SAR Directorate’s Aging with Grace Video Series: A Moment With… David McBriar

HNP Communications HNPNow

In the latest installment of the video series Aging with Grace, David McBriar, OFM, says his more than 60 years as a friar have been filled with great joy.

David McBriar, OFM

“Only joy, no regrets,” David says with enthusiasm in the June 2023 release–og of the monthly video series produced by HNP’s Sick, Aged and Retired Directorate.

“I am very happy in the life I have lived. I have a few health problems, but let that be as it may. I am here now, retired, in St. Petersburg, Florida – paradise to many of us,” says David in the opening of his narrative, A Moment With… David McBriar, which was video-recorded at St. Anthony Friary, where he lives with the friar fraternity.

The SAR Directorate series highlights elder friars in short videos, anywhere from two to five minutes, during which they share their wisdom and personal stories and experiences about Franciscan life, vocation, ministry, and retirement. Matthew Pravetz, OFM, chair of the SAR Directorate, is producer of the video series, with Joe Juracek, OFM, serving as videographer, and Kevin McGoff, OFM, serving as editor.

“I have been in pastoral and [education] ministry [as] pastor of parishes and teaching at [universities]… Berkeley, The Franciscan School of Theology, Siena College. I loved the classroom, I loved the students and I still keep in contact with some of them, would you believe?” says David, whose diverse ministerial life has also included justice and peace advocacy, chaplaincy with incarcerated on death row, and organizer of pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

“I also loved the pastoral experience… [especially] ministering to the Secular Franciscan fraternity,” adds David, who says in the video that he found his religious vocation as a student at Notre Dame University when he joined the Secular Franciscans (then called the Third Order).

During his narrative, David recalls an encounter that he said transformed the Parish of Immaculate Conception in Durham, North Carolina, where he was serving as pastor at the time. “I was getting ready for the 11:00 a.m. Mass. All of a sudden, I hear singing outside,” he recounts in the video, noting that he went outside to investigate.

“There was a group of about 40 people, all Latino, and they had a little statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They were singing the beautiful hymn to Our Lady about the mountain, the place where Mary appeared to Juan Diego,” says David. “I said to one of the women – her name was Maria Torres – ‘What are you all doing here?’ And she said, ‘We’ve come to join your parish.’”

When he asked how they arrived at this decision, the woman said that the group didn’t like the parish they were attending. “I said, ‘That’s a good reason. You are welcome here!’ From that day on, the parish was transformed. Today, 30% of the congregation is Latino. It is a magnificent place. We founded all sorts of [ministries]. One of my favorites was Durham CAN (Congregations Assemblies & Neighborhoods). We brought together all faith communities – across the street was a Baptist church, a few blocks up was a mosque, and a few blocks further up was a Jewish synagogue. We all came together to try to make a difference in the growing metropolis of Durham,” says David, a New Jersey native who is the eldest of four children.

David talks of his friendship with Mike Krzyzewski, the legendary former head coach of men’s basketball at Duke University. “We became close friends and, together, we built the magnificent Emily K Family Life Center named after (Coach K’s) mother,” explains David. “The Center has served thousands of young people over the years. It’s a beautiful tribute to what we can do together as citizens and believers.”

David concludes his narrative with these words: “Those of you watching this video, God bless you. And if you are considering becoming a [Franciscan] friar, all the best! If you are a friar, [know that] there may be a few ups and downs. Hang in there! Know that it is a glorious life. I have no regrets, but only gratitude to God for who I am, where I am, and what I have been given. I’d move those honors to each of you.”