I’d walk a million miles… for one of your smiles…

From the Washington Post:

They’ve been mistaken for Jedi-wannabes headed to a Star Wars convention. They’ve been investigated by police, approached by strangers, gawked at from cars and offered gifts of crumpled dollar bills and Little Debbie snacks. After trekking along more than 300 miles of dusty Virginia country roads and suburban highways, six Franciscan friars reached Washington on Tuesday, having seen it all during an offbeat modern-day quest for God.

For six weeks, the brothers walked from Roanoke with only their brown robes, sandals and a belief in the kindness of strangers to feed and shelter them.

The sight of six men in flowing habits, trudging single file on the side of the road, prompted many to pull over and talk, even confess. People on their way to work described their loneliness. College students wanted help figuring out what to do with their lives. Children, mistaking them for the Shaolin monks in movies, ran up to ask the friars if they knew how to beat up bullies.

“Dressed like we are in our habits, it’s like a walking sign that says, ‘Tell us your life’s problems,’ ” explained Cliff Hennings, the youngest of the friars at 23…The pilgrimage was the idea of four young friars just finishing their training in Chicago and working toward taking lifelong vows. Seeking to emulate the wanderings of their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, they wanted to journey together as a fraternity, ministering to one another and to strangers, while depending on God for every meal and place to sleep..

Interesting that they did this as a group. I’m always impressed as well with the Jesuit novices who get dropped off at some remote location with $35 and a bus ticket and told to figure out how to get back home. It’s an opportunity to learn first hand how the poor–and perhaps even many of our working poor–spend their days.

Congrats to the Friars on their walk and may they continue to touch the lives of the poor. And check out their photo gallery here

A final significant snip from WAPO:

Just outside Harrisonburg, a woman in her 40s with a young daughter pulled over in her old Dodge sedan to talk to 25-year-old friar Richard Goodin.

She’d recently caught her husband cheating on her. He had kicked her and her daughter out of their house, she told Goodin. Now, like the friars, they were wandering through the wilderness, unsure of their next meal or their next move.

As they talked, the woman’s daughter rummaged through the car and gave the friars a soda. Then she found a chocolate bar and offered that. As the conversation began winding down, the daughter said there was nothing more in the car. The woman reached for her purse and told Goodin, “I want to give you what we have left.”

She pressed $3.52 into his hand, which he accepted reluctantly.

“I realized she wasn’t giving this to us or to me,” Goodin said. “I think she heard us talk about trusting in God and she wanted to try to trust in the same way. She was giving that money to God.”

Track their journey on their blog, www.friarwalk.com

Inspiring, just a note, with the exception of their two superiors (who were probably brought along kicking and screaming) most of these guys are young. I don’t hear of any baby boomer priests thinking about doing this.

I’m just sayin…

Join the Conversation


  1. Maybe it's because boomer priests have jobs?? As a boomer, it's something I've certainly dreamed of doing — and a friend of mine did do at aged 50!


  2. Michelle–That's my point. These younger guys might be in novitiate but there are a lot of "prophetic" things that go beyond administration that the "older guys" don't get a chance to do because they are bogged down in administration–which is a shame. It's not totally their fault, but I also don't see a lot of creativity coming from the mid-age crowd either.


  3. Yeah – the administrative stuff tends to be like slug slime – incredibly sticky and almost impossible to extricate yourself from. Though I wonder what would happen if you took a sample of the middle-aged cohort and gave them the same space that the novitiate provides for spiritual development? Though that's unlikely to happen given the realities….


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