Sr. Barbarine was thrilled by the opportunity to work as an English teacher at St. Francis beginning in 1989. Inspired by her mentor, Mary Ida Fair, St. Barbarine transitioned into the position of the full-time librarian where she has meticulously and diligently served the needs of the students for nearly three decades.

Sr. Barbarine will be dearly missed but her legacy will live on at St. Francis High School and in those she has so deeply touched throughout her time of service at the school. We wish her many more years of health and happiness as she continues her ministry back in her home state of Illinois.

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – August 2015

Dear St. Francis Family,

As we begin a new school year, I want to extend a very warm welcome to all returning to our campus and especially to the new members of St. Francis High School family. I believe this will be another exciting year for us!

While our beautiful May Baccalaureate Mass and graduation are still fresh in my mind, I am amazed at how quickly summer has gone by! I hope that you and your family had a joyful time during our recess.

St. Francis of Assisi said to his friars: “Let us begin brothers to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress.” St. Francis wanted to remind his followers that we must always reflect on our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters, and dedicate ourselves to honoring God and reaching out to others.

As classes resume and the summer quiet is replaced with the energy and enthusiasm of over six-hundred Golden Knights, we are reminded that our work as spiritual leaders and educators never stops. We are called to commit once again, to our mission that enriches the hearts and minds of the young gentlemen of St. Francis High School.

Each morning, I enjoy standing in the driveway and greeting our students. I know that for some, the end of summer vacation can be difficult, but they soon realize that the high school chapter in their lives will bear fruit and will help them develop into exceptional young gentlemen. I believe that we have been blessed with very fine returning students and a very fine freshman class.

I am sure that I will see many of you at the various events held on campus. So, let’s remind ourselves that our work is so very important and must continue. We are called to do our work with joy and dedication knowing that all of our students deserve the very best from us.

Please know that you are remembered in my daily prayers and Mass.

May the Lord give you His Peace!

Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Cap.

Mr. Moran’s Address to the Graduates – May 23, 2015

As a graduate, you have committed to living Franciscan virtues and sharing them with your communities. We are not just suggesting your involvement, but mandating your commitment. There’s an allegory comparing the difference between involvement and commitment to preparing bacon and eggs. It concludes the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

To illustrate what a man committed to Franciscan values looks like, I want you to consider a true Franciscan leader, Mr. Pete Brang. As the last class to graduate on his watch, your exemplary behavior and character are products of that commitment.

You may only know him for inspiring you in AP US History, the agony of a visit to his office, or from serving detention. Some knew him as cross country and track coach, Kairos leader, or driving instructor. There’s the whistle that simultaneously paralyzes 600 students and Foothill Blvd. traffic. More have known him for the support he offered when they struggled with a personal problem, failed to fit in, or needed a father figure.

Before meeting the man with the grammatically incorrect name in my first year, I overheard: “Mr. Brang to the office.” Brang, I thought? Maybe they are testing me to see if I really have an English degree. I learned quickly that having Mr. Brang’s support was essential for survival.

At that time, he was the Dean of Discipline, a title that implied punishment. But, an important connection exists between the secular word “discipline” and the spiritual term “disciple.” Its Latin derivation connotes “teaching, learning, and knowledge.” These are all elements of Mr. Brang’s approach; more have benefited from this wisdom than his lessons on the Constitution, Civil War, or Depression. Those who embraced his discipline became disciples. They discovered what former football coach Bum Phillips advocated: “The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”

Upon joining the Administration, I observed his ability to make quick decisions, his instincts in influencing different individuals, his belief in “servant leadership,” and his concern for each person on this campus. Most important was his tireless commitment to support every St. Francis activity.

