Topic: For the Public

What Is It Like to Be A Religious Brother?

Religious Brother

from Catholic News Agency

by Mary Rezac

When Brother Jim Peterson, OFM Cap., was in middle school and high school, he felt like every time someone prayed for vocations, they were praying for him.

“It was always kind of like, they’re talking about me,” he told CNA.

That was his first inclination that he had a religious vocation, though at first, he assumed he was being called to be a priest.

Although the call was always somewhere in his heart, Peterson said that he finished high school, and then college, and was struggling to find a job when he wondered if he should answer that call.

“But at the same time, I wasn’t sure if it was just me running away from something, so I decided to see if I could make my way in the world before making a decision like that,” he said.

It wasn’t until he finished law school, and worked for a few years as a lawyer in Pennsylvania, that he decided he couldn’t ignore God anymore.

Read more.

Media Release: New Chair and Vice Chair Elected to the CMSM National Advisory Council

Jesus with the Children


Board and Officers of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) announce that the National Advisory Council (NAC) has elected a new Chair and Vice Chair

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary quality, expertise and generosity of these two new officers of the National Advisory Council. The NAC is similar to the National Review Board (NRB) of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). The NAC is an independent panel of nationally recognized experts who volunteer their time and which advises CMSM on all matters related to the protection of minors for religious institutes of men in and throughout the United States. Dr. Len Sperry will replace Dr. Kathleen McChesney as Chair and Steve Levatino will replace Dr. Rolando Diaz.

Len Sperry, M.D., Ph.D., D.Min. is Professor and Director of Clinical Training at Florida Atlantic University, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is board certified in psychiatry, preventive medicine, and clinical psychology. He has consulted with religious orders and dioceses throughout the U.S. on the health and well-being of priests and other ministry personnel. Among his 1000+ professional publications are Sex, Priestly Ministry and the Church: Understanding and Treating Sexual Addiction and The Inner Life of Priests, both of which received best book of the year awards from the Catholic Press Association.

Steven Levatino, Esq. has practiced law since 1991 and has a wide breadth of experience in business law, litigation, and church law. He practiced as a partner in one of the largest firms in Texas for 13 years. He has had extensive experience prosecuting and defending sex abuse claims in state and federal court. He is rated as an AV Preeminent® attorney. AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that his peers rank him at the highest level of professional ability and ethical standards. He also has been elected as a Fellow to the Texas Bar Foundation. Membership in the foundation is reserved for the top 1/3 of 1% of Texas attorneys. Election to the Fellows is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a member of the State Bar of Texas.

Fr. Brian Terry, President of CMSM stated, “These are extraordinary and talented experts who have graciously offered their services to the religious of the United States and to the mission of the Church. The good work that happens here creates a ripple effect elsewhere throughout the world.”

Download the media release.

Hundreds of U.S. Catholic leaders challenge President Trump on Iran and North Korea



CMSM was a signatory to a recent statement signed by 751 leaders of Catholic organizations, religious orders and justice and peace committees which challenges President Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea and his efforts to repudiate the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

A complete article about the letter and related statements can be found on the website of America Magazine.

Release: CMSM On Ending DACA 

DACA Puzzle image

September 11, 2017

As Catholic religious leaders in the U.S., CMSM is sick with grief and disgust at the recent decision by the administration to put children and young people in abrupt uncertainty by ending DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides work authorization and temporary protection from deportation to about 780,000 people who were brought to the United States as children. We have already heard reports of DACA students so disoriented by this decision that they have risked suicide. Further, the decision not only puts these children of God at risk of deportation in the near future but also even death in unknown, often dangerous countries.

Over 90% of these youth have graduated high school and nearly 90% are employed. If a legislative fix is truly desired then the administration should work with Congress rather than throw these children and young adults into turmoil. Our leaders should be asking what is justice rather than exact a narrow obsession with the apparent rule of law. It is simply not justice to further marginalize the vulnerable. God calls us to care for immigrants and treat them “no differently than the natives born among you.” (LV 19:34).

CMSM Executive Director, Rev. John Pavlik, OFM Cap., proclaims, “The President and Congress are playing the welfare and the lives of children, young people, and families against legislators who have shirked their responsibilities to provide the citizens of the United States an immigration policy worthy of the principles on which our society and our government are based. The moment to act justly and rightly is now.”

