By Br. Greg Plata, OFM

GARY, Indiana — Nine men joined the friars for an organic discernment weekend, Dec. 1-3. Br. Greg Plata, OFM, Central Region Vocation director, hosted the event, which allowed guests to meet area friars and help with a service project. It was also an opportunity for both group and one-on-one interactions with friars. 

The men came from Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin. Br. Greg spoke about St. Francis and the early friars, and the reality and possibilities of living as Franciscan fraternities in the 21st century. There were also presentations on discernment, the Order’s application process, and stages of formation.  

Friars in Gary serve four Catholic communities: 

  • Holy Angels Cathedral, where they reside 

  • Sts. Monica and Luke 

  • St. Joseph the Worker 

  • St. Mary of the Lake 

Inquirers discovered the cultural diversity of each parish and their respective outreach to their surrounding communities. St. Mary of the Lake and Sts. Monica and Luke have food pantries to assist low-income families, while the latter also provides nourishing meals each week to more than 100 people. 

One advantage of a discernment weekend in Gary is its proximity to Chicago. On Saturday evening, five friars from St. Joseph’s community in the Hyde Park section of Chicago joined the inquirers for prayer, followed by an Italian meal at the cathedral rectory. It provided a chance for those men discerning to interact with several of the simply professed friars.  

On Sunday, despite cold temperatures, the inquirers joined in a five-mile procession from Sts. Monica and Luke to St. Joseph the Worker. It included an ornate statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At St. Joseph the Worker, they celebrated a Mass in Spanish to begin the nine-day novena to our province’s new patroness. Parishioners prepared a festive meal in the church hall after Mass.  

Despite the cold, rainy weather, each participant commented on how much they enjoyed the weekend and witnessed for themselves our fraternity in mission in Gary.  

Is God calling you or someone you know to be a Franciscan? Our Franciscan vocation ministry team is here to support you as you discern. Visit Become a Friar to get started.