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‘Ordinary’ upbringing leads brothers to extraordinary ministry

From left, Brother Angelus and Father Innocent Montgomery talk with Father Nathan Haverland before an event at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park. The two religious are also two of three triplets, whose mother works at Ascension School. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JOE MCSORLEY

by Carolyn Kaberline
Special to The Leaven

OLATHE — Any family with a religious vocation certainly feels blessed.

But Dick and LuAnne Montgomery experienced a double blessing when two of their sons decided on religious vocations.

Scott, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, was ordained May 28, and Rusty, now a friar in the same order, will be ordained in two years.

So how did one family end up with two vocations to the priesthood?

LuAnne will tell people that the story began 31 years ago — and that it’s been quite a journey for everyone, but especially for her, her husband Dick and the young men’s brother and sister.

“Our oldest son was 3 when I found out I was pregnant,” said LuAnne, who has worked as a school social worker for 38 years.

“I figured God had a good sense of humor when I found out I was going to have triplets,” she added.

The two boys and one girl were born in Wichita, then the family later moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, and finally to Kansas City, where LuAnne now works at Ascension School in Overland Park.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about the way her four children were raised, said LuAnne.

“We all went to Mass and said night and meal prayers,” she explained. “We emphasized service.”

Nor were their expectations for the kids too unusual.

“We saw them as someday married and having families of their own,” she said.

“However, one thing I found out is God has a plan,” added LuAnne. “I don’t.”

“Scott and Rusty have always been committed to their faith,” explained Dick. “Even in high school, they were involved in some innovative ministries. I was very proud of my kids who always lived lives that reflected what their mother and I hoped to pass on to them.”

Despite their involvement in several ministries, however, he was definitely surprised when they decided to take up religious life.

“We had envisioned a different life for them,” he said. “Looking back now, I realize that they are both passionate and dedicated men who give their everything in all that they do. That shows up in their vocation, and I am so proud.”

While Scott, now Father Innocent, felt a calling to the priesthood while he was in high school, Rusty, now known as Brother Angelus, wasn’t so sure.

“It was actually a surprise to me,” said Brother Angelus. “In high school, I used the excuse that if Father Innocent went to the seminary to become a priest, then I didn’t have to.

“But God had different plans. My junior year in college, I felt the call to discern more seriously what God was doing in my life. I couldn’t hide anymore!

“After I graduated, I told the Lord I would give him some time in [the] seminary.

“And that was in 2008.”

Father Innocent said that although he and his brother had the privilege of having “several amazing priests that taught at the high school that were super inspiring and really set an amazing example for us,” it wasn’t until college that he was introduced to the religious life.

“My brother and I went to New York City to help with the kids’ summer camp with the Missionaries of Charity,” said Father Innocent. “Their example of religious consecration and the Franciscan Friars who came to help every day at the camp was so amazing. Their joy, their prayerfulness, their peace . . . was so attractive.”

“They had responded to a call from God to give up everything to follow him,” he continued. “They had nothing to call their own, but were so full of life.”

Brother Angelus agreed.

“We were instantly attracted to the ‘Franciscan’ way of life and the way they lived the Gospel,” he said. “They were joyful men on fire for the Lord and serving others. They captured my heart. I wanted to give my life to the Lord in this way.”

Father Innocent said that was the first time that he realized what consecrated life was all about.

“From this point forward, I felt called to share this same joy,” he said. “God was calling me to share this gift.”

Both Father Innocent and Brother Angelus agree with their parents on their “normal” family upbringing.

“We prayed at meals and before bed, and went to Mass every Sunday,” said Brother Angelus. “Our house was always a place where priests came for dinner and were around. They were all a great inspiration for us.”

“Our parents passed on to us the gift of faith, but also the values and virtues that inspired us to work hard, respect others, do our best in everything,” he added. “We are so grateful!”

“Mom and Dad taught us to say the simple prayers before meals and before bed,” Father Innocent recalled. “Thank God there was a lot of natural virtue that formed our environment. They allowed us — when the time was right — to use this to explore a more intimate relationship with God.

“It was our time in high school where my relationship with God became more personal, and I wanted to start living with God at the center of my life.”

Father Innocent also noted that when he started to discern the priesthood and religious life, he was surprised at how challenging his decision was for his parents.

“It was all so new to them,” he said, “and my parents — as supportive as they were in life — struggled to understand what was going on in my vocational journey.

“This was a good lesson for me. My mom and dad are amazing, loving parents, but it was clear to me that we were all on a journey together.”

That journey has included not only the brothers’ work with their order of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, but also their attempts to reach millennials through their television program “Icons Spotlight,” which highlights the lives of Catholics doing amazing things in their faith.

So far, three programs have been produced, with plans for more as funds allow. The three episodes have already been seen around the world on EWTN and the Internet. In addition, a radio show, “Icons Impact,” currently airs in New Jersey and is slated for drive-time slots in five states.

The work of the two brothers has also led to the creation of the Live Greater Foundation, which the whole Montgomery family helps with.

“I was transitioning into retirement,” said Dick, “and my kids challenged me to think about creating a movement that encouraged others to care for the poor and vulnerable in our neighborhoods and cities.”

“It was right around the time of Pope Francis getting elected and really giving the world an incredible witness of care for those in need and spreading the Gospel,” he said.

“I am so grateful for the gentle challenge of the family and so humbled by the small impact we are making together with those who support us,” he added.

To view the three episodes of “Icons Spotlight,” go online and click on the link for TV. For podcasts, click on the link for Radio.

About the author

Carolyn Kaberline

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  • I am Lorna Jacobson resident of Alexandria, Virginia. It is inspiring to watch “ICONS” and the young priests.
    In the Catholic High School in the Philippines, the nuns raised us to be involved in “the other”.
    My 2 adult children are beautiful inside and out. I pray they find the “gentle challenge” of God. Marriage and having children seem out of reach yet their hearts are purely wanting to do all the good for the other. They stumble and fall in their belief in people but I do my best to inspire them and to walk with God in this journey called “living”.
    I thank you for sharing your sons with God’s family especially with those who crave to be in one.