On June 28, 2015, Br. James Curran, l.b.s.f., long-time friend and supporter of the IRL, went home to the Lord. He died as he lived, a humble Franciscan, without pomp or ceremony. Brother James received the IRL’s Pro Fidelitate et Virtute award in 2006 for faithfully living our his brotherhood and for supporting the IRL as a Board Member, coordinator of the Boston Regional Meeting and as chairman of the Forum of Superiors of Communities of Men.
But he is best remembered as a friend to the poor.
Brother’s journey to religious life is an amazing story. Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, his father was killed during World War II. Inspired by his mother, Brother James became a Franciscan tertiary as a teenager but it was not until 1967 that he received the special grace that would define the rest of his life. While performing with the Boston Opera Company at the White House before President Lyndon Johnson and other distinguished guests, Brother James said that he “was confronted with a compelling desire to change my life around immediately. As if in a mirror, I saw the emptiness of my life and the lifestyle.”
He detached himself from possessions and perks and began to spend more time in prayer and adoration. The Lord opened his eyes to see the poor and destitute who populated the streets of Boston. “What a miracle of grace God worked when they became for me what the leper was for St. Francis – instruments of peace and love to turn my selfish heart away from egotistical pursuits and once again towards God!”
In 1970, Brother James founded the Little Brothers of St. Francis, patterned after Francis’ Rule for Hermitages. The brothers lived deeply contemplative lives in urban Boston, preaching the Gospel by their Christian hospitality and healing presence. The brothers disbanded in December of 2012 and in the last few years, Brother James lived in nursing homes, knowing the loneliness that goes with being alone with infirmity.
In his final newsletter, he wrote that he was “still convinced that God gave us our charism as a simple response to the Gospel and will continue to call others to that forma vita (way of life) so dear to St. Francis: contemplative presence among the poorest of the poor.”
May others follow in his footsteps, albeit big ones to fill. We will miss you Brother James. May you rest in the peace of Christ after your long labors.