little brother

Why “Little Brother”? St. Francis of Assisi never intended to be the founder of a religious Order. But he soon found himself surrounded by men and women who were fascinated by the good news of the Gospel and wanted, like him, to live as Jesus and the apostles had done. He wrote in his Testament:

“After the Lord gave me brothers, no-one showed me what I should do, but the Most High himself showed me that I should live the holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  And he also said: “I want my Order to be called the Order of Little Brothers”. You may be familiar with the name “Friars Minor”, which refers to members of the Franciscan Order today. ‘Friar’ means brother and ‘Minor’ means little or lowly. So, two little words, “little brother”, sum up the vision of St Francis of Assisi.

But where did Francis get this idea from? He got it by treasuring the words of the Gospel and pondering them day and night in his heart. He was overwhelmed by the fact that the almighty God, creator of everything that is, should make himself small enough to come among us as a baby in the manger. That he, “the lord and master”, should humble himself to wash the feet of his disciples; that he gave his life and poured out his blood on the cross, and made that moment present for all time by giving himself to them in a humble piece of bread and a simple cup of wine; that he told his followers to call no-one on earth father because they were all children of their Father in heaven.

Francis was a spiritual genius who went right to the heart of the gospel. He saw that the basic relationship among all Christians, whatever their nationality or race or caste or language, was that they were brothers and sisters of each other, equally loved and cherished by their heavenly Father. And he insisted that his brothers would not hold any power over any another person – least of all among themselves – because they were to be like Jesus, who washed his disciples’ feet. “Among the pagans, their great men make their authority felt… It must not be so among you. No, whoever wants to be the first among you, must be the servant of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for all”

This is why Franciscans have no titles, but simply call each other “brother”. Francis saw that every created thing, the earth itself and all its wonderful variety, comes from the hand of the same loving Father. And so he even referred to all creatures as “brother sun, sister moon, brother wolf….”. This is why Blessed Pope John Paul II named him as the patron of all those who care for and protect our earth.

Why this blog?: With all my Franciscan brothers and sisters throughout the world, I have been blessed to see something of the wonder that Francis saw in the gospel of Jesus. I hope to share it with you through this site. Here you can click on the various headings and discover more about the Church and the Franciscan world, with articles, thoughts and prayers which I hope you will find of interest. And I hope very much you will want to contribute too, by sharing thoughts and ideas that mean something to you.

As there are plenty of sites available in English for catholic reflections, my main writings will be here in Telugu.

About little brother: Born on 1 May 1978 at Rampuram, Warangal District of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, India. Baptized as Gopu Arogya Chinnappa Reddy, and called as Gopu Praveen Kumar.

Schooling: Primary School at Fathima School, Manugonda parish in Warangal diocese, Andhra Pradesh, India. Upper Primary at Sacred Heart School, Kanchanapalli parish, Warangal diocese, Andhra Pradesh, India. High School St. Alphonse High School, Karimnagar, Warangal diocese, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Call to Religious Life: I received the call to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins when Fr. Avito Pottukulam OFM Cap. came to the boarding where I was doing my 10th class. He narrated the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Order. Inspired by the life of St. Francis of Assisi, decided to join the Friars.

Religious Formation: *Pre-Postulancy (1993-1996) at Enikepadu, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. *Postulancy (1996-1997) and Novitiate (1997-1998) at Kattappana, and Muvattupuzha in KERALA respectively. *Philosophical course (1998-2001) in Vijnananilayam Degree College, Janampet, Eluru diocese, Andhra Pradesh. *Regency (2001-2002) at Assisi Ashram, Pre-Postulancy, Vijayawada Diocese, Andhra Pradesh. *Theological studies (2002-2006) in Vijnananilayam, institute of Religion at Janampet, Eluru diocese, Andhra Pradesh.

Important Moments: *First Profession on 15 May 1998. *Perpetual Profession on 15 May 2004. *Ordained priest on 8 January 2006.

Priestly Ministry: *Assistant Parish Priest at Br. Joseph Thamby Ashram, Pedavutapalli, Vijayawada diocese from February to April 2006. *Provincial Secretary from 1 May 2006 to May 2009. *Service in Capuchin Generalate in Rome from July 2009 - September 2013. Licentiate in Biblical Theology in Angelicum University, Rome from October 2013 to June 2015. Vice Rector of Brindisi Bhavan, Janampet, from October 2015 to April 2016.

My Inspiration: My Great Grand Mother - Late Gopu Chinnamma: I am most happy to present to you all My Great Grandmother, who is my inspiration. She is now nearing 100 years old and still strong enough to go for long. She is so holy and prayerful. We call her 'the Prayer House of the Gopu family'. Indeed, she is the source of inspiration for all of us especially to all the young ones in our family. She has been great power and model for all of us. Personally, to be a strong and committed religious, she has been my role-model and source of inspiration. I learned a lot from her life and still have much to learn. May her soul rest in peace!

At Present: Brindisi Bhavan, Janampet, Eluru, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA.

My brother and my sister: May the Lord give you Peace, and all that is good!

Contact:

Fr. Praveen Kumar Gopu, OFM Cap.
M.A. Psychology, Licentiate in Biblical Theology
St. Francis College (Theology Formation House)
Janampet, Vijayarai, Eluru - 534 475, A.P., INDIA
Professor of Theology