I am the Founder of the "Order of Franciscan Hermits" - an Ecumenical Association of Franciscans who work to promote LOVE and WORLD PEACE through Contemplative Prayer, and working with the poor and suffering in the world. We have over 1400 Members and Associates in over 36 countries throughout the world. Each member works independently in their community and are responsible for their own funding.
I am asking for your help to assist me in my life-long dream of founding a Monastery for men who are suffering with Drug Addiction and Alcoholism... "Our Lady of Serenity Monastery." This is more than a mere "Sober Living" environment… it is a Spiritual way of life to help heal those who a ready to LIVE for God!
I am the oldest of 3 children, and just before I turned 4 years old, BOTH of my parents were killed by a drunk driver. I was told many years later that my Mother was pregnant at the time. The man who hit my parents also died in the accident. My Brother and I were raised by my Grandmother on my Father's side, and my Sister was raised by my Aunt on my Mother's side. My Aunt and her Husband were transferred out of the country for work, and here we are 45+ years later and my Sister still lives out of the country! We only saw each other about every 2 years growing up, so this is (or it seems to be) a VERY TRAGIC STORY!
Yes... FOR SURE it is HORRIBLE what happened to us, but if you ask my Brother, Sister or I if we would have changed anything, we each would say the same thing, "While it would have been nice to have parents and grow up with our siblings, God had a different plan for us. He gave us these challenges to teach us how short Life is, and to LIVE EVERY MOMENT with no regrets. To LOVE and to FORGIVE." None of us would have changed this Life Lesson! Everything turned out for the best for us.
To the soul of the man who drastically changed our lives by killing our parents... WE LOVE YOU! WE FORGIVE YOU! IT IS OK!
After receiving a degree in Religious & Theological Studies, I joined a Roman Catholic Franciscan Community. My time there was amazing, but I felt that God was asking me to take what I learned there and to LIVE it in the World.
Since leaving, I have worked in various capacities with the Homeless and those with Drug and Alcohol Addiction for over 25 years. I have personally never been drunk or used any drugs - EVER, but I have tremendous LOVE and COMPASSION for those who suffer with these challenges. I have worked at a Retreat Center which gave retreats for all of the various 12 Step "Anonymous" programs, so I am very familiar with the 12 Steps even though I am not a member of any 12 Step programs.
There are MANY people who have NO ONE left to LOVE or Support them Emotionally or Spiritually due to their substance abuse and the abuse they've shown their family. I was told by my Grandmother that NO ONE even claimed the body of the man that killed my parents, even though his Mother was still alive. The people that I have worked with KNOW that I HAVE ENOUGH LOVE FOR THEM, Even if their families don't!
The idea of a Monastery for people with Substance Addiction was given to me when I first left my Franciscan Community. Many years have passed, but I am now ready to turn this dream into a reality.
"Our Lady of Serenity Monastery" is NOT a replacement for the 12 Step Program... it is NOT therapy and there is no guarantee for recovery. The Monastery IS a HOME... a FAMILY... a LOVING and SUPPORTIVE - SPIRITUAL Environment where the Brothers don't just "survive" but THRIVE because they learn to reclaim their God-Given Dignity and come to know that their past is in the past. That their "Sins have been Forgiven" and they CAN and WILL be Successful in their Lives.
Each Brother will be responsible for contributing financially to the support and upkeep of the Monastery. They will be expected to participate in all group classes and events. Preference will be given to existing Members or Associates of the Order of Franciscan Hermits who struggle with Addiction, but Members of the OFH who do not have addictions who feel called to work and live with those that do are also welcome to join this community. This Monastery will be more of a traditional monastic community, rather than a Hermitage as daily interaction with the other Brothers (prayer, work and meals) is expected.
The Monastery will be set up where a few of the Brothers can remain there for the rest of their lives helping to continue the Monastery's healing work, and then there will always be room for transitional Monks who come on extended Retreats to heal and restore their Sobriety until such a time that they feel confident that they can return to "Society" and live a "Normal" life. They will take what they learned in the Monastery, and LIVE it in the World, just like I did.
I have located a property that was a former motel which has 9 Bedrooms. This is an ideal amount of space to form a Monastic Family environment. The property is on .86 of an acre... plenty of room to put in a small orchard, raise chickens, and build an Organic Aquaponic Garden to provide for an abundance of vegetables and fish. Aquaponic Gardens can grow food with up to 95% less water that traditional (in ground) gardening. The property is in a very poor community in Arizona of only 450 people in what is called a "Food Desert" which means there are no fresh vegetables or stores locally... you have to drive to the next town to get fresh food. By growing our own food at the Monastery, the Brothers will learn how to work closely with nature which builds a sense of accomplishment and pride, and the abundance can be either sold to support the Monastery or given to those in need.
The Monastery will hold regular guided and private Retreats and can also serve as a location for the various "Anonymous" 12 Step Programs to hold their meetings, as well as being a Community Center for other events. As I said, there are only 450 people who live in this small town!
The $200,000 asked for will pay for the property and furnishings, as well as the orchard, chickens, and a large Aquaponics System to provide for all of the fresh organic vegetables and fish for the Monastery, as well as surplus for the local community. I would also like to install Solar Panels to provide for all of our electrical needs, but that is not included in the price of our original campaign.
Since this is a specific property that is currently on the market, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Once $2,000 of the money is raised for attorney's fees, I will create a non-profit organization for this (independent) Monastery so that your donations can be deducted for tax-purposes. The non-profit will own the property, so no one-individual will benefit from your donations... the entire non-profit will benefit. If this particular property is sold before we have collected enough funds to purchase it, there is a second property in a different state that is smaller that could be considered.
NOTE: This Monastery will be run Independently and Separately from the Order of Fransican Hermits as its own non-profit organization.
If you own a similar property with individual cabins/land or know someone who does who would like to donate the property for a Monastery, please email me at BrPaul@FranciscanHermits.org with the details and we can discuss those options. If you would like to make a large donation and would prefer to have the non-profit organization created/approved prior to your donation, please contact me so we can start that process ASAP.
Thank You in Advance for your LOVE and Support. Even if you can't help monitarily, we appreciate your Prayers and if you would Share this page on your Facebook & Twitter.
PAX ET BONUM = PEACE and GOODNESS...
Br. Paul, OFH
Founder & Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits