In Defence of Fr. Casey Cole

In Defence of Fr. Casey Cole February 4, 2021

Recently a video appeared in social media feeds by a youngish looking Catholic Franciscan priest called

‘Abortion is Not that Important”.

WHAT!

How can a religious say such heretical anti-Catholic things?

How dare he…

Why?

Wait a minute and calm down.

He is very pro-life and his open life on social media proves that.

Please read on and be educated about who this young man is and what he is about. Get to know him before you excommunicate him from the church.

About 10 years ago this ambitious young man named Casey Cole  began his public persona on social media with this post on his new blog, he called

Breaking in the Habit.

I must say that I never envisioned myself as the author of a blog. Had another friend not already self-proclaimed herself the “reluctant blogger” I would be all over that tagline. But as I realized, it is quite an effective way to keep myself accountably while keeping many people involved in my life. I hope that you’ll check out my “Why Blog?” page to learn a bit more about it! Check back soon, or subscribe to get updates (found on the side of the screen) so that you can follow me from the beginning!    Welcome! (July 18, 2011)

About a month later in August 2011, Casey Cole was received as a postulant in the Order of Friars Minor.

Why the Friars Minor?

The friars are a very diverse bunch. Before entering the order, members of my province held jobs as DJ’s, photographers, translators, interior designers, corporate managers, and scholars; since entering, friars hold positions as priests, spiritual directors, retreat coordinators, professors, social workers, missionaries (while still DJ-ing, photographing, translating, designing, managing, and learning).  Franciscans are found working in and throughout world wherever there are people in need, often times in highly populated areas. Because of this, I find them to be more in touch with the world than any other religious or secular group. – So… What am I doing, and WHY am I doing it? (August 6, 2011)

For about 5 years he continued to blog his journey of faith exclusivity through the medium of writing.

During this time, he was received as a novice in August 2012.

For one year, I will be without social communication such as Facebook, texting, this blog or anything that uses the internet. I will surrender the use of my bank account and credit card, and will live on a modest stipend of $50 a month giving any money I receive towards the needs of the house. I will not have almost no control over the way I spend my time, when I can leave, and where I can go. I will spend much of my time in quiet.

Believe it or not, this will be the most freeing year of my life.  “The Freedom of Letting Go (August 18, 2012)

In 2013, he made his first profession of faith with novices from seven North American provinces in Burlington, Wisconsin at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate. He studied at The Catholic University of America from 2013-2016, working towards a Master of Divinity degree.

Overall, the nature of our formation is clearly different this year than it was in the previous two years as it is much more laissez-faire and dependent on the individual to develop his own formation. Please don’t misunderstand me: this does not mean that it is any less important or rigorous. What I mean to say is that there is no longer the feeling of being micromanaged with clear boundaries and high structure; we have an opportunity, now having been formed in the way of St. Francis for two years, to reengage the world with what we’ve learned in ways we see fit. It is a time of tremendous life experience as we are given the chance to try new things, to both succeed and fail, and to be stretched by a little bit of “real” stress in our lives. It’s an exciting time with a lot to do! Formation rolls on!- Formation Rolls On, (November 5, 2013)

In 2014 he wrote this very personal reflection of his place as a Major trying to live as a Minor.

When I look at my own life, I struggle to identify a single way in which I am a minor in our society: I am a young, white, college-educated, middle class, heterosexual male, born in the United States to parents that are still married, a member of the largest religious organization in the world, and have no mental or physical disabilities. If that’s not enough, I joined one of the largest religious orders in the Catholic Church, giving me tremendous (and largely undeserved) respect as a religious and future member of the clergy. In literally every way that I can imagine I find myself among the privileged in society.

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There is a part of me that realizes that I will never be the least in society and I am struggling to accept that. How can I say to be a friar minor, an imitator of Jesus and Francis of Assisi, with so much respect, authority, privilege, and “wealth,” both civilly and ecclesiastically? I don’t know. For now, all I can do is realize that this “great privilege” I have in our society is nothing but a lucky ticket in the womb lottery: I have done nothing to deserve it and ultimately am no better off than anyone else because of it. I am what I am before God, and nothing more. This is a bit of wisdom that I must always keep with me. For though I may never be able to fully renounce all that separates me from the least in our society, I know that there is always a full reserve of pretension, entitlement, and arrogance just waiting to be given up inside me. If I want to be minor in society, it starts with the attitude I bring to every situation: I am here to serve the people of God with perfect humility and minority, and they do not owe me anything because it is God who is truly doing all the work.
Not So Minor (September 4, 2014)

In 2015 he went to YouTube and launched a very successful video carrier.