We see once again that we can no longer rely solely on phone calls, emails, statements, meetings with politicians, and spirited vigils or rally’s. We need to tap further into the creativity of prayer driven nonviolent resistance. In accord with our recent CMSM resolution on Gospel Nonviolence, we lift up our commitment to “solidarity and protection through accompaniment and nonviolent resistance for vulnerable immigrants.”

Religious brothers often overlooked in church life

from Catholic News Service, published in America, August 21, 2017

The church needs to look beyond ordained clergy for leadership, said Marianist Father James Heft during an address at the annual meeting of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men in Phoenix in early August.

Read more about Fr. Heft’s address and the CMSM 2017 Assembly

CMSM Celebrates the Common Brotherhood in Religious Life, Elects Officers, and Approves Resolution on Nonviolence

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA (August 16, 2017).   The annual assembly of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), whose leaders represent more than 17,000 Catholic religious brothers and priests in the United States, was held August 1–4, 2017, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  At the opening event participants heard the first of four spiritual reflections presented by the Brother Stephen Glodek, SM, of the Marianist Province of the United States in St. Louis, MO, who provided daily spiritual reflections on the theme of the assembly, “All Brothers – Mediators of God’s Love.” Beginning with a reflection on the foundational vocation of the Brother as men “abiding in God,” Br. Glodek asserted that brothers serve as doorkeepers of male religious life.  On each of the following days, he then referred to brothers as a face of the covenant with God’s people, to the identity and mission directly reflected in the very name “brother,” and to brothers encountering persons at the peripheries of grace who may “appear to us as the foreigner and the enemy.”

In the first of the two keynote addresses at the assembly, Brother John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, delivered a presentation entitled, “The Mission and Charism of the Religious Brother:  An Uncomplicated Witness.” Br. John Mark challenged major superiors to examine how they might put the charism of their institutes in the primary place as an “uncomplicated witness,” musing on the rightfully positive commitment of members both for identity and for mission and speculated about how institutes of both lay and clerical members might benefit if all special formation for ministry were delayed until new members make a final commitment to communion in the charism. He admonished brothers in institutes “to be aware of the dignity of your call as consecrated religious in the Church, but to strive to live it with the greatest zeal.”

Father James Heft, SM, formerly chair of the Theology Department at the University of Dayton and now president of the Institute for Advance Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California, was the second major speaker at the assembly. His talk was entitled “The Common Brotherhood of Religious Life.” With reference to the development of religious charisms, Father Heft provided the attendees with a reflection both upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit imparted to founders of institutes and upon the dynamic role of laity in the development of religious institutes for the sake of mission. He cited two recent influential Church documents, one from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the importance of charismatic and prophetic gifts in the Church and a second document issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on the identity and mission of the religious brother. The second document strongly supported the importance of the quality of community life in the vocation of the lay religious. Fr. Heft concluded with reference to five areas pointing to a more positive future for religious brothers which single out the great charismatic gift that the brotherhood is for the Church: the centrality of Baptism; vibrant communities of prayer; prophetic ministries; uniform dress that distinguishes the role; and, a “Marian style of evangelization” which is both prophetic and contemplative.

In his address to the assembly as President of the Conference, the Very Rev. Brian F. Terry, SA, spoke of his conviction regarding the mission and purpose of the Conference as it serves leadership and thus enables strong mission in relation to a multifaceted, universal Church that embraces a “coessential charismatic dimension of faith” witnessed to in religious institutes. He invited two members of the Executive Committee, Very Rev. Joseph Rodrigues, SDS, and Brother Larry Schatz, FSC, to contribute their observations on the workings of the CMSM as a Conference in relation to the other dimensions of the Church.

Brother Sean D. Sammon, FMS, a Marist Brother of the Schools, facilitated a panel discussion at the conclusion of the assembly in which the theme of the assembly was explored in conversation with three young men who, having experienced education with Marist Brothers, articulated both what they saw and what they learned about this way of living discipleship. Their comments allowed a new generation of young Catholics to address leadership and share what they see in the Church, in their peers, and in the men committed to religious life who taught or interacted with them.

A pre-assembly workshop entitled, “Model Procedures for Review Boards: A Practical Application,” was led by Brother Patrick Sean Moffett, CFC, Ph.D., who facilitated a conversation between the participants and a number of panelists. The workshop sought to help assure consistency in the utilization of Review Boards and to insure the highest level of confidence that child-care industry standards regarding the protection and safety of children and young people are being utilized.

