Each year St. Anthony’s celebrates our founder, Father (Fr.) Alfred Boeddeker, by giving an award in his name to those who carry out his mission to “feed, heal, shelter, clothe, and lift the hearts of those in need.”
This year, the award will honor Fr. John Hardin, OFM, a man who followed Fr. Alfred by becoming a Franciscan and by serving hope daily at St. Anthony’s.
As Executive Director, Fr. John helped reshape St. Anthony’s programs to fit changing needs in a changing economy. He helped prepare the organization for the demands of the 21st century by replacing our deteriorated original building with two new, more efficient ones. He has been noted for connecting emotionally with our guests, and for his Franciscan qualities of personalism and joy.
John Hardin graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in mathematics and was successful in the transportation business before entering the Franciscans. On his first trip overseas, John was eating dinner at the Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong harbor when he looked out and saw a group of boat people coming in from Vietnam. “The nickel dropped. I was having a great time and not worrying about anything, and here were these people who had barely survived a very dangerous journey to escape Vietnam and certainly did not know where they were going to get their next meal.” Once at home, he went to a retreat center and met the Franciscans for the first time. He has now been in the order for thirty-five years.
Fr. John lived at St. Boniface with Fr. Alfred from 1986 to 1991. “Alfred’s motto was: visualize, organize, deputize, and supervise,” says Fr. John. “And when I laughingly added ‘agonize,’ he would say ‘No, no, never agonize. Remember you are doing God’s work.’”
Fr. John feels that he shares Fr. Alfred’s passion for the poor, seeing not only guests, but also staff, volunteers, and donors as part of one community. Where he finds himself to be different is in his more direct involvement in social change and advocacy for the marginalized. After his stint as the head of the West Coast Franciscans, he hopes to return to the Tenderloin as a street minister.
“In a funny way, my past is a way of describing God writing straight with crooked lines. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be here in this historic time for the Church and to be able to do my small part in building the kingdom of God here in this small corner of the world.”