A ‘surreal and unforgettable’ moment as Benedictine monk takes final vows
By Catherine Sheehan
Br Francisco Maria DeBrito OSB described as “surreal and unforgettable” the experience of taking his final vows as a Benedictine Monk with the community of Notre Dame Priory in Colebrook on 1 May, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.
Celebrated at the historic St Patrick’s Church in Colebrook, central Tasmania, the Mass of Solemn Profession and Monastic Consecration was presided over by Fr Pius Mary Noonan OSB, Prior of the monastery.
Archbishop Julian Porteous was in attendance and sat in choir throughout the liturgy which was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form.
Despite the rainy and cold weather, the church was filled to capacity with Br Francisco’s family and friends, some of whom travelled great distances for the momentous occasion.
Br Francisco told the Catholic Standard that while he felt “extremely nervous” prior to the ceremony, his feeling afterwards was “one of relief, peace and complete happiness”.
“It was a great blessing to have the family present as they obviously play an important part in your life and to share that moment with them was priceless. Having His Grace Archbishop Porteous there meant a lot to me and the community as well.”
Of Portuguese descent, he took the religious name of Francisco in honour of Francisco Marto, one the young seers to whom Our Lady appeared at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
“My dear Brother Francisco Maria, as you offer your life to God on this day at this sacred altar, before God’s people, let the love of Christ embrace you and set you aflame with its perfection,” Fr Pius said during his homily.
“May you love Him with all the strength of your mind and heart; may many souls be led to follow your example and may the most Sacred Heart of Our Lord be immensely consoled by your humble efforts.
“Like St Francisco Marto may you be taken up with the thought of consoling Our Lord. May you share his zeal, his generosity and above all his love.”
At the conclusion of Mass Archbishop Julian expressed his “great joy” in witnessing Br Francisco’s Solemn Profession and spoke of the fruitfulness that comes from the hiddenness of the monastic life.
“It was always my conviction that the establishment of a Benedictine community here in Tasmania would be a source of great life, great fruitfulness, and great benefit for the Church here in Tasmania,” Archbishop Julian said.
“I take this opportunity today to once again congratulate the community, the Prior, Br Francisco for this very important and significant moment in the life of this relatively new community.”
Monastic life involved “a dying” that produces life, Archbishop Julian said.
“A hiddenness will come forth in wonderful signs of fruitfulness for the good of the Church. A love that will be hidden to the eyes of the world… and known in the lives of those who benefit from the life of this community here in Colebrook, Tasmania.”
Br Francisco said he began discerning a religious vocation ten years ago after his nephew was diagnosed with leukemia and given little chance of survival.
“Turning more to prayer and spending more time before the Blessed Sacrament increased my desire to serve and dedicate my life to God,” he said.
It was “Divine Providence” that eventually led him to the Benedictine monks in Tasmania, he added.
“With God’s grace things just worked out and it was just about cooperating with and surrendering to that grace.”