Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 20, 2004
He signed on with God
Military man navigates his way to the Franciscan spiritual harbour
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Franciscan Brother Bert Manthey is kind, well travelled and happy to have finally professed his permanent commitment to poverty, chastity and obedience.
He is also pragmatic and well suited to his order.
Manthey has spent many of his 49 years observing the world upon navy ship decks or analyzing global weather charts, rounding out his life to become "a jack of all trades."
When he saw the appreciative audience before him Sept. 4 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, he felt relieved that his ship had finally come home.
"I think my years in the Canadian military as a radio operator and meteorological technician helped prepare me to be part of a team," Manthey said. "Those trades then helped me to be in support of another element."
Upon profession of solemn vows, the friar enjoys full membership in the Franciscan order and thus promises to live as a Franciscan for life.
Although Manthey has lived at the friary since arriving in Edmonton in 1998, becoming a brother has given him a greater sense of belonging.
"I was on a UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus and I spent three years on a base in Germany. I have spent many years in service and I think that is the bottom line."
Being more of a contemplative sort, Manthey relishes his role as a brother. He would just as soon leave the role of priest to those more comfortable with standing up and speaking to a large crowd.
"We are all created by God, but we do have different territories. I do enjoy my quiet time and I like performing my tasks. However, I do not rule out the possibility that one day I might become a priest," he said. "But I prefer to do things with my hands - more practical than academic, I suppose."
When Manthey left the military, he met a friar in Winnipeg in 1992 who, through personal interaction, revealed to him a way of life devoted to God. Manthey soon found himself seriously discerning what the friar had said.
A Lutheran at the time, he saw the whole focus of his life changing. He began attending the Catholic Church, eventually enrolling in an RCIA program and then applying to the Friars.
A Joseph coat
"The Friars seemed to be a well-rounded, diverse group of Christ followers. For me, the Friars were like the multi-coloured coat. I think the life of a Friar lends itself well to the greater community," he said.
"I am a Christ follower first, in the footsteps of St. Francis, who I think had a good handle on seeking not only his own conversion, but inter-playing his life as a creature of God amongst society. I think that is really what drove me to join the Franciscans."
Manthey is presently taking a kitchen skills course at NAIT to enhance his role as a cook.
He has a certificate as a boiler operator so the friary will be toasty warm this winter. He will also do the shopping and keep the friary's sacristy tidy.
"There is a challenge ahead because the older friars are retiring. It will be interesting to see what transpires," he said of the order's dwindling numbers.
"But it is not something I'm scared of. I just plan to set sail and let God steer me."