I am confident the Risen Lord has welcomed him as his “good and faithful servant.”
These words were among the reflections following the death of Brother Anthony Freeman, LC, Legionaries of Christ, a Louisiana native, who died on the night of April 1-2, at the age of 29, at the International College of Legionaries of Christ in Rome.
Medical examinations communicated to the congregation on April 6 confirmed that the death was due to a dilated cardiomyopathy. On April 1, Brother Anthony, after finishing spiritual exercises, served the Easter Sunday Mass presided by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, carrying the processional cross. That afternoon, he met with some people and in the evening, he dined with his community.
Brother Anthony was scheduled to be ordained to the transitional diaconate this July followed by ordination to the sacred priesthood the following year. Those who knew him say he was always positive.
Through his social media activities, he motivated thousands of people, by encouraging people to live joyous, holy lives. After receiving much encouragement from his social media followers, he also wrote a popular book called “One Step Closer: 40 Doses of Motivation, Hacks, and Experiences to Share with Millennial Catholics.”
Brother Anthony’s new book One Step Closer was one of the many fruits of his holy ambition to bring the light of Christ to as many people as possible. He had a successful Instagram account, Catholic Life Coaching blog, and Facebook account to share the beauty of his faith.
Two Legionary priests who knew Brother Anthony well reflect here on the fruitful life taken so early.
Epitomized how to Make Best Use of Little Time God Gives Us — by Fr Alex Yeung
The news of Br Anthony’s passing hit me very hard. I have known him since his philosophical studies from 2008-2010 in New York, where I was his teacher of Philosophy of Man. When I was transferred to Rome, I also had the grace of being his teacher for Licentiate courses in Philosophy from 2013-2015. He had to work hard in the intellectual field, but I have seen him not only grow, but flourish, and even write produce his first book this past spring. This generous dedication was evident in the other areas of his priestly and religious formation: growing to be a true gentleman, a great sportsman and team player, creative in organizing evangelization projects, a conscientious leader, a loyal friend and brother.
In my work with the Sacerdos Institute for Priestly Life and Ministry, Br Anthony was our right-hand man without whose generous and efficient help it would have been impossible to run the International Course for Priestly Formators in Rome two summers in a row (2016, 2017), and a session of the Spiritual Renewal for Priests in Jerusalem (2017). I was looking very much forward to his upcoming diaconate ordination (July 2018) and priesthood, knowing that they would further boost his love for the Lord and his evangelical zeal.
Br Anthony was someone who had assimilated the principle inculcated in our Legionary formation of the making the best use of little time we are given by the Lord.
Somehow in God’s merciful providence, Br Anthony was called home now, just after a week of Spiritual Exercises, and having been the cross-bearer for the Pope’s Easter morning Mass.
I am confident the Risen Lord has welcomed him as his “good and faithful servant”.
Thank God for Time With Him, Trust Well Prepared to Meet Risen Lord — by Father Michael Baggot
I was thrilled to greet Br. Anthony at breakfast early on Easter Sunday morning with the other brothers preparing to serve the Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square. He had just finished his Holy Week retreat and I congratulated him for a recent video interview I had watched about his new book One Step Closer. His book was one of the many fruits of his holy ambition to bring the light of Christ to as many people as possible. He had various successful social media accounts and was already planning a new program to help young couples navigate the dating scene according to Gospel principles. He and I shared a deep passion for the Vatican and therefore often crossed paths on our respective tours of the Vatican Museums or St. Peter’s Basilica.
While he was an active apostle outside our college, he was just as zealous in his joy filled living of community life with his brothers. Whether we were scrubbing pots and pans together, exchanging goofy jokes, or playing basketball, he managed to spread his infectious joy throughout the whole community. He was also a man of prayer who spent long hours conversing with his beloved Eucharistic Lord. He was even thoughtful enough to spend those many hours in the back of our chapel so as not to obscure our views with his imposing height.
I thank God for the four and a half years I was able to spend with Br. Anthony in Rome. A Holy Week of spiritual exercises, an Easter Sunday Mass as Pope Francis’s acolyte, and the Urbi et Orbi blessing formed a fitting coda to a beautiful life.
I will miss him dearly but trust that he was well prepared to meet the Risen Lord to whom he had dedicated his entire life.