Brother’s journey from Bronx to Bradford
A Dundonian Monk who was one of the stars of a BBC TV show about a group of Franciscan Friars working in a deprived area of Bradford has said he hopes ‘just one person would encounter God’ through watching the documentary.
Br Joshua is one of five Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (right) to appear in Bronx to Bradford: Friars on a Mission which was broadcast on the BBC on Holy Thursday.
He is the only Scottish member of the order, which was formed in New York in 1987 and works in deprived inner city areas to battling physical and spiritual poverty.
He told the SCO that the friars were approached by the BBC to make the documentary and agreed because you ‘hope it’s a source of evangelisation, that you reach just one person who is searching.’
The camera crew followed them around for seven weeks, tracking their work with the poor and daily prayer life.
“The first few weeks, it took some getting used to,” he said. “It just adds another thing to your life and they want an immediate response to situations you’re sometimes still processing, but you get used to it. ”
Br Joshua (above right), who was previously based in Harlem and South Bronx with the friars, said the area of Bradford they were in was worse than either.
“Those are rough neighbourhoods,” he said. “But there’s such a big need here. We’re always in areas like that, but Bradford is especially desperate. The drug use is very bad, the prostitution is rampant, there’s just a brokeneness here.” Still, he says most of the people that use the Friar’s soup kitchen’s are very grateful, most of the time.
“It’s not picking daisies,” he said. “But people are really appreciative when you have time for them. We’re fortunate in that we’ve got a lot of volunteers, which frees up the brothers to really take time, sit down and talk with people, which does matter to people.”
It was that taking the time that first drew him to the friars.
“My sister dragged me to a Catholic youth festival,” he recalls. “And a brother was there and he took time to talk to me. Later on I came back to the Faith and I had a really strong desire to give my life to the Lord and I know they lived a life centered around the Eucharist so that drew me to them, and I went to see them in London and something just fit.”
His sister, Rachel Munro, back in Scotland, said his family were all very proud of him. “I think it has been a good experience for him,” she said before the show was broadcast. “Mum and Dad will be rushing back from Church on Holy Thursday to watch it with the neighbours!”
Bronx to Bradford: Friars on a Mission can still be watched via BBC iPlayer
—This story ran in full in the April 14 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.