The story of the pope’s late crossbearer, a seminarian who wanted to ‘make holiness normal’

Countless people know Anthony Freeman as the young seminarian who died tragically and unexpectedly the day after Easter, hours after carrying the cross in the procession for the papal Mass. After an autopsy, doctors determined that he suffered from an undiagnosed congenital heart condition.  He was 29.

But what many may not know—and what needs to be known—is that Brother Anthony was just beginning to have a profound impact on millennial Catholics through social media, videos and a new book published just last January.

From CNS: 

This “millennial” seminarian used social media and email to connect with and inspire countless people to seek holiness and happiness in Christ. On Facebook, he called himself a “difference maker, Vatican spiritual guide, helping leaders become apostles.”

He managed a “Catholic Life Coach” page on Facebook and had more than 11,000 followers on his Instagram account, @catholic_life_coach. He posted inspirational memes like “Maybe you won’t be a saint by the end of the day, but you can be one step closer” and brief YouTube videos offering further thoughts and reflections about his posts and vocation.

The idea, he said on his website — branthonyfreeman.com — is that too much “motivational material that exists is about getting fit, rich or laid. That’s not good enough. We NEED motivation and encouragement for living out our faith.”

After a fellow brother showed him a book of business slogans and after a fan had asked him to offer deeper explanations of his inspirational phrases on his accounts, he was inspired to write a book. The result was “One Step Closer: 40 Doses of Motivation, Hacks and Experiences to Share with Millennial Catholics,” published in January 2018.

His online outreach, extensive travel, ministry offering tours of the Vatican and his outgoing personality meant, according to numerous commenters on the Regnum Christi memorial page, that he had a huge impact on people, all over the world.

“He truly impacted my life. His love for life and the Lord inspired me and pushed me deeper into my relationship with God. His spirit was gentle and yet on fire and contagious,” said one commenter.

Another wrote, “You were a marvel on social media! I felt like I knew you even though we never met. You always responded to my messages right away and were a beacon of light for all those you touched. You were Christ for others on this planet!”

His website—branthonyfreeman.com—still has his videos and blog postings. The home page proudly proclaimed his mission statement: “Let’s make holiness normal.” There’s also an Amazon link to buy his book, “One Step Closer,” which has this description of the contents:

What’s Inside?

  • Why being a minimalist happiness seeker doesn’t work…
  • Motivational phrases that keep you inspired and connected with your life purpose
  • Discover your call to holiness and the mentality that makes it possible
  • My biggest temptation as a seminarian
  • Discover step-by-step plans to grow in virtue in your life
  • Thoughts to provoke questions on the way you look at your life purpose, relationships, rules and the Gospel
“Millennials crave quick and insightful reasoning, this is the perfect book to give them a head start on their journey towards holiness.” — Richy OrozcoFounder of Catholic Connect

In the video below, he speaks from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem about his vocation, and the sudden death of his grandfather. Watch it and marvel at what was — and grieve for what might have been. This young man had a rare spirit and sense of purpose. Anthony Freeman had something to say that the world needed to hear.

Pass it on.

 


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