You can find examples of all sixteen Franciscan virtues in Mr. Brang’s career. Integrity, humility, compassion, simplicity, brotherhood, peace and justice, and service are obvious. But it also encompasses things that may not be as evident-important qualities like joy, generosity, faithfulness, hospitality, charity, goodness, prayer, acceptance, and peacemaking. You can include traditional values like toughness, fairness, reliability, loyalty, respect, and dedication. Dealing with Mr. Brang is like going to the dentist. It’s not the association with pain; it’s that you don’t appreciate it until later.

He is a long-distance runner whose marathon career is nearing the finish line. The high expectations he placed on himself and others are reminiscent of the words of another legendary runner, Steve Prefontaine: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Allow me to deviate from formal grammar to state: day in and day out, for forty-four years, Pete “Brang” it.

You may not have a career like his, but you can model his commitment. As you leave St. Francis, know that you and your brothers, by your character, are his legacy. Any discipline you have learned was his gift. In moments of crisis, pretend he is watching. Live a life committed to Franciscan virtues. Don’t just do it for St. Francis. Do it for Pete’s sake.

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – March 2015

Dear St. Francis Family,

Les Miserables is a French historical novel written by Victor Hugo. It was first published in 1862 and it shared the lives and struggles of several characters including an ex-convict, Jean Valjean. True to the novel, the recent performances of Les Miserables here at St. Francis High School, express these challenges and gratefully, the ultimate and renewing experience of redemption.


Redemption is a theme that seems rather fitting in the liturgical season of Lent. During our forty-day journey, we often look for ways to become closer to God. We look for ways that will make us better, stronger and more faith-filled people. We pray more. We give up sweets and other temptations. We try to be more “God-like” – all with the goal of being renewed and receiving some “redemption”. Redemption calls to mind an action of saving one from sin, error or evil. Redemption, then, mirrors spiritual cleansing in that it projects thoughtful and determined action that encourage us to turn away from evil and turn toward what we know is good and loving. Redemption calls us to turn toward God, our Heavenly Father.

Last month, I ended my letter to you by wishing you all a “Happy Lent”. It’s a different way of thinking about one’s forty-day journey than a solemn Lent filled with themes of doing without. By seeking redemption, we are truly looking to become more “God-like”. We are looking to live the words of the Gospel and St. Francis. We are looking to put our Franciscan virtues in action. By doing these things and actively engaging in our journey, we will experience redemption, just like Jean Valjean did in Les Miserables. That ought to be a primary focus then, of our Lenten journey – we ought to keep the end result in sight. After forty days of conscious and dedicated commitment, we will be redeemed!

I would like to congratulate our director, Mr. Eulalia, our Visual and Performing Arts Department and our student cast and crew of Les Miserables – your tremendous efforts are to be commended. With sold-out performances and standing ovations, your work was just magnificent. Bravo!

Let me end once again by wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Lent. Redemption will be ours to share Easter Sunday.

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti
OFM Cap. President

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – January 2015

Dear St. Francis Family,

As we concluded 2014, we heard commentaries about the most important news stories of the year and how they affected a number of countries and people. I am sure that some of the events roused feelings of joy, sadness, frustration and even anger. In a world as the one in which we live, we are affected in some way or another no matter how far we live from “the news story”. Our world has become very small because of the way we communicate, travel and how collectively, we as a global people are affected by different events.

Without disregarding the concerns we have for people far away from us, we must also think and reflect on the issues that pertain to our families and how they affect our personal lives and the people with whom we interact daily.

Here at St. Francis, we focus not only on academics, athletics, visual arts, clubs, service and many activities, but also on issues that affect your sons’ lives deeply. Some of the issues have to do with relationships that are essential to their development and spirituality.

At the beginning of a new year, it is customary to make resolutions. I suggest we all look at items that have an impact on the young men we educate and try to help in so many ways. Perhaps as parents, you might look to spend more time with your sons (and daughters), try to be more communicative (and I know this is not always easy with boys and with young people in general), encourage them to be more open with you, be open with them, realize that events in your own lives can have a significant effect on your children’s lives, and last but not least, speak with them about their spiritual well-being. This last item might have the greatest impact as they realize the importance their relationships, or lack of, with God, and others, can affect their daily activities.

