from Bro. Jason Welle, OFM
The last few weeks have been a joyful and exciting time for the Franciscan friars in initial formation, but after a series of celebrations, the community at St. Joseph Friary in Chicago has settled down for another school year. In three consecutive weeks, the friars here witnessed the solemn vows of three brothers: Jason Welle in Pulaski, Wisconsin; Thinh van Tran in Chicago, Illinois; and Andrew Stettler in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Bro. Jason Welle, OFM being installed as Lector last year at St. Joseph Friary in Chicago, IL
All three had lived together at St. Joseph’s in the past, so the community took a very active part in the permanent commitments these brothers made to the Order of Friars Minor. The celebrations continued unto Labor Day, the quintessential American outdoor grilling tradition. Resting from their various labors, friars from around the city gathered at St. Joseph’s to share some hamburgers, bratwurst, and the last free weekend before school began.
The friars in formation at St. Joseph’s study at several different schools in greater Chicago, depending on their course of study. Most go to the Catholic Theological Union, located a short walk away here in Hyde Park. From the earliest days of the order, scholars like Alexander of Hales, Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, and Blessed John Duns Scotus saw study as an important part of the Franciscan charism. Saint Francis of Assisi, though not a scholar himself, encouraged Saint Anthony of Padua to teach theology to the friars, provided they did not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion.
Friars outside of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL
In addition to their studies, our friars engage in different volunteer ministries around Chicago. Working in parishes, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other locations, helps student-friars integrate their academic pursuits with the pastoral needs of God’s people. While we study and minister at different locations, friars come together daily for common prayer and discuss the need to balance these aspects of our lives with our commitment to prayer and community. It can become difficult as the semester progresses…but with the support of the brothers in the house and the strength that comes from prayer, we all find ways to persevere!