December 14, 2016 // Local

Three Franciscan Friars Minor take perpetual vows

Three Franciscan Friars Minor prepare to take their solemn vows during Mass at St. Andrew Church, Fort Wayne. From left to right are Brother Mark Maria, Brother Joseph Maria and Brother Peter Marie. — John Martin

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On Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, hundreds of people gathered at St. Andrew Church in Fort Wayne for the Mass during which three men professed their solemn vows as Franciscan Friars Minor. After several years of discernment and temporary vows, Brother Mark Maria of Our Lady, Star of the Sea; Brother Joseph Maria of Our Lady of Peace; and Brother Peter Marie of the Immaculate Heart of Mary professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, along with a fourth vow of consecration to Mary Immaculate, in the hands of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, the celebrant of the Mass.

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades reflected on the first word of the angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation, the Gospel of the Mass. The first word of Gabriel to Mary was “rejoice;” in Greek, “chaire.” Gabriel said: “Rejoice, full of grace!” The bishop said that this invitation to joy, so often spoken by the Old Testament prophets when they announced the coming of the Messiah, was God’s invitation to Mary whom He called to be the mother of His Son. “On behalf of the people of Israel and of all humanity, Mary said “yes.”

The bishop invited the three Franciscan brothers to hear in their hearts the word of the prophets and of the angel Gabriel to rejoice, also reminding them of the words of the angel to Mary: “Do not be afraid.” The bishop said: “We experience fears and trials in our lives. We have crosses to bear. But these things should never extinguish our joy, the joy that comes from faith and trust in the Lord.” He recalled the joy of St. Francis which, he said, “is the joy of the Gospel, the joy of following Jesus, and the joy of living the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades addresses the congregation.

The Franciscan Friars Minor were approved as a religious community by Bishop Rhoades in Harrisburg in 2009, just weeks before his appointment as Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Eight Franciscan Friars Minor came to Fort Wayne in 2010. The Minister General, Father David Mary of Our Lady of Sorrows, spoke at the end of the Mass of Profession expressing gratitude to the people of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for their welcome and generosity. He noted the growth of the community from the original eight members to the present number of 46, many of whom are in formation for vows. Father David Mary asked for prayers for the community as it grows and seeks to serve the Church through prayer and evangelization according to the Franciscan charism and Capuchin rule of life.

The families and friends of the newly professed friars gathered after Mass in the basement of St. Andrew Church for a buffet dinner celebration. Brother Joseph serves as guardian of the Our Lady of the Angels friary at St. Andrew’s and also as director of the brothers in temporary profession. Brother Mark serves as vicar of the Our Lady of the Angels friary. Brother Peter lives with brothers at the hermitage friary in Decatur.

The life of the Franciscan Friars Minor can perhaps be summarized in the words Bishop Rhoades said at the end of his homily: “It’s a life not caught up in its own interests and concerns, but one in which there is room for others because it is life in a community of brothers and solidarity with the poor. It is a life where God’s voice is heard in prayer, both individual and communal. It is a life in the Spirit where the joy of the Gospel is not only experienced within the community, but also spread the works of the apostolate, especially evangelization.” The bishop concluded: “Like St. Francis, may you be joyful heralds of the Gospel and faithful disciples of our poor, obedient and chaste Lord!”


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