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Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Thumbing their way down God's highway"

In an effort to collect and post articles and stories about the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance, something that is not particularly easy to do since they have no website and no real web presence anywhere, I came across this article. If you don't know anything about the FPO's this article is indicative of what I know about them. Public transportation is not really used by the FPO's. In a conversation with one of the friars several years ago, he told me how they hiked 75 miles to get to a retreat they were leading.

I will be trying to post more items about them and will try to get my hands on some of their "vocation literature". Once upon a time I had it, but seem to have misplaced it. Handwritten and photocopied, their tri-fold vocations "brochure" speaks volumes of their radical committment to poverty. With their permission I will post it online with contact information.

From the Roanoke Times

Friday, June 11, 2004

A pair of Franciscan friars on their way to Nicaragua hitchhiked through Roanoke on Thursday.

By Annie Thompson

On the sun-baked sidewalk near an Interstate 581 entrance ramp, two Franciscan friars prayed for a ride Thursday afternoon as they waited in their woolen robes, thumbs in the air.

They were on their way to Nicaragua from Emmitsburg, Md., where they started their journey Wednesday - without money or food.

They believe God will get them there.

"We just let God provide for us - even for food. And he always does," Brother Patrick Mary Ginty said.

Ginty and Brother Sean Patrick Hurley, both 24, have lived at the Mother of the Good Shepherd Friary in Emmitsburg since it opened last fall. They plan to establish such a community in Nicaragua along with four other friars who are traveling in pairs.

All six left Maryland on Wednesday morning. They will meet near Birmingham, Ala., where there is a community of Franciscans, and again in Laredo, Texas. They expect it will take about a month to get to Nicaragua.

After hitching five rides Wednesday, Hurley and Ginty made it to Roanoke about 7 p.m. That night, the Madonna House on Campbell Avenue gave them dinner, a place to sleep and breakfast because they are clergy members.

"One of our ministries is to clergy passing through," said Beth Ryan, a staff worker.

Wearing habits too warm for a June afternoon, with ropes each containing four knots to symbolize the vows they've taken, and a rosary around their waists, the Roman Catholic friars were not a common sight for Roanokers.

Passers-by honked, gawked and waved, but they didn't stop.

In Maryland, the pair lived with 13 other friars. Nine are left to continue the ministry there. Once the traveling six arrive in Nicaragua, they plan to build a modest house on a coffee plantation, establishing a new friary.

Hurley and Ginty plan to study philosophy in the South American country for about four years and later become priests.

While they waited, they prayed, read from their prayer books, sang songs and "waited for the Lord to show his light," Ginty said. They said it's easier to get a ride in the New England states, where people are more familiar with Franciscan friars, who have taken vows of poverty, obedience, chastity and total consecration to the Virgin Mary.

Hurley is originally from Rhode Island, where his parents still live. He is the oldest of four children and has been in the Franciscan community for four years.

"My family's very supportive. I see them once in a while," Hurley said.

Ginty is a native of Ontario, Canada. He joined the Franciscans three years ago.

"I did nothing constructive; in fact I was quite destructive," before becoming a friar, Ginty said. He said his life before entering the order was marked by the "typical party lifestyle."

"I realized I was seriously lacking something. Unless you have Jesus in your life, you can't have that fullness of joy," Ginty said. "That's what we try to bring to the people who pick us up."

The pair waited 3 1/2 hours on the northbound entrance to I-581 at Orange Avenue until they received a ride.

"The people who stop are always the ones who need it. It's a beautiful thing," Ginty said.

Two women who asked to be called "Quarter Pounder" and "Blondie" gave them a ride.

"The Spirit led me to stop," one said before driving away.

End of year (2004) follow up:

THEN: The friars were picked up by two women, who asked to be called "Quarterpounder" and "Blondie," after standing on the northbound entrance ramp to Interstate 581 at Orange Avenue for 3 1/2 hours.

NOW: All six of the friars from the Mother of the Good Shepherd Friary in Emmitsburg, Md., who were hitchhiking in pairs, made it to Nicaragua safely in about three weeks.
- Annie Thompson

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