At the membership meeting of the assembly, the members considered and overwhelmingly approved a resolution on nonviolence entitled “Gospel Nonviolence: The Way of the Church. The resolution states: “The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) resolves to use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to 1) significantly build up nonviolent practices and a culture of nonviolence; and 2) to invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

During the elections which were held at the membership meeting of the assembly, CMSM members chose the Very Rev. Mark Padrez, O.P., Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, as President-Elect of the Conference. He will be installed as President at the conclusion of the 2018 assembly. Brother Larry Schatz, FSC, Provincial of the De La Salle Christian Brothers of the Midwest Province, was chosen as Vice President and he immediately began a two-year term. The CMSM membership also elected an At-Large member of the National Board: the Very Rev. Michael Thompson, CJ, Superior General of St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart (The Josephites). He begins a three-year term.


Download a copy of this release.

US men’s religious orders commit to working for papal encyclical on nonviolence


from the National Catholic Reporter

The umbrella group of the leaders of U.S. Catholic men’s religious orders has committed to working to persuade Pope Francis to write a new encyclical letter focused on shifting church teaching away from just war theory towards Gospel nonviolence.

In a resolution adopted Aug. 3 at its annual assembly, The Conference of Major Superiors of Men declared it would “use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to … invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

View the article.

View the full resolution from the CMSM 2017 Assembly.

See the Resolution Implementation Guide.


In Memoriam: Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M. Cap.

Fr. Michael Crosby

We commend to your prayers the late Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M. Cap. Crosby died August 5 at age 77, following months of battling cancer of the esophagus. A distinguished theologian and friar for over 50 years, Crosby’s books and lectures on church reform and biblical discipleship made his name known to Catholics across the country. He also proved a familiar and formidable figure in the boardrooms of corporate America through his dogged pursuit of socially responsible practices. The National Catholic Reporter’s Brian Roewe has offered an obituary tribute to his life and work.

CMSM National Assembly Passes Resolution on Gospel Nonviolence


On August 3, 2017, the national assembly of the leaders of U.S. Catholic men’s religious institutes overwhelming approved the resolution “Gospel Nonviolence: The Way of the Church.” Extending the fruit and work of the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome 2016, this resolution commits and calls members of the CMSM to “use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders to 1) significantly build up nonviolent practices and a culture of nonviolence; and 2) to invite Pope Francis to offer an encyclical on nonviolence, which would include a shift to a just peace approach for transforming conflict.”

Many of our members have religious brothers courageously serving and creatively practicing nonviolence in zones of violent conflict in the U.S. and around the world, such as South Sudan, Syria, Iraq, and El Salvador. We see the violence in our streets, the structural violence of massive inequality and preparations for war, and the cultural violence of some political discourse, all white supremacy, and lack of basic respect for others who disagree with us.

CMSM President, Very Rev. Brian Terry, SA says “We need always to remember the words of Pope Francis which reminds us that if we are not giving witness to the Gospel of Christ we are giving testimony to something else.”

The resolution celebrates Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace Message which affirmed that “true followers of Jesus embrace his teaching about nonviolence” and called us to “make active nonviolence our way of life.” The resolution commits members and calls the broader Catholic Church to regularly pray for conversion and confess our own violence; to educate about Gospel nonviolence and a just peace approach; to train, advocate, and invest in building up nonviolent practices such as restorative justice, unarmed civilian protection, nonviolent resistance, and nonviolent civilian-based defense; as well as to offer solidarity and protection through accompaniment and nonviolent resistance for immigrants, oppressed religious and ethnic minorities, and other marginalized persons. Finally, it commits us and calls the Catholic Church to de-legitimate war by building up alternatives to the violence of lethal force and moving away from justifying war. Further, it commits us to advance Vatican II’s call to “outlaw war” by moving away from just war reasoning and toward a just peace approach for transforming conflict.

Resolution text | Implementation Guide

CMSM Participates in USCCB ‘Convocation of Catholic Leaders’

Convocation of Catholic Leaders 2017

A delegation from CMSM recently participated in the national gathering called by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrating their centenary and affirming the importance of the ongoing development of ministry competency in the U.S. church. Held from July 1-4, 2017 in Orlando, Florida, the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America,” brought together more than 3,100 people, mainly laity but also more than 150 bishops and 500 priests and deacons.

A tour de force was the final address by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States. He called the gathering “a new Catholic moment, a privileged time to be renewed for the mission of evangelization in this country.”

Read the full report on the event from Catholic News Service.