FR. VALERIUS URBAN MESSERICH O.F.M.
THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE
AND SPIRITUAL GUIDE
Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M.
Urban John Messerich was born on December 17, 1919, as one of three boys in
a family of four children living in West St. Paul, Minnesota. He was
baptized and confirmed in St. Matthews parish in West St. Paul, and entered
the seminary when he was thirteen. He was ordained into the priesthood on
June 20, 1946, taking the name Valerius Urban Messerich.
Father Valerius has worked all over the world as a Franciscan since his
ordination primarily within and for the Franciscan Order. He taught
theology in the seminary for years, both here in America and in Europe. He
said that the highlight of his priestly career occurred when he was living
in the Antonianun friary at Via Mesulana 124, in Rome, Italy from 1962
until 1969, during the days of Vatican II. He served the Secular
Franciscan Order from 1978 until 2001 as a spiritual assistant. First to
local SFO fraternities and then to the Queen of Peace Region of the Secular
Franciscan Order. This was the second region of the Secular Franciscan
Order to be established nationally when the SFO made it's transition from
provinces to regions in the early 1990's. The canonical establishment of
the Queen of Peace Region was accomplished in one year through the
dedication and sacrifice of Fr. Valerius, working with Bruce Fahey, its
first minister, his wife, Shelley, also in the SFO, and other secular
Franciscans in Minnesota.
Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M. celebrating the Induction Ceremony at 2002 BSP Retreat
Father Valerius has supported the founding of the Private Association of
the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis from it's earliest roots
within the Secular Franciscan Order. He authored the name for the "Stella
Matutina Movement" in the early 1990s, and guided it's vision and mission.
That movement was one of the first steps towards the Association as it
exists today. The movement itself began in the home of Bruce and Shelley
Fahey SFO, now administrators and officers of the BSP of St. Francis, and
it is still having a residual impact within the SFO locally.
Fr. Valerius was spiritual guide to the publication of "Reflections in a
Morning Star" also. This was a book of compilations and excerpts of
various modern and historical Franciscan documents published by Brother Not
SFO and Sister Not SFO for use in the Secular Franciscan Order. The book
was aimed at summarizing arguments and data from Scripture and the writings
of St. Francis promoting the lifestyle of the Rule of 1221 as a viable
response to living the Pauline Rule of 1978. Fr. Valerius blessed this
book by including in it an "Open Letter to All Franciscans," which is
itself a classic endorsement of the need to live a committed life if one
wants to be called "Franciscan."
In 1996 Archbishop Harry J. Flynn canonically approved the Brothers and
Sisters of Penance to live the Rule of 1221, gather in support of it, and
promote it gently in the Church. He personally designated Fr. Valerius as
the first Visitor to the BSP. Father Valerius continued to faithfully
serve as Visitor to the Association from then until May 2003. He conducted
BSP retreats and Days of Recollection, and took the first pledges of BSP
members in Rhode Island in April of 2002. He briefly retired to a friary on
the Eastside of St. Paul early in 2003, at which point he resigned from
work in both the SFO and the BSP. He has since come out of retirement and
is again serving the Church as priest-in-residence at St. Mathias parish in
Hampton, Minnesota. He still happily joins in discussions with area leaders
on life in the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, which he
Much more could be said about Father Valerius. He has lived a life that is rich and full of challenges, and you can read his Autobiography in this page: THE STORY OF FATHER VALERIUS for Franciscan Archives, October 20th 2004