The Fullness of Being Brother: Religious Brothers Day 2021

– Br. Michael, ofm


A common question asked to a religious brother is:

Why didn’t you go all the way?

To which a Brother will often respond with:

Pardon me?


To which the questioner expands:

Why didn’t you become a priest? Why did you stop at Brother?


To which a Brother will respond with all kindness:

This is not a stepping stone to priesthood or a lesser than vocation.

I didn’t stop at Brother; this is the fullness to which I am called.


To which the questioner will stare blankly or change the subject:

How about those rosary beads?

These questions really do get directed to us Religious Brothers or so as I’m also learning to other members of the fraternity. It can easily leave a Brother feeling frustrated or misunderstood. I like to take it with a grain of salt and as an opportunity to celebrate the vocation of being a Religious Brother.


Life as a Religious Brother is indeed a full life. I have never been made to feel lesser than or that my vocation is not as worthy as that of my Brothers who are priests. I may not have the same functions as a priest but that does not mean that I don’t contribute to the life of the church, fraternity or society. I have other opportunities that priests do not have and can contribute to the life of the church not simply in a sacramental way.


The fullness of my life as a religious Brother comes with ever changing roles and responsibilities. Some days I may be in full service to my fraternity, other days I may be serving the greater community and still on other days I may be journeying with an individual. Whether I’m cleaning the toilets (which is not a favorite task) or preparing the chapel I try to serve with a joy-filled heart. Whether I’m preparing a retreat or presenting one I approach it with an awareness of who I am in relationship with those on the retreat. Whether I’m companioning someone in spiritual direction or praying with an individual the dignity of that person is my focus.


The fullness of my life includes the privilege of praying for so many people and also creating space to listen for God’s voice not only in my life but what God is calling us to do here and now. My prayer life is woven into the relationships I have with so many people whether that is family and friends, or those I journey with on retreats or through spiritual direction or those who simply stop me and ask for prayers for themselves or loved ones.


As you can see the fullness of life as Religious Brother comes with variety. This would be true for any Religious Brother you meet. Our charisms and ministries impact the way we serve the church and the world, but at the heart of any Religious Brother is a heart of fraternity, service and hospitality. Every religious male or female, ordained or not claim these characteristics which is worthy and good and they should. I would like to think you can see them specifically exhibited and lived out with a fullness in the life of a Religious Brother. I believe it is what makes us approachable and relatable to so many people from all walks of life.

When I began my studies in Spiritual Direction, once the fascination of me wearing a habit wore off, it was the fact that I understood the stories and welcomed my colleagues from all walks of life. This is the reality of my vocation as Brother something real as fraternity, service and hospitality was not exclusive rather it was inclusive. Brother is not just a title; it is an embodiment of who I am and how I live my life. It is an embodiment of what a Brother is as one who strengthens connections between people and of being a companion, of being present and serving others. As a Brother, the value of relationships is so important for they foster a fraternity beyond the walls of our friaries bringing fraternity to the community, to creation and the whole world. Hopefully a compassionate, strengthening and healing bond of God among us.


I am I called to be a priest? The answer is no. Do I have some skills that I could use as a priest? You bet. Many people do (both men and women), but we do not all become ordained priests. In discernment I listen and pay attention to what is stirring in me. This was true when I began my journey to the Friars and continued through my formation years to my Solemn Vows and continues today. In the listening, in the quiet, in the sitting with God the word Brother continues to surface. I believe I continue to learn new ways of being a Brother for our fraternity, ministry and for our world. A world in desperate need of Brothers and Sisters who will listen and will encourage others to also build a more fraternal world.


To go back to that question:

Why didn’t you go all the way?


I respond with:

I did go all the way and every time I put on my habit, it’s not about being acknowledge or standing out, it is about humbly living out my vocation as Brother. Each time I put on my habit I am reminded that I put on Christ. I am also reminded that Christ is a brother to all and calls me to do the same in the specific vocation of Religious Brother.

And it’s not how about those Rosary beads? It’s do you know where I hide my rosary beads? haha!

May 1 is St. Joseph the Worker Feast Day and Religious Brothers Day. St. Joseph serves as a witness of working for the kingdom of God in hidden and even unknown ways. In this year dedicated to St. Joseph, I humbly ask for your continued prayers for Religious Brothers from all walks of life.

Much peace and all good!


Top photo credit: Emily Morter










Listen – Be – Do: Vocation Sunday 2021

                   – Br. Michael, ofm

The nearer you come to God in contemplation, the more you discover God as root of your action, author of your vocation, inspirer of your prophetic faculty, giver of your special talents. The further you penetrate the silence,

the more you feel yourself dwelt in by the Word.

– Carlo Carretto, Little Brothers of the Gospel

As we recognize Good Shepherd – Vocation Sunday the above quote speaks to me and my journey. Anyone who knows my story knows that it was not a lightning bolt moment which revealed a clear understanding of my vocation as a religious Brother. Those who journeyed with me knew that it was through much contemplation, lots of listening, consistent moments of quiet prayer, stories in scripture and purposeful dialogues which helped me discover another layer of my vocation.

