Sunday, 27 March 2011 16:11

Franciscan brothers have long history of service in diocese

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Last month I was privileged, along with one of my brother priests, to be hosted in Germany by the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross. This religious congregation was founded by Brother James (Peter) Wirth in 1862 in the Diocese of Trier, Germany. The hospitality that we received was second to none and the superior general of the order very generously toured us around various parts of western Germany. The history of the area is rich and the sights and surroundings are beautiful, but richer and more beautiful still is the life and ministry of the Franciscan brothers that I witnessed.

From their motherhouse in Hausen on the Wied River to Bad Kreuznach to Kloster Ebernach on the Mozel and points in between, the brothers are bringing the Gospel message to life. In their facilities where they care for the developmentally disabled, the sick and the aged, the brothers send a clear message about the value of human life and the dignity of the human person. It was well worth the trip to enjoy Franciscan hospitality and to see the great work of the brothers, but, I didn’t need to go all the way to Germany.

In 1924, the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross came to Louisiana to found an orphanage and in 1928, responding to an invitation from Bishop James A. Griffin, the brothers came to Springfield and founded St. James Trade School, which operated from 1928 to 1972. Today the brothers operate Brother James Court which serves developmentally disabled men who are in need of intermediate care. Along with their ministry at Brother James Court, the brothers also serve our diocese at the Catholic Pastoral Center and in various parish ministries. Every day they are working to bring the light of Christ into the world and to build up his mystical body.

In our prayers for vocations and religious life we cannot forget all that religious brothers have done and continue to do for the life of the church and how much we need their witness of prayer and service. Sadly, too many times this is the most forgotten and least spoken of vocation in the church. From the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross and the Order of the Friars Minor to the Viatorians and the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and Mary Immaculate all who have served our diocese and many more, the work of these men has helped to shape who we are as a diocesan church.

Please pray for these men who offer themselves daily for our Lord and for us his church. Pray that those men whom the Lord is calling to join in this vocation will do so with a joyful “yes.” Let us offer thanks to our loving God for the gift of these vocations, for their lives which give witness to the motto chosen by Brother James, “in Cruce victoria” (“In the Cross is victory”).

For more information on the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross you can visit their website at or the diocesan vocations website at for information about many other dedicated and faith-filled religious communities of men and women.