This is the first episode of an ongoing series. For the next episode, click here.
Everyone has that one friend who always has an interesting story. No matter what you’re talking about or who you’re with, that friend always seems to have an experience that is so entertaining and over-the-top that you begin to doubt whether any of it is even real.
In my experience discerning with the friars back in 2010, Br. Fred Dilger, OFM was that friend for me. Living with him and the other friars for two months, I heard more stories about his life than I can possibly share.
There’s the story of him wanting to be an actor after high school. Rather than attending a school for the arts, something that his parents thought would be a waste of money, they decided to encourage his dream by dropping him off in New York City and telling him to see if he could make it. He didn’t, realized it wasn’t for him, and saved at least two years of his life.
Or his first interview at a powerful architecture and interior design firm. When asked where he saw himself in five years, his ambition and drive blurted out, “Your office, higher floor.”
That story only gets better when you find out where he actually was in five years. Having extraordinary talent and business savvy, Br. Fred found himself running his own interior design firm with none other than Elton John, a close personal friend, as his first client. Oh, and he also did design work for John Mellencamp, John Reid, John Bon Jovi… and I’m sure other people not named John.
There was the first time he tried to cook for himself in his Manhattan apartment. Unsuccessful, he thought, because the oven was broken, he found out later that it simply had never been plugged in. This was during his fourth year in that apartment.
But nothing beats his call to religious life. Feeling a little unsettled in his work and wanting some time away, he asked his assistant to book him “a nice room at the monastery” near him, “something overlooking water or something.” Even though his assistant told him that, “They don’t do that sort of thing,” he went anyway. Scandalized by the fact that he would have to share a bathroom with a stranger, he decided to leave quietly, stopping for evening prayer on his way out. Within minutes, he felt a tremendous and undeniable call from God and knew his life needed to change. He called one of his sisters that night to tell her that he was selling his business to join the monastery. And he did.
These are just a few of the stories that make Br. Fred, Fred. And they haven’t stopped since he’s entered the friars now a decade later. Of all places one might have expected him to choose as his first assignment, he chose the poorest one with the most manual labor: St. Francis Inn, a place for people to be served a hot meal restaurant-style 365 days a year. Even in the most ordinary of places, Br. Fred continues to find the extraordinary. While this video, the first of a seven-part series, doesn’t come close to capturing all that makes his life a friar life, it offers a piece of who Br. Fred is and what he brings to this life.
For email subscribers, click here to view this video.