Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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20180404T1207 16361 CNS OBIT FREEMAN LEGIONARIES 800Legionaries of Christ Brother Anthony Freeman, 29, a U.S. seminarian from Houston studying in Rome, was found dead in his room April 2. Italian authorities are investigating the death. The "millennial" seminarian was very active in evangelization efforts on social media. He is pictured is this October 2017 photo. (CNS photo/courtesy Legionaries of Christ)ROME (CNS) -- Friends and fans called him a "gentle giant," a faithful "prayer warrior" and a Clark Kent whose superman power was helping people grow in holiness and faith. 

"I believe I truly knew a saint," one friend wrote. 

The written comments were among the hundreds of condolence messages, prayers and stories submitted to an "in memoriam" page on the RegnumChristi.org website for Legionary of Christ Brother Anthony Freeman of Houston. 

The U.S. seminarian, who was a third-year theology student at Rome's Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, died unexpectedly at the age of 29. He was scheduled to be ordained a deacon July 7 in Houston.

He was found dead in his room April 2 after classmates realized he had not joined them for a scheduled outing.

The university called Italian authorities, who were still conducting an investigation and autopsy as of April 4 to determine the cause of death.

He'd had supper with the seminary community April 1 after serving as an acolyte that day at the Pope Francis' Easter morning Mass, carrying the cross in the opening procession. 

"They usually pick the tallest person" to carry the cross to give it prominence, and "he was tall and strong and to bear the cross was very symbolic" in hindsight, Legionary Father Aaron Smith told Catholic News Service April 4.

Born in Houma, Louisiana, in 1988 to Brian and Debbie Freeman, Brother Freeman studied at Legionary institutes in Center Harbor, New Hampshire; Colfax, California; Cheshire, Connecticut; and Thornwood, New York.

He started studying in Rome in 2013 and received the ministry of acolyte in 2017.

This "millennial" seminarian used social media and email to connect with and inspire countless people to seek holiness and happiness in Christ.

On Facebook, he called himself a "difference maker, Vatican spiritual guide, helping leaders become apostles." 

He managed a "Catholic Life Coach" page on Facebook and had more than 11,000 followers on his Instagram account, @catholic_life_coach.

He posted inspirational memes like "Maybe you won't be a saint by the end of the day, but you can be one step closer" and brief YouTube videos offering further thoughts and reflections about his posts and vocation.

The idea, he said on his website -- branthonyfreeman.com -- is that too much "motivational material that exists is about getting fit, rich or laid. That's not good enough. We NEED motivation and encouragement for living out our faith." 

After a fellow brother showed him a book of business slogans and after a fan had asked him to offer deeper explanations of his inspirational phrases on his accounts, he was inspired to write a book. The result was "One Step Closer: 40 Doses of Motivation, Hacks and Experiences to Share with Millennial Catholics," published in January 2018. 

His online outreach, extensive travel, ministry offering tours of the Vatican and his outgoing personality meant, according to numerous commenters on the Regnum Christi memorial page, that he had a huge impact on people, all over the world. 

"He truly impacted my life. His love for life and the Lord inspired me and pushed me deeper into my relationship with God. His spirit was gentle and yet on fire and contagious," said one commenter.

Another wrote, "You were a marvel on social media! I felt like I knew you even though we never met. You always responded to my messages right away and were a beacon of light for all those you touched. You were Christ for others on this planet!"

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.