Brotherhood of Hope

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The Brotherhood of Hope is a religious community of Catholic lay brothers founded by Fr. Philip Merdinger, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. The Brotherhood began on September 14, 1980 when Fr. Philip and five lay men made a public commitment to live single for the Lord. The Brotherhood received its vision for community life from the Servants of the Word, "an ecumenical, international Christian brotherhood of men living single for the Lord" from Ann Arbor, Michigan.[1] In 1985, the Brotherhood began their first mission of serving in campus ministry at Rutgers University where they also serve today.

In 1993, the Brotherhood was invited by Bishop John Mortimer Smith to the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida where they began to serve in campus ministry at Florida State University. The ministry at FSU, the Catholic Student Union, has developed into a flourishing ministry where many students have experienced deep conversions to Christ.[2]

In August 1995, the Brotherhood moved its headquarters to the Archdiocese of Boston under the invitation of Cardinal Bernard Francis Law. Members of the Brotherhood, Fr. Bob Oliver and Fr. Paul Helfrich were ordained to the Archdiocese of Boston on May 27, 2000 by Cardinal Law. Fr. Paul Helfrich was assigned to the Catholic Center of Boston University[3] where the Brotherhood served until 2011.

In 2004, Br. Rahl Bunsa was elected to succeed Fr. Philip as General Superior of the community. During this year, the Brotherhood also made a communal decision to remain an association solely of lay religious brothers. Any candidate who now enters the community does so with the intent of becoming a religious brother.

In 2005, the Brotherhood was invited by Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley to expand its ministry in Boston to serve at the Catholic Center at Northeastern University where it continues to serve today.

Life & Mission[edit]

The Brotherhood's Mission Statement is: "As Brothers totally consecrated by vows to Jesus Christ, we strive to manifest a vibrant witness of authentic religious Brotherhood. As evangelists, this radical consecration of God First, God Alone fuels our passion for advancing the Lord's Kingdom through the New Evangelization, primarily to college students at secular universities. Reaching out to inactive and uncommitted Catholics, we encourage conversion to Christ and His Church, and we train students to be leaders who empower others throughout their lives with this liberating hope." [4]

As members of a religious institute, brothers in the Brotherhood of Hope take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Their charism is the All-Sufficiency of Jesus Christ; a charism reflected in their motto "Primus Deus, Deus Solum" (God First, God Alone.) The Brotherhood continues to serve in campus ministries along the East Coast at Florida State University, Rutgers University,[5] and at Northeastern University[6] where it also serves many other schools in the Back Bay of Boston.


There are currently about 20 men in the Brotherhood of Hope at various stages of the life, living together and working in ministries in Boston, Massachusetts; New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Tallahassee, Florida.


The brothers have recorded two albums - A Season of Hope, recorded in 2003 this album has songs ranging from chant to gospel to contemporary music and seeks to rediscover Advent's treasures and enkindle hope. Into the Deep, recorded in 2006, this album is a musical summons to holiness - the call of all the baptized and the core of everyone's vocation in life. The CD contains hymns, chants, Spanish, Irish and contemporary music by the Brotherhood of Hope.


  1. ^ Servants of the Word Official Website
  2. ^ Catholic Student Union Official Website
  3. ^ Boston University Catholic Center Official Website
  4. ^ Brotherhood of Hope Official Website: Our Vision
  5. ^ Rutgers Catholic Center Official Website
  6. ^ Northeastern Catholic Center Official Website

External links[edit]