Franciscan brother happy he decided to 'go for it'
St. Francis was 'a brother' to all
By Br. David Kelly, OFM
My name is David Kelly. I come from rural Wisconsin, near Chippewa Falls, where I attended the public school system. While in high school, I developed an interest in religious life as I became more knowledgeable about the Bible and the Catholic Church.
However, not having any personal contact with any men's communities at the time, I didn't pursue the idea and let it go dormant. I set about living an ordinary life as a Catholic layman.
There was always a desire in me to live a more meaningful life, but I didn't begin seriously looking into religious life again until I was in my late twenties/early thirties.
It was at this time in my life that I experienced the loss of my father to cancer. Contemplating the importance of doing that which is most meaningful with one's short time in this world, I decided to "go for it" and apply with a religious order, as a brother candidate, instead of just "thinking about it" all of the time.
After investigating several options, I decided to "go with my gut feeling" and applied to the Franciscans. The provincial headquarters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province is located in Pulaski.
For me, it was the best order in which to pursue the vocation of a religious brother. St. Francis himself was first and foremost a "brother" to all.
I have always admired the Franciscan Order for its closeness to the people, its orientation towards the poor and outcasts of society, and for the "Franciscan spirit" that seems so effective at building community by a simple way of Gospel living. I saw in the Franciscan order the flexibility to be able to respond to the ever-changing needs of today's Church and world.
I liked the fact that Franciscan friars are found in such a wide variety of ministries in both rural and urban settings. I also liked the emphasis that Franciscan evangelical life gives to both evangelization and missionary efforts. The inspiration and ideals are placed before us, and it's up to each friar to live the Gospel life to the best of his ability.
Presently, I am in my third year of formation. I completed my candidacy in Philadelphia, where our friars staff the nation's largest Catholic high school. My novitiate took me to Cedar Lake, Ind., where I was joined by fellow novices from three other Midwest Franciscan provinces.
At the moment, I am a student in simple vows living at St. Joseph House of Studies in Chicago.
During my time in formation, I've had the opportunity to minister in a wide variety of settings in Philadelphia, Indiana and Chicago. I find the life of prayer, fraternity, and ministry to be a truly satisfying way of serving God and my brothers and sisters.
I'm happy that I made the decision to "go for it" and join the Franciscan brotherhood.