Here at St. Francis, we are ready and happy to be of help in every way possible. The formation of your sons, academically and as a person, is a priority year after year. The fruits of your labor and ours will be manifested as they mature and move into a higher educational environment and later on in life. Let’s always be positive and continue working together.

May God fill your new year with joy, opportunities and courage to face whatever challenges may lie ahead of you. You will continue to be remembered in my prayers and at my daily Masses.

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti
OFM Cap. President

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – December 2014

Dear St. Francis Family,

The Christmas season is a magical time and it presents moments to express gratitude, joy, love and hope. It is fitting then, that we express our gratefulness to you, our St. Francis family, for your unconditional love and compassion.

We are thankful for the laughter, smiles and talents of our students, for the support, sacrifices and care of their parents, and for the dedicated work of our faculty and staff. We give thanks for our alumni who share what it is to be a Golden Knight with our global community. We are grateful to parents of graduates and dear friends of St. Francis, for believing and supporting our educational mission.

We also remember in our prayers all the men and women in the Armed Forces and in law enforcement who risk their lives to protect our country and our freedom.

We pray that we all may continue giving ourselves to others and that we may experience each day the presence of the babe lying in a manger, the Lord of Lords, the Messiah, Christ the Savior.

May Christmas Day and the entire Christmas season be filled with peace and joy for our families and for our country. This is our prayer for you that we say in the name of the humble and poor Jesus born in Bethlehem who lives with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God forever and ever.

Christmas Blessings!

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti
OFM Cap. President

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – July 2014

Dear St. Francis family,

Our Holy Father would say to the friars “Let us begin again, brothers, for up until now we have done little or nothing.” The admonition from St. Francis to begin again, reminds us that there is always something that we are called to do to honor God and to serve others.

As we begin another school year, we must realize that there are so many things we are called to do to help with the education of the young men here at St. Francis High School. For me, it is always exciting to welcome a new freshman class and to welcome back our returning students. Every year new students energize our St. Francis family and give us hope and joy amidst the tremendous expectations that come with the rigors of a college preparatory program.

The young men that will join our Golden Knights this year will begin a transformation in their lives. This transformation will include academic challenges, spiritual growth, and exposure to Franciscan virtues that will influence their interactions with their brother Golden Knights and others. Our returning students will continue their journey as they also grow in maturity and realize more and more of the need we all have to nurture our relationship with God and others.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with your sons, your families, and with our faculty and staff. I am so blessed to be here at St. Francis High School and to enjoy the best job I have ever had in my entire life. My pastoral work, along with my administrative responsibilities, brings me great joy and I am very excited to begin my seventh year as President of St. Francis High School. As always, I will continue to do my best to maintain our school’s values and to provide a Catholic college preparatory education in the Capuchin Franciscan tradition of love and discipline.

May the Lord give you His blessings!

Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Cap.

Address to the Graduates

Delivered by Mr. Thomas Moran to the Class of 2014 on Saturday, May 24, 2014:

I was having a difficult time deciding what to say today, so I asked my wife for advice. She told me: “Don’t try to be too charming, witty, or intellectual. Just be yourself.”

Appropriately humbled, I had an uncharacteristic charming, witty, intellectual idea: what better message to give to a St. Francis graduate than “just be yourself”? Recommending that to any group of young men in a different environment might be the worst advice one could offer. But, having observed your development over the past four years, I feel confident in saying that to you. You have grown spiritually, had your minds and hearts enriched, and embraced the concept of brotherhood.

While not every one of you has the ability to be an exceptional intellectual, a stellar athlete, or an outstanding artist, each one of you is capable of goodness. Being a good person transcends all socioeconomic lines, ethnic, gender, and age groups, and takes no particular talent.

