a religious in the heart of the New York ghetto

A vocation is never easy to detect, to detect, but when it is right, when the person is in line with his deep desires, life is naturally linked. This is what happened to François – today Brother François in religious life – at the center of Arnaud Fournier Montgieux’s magnificent documentary film.

Short shaved hair, short beard, gray coat of religious with a cap cut to a point (that of the Capuchins), white cord encircled around the waist carrying a crucifix and sandals on the foot, Brother François speaks with sobriety and economy of words. It hides a fiery heart that is “Given to Jesus” after brilliant studies at the Ecole Centrale de Paris. A Christmas mass in Paris with his parents, a vague feeling of “Bumblebee” after three years of railway engineering, a novena (nine-day prayer) to Saint Jude at the instigation of a religious aunt in Mexico, reading a book on the Franciscans of the Bronx, and here is the young man launched into an existential questioning to find “Its rightful place” in the world.

The path he will choose after his call is one of the most uncompromising on the apostolic path: he leaves everything to live poor with the poorest, who are “Proof of hope”, within this community of the Franciscans of the Bronx or “Franciscans of the Renewal” created in 1987.

At the beginning of eight, they are today one hundred and thirty, the group founded by Brother Glenn having spread to Ireland, England or Honduras … This Catholic community, which claims to be the rule of Saint Francis of Assisi (including Pope Francis took its name), has made it its mission to share the daily life of those whom society does not want.

“Source of joy”

Arnaud Fournier Montgieux’s intention is generous: after a first documentary on Auzat l’Auvergnat in 2018, the director, attached to the question of the meaning of life, wants to show that “The relationship with the most fragile can be a source of joy”, overcoming the difficulty of presenting on screen the suffering, vulnerability and fragility of those he films. The project was born in 2016, a few years after meeting François.

Thus Brother François, in the radical demand of his apostolic vocation, has lived for four years in the community of the Newark ghetto, in New Jersey (United States). “Blessed are you poor people, for the kingdom of God is yours”, is it written in the Beatitudes of the Gospel of Luke. The religious, often filmed in front of the camera – like his brothers in the community, whose entire life we ​​will discover governed by charity, prayer and poverty – sees Jesus in the other, the crucified in the poor and the poor. oppressed.

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