Franciscan Brothers leaving Mount Carmel, will relocate in Indiana
MOUNT CARMEL - After a handful of months in Mount Carmel, the Franciscan Brothers Minor will be relocated from the borough into Fort Wayne, Ind., to follow the Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who resigned from the Diocese of Harrisburg in January and became bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese.
"I don't think in all my years and the places I've been to I ever met a town so welcoming, so loving and that I've grown attached to so quickly," said Father David Engo, the minister general, or superior, of the newly-formed Franciscan friars.
A rumor that the Discalced Carmelite Nuns at Elysburg Monestery were leaving as well has been proven false, according to the Very Rev. William Waltersheid, secretary for clergy and consecrated life for the diocese.
Founded in 1209, the order of Franciscan Friars follows the rule of St. Francis of Assisi and the way he lived in the 13th century. The final rule of the saint was written in 1223.
The friars take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and a vow total concentration to Mary.
Although there are more than 35,000 Franciscan friars in the world, there are few who completely follow the original rule, as the Mount Carmel group does.
Engo has been a friar for 23 years, since age 19, and has spent 13 years as a priest.
Sad, but excited
The friars arrived in Mount Carmel Nov. 2 and officially started as an institution Nov. 19, with the approval of Rhoades. The bishop assigned them to the convent owned by Divine Redeemer Church.
Engo noted that although he and his brothers are sad to go, they are excited about the move, and feel they must be under the care of Rhoades, who founded them.
When the bishop asked them to join him, they were eager to accompany him.
"Our community is young, is new, and the bishop is our father and protector," said Engo. "At this time in our short history, we need to be under his wing."
The move came as a surprise to the Rev. Robert Yohe, pastor of Divine Redeemer Church, and the community as a whole.
"The whole community is (sad to see them go)," said Yohe. "We were expecting this to be a long-term situation."
Although their group is moving, Engo and his brothers say that Mount Carmel will forever be remembered as the birthplace of his community.
"It's a beautiful thing. It all began in Mount Carmel," he said.
Over the past five months, explained Engo, the brothers have had wonderful experiences. He mentioned brining the ministry to the homebound and nursing homes, talking to residents on the streets.
"In the simplest ways, it's been a beautiful experience," he said.
The community has been completely supportive and grateful of Engo and his brothers, said Yohe.
"They made themselves well-known in the community, helping people with small jobs and little projects," he said. "They have been very beneficial to the community in a spiritual and a very hands on way."
However, he went on, wherever the brothers end up, they will be doing great work.
Lots to do
In Indiana, Rhoades found an old rectory in a less affluent part of Fort Wayne. The rectory will be affiliated with St Mary's Catholic Church.
"There's a lot of ministry we can do there," said Engo.
Plans are in place to have the brothers assist at a drug rehabilitation center, a Bible study, a soup kitchen and in youth ministries. The area is predominantly non-Catholic, said Engo, and there will be a lot of evanglizing happening.
Furthermore, a handful of men expressed interest in joining the community of friars.
As for what Mount Carmel's faith-based community can expect in the departure of the friars, Yohe is uncertain.
"Maybe we'll see if another religious community can come in," he said, but added that it's getting more difficult to find them.
March 21 will be the friar's last day. They will be having a potluck dinner March 13 in Divine Mercy Hall, Mount Carmel, as a day for friends to spend together. Some members of the friars' families will also visit.
"God willing," said Engo.
Engo said that while the friars are looking forward to their new ministry in Indiana, leaving Mount Carmel isn't easy.
"It's sad for us," said Engo. "We love this town so much. It's hard to leave."