I would say that from an early age I knew my core vocation was that of service. I knew I was called to work with people, both as individuals and in groups and teams to create encounters of life. To serve someone for me comes with a heart of hospitality and a desire for everyone to be part of the kingdom community. This gift of service was fostered through my growing years in our family business along with involvement in the local community and parish. It was also fostered by moments of quiet, time to create, time to sit with Christ and listen. I can think back to moments as a child of just needing to be quiet and as a teen of simply sitting in our church listening and even speaking with Jesus. I came to see that the vocation of service needed a balance of both doing and being. This has been a truth my whole life. Even when it is out of balance or sometimes skewed (as it is now in our current reality) I know that if I want to live centered in my vocation – my call to service, I need both contemplation and action.

Vocation Sunday is a day set aside by the Catholic Church to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It is a noble cause that is celebrating 58 years. As we continue to pray and encourage women and men to discern going into the harvest in these specific vocations, we also pray for those who are already priests and religious. It is in the encouraging that healthy vocations to the priesthood and religious life begin. They begin in the family home; vocations are not dropped down from heaven. I was not predestined to this way of life; I had to discover it and wrestle with it and listen well. I had to see living examples of marriages at work not just lovely photos. I had to see priests loving their ministry and those struggling to minister. I had to encounter religious communities on fire for the gospel and pray with church communities striving to build the kingdom. I had to equip myself with skills and then hone these skills of service so as not to simply be a gong booming. I had to have strong supports such as good friends with varying backgrounds, a reliable spiritual director, people praying for me (even if I didn’t know it) and random encounters to help me make space to be and evaluate my doing. All of these aided me in seeing how my vocation of service was one layer of the call to a vocation as a religious Brother.

Yes, Vocation Sunday is an opportunity to pray for women and men who are part of religious communities and the priesthood and those discerning their call to these ways of life. It is also a Sunday to pray for families, for parishes and the larger community to continue to be heralds of the good news, witnesses of the resurrection, examples of the renewal at work and places which invite conversations and contemplation as both the young and old fulfill their vocations. It is here that the still small voice awakening someone to the depth of their vocation is heard.

I come back to the quote I began with; it spoke to me because it speaks of connection. Connection with God. We connect with God through our relationships which fosters vocations lived well; lived for the kingdom of God.

God is indeed the root of my actions. When my actions don’t reflect the love of God, I am out of balance with my vocation but God does not abandon me, rather God walks with me until my actions are aligned again.

God is the author of my vocation, writing with me the story that needs to be told through my life. As God continues to author my story I am entrusted with the stories of others and their stories foster my vocation of service and of being a religious Brother.

God does inspire prophetic faculties or else I would have no words to write here, nor ways to create prayers or space for prayer. God invites me time and again to trust that God is at work and equipping me.

God is indeed the giver of special talents. Each one of us has abilities and skills to make the kingdom more beautiful, more inviting, more aware and more spacious. I do not produce these talents within myself on my own, I have to trust and believe that they are seeds planted by God and entrusted to me to grow and foster.

In my vocation I trust that the Word – Jesus himself dwells within me. He is the core of my heart, the lamp unto my feet and the thrust of my vocation to serve. He is the still small voice which whispers each day, “I am with you always… come and follow me.”

Photo Credits:

Gabrielle Clare Marino

Peter Dlhy

Christopher Sardegna














Easter: In our Midst – Mary Magdalene

                   – Br. Michael, ofm


Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance…. Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” 

                                                                                          – John 20. 1,18



Click on the link below to go to an experience of one the Easter Sunday stories in a contemporary setting. The video was crafted and created by Otto Rieder, age 12.


St. Mary Magdalene – the Apostle to the Apostles, is our companion for this Easter Season. She is our companion as we rejoice in the good news of the resurrection. She, the one entrusted to share the good news of the resurrection of Jesus indeed walks with us helping us to see and hear good news in our life. She is our companion asking us to remember, return and recall the gifts of being an Easter people.


Come with me to the empty tomb,

Come and see what I have seen.

Come and know the truth I know

come and see: He lives! He lives!


Come with me to the empty tomb

Remember his stories and ways.

Remember his message of love so deep.

Remember the promise: He would rise!


Come with me to the empty tomb

Return with hope and great joy.

Return to your loved ones renewed.

Return with good news: Our Savior reigns!


Come with me to the empty tomb

Recall that he will be with us always.

Recall that his new life is ours too.

Recall the gift: Peace be with you!


Come with me to the empty tomb,

Come and see what I have seen.

Come and know Jesus Christ is alive.

Come and see! Alleluia! Alleluia!


Saint Mary Magdalene

walk with us and pray for us.

Easter Blessings!



Alleluia! Christ is Risen! Alleluia!








No new posts for the next couple of weeks.



Icon: “Turn Toward the Good” – Mary Magdalene

Divine Mercy Risen Jesus

by C. Ziprick – Soul Sibling Studios ©

Easter Litany

Mount St. Francis invites you to pause and reflect on the message and meaning of Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus is such a profound mystery that we need time to ponder the depths of this marvelous work of the Lord. The Church sets aside 50 days to commemorate this glorious event. Let us rejoice and be glad! Alleluia, alleluia!