It took him awhile to get the camera rolling to where he is today, but the creativity and good camera techniques were beginning to bloom as shown in this early video…Top Ten Friar Questions (2015)

They include such questions as these…

Are you a Monk? I thought you weren’t allowed to leave the monastery?

“What are you wearing?  Do you wear that all the time?”

“So, you take vows?  Which one is the hardest one?”

Casey Cole reminds one of a modern-day version of a young Fulton Sheen or Bishop Robert Barron in his approach to evangelizing through social media. He is as prevalent as Fr. Mike Schmitz in the amount of videos that he makes.

Fr. Casey like the above men try to use popular culture to evangelize in Finding God in Music and Movies. (2015)

 Good art has a way of changing our emotions, sparking our imaginations, touching our souls, and moving us to action. Think about how powerful your favorite movie was the first time you saw it, or how you feel when you get to watch it again. Think about how the right song can stop you in your tracks, lift you up, or completely change your day. Art, especially in the form of movies and music, is a powerful medium of expression and persuasion.

Not all art is so neat and tidy. Not all problems have an easy answer. Not all situations have a happy ending. Not all of life is G-rated.

See the source image

In  Evangelizing Through Social Media  (2016) he explains why he went to the mission field of video production.

What I have done over the past five years or so is not the work of an expert with loads of education in the field, its simply the result of being honest to who I am and open to where that might lead me. With the amount of time that people spend on social media sites, that’s where we as Church need to be. Why not meet people where they are, replacing what they’re consuming with quality messages? Why not evangelize through social media?

Brother Casey Cole began serving at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Durham, a Franciscan parish, and professed his final vows as a Franciscan friar in 2017.

If you really want to get to know (at this time) Brother Casey Cole  Questions with my Mom and Dad!  (2017) gives a look at his life as only parents could provide.  He did the type of video and editing I would have done in interviewing my parents.

He explains further about being a friar and who it differs from similar things in What’s the Difference Between Friars, Monks, and Jedi? (2017)

For all those who still might be confused what the difference is between a friar, our cousin the “monk,” and those space-traveling warriors for harmony in the galaxy, “Jedi,” I have presented all you ever needed to know! Believe it or not, we are distinct in more than just name, but also in habitat, duty, beliefs, and even appearance.

Not only does Brother Casey let you know the differences between true and fictional religious garb, he also lets you know as a Franciscan Things St. Francis ACTUALLY Said   (2017)

In 2018 he went from being a brother to being a deacon. He also went from being a strictly on-line personality to being a published author with his first book Called.

Six years ago, in July of 2010, I said yes to God. The culmination of much discernment and prayer over a number of years, I found myself sitting alone in a chapel no longer afraid of what I was going to do with my life. Finally confident in who I was and comfortable with who God wanted me to be, I was ready to begin living completely for God rather than myself. In that chapel so many years ago, I accepted what I believed that meant: I was going to be a Franciscan friar, serving the poor and living in prayerful community for the sake of the kingdom of God. And I did. The following year, I joined the formation program of the Order of Friars Minor, and six years later, just this past year, I publicly professed my solemn and lifelong vows to live the rest of my life as a friar. I said yes, and I meant it. –Casey Cole OFM, Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God (2018) Franciscan Media  
After 6641 Miles, Evangelization Isn’t Getting Old
 (2018)

Image result for Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God

He also started a podcast that year with Br. Tito Serrano, OFM in which they talk about the deeper spiritual aspect of popular entertainment, namely movies called Everyday Liminality.

On June 22, 2019 Cole was ordained a priest of the Franciscan Order by Luis R. Zarama, the Bishop of Raleigh, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Showing that he values the genies of women, At Fr. Cole’s insistence, all lay liturgical ministers who assisted in the celebration of the Mass were women.

Showing that you can evangelize anywhere he made the video Evangelizing at a College Football Game? (2019) in which people thought Fr. Casey was just another person in a costume.

His ongoing work as a missionary and as a storyteller is on the fullest display with one of his best videos ever as he tells about the Worst. Funeral. Ever. (Funny Story)  (2019)

As you can see Fr. Casey is very big on evangelization and bringing people to Jesus.

I’m talking about our friends and family who have left the Church because we failed to evangelize and catechize. Those people who say “I used to be Catholic,” who come to mass on Christmas and Easter, who feel no connection, no welcome, no fulfillment.

