Thy Kingdom Come! – a battle cry for us all – Br Anthony Freeman
Welcome to our Heroes in Heaven Series, where we would like to take a few weeks to introduce you to some people that we look up to, who have been incredible supporters of our ministry, and helped shape part of our work.
Our first hero is none other than our dearest friend and kindred-spirit in ministry, Br Anthony Freeman.
Br Anthony was a soul that we encountered many years ago, thanks to the algorithms of Social Media. We were both in the same field of interest – virtues. He was a Legionary of Christ Seminarian from Louisana, studying in Rome. A gentle, and friendly giant full of zeal and innovation for spreading the Gospel. It was easy to be a supporter of his work, and I was so grateful to God to have found someone in ministry who just ‘got it’ when it came to our mission and work.
We had so many conversations about the world, and how we can better serve faithful Christians in the formation of the virtues. One of them was Br Anthony’s book that he had written over Lent, and I had the pleasure of reading over the draft and giving him feedback. I can still remember the many hours of sitting with Jesus in the chapel reading his works, praying about what these lines meant for me, and what if any feedback I should give Br Anthony. After several weeks, we had a couple of phone calls as he was trying to decide what headings and images he should use for the book. I can still remember when he settled on the title for his book. It was perfect for him ‘One Step Closer’. That’s all his mission and ministry was about, building up the Kingdom of God one step at a time. I can also remember all the ‘umm-ing’ and ‘err-ing’ with him about the subtitle as he rattled off a few options, with me saying ‘too wordy – not quite punchy enough – that’s a bit confusing.’ After a while of trying to tweak the options he said, ‘well… there is one other subtitle I’ve thought of… 40 doses of motivations and hacks to share with millennial Catholics’ and my immediate response was ‘Br Anthony, why didn’t you lead with that one!’ and we laughed.
In the end, Virtue Ministry had the greatest privilege of writing the foreword to his book.
One line that stuck with me that he repeated in written form, and he talks about in his book is ‘TKC!’ – Thy Kingdom Come! I remember asking him about that one day. He explained that TKC is like his Battle cry. It was his personal mission statement to bring about the Kingdom of God. Having prayed the Lord’s prayer so many times, I am personally a fan of ‘Thy will be done’, but I never really paid much attention to the line before it, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ until Br Anthony. In many ways, they are both the same yet different, and I so appreciated that he could see something I couldn’t, and that his inner BeAST (Be A Saint) calling was so on fire for God, wanting to turn every opportunity and moment of the day into prayer.
When it’s hard, TKC!
When it’s easier not to, TKC!
In the face of joyous news, TKC!
Sticking to your commitments, TKC!
And he really lived this, starting from his first words in morning prayer, all the way through to his email signatures, TKC!
His faith was inspiring. He always had our backs. Whenever we were invited to give a workshop or a talk, Br Anthony prayed for us. We even struck a wishful deal, that someday he’d sit in on one of my workshops, even if it meant I’d have to fly out to whatever church in the world he was serving in.
His book was launched ahead of Lent 2018, and then he went to complete his spiritual exercises ahead of his priestly ordination. He returned filled with peace and ended up cross bearer for the Papal Easter Mass on April 1st. I wished him a Happy and Holy Easter, and he wished us the same and assured us of his prayers. Little did I know, that would be the last communication I’d receive from him on earth.
On Easter Monday, Br Anthony was found dead in his bed from a heart condition at the age of 30.
To say that I was shocked when the Legionaries of Christ made the announcement is an understatement. I was in denial, until I could no longer deny it. I cried tears of sadness for our loss, for his family, for his brother seminarians, and for the world that wouldn’t get to have him around anymore. Then I cried tears of trust, that God was SO good to allow and align Br Anthony, who was a seminarian, to be the cross bearer for the Pope’s Easter Mass, allow him to complete his spiritual exercises days prior and publish his book ‘One Step Closer’ in the same year that he would be called home to God. God’s timing astounded me, and tears of mercy flowed and have continued to be shed every year as I remember Br Anthony, and how generous God was towards his faithful child.
Now, I trust that Br Anthony continues to intercedes for us and for those that we encounter even more powerfully than before. In spirit, he is with us at every one of our engagements and when we used to speak to young people about friendship, Br Anthony was the example we used of a Virtuous friend who prays for you and the good works you do for love of God, even after this life.
Make every day count, and keep taking ‘one step closer’ towards the Kingdom of God.
By Stina Constantine
Founder of Virtue Ministry