Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

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The Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal was begun in 1987 by eight Capuchin friars desiring to work more definitively for personal and communal reform within the Catholic Church. The life and apostolate of the friars are rooted in the ideals and spirit of the Capuchin reform born in the early 16th century.

From day one, our desire was not to create a new form of religious life or observance but rather to set ourselves securely upon our own ancient foundations. For this very reason, none of the original eight Friars of the Renewal see themselves as founders. We do not see ourselves as prophetic architects but rather as simple builders. In this regard, renewal does not mean some new spin on Franciscan life, nor is it an innovative amalgam of religious traditions. Rather it means a return—not simply going back, but something deeper—a return to roots. We were and still remain com­pletely uninterested in programs and trendy ideas that promise spiritual renewal. Real renewal means daily conversion, and this is a long, painful road. The holy Gospels are our map, the saints are our guides, and the sacraments are our strength for the journey.

Our community began in 1987 with eight friars; today we number more than one hundred and twenty. While, certainly, steady growth and expansion are impressive, they are not everything. The strength of a tree is not measured only by the width of its trunk or length of its limbs but also by its roots. The quality of vocations is more important than quantity, yet both are related. Both depend on the soil in which they are set. Religious life will not only survive but will flourish when it is firmly planted in the heart of Christ, who is the heart of the Church. This means nothing less than: a clear identity, total fidelity, ardent devotion, daily prayer, and sacrificial service, especially to the poor. This is what young people are seeking. This is the secret for any community intent on authentic renewal. Young eyes need to see something bright and beautiful. How sad when their longings and excitement are met with indifference and unbelief.

As an artist steps back a bit to see how his work is taking shape, so too this book has personally provided for me a needed distance, a certain space, to see a wonderful divine work still in progress. Like poor peasants who live in the foothills of the Alps, all of us can become oblivious to something grand and majestic in our own backyard. Would that each of us might have such a book as this one to help us take a few steps back—to see what God is quietly accomplishing in our lives. May He be praised.

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