“Come, follow me!” Jesus’s words seem so simple and direct. The first twelve took up the call. Their lives, and indeed, all of history, changed. Since those first apostles and disciples, countless other men and women have taken up the call. And in responding to Jesus’s call, they have changed the course of their lives and the lives of those they have touched. You and I know the stories of how generously Peter, James, John, and the others responded to Jesus’s call. Just as Christ called them, he calls us in our day and age. Who will respond to become like Jesus and answer his call?
I am proud and grateful to share with you that thousands of young men are responding to Jesus’s call to lives of ministry and prayer as Franciscan missionary friars. Franciscan friar Lifacky Marcel, OFM has answered Christ’s call. Thanks to your prayers and generosity, Brother Lifacky is studying for the priesthood and working for Christ as a young friar. He left his village of Dembia in the Central African Republic, and his family of 12 sisters and brothers, for the town of Rafaï. There he attended a Franciscan College, St. François d’Assise. This is where he met Franciscan friars for the first time. He was attracted to his new understanding of the Franciscan charism to live according to the Gospel, which he believes is to imitate the life of Jesus, who left his throne to save humanity.
To become like Jesus
The Franciscans leave everything. They willingly become poor to serve the poor and help them improve their lives. He also liked the fact that in the Franciscan Order, the friars live as brothers of the same family, or Fratelli Tuti, which means “All Brothers.” Br. Lifacky is just one example of many young men around the world who are answering Jesus’s call to follow him. The Franciscan Order has 2,177 young, energetic, joy-filled men who are ready to let go of everything and embrace the way of life proposed by Saint Francis of Assisi. They live in Franciscan formation houses around the world. Many come from poor, developing areas of our world where their Franciscan presence is needed.
There are 445 Franciscan postulants, 323 Franciscan novices, and 1,409 young friars are in temporary vows. There are hundreds of other young men we refer to as aspirants. These young men are considering their possible vocation to join our Franciscan Order. Many provincials have written to me seeking financial assistance to cover the basic costs of providing for the young friars who are studying to become priests or to serve as lay brothers. Unless they receive major outside assistance, they will not be able to cover basic costs for the spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of these 2,177 young men, and many of them may be turned away.
Please help these young men follow Christ by giving a donation to help pay for the formation of a Franciscan missionary priest, who will help the poor for his entire lifetime. Your gift will keep on giving! On average, it costs about $3,500 per year to educate and form a young Franciscan seminarian to serve as a missionary priest. This is a great value. In the United States, it can cost as much as $50,000 for a year of seminary education! Br. Lifacky and the other Franciscan seminarians are striving to be faithful, holy witnesses to Jesus Christ.
Will you walk with them as they follow Christ?
Do you see why the blessing of over 2,177 young men in formation presents us with a heavy financial burden? But together with you, we can carry it joyfully and gratefully. I am writing to a very select group of Franciscan friends. I am asking you to please consider making a significant sacrifice today so that our Church may have good, holy, and healthy young priests in the years ahead. You can help prepare a young man to dedicate his life to serving God and the poor as a Franciscan! These men are a gift of hope and new life for the Church. The healing touch of Jesus will live through their work with the poor for many years. You have been so generous in the past. Please help them to become like Jesus.
A gift of $3,500 to pay for one year of seminary training would be a miracle! And every such miracle would be rewarded with a sponsorship of an individual seminarian. You would receive a picture and the name of the seminarian you are sponsoring and updates on his progress. You will have the option of supporting the same seminarian until his ordination. Your sponsorship will help a grateful servant of God to give his entire life to serving the poor. Would you be able to make a special gift of a $1,000? We have a Legacy Book that contains the names of people who make that gift to help prepare Franciscan missionary priests. It is in our Franciscan Missions Chapel to remind our friars and seminarians to pray for those whose generosity supports them.
Any gift you make will be greatly appreciated! Thank you for answering Jesus’s call to follow him. Your life of charity and caring for others is a sure sign that you, like Br. Lifacky and St. Francis, have answered Jesus’s call to follow him! I thank God for you, and I thank you with all my heart.
Yours in Christ,
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. Please be generous in your support of our Franciscan formation students. Your gift of whatever you can send would really help! I assure you that our Franciscan priests, brothers, and seminarians are grateful for your prayerful support and remember you in their daily Masses and prayers.