Jesus' Crown of thorns, symbol of penitential lifestyle. We are committed to living the Franciscan Rule of 1221. We aren't a Third Order but a Lay Catholic Association. ...weaving a crown of thorns,
they placed it on Him. (Mk 15:17)

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The Franciscan Association of The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St.Francis (BSP) has a butterfly as its symbol. The Butterfly means the transforming union that we wish to attain, through a life of prayer, simplicity and self-denial. The BSP mottos are: 'Deny yourself, take your cross and follow me' and 'In the world, but not of it, for Christ'

         St. Francis

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... in the world, but NOT of it, for Christ!

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Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M.
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.
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 helped found.

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

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We have all been deeply blessed by the prayers, works, and wonderful guidance of this holy man of God. Let us all keep Father Valerius in our prayers!

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The Butterfly is symbol of transforming union of the soul to God. God will give this grace to those faithful to walk the path of prayer and self-denial

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The Butterfly is symbol of transforming union of the soul to God. God will give this grace to those faithful to walk the path of prayer and self-denial