An Interview with Brother Ronan Sharpley

by Gordon Nary


Gordon: Why did you decide to become a Franciscan?


Brother Ronan: I met an Irish Friar in central America where I have been working for an NGO as an Engineer. He really impressed me with the way he was a brother to the poor people in the local town. The people of the town also really respected the Friars for staying with them throughout the Civil War. I could see that their way of life and the peaceful witness to fraternal ties that they gave is something that the world really needs.


Gordon: When did you attend seminary and what was the most interesting course that your took, and why was it so interesting?


Brother Ronan: I just finished attending seminary last September 2020 in the Gregorian University in Rome. The most interesting course that I took was probably fundamental theology II as it combined philosophy with theology in making our Christian faith credible to the modern world.


Gordon: Where your first assignment and what are some of your fondest memories there?


Brother Ronan: I am currently on my first assignment which is to create a youth ministry in Ireland for the Franciscans. However I have been involved in youth ministry in my formation especially in Ireland. My fondest memories of that is the folk group that I set up with a few other young people from the area and we are still very good friends.


Gordon: What can parishes do to increase religious vocations?


Brother Ronan: I think good catechesis is key and maybe more of it geared towards young adults and adolescents. For example evening courses


Gordon: How can social media be used to promote vocations?


Brother Ronan: it could be useful to give people an insight to our actual lives. I think that is what people discerning a religious vocation are really looking for. They want to know if they feel at home with us which is an intuition. Social media can help them with that.


Gordon: What impact has Covid-19 had on Ireland?


Brother Ronan: I think it has caused people to really question whether they are committed to the faith or not and those who are left now at the end of the lockdown, which is a smaller cohort, are the more committed group. It has caused people to ask the bigger questions in life and more people look to religion and the Christian faith for answers to them.


Gordon: What is your favorite book and why is it your favorite?


Brother Ronan: I think CS Lewis, Surprised by Joy, as he is able to put his finger on that nebulous feeling that underpins our faith conviction without which our intellectual assent would be impossible.


Gordon: What are the primary challenges’ to Catholicism in Ireland?


Brother Ronan: The history that we have with the state


Gordon: What is your favorite prayer


Brother Ronan: A prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

Most high glorious God enlighten the darkness of my heart.

Give me a right faith, A sure hope and a perfect charity.

Grant me wisdom and knowledge that I may keep your holy and true Commandment. Amen


Gordon: Thank you for a beautiful interview that I know will be helpful to many.

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