I have a soft spot in my heart for the friars at the St. Francis of Assisi Novitiate in Mishawaka, Indiana, so I am happy to post this photo of the novices and friars and Friar Thomas’ parents who came for a visit. I am also happy to report that the number of novices in their new “class” will be almost double that of the prior class. The Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of young men!
The Conventual Franciscans of the St. Bonaventure Province are an IRL Affiliate Community. We are fortunate that the IRL’s HQ (modest though it is) is located on the grounds of Marytown, a beautiful perpetual adoration shrine and retreat house run by the Conventuals in Libertyville, Illinois. It is also the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
Come for a quiet holy hour or come for a stay at this most beautiful oasis of serenity and prayer!
In the James Bond movies, good always triumphed over evil. The Conventual Franciscans have their own version of agent 007, the English-born Friar Matthew Bond who seeks to conquer the forces of darkness by spreading the truth, beauty and goodness of our faith by the “writing” of icons. An iconographer and novice at St. Francis of Assisi Novitiate in Mishawaka, Indiana, Friar Matthew has done many icons and has given workshops on the “writing” and spirituality of icons.
Two of his most recent icons are of two soon-to-be canonized American Saints: Mother Marianne Cope and Kateri Tekawitha. Both Blesseds lived in New York State and have close connections with the Conventual Franciscans (that’s another interesting story).
Friar Matthew’s icon of Mother Marianne depicts her bandaging the wounds of a leper. Her medical supplies are at her feet. A hibiscus, the state flower of Hawaii, is depicted in the foreground. The Franciscan Church of the Assumption is to the left of the saint, and the Motherhouse that she left to go to Hawaii in 1883, is to the right in the picture.
To see more of Friar Matthew’s icons, visit the Conventual Franciscan website.
Vietnam might be the last place where you would expect vocations to be flourishing but that is just what the Conventual Franciscans are experiencing at the Orders’ mission in that country.
May God bless these young men on their journey of faith, especially in light of the sacrifices of the many Catholics who defended their Faith in that country and even gave up their lives rather than renounce the Truth. I am reminded of one of my heroes, Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who was imprisoned in Vietnam for thirteen years, nine of them in solitary confinement. His books are spiritual classics.
Also, read the story of Joseph Nguyen, a young seminarian who was in a coma and pronounced dead and has the death certificate marked VOID to prove it. While Joseph was in his coma, the Cardinal appeared to him while his parents were praying for the Cardinal’s intercession. The Diocesan inquiry into the life of Servant of God Francis Xavier Nguyen Cardinal Van Thuan opened in 2010.