As the culminating Franciscan virtue of your careers, goodness embodies all of the other fifteen that were taught. Dennis Prager wrote: “Goodness is about character-integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.” We have noticed you manifest your goodness often: in classrooms, on campus, at retreats and Christian Service, on athletic fields, and in artistic endeavors. We pray this extends beyond our boundaries.

At the end of the day, while it might be nice to be charming, witty, or intellectual (and many of you are), it is far more important to be authentically, simply, humbly good. Yet in the world you are headed toward, goodness is not celebrated as much as excellence, so continue your path to goodness by practicing other Franciscan virtues:

Humility: as CS Lewis reminds us, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Integrity: Harvey Mackay said: “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

Compassion: Albert Schweitzer wrote: “The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion, and the will to help others.”

Service: In his graduation speech “You Are Not Special,” David McCullough stated: “The great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Beginning this afternoon, your goodness will not be based on solid color tucked-in polos and Dockers, your grooming, nor your ability to follow our handbook. It will be determined by how well you have integrated Franciscan virtues into your life. As St. Francis professed: “Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary.” A St. Francis graduate’s actions not only define him, but potentially impact and influence others. Those actions will speak louder than your academic pursuits, personal characteristics, or temporal achievements, however substantial those may be.

So, as you move into the next phase of your life, don’t try to be too charming, witty, or intellectual. “Just be yourself.” Do try to be a Golden Knight, a man of virtue, a man of goodness. “Just be yourself.”

On behalf of the Board of Directors, our friars, faculty and staff, we send you forth with our love for goodness’ sake. Congratulations class of 2014!

From the Desk of Fr. Tony – May 2014

Dear St. Francis family,

When you work at a college preparatory school, it is hard not to get nostalgic at this time of year. There are a range of emotions – joy as I see the visible transformation of freshmen, who arrived at orientation as boys and have grown and matured considerably over the last several months. They have certainly added to the young men of St. Francis High School. Sophomores and juniors have noticeably embodied Franciscan attributes – those qualities that exemplify who we are and how we choose to live our daily lives – gratefully, there is a strong sense of brotherhood, faithfulness, service and goodness. And of course, there are our senior students who may literally be counting the days until graduation weekend! What a journey it has been.

There have undoubtedly been highs and lows along the way. Perhaps there were times when you felt, “the agony of defeat” only to be lifted back up and encouraged to press on by your St. Francis brothers and family. I certainly hope this was the case. Maybe it was your inner strength – your faith and belief in Jesus Christ and the teachings of Francis that carried you on. Whatever it was – remember the courage and strength you committed yourself to that enabled you to overcome adversity, no matter how big or small the challenge. On the flip side, I have seen tremendous joy in your eyes, in your smiles, and in your “fist pumps” as I walk our campus. I have seen how your diligent work in the classroom has paid big dividends with acceptances to selective colleges, impressive numbers earning honor roll, and strong results on AP exams. I marvel at your efforts that extend beyond the classroom – on the athletic field, in the weight room, throughout our theater and KNIT television studio, and in service to our broader community. I applaud your desires to be faithful and live a faith-filled life. Know that your journey does not end here – take this spirit with you as you go off to college and continue on in our world. Life will continue to challenge and reward you. Actively seek a life that enriches your mind and heart and allows you to enrich the minds and hearts of others, especially those brothers and sisters who are most in need.

As we prepare for the final weeks of our 2013-2014 academic year, know that my heart is filled with many emotions. Like you, I feel the fatigue that accompanies that final spring push. This is far outweighed by the joy I feel in seeing our mission put into action each and every day at St. Francis High School. I believe your minds and hearts have been enriched. I know mine certainly have. Be sure to take this example home with you – share it with those you love – share it with those who need God’s love most. Best wishes to the class of 2014 – may our Heavenly Father bless you and watch over you! And to all Golden Knights, continue to study hard and make each day count!

Yours in Jesus and Francis,

Fr. Tony Marti, OFM Cap.