I’m talking about those who have been abused by the Church, who trusted us only to find that trust exploited, who have gone through life burdened with pain and suffering at our hands.

I’m talking about our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who feel that they have no place in the Church because so many Catholics have told them that they have no place, who routinely are told that they are not real Christians, that God hates them, that there is something disordered about them.

I’m talking about those those in prisons and in gangs, those who live in destitution and poverty, who know nothing but suffering in their lives, who find themselves cut off from the human family and do not know the love of God.

These are the lost coins, the lost sheep, the lost sons of our world, not us. Our exhortation today is that we must be like our heavenly father who rejoices when one of these are found. That our relationships must not be based on merit—what someone can offer us, what others have earned—but rather on mercy: like the father to the son, “who cares why you’re here! I’m just so happy that you’re here!”
Going After the Lost (September 15, 2019)

I must admit that I’m slightly jealous that Fr. Casey has achieved something that I have not in the world of video production. I have a degree in video production and have worked at Cable stations but for some reason have never made a consistent stream of successful quality videos. But despite that I found  Five Years on YouTube. What. A. Journey.  (2020) a encouraging and compelling look into his ministry on social media. He also has encouraging words about keeping going even when it looks as if nobody is reading or watching you, which I feel on a regular basis.

He also authored another book last year…

Just as it is dangerous to have an inflated sense of self, replacing God with ourselves, the opposite is also something to avoid: denying the very goodness God has created in us. How often do we view our nature as something inferior, flawed, and altogether worthless? Focusing only on the sins we commit, we fail to recognize the unfathomable good of which we are capable. How often do we make a mistake and blame it on the fact that we are “only human”? For the life of me, I have never been able to understand why we say this as if it were a bad thing. Humans are the only creatures created in the image and likeness of God. We are capable of complex speech and abstract thoughts. We wield tremendous power over our environment, producing extraordinary technological advances. Of all of the creatures on earth, we are the only ones that seem to know that we are created and loved by God and return that love through imitation, worship, and self-sacrifice. “Only human”? We insult God by denying the beauty of his creation.
Casey Cole OFM , Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship (2020) Franciscan Media

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And started another YouTube channel called Upon Friar Review in which Fr. Casey shows his college campus minister, Fr. Patrick Tuttle, OFM, videos from the internet and secular media and watch his comical reactions to them.

Have you ever wanted to know about what it’s like to live a vow of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience? Fr. Casey tells you all about it in a Real Friar Answers Questions about the Vows .

Fr. Casey has many videos where he talks about scripture, church doctrine, the second Vatican council, and social issues such as abortion.

He lays out how illogical abortion is in The Flaw with the Abortion Argument

 But wait…

Didn’t he made a video not too long ago called
Abortion is not that Important? (See Above)

If Catholics bothered to actually watch the video or look into who and what Fr. Casey had been posting about for the last 10 years, they would know that his faith is as rock solid as they come.

You can (and should) oppose racism, but not by publicly shaming white politicians and attacking their families.

You can (and should) oppose the death penalty, but not by sending death threats to judges.

You can (and should) oppose abortions, but not by spreading vitriol online against those who disagree.

He renamed his video Fight Abortion: Don’t Lose Your Soul Doing So.-

Because of the negative reactions which included people telling him to literally go to hell, he made this video in response. One person said he would be jealous of the angel who got to cast him into hell.

Goodness Gracious. Really?

Last week, I posted a video that I was very proud of. I had thought about it for a little over a month, tested out the concept on a Twitter thread, and took my time writing it. It was something I felt very passionate about and felt that many people needed to hear.

The response I got was disappointing, to say the least.

As has happened to me on a few occasions, people latched on to the framing device of the video and not the point of the video itself. Ire welled up over the title and thumbnail, so much so that the whole reason for making the video was lost on many people (and ironically, the point I set out to make was manifested.)

Despite being very popular, I would consider Thursday’s video a disaster. And I hope we can all learn from it.well that was a disaster (2021)

If Catholics want to evangelize and bring people to Christ, they better learn NOT TO OVERREACT TO THINGS.

We then become tasteless salt and hidden light.

 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.- Matthew 5: 13 – 16

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”― Mahatma Gandhi

I hope that I have shown and demonstrated just how Catholic, Orthodox, Devout, and Cool Fr. Casey Cole is.

He is one of my favorite Catholic personalities and I wish to follow his example and become a better disciple of Christ.

And also a better social communicator as evidenced below.


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