A Franciscan Parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit


April 28-29, 2018

Tuesday, May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. This year it has also been proclaimed as National Brothers Day, a day to honor and celebrate the vocation of religious brothers. The Church of the Transfiguration is privileged to have Br. Phil Wilhelm, and I invite you to pray for him and thank him for all he does on this day. Br. Phil is an incredibly diligent worker: he works very hard in the Franciscan Outreach Program, spending most of Monday and Wednesday distributing food to our guests. (Br. Ed Gura from our Franciscan fraternity at St. Aloysius Parish downtown also comes to help on Wednesdays in the Outreach Program.) Br. Phil is a Knight of Columbus and assists in their activities as well as helping out liturgically and in the religious education program. Br. Phil also assists with the Legion of Mary. Br. Phil likes to clean (for which I am grateful), and often shops and prepares meals for the friars on weekends. (Well, he and I pretty much take turns cooking on weekends, because I enjoy preparing a meal too once in a while.) Br. Phil is a great gift to our Franciscan fraternity. He possesses the Franciscan virtues of simplicity and joy, and is a man of prayer; I see him daily praying before the Blessed Sacrament in our friary chapel. It was a difficult adjustment to return to the US after 44 years of service in the Philippines, which he loved, but he has made the transition and continues to inspire me. 

The vocation of a religious brother is a noble one. Brothers are full members of the fraternity, taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They serve in many capacities (e.g., teachers, social workers, parochial, hospital chaplaincy, etc.). We like to say that all friars are brothers, but some of the friars are called to ordained ministry, some are not. Since Brothers are not ordained, they do not preside over the sacraments of the church. Sometimes people will ask how they can tell the difference between a brother and priest and “why they didn’t go all the way to the priesthood.” The habits of priests and brothers are exactly the same, and they didn’t become priests because that was not their call. It is in no way a vocation less honorable than a vocation to the priesthood. Just a different call. In our Province about one third of the friars are brothers. Br. Phil, thank you for your witness, and blessings on National Brothers Day! 

Fr. Jeff


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