We welcome two new friars to our community: Friar Jason Warrer and Friar Bede Thigpen. They have both been assigned to Mary, Mother of God Parish.
Friar Jason will be making his solemn profession of vows as a Conventual Franciscan on August 14th. (Read Friar Bede's interview here.)
What drew you to the Franciscans?
I was raised in Indiana, and I had friars that lived not too far from my home, and I would go there for daily Mass. What drew me was the way of simplicity, the life that they lived, living out the Gospel. I remember becoming good friends with them and asking them questions: What's being a friar? What about the Franciscan order? And they were able to share that with me.
That sparked in my heart to really discern: Is God calling me to be a friar? I found the Conventual Franciscans up at Marytown, which I'd never heard of. I knew they were not too far from where I lived, and my first come-and-see in Chicago on Kenmore was a very beautiful experience. The way they interacted with one another, that fraternity, that community life was something that I was looking for. I came to the come-and-see in 2015. Then I entered with the friars in 2016.
Where were you assigned before coming here? What will you be doing at Mary, Mother of God?
I was living in Peoria, Ill., at our parish there, Holy Family, with our provincial Fr. Paul Langevin, OFM Conv. and Friar Bede too. My ministry was helping with the children at the school. I remember when my old provincial said, "You're going to be assigned to Peoria and helping at the school," and I said, "Well, I've never taught children, I've never been in a school setting, so I don't know how that's going to work, but God, give me the grace to do it."
And I was able to. I was helping out with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, from pre-K all the way to first grade. It was a wonderful experience, because they were children that wanted to know about the faith, wanted to know about the Lord. It was mainly teaching them about the Mass and then the importance of it, and they really enjoyed it. It was so hard to actually leave Peoria, because that's the thing about the Franciscan order is that you don't stay in one place, you get to move to different places, and it's sometimes hard to say goodbye to people that we have got to know.
Here I'll be helping out with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and also with First Communion. And I'm going to be involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at St. Gregory, because I'm Charismatic, have belonged for 17 years. I'll [also] be doing sacristy work, because we have three churches here.
There’s obviously a lot in that schedule, but when you have spare time, what are some of the things you like to do?
I like to go walking, and I like to go running a lot. I like to do reading, I really enjoy reading the lives of the saints, and different works on spirituality, especially the Mass and everything. I love listening to music, especially praise and worship music. That helps me a lot, gets me centered in the Lord in all things. Moving here to Chicago, you hear all the noises.
Also going to spend time with my family, because they don't live too far from Chicago, so there will be some weekends that I'll be able to go visit with them. And also spend time with the friars too.
Is there anything else you'd want people to know?
If anyone ever needs prayers or anything- I'm more than happy just to pray with them. It doesn't necessarily mean just saying "Oh, just pray for my family," but [praying] in person. If someone needs any prayers or anything, I'm more than happy to be able to do that.