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Br Bernard Fonkalsrud OFM Conv at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents in Kellyville (Parramatta Diocese/Mary Brazell)

Br Bernard Mary Fonkalsrud OFM Conv feels a deep sense of calling as he takes on a new ministry on the other side of the world. Source: Catholic Outlook.

Br Bernard, who has been part of the Franciscan community at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville in the Parramatta Diocese since 2019, has been appointed as the vocations director for the Franciscan Province of St Bonaventure in the United States.  

The province is based in Chicago, and has communities ministering in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, with plans to outreach to the other Midwest states under their jurisdiction. The province also has general custody of all Conventual Franciscans in Australia. 

In September 2023, Br Bernard was recognised for the work he had been doing in Kellyville with the parish’s youth and young adults by the Minister Provincial, Fr Paul Langevin OFM Conv, who was in Australia for a national assembly of the friars. 

“After seeing what I’d been doing here in Australia in engaging with the young and young adults and acting as the vocations promoter in Australia, Fr Paul started to feel that I might be a good fit for the role,” Br Bernard said.

“It wasn’t an obedience, he didn’t force me to do it, because he realised it was a big ask to leave my life, family and friends in Australia, but he asked me to think and pray about it. 

“The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I thought I do feel a sense of calling, a pull and excitement at the prospect of this new ministry in America.”

Br Bernard will be the point of contact for men who are discerning a religious vocation with the Franciscans as either a priest or a brother and will be walking alongside the men as their guide and support. 

“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t passionate about being a Franciscan – our life, our traditions, our spirituality and history. Being able to share my passion and my love with men that are on the doorstep of thinking about this vocation and being able to share with them what I love about this order – this sense of mission excites me.”


Br Bernard on his new ministry in Chicago: “The Lord has my back”  (By Mary Brazell, Catholic Outlook)