Folding 1,000 Paper Cranes

Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. participated in a peace vigil in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, on Monday, September 9, 2019. The vigil was held next to the new Chapel at Holy Cross Retreat Center, where Fr. Tom is the Director. He said, "The music reminded me of peace vigils from the 60s and 70s, yet the theme and need are very current."

One thousand paper cranes were donated to the City of Las Cruces during the vigil.

In Japanese culture, it is believed that if someone folds 1,000 paper cranes their wish will come true. These origami cranes are a symbol of hope and healing.

In addition to the Franciscan presence, there were representatives from many other faiths, including Judaism and Buddhism, as well as groups representing Asian Americans, the disabled, the Latino Community, the American Indian Student Center, and others.

The non-political event included representatives from the community speaking on the universal values of Love, Tolerance, Freedom, and Dignity.

God’s Family and Our Own

Making Retreats a Tradition

"You are worth it!"

In the latest episode of Franciscan Voice, Brother Bob Roddy OFM Conv., Retreat Director at Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, explains how families have found healing, strengthened connections, and grown closer to God by going on retreat together. Retreats provide the quiet time we need to listen to the Holy Spirit and move towards becoming the people God wants us to be. And, Br. Bob reminds us, like the long ago L'Oréal ad said: "You are worth it!"

Update from Bro. Tony


On Friday I got a copy of the 4-minute video which the Zambia TV station showed of our Dedication of the Lecture Auditorium. I wanted to share it with you. Check out the singing of our students. It is a Bemba hymn in thanksgiving after Communion.



The Minister is the first woman to get a doctorate form the Zambian University. She is a dedicated Catholic and outspoken on issues in her ministries. We are looking to her Ministry to be of some assistance to the Boarding School Unit we hope to build.


So, What Does a Brother Do?

by Friar Ian Bremar, OFM Conv.

(Ed. Note: This reflection first appeared in 2016. We are sharing it again in honor of May 1st, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and Religious Brothers Day.)

And the Lord gave me brothers…St. Francis

When I tell people I'm a Franciscan brother, one of the responses I often hear is, “So what does a brother do?” Usually I smile and say, “Well... it's not so much a matter of what we do as it is who we are.”

brothers at carey002Religious brothers do many different things. They are retreat directors, teachers, professors, missionaries, nurses, administrators, chaplains, campus ministers, social workers, carpenters, cooks, writers, artists, and many other things. But their unique and oftentimes overlooked vocation is to be a certain kind of man in this world.

All of the baptized have been called to a life of holiness and to give witness to Christ in their lives. Whether one is married, ordained, single, or a religious, each person expresses that universal call of baptism in a particular way. For religious, living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience give witness to the life of Christ, and to the future resurrected life of all humanity in the heavenly kingdom. Consecrated religious are called to be a light within the Church as the Church is meant to be Christ's light in our world.

Religious priests, sisters, and brothers all partake in this kind of witness, but each in their own way. They remind the Church that we are all sisters and brothers in Christ with the same Father in Heaven. Women religious offer the unique gift of sisterhood and make known the feminine experience and reality of a life in Christ. Brothers, as men who live in community and as brothers to the human family, similarly are witnesses to fraternity in a world that is so often divided and in which human relations at all levels are breaking down. Just as religious sisters bring to the Church their unique gifts as women, so brothers, with a masculine perspective, offer their gifts to the Church as men.

Ian and Joseph wash feetThere is something especially counter-cultural about the brotherhood vocation. Often I am asked, “So why don't you become a priest?” or “Why not go all the way?” There is something subversive about men who willingly choose to pursue paths in life which eschew roles of direct authority, that necessarily put them under the authority of others. It is startling to some that a man, who has not followed the path of father and husband for the sake of a life committed to the Church, would not readily seek to become a priest.

Herein lies, I think, the distinct perspective that the brotherhood vocation offers. A religious brother lives out a calling to service in ways that the world does not expect for a man. A brother is not a parent nor pastor nor priest, but his vocation is not defined by what he is not. A brother is a brother, and like a brother in a family, he serves and relates with the other members in that unique capacity.

I think of growing up with my own brother. We were not friends, and he wasn't a parent to me, but we shared a bond that was unconditional. We were equally loved by our parents, yet, as he was the older and more experienced brother, I looked to him for leadership and guidance. Likewise, it isn't that brothers forgo or run from leadership and responsibility, but that they exercise their responsibilities in the Church familially, as brothers and equals to their fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.

Again, I am reminded of my own brother, who, though he does not yet have a family of his own, is quite the “family man” when we all get together – setting a light-hearted tone, helping at the grill, playing games with the grandkids. So too the religious brother is like that “family man” of the Church – not the parental figure, but one who walks with the People of God and enjoys the life in Christ with and among them.

Whatever I “do” as a brother, I hope that I will do it sincerely as one called to be a brother to others, a family man in the Church.

Celebrating Brothers


May 1st is the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker. In 2017, this day was also established as Religious Brothers Day.

Religious brothers do many different things. They are retreat directors, teachers, professors, missionaries, nurses, administrators, canon lawyers, chaplains, campus ministers, social workers, carpenters, cooks, writers, artists, and many other things. In the photo above are three of the religious brothers that minister at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio - Br. Randy Kin, Br. Ian Bremer, and Br. Angelo Catania.

Please take a little time to thank the Brothers in your life.

For a little more about Brothers, listen to the podcast from Br. Randy Kin - "Just a Brother?" and watch the video (part of a series about mendicant friars, especially the Conventual Franciscans and the Dominican Friars) "Friar Equals Brother."


Don’t Be Lukewarm


"So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16)

What does this mean? Fr. John Bamman discusses this difficult passage focusing on:
How do we know we are doing what God wants us to do?


Brotherhood Beyond Borders


Fr. Paul Schloemer, OFM Conv., is the Formation Director in San Antonio, Texas. In our latest episode of Franciscan Voice, Fr. Paul talks about vocation, formation, vows, and how the Conventual Franciscan Order is a global brotherhood. No matter where a Friar is from "a Friar is a Friar." A Conventual Franciscan Friar is grounded in the first line of the Rule of St. Francis. The rule and life of these brothers is this: to live in obedience, in chastity, and without anything of their own, and to follow the teaching and the footprints of Our Lord Jesus Christ...The heart of the Rule is the Gospel.


It is All Good


And it takes work to keep it that way! Check out the latest episode of Franciscan Voice!

Is it the end of the world? Yes, but not the way you think….”

The Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) is confounding, confusing, and mysterious. But Friar Jude Winkler OFM Conv. simplifies it for us, breaking it down to a very personal level.


My kids don’t go to mass – What can I do?

A Conversation with Friar Jude Winkler