LAVEEN — Marking a pivotal moment for the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit, the last of the community’s seven founders, Br. Peter Teresa McConnell, professed his final vows June 24.

“He is now lifelong committed to live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. For Franciscans, that’s very important because St. Francis wasn’t a priest,” explained Fr. Antony Tinker, FHS, the order’s community servant or leader. “For the Franciscan way of life, the big to-do is today.”

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted presided over the Holy Mass of Religious Consecration at St. John the Baptist Church, which included the brother’s profession of vows and laying prostrate before the bishop and signing his name to the vows at the altar, in what he called a “historic moment.”

Br. Peter Teresa McConnell, FHS, signs the oath of fidelity to the bishop and the community prior to professing his solemn vows June 24. Looking on is Fr. Antony Tinker, community servant for the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit. (Photo courtesy of Jesus Valencia/CATHOLIC MEDIA MINISTRY)

The community, whose charism includes serving in Native American ministry, is a “public association of the faithful,” meaning the bishop serves as its superior and members profess obedience directly to him.

“It is a great joy for me to join with you today,” the bishop told the congregation, which included Br. Peter Teresa’s parents and two of his five siblings, all of whom traveled to the Southwest from their homes in Pennsylvania.

In his homily, Bishop Olmsted detailed what entering into the order’s “rules and life” encompass: a lifetime commitment to serving its community through the promise of obedience, poverty and chastity — three characteristics reflected in the stories of the two saints for whom Br. Peter Teresa is named. The bishop urged him to follow Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s example in poverty and the exhortation Jesus gave Simon Peter when he asked him three times, “Do you love me?”

“My spiritual son, … by giving you a new name and two great saints to be your patrons, Jesus was preparing you, in life and death, to hear with a sense of joy and awe His words, ‘it was not you who chose me, but I who chose you,’” the bishop said.

“Jesus chose you to be His own, to be His friend, to receive His love as a pure gift, to remain in His love and to be His witness, a witness of a love deep waters cannot quench or floods cannot sweep away.”

When the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit were established — nearly a year to the day before Br. Peter Teresa’s final vows —five of the members were already priests and six of them professed final vows while Br. Peter Teresa professed temporary vows. The community now has three novices serving it.

Br. Peter Teresa McConnell, FHS, places his hands inside those of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, promising obedience. (Photo courtesy of Jesus Valencia/CATHOLIC MEDIA MINISTRY)

As for Br. Peter Teresa, he desires to use his gifts as a solemnly professed Franciscan to serve and love whoever God puts in his path. He will be completing his seminary studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

“I just want to be available to serve in whatever way He wants. That means following these vows and reflecting the life of Christ.”