Welcome to my blog, “Just a Brother”, or JAB, for short.
You may find the title a little provocative. I hope so; otherwise all the time I spent thinking it up was wasted. Let’s talk about the title a while (actually, I’ll write about it; you’ll sit quietly and read).
I have been asked many times during my nearly 27 years of religious life if I was a priest. When I replied that I was not, the person often responded with, “So, you’re just a brother then”. One person actually responded by saying, “Don’t worry. You’ll make it someday!” I suppose I felt a little offended the first couple of times this happened, taking the response to mean that the questioner did not value my form of life. It does not bother me any longer, however. Most of the people who respond in this way, I believe, are not making a value judgment. In fact, I now consider it a badge of honor. I am just a brother.
In his acceptance speech after his election at the General Chapter of 2000, our former General Minister, John Corriveau, said words to this effect: “If you want to know how to address me, I’d like you to call me ‘Brother John’, for I consider Brother to be an honorary title.” And why should it not be? After all, Francis of Assisi wished that he and his followers be called brothers, and Jesus became incarnate in order to become our brother. If it is good enough for Jesus and Francis, it is good enough for me!
I am well aware that I was elected to be a General Definitor for all the friars of the Order, not just for the lay brothers. I intend to do that to the best of my abilities. Moreover, I want to avoid recreating the artificial distinctions that the Order has worked so hard to eliminate during the last few decades. At the same time, I cannot ignore the opportunity that I have been given to bring to the General Definitory a view of the Order that may differ from that of a priest-friar. Furthermore, if I can support and encourage in any way this form of life that I love so much, I feel it is my duty to do so.
It is great to be just a brother!