Brother Leo Franca Professed First Vows at Saint Joseph Abbey

Brother Leo Franca professed first vows during First Vespers of the Solemnity of Saint Benedict earlier this summer, committing himself to three years as a Benedictine monk at Saint Joseph Abbey. In the presence of Abbot Justin Brown and the monks of Saint Joseph Abbey, he publicly committed himself to obedience, stability and fidelity to monastic life.

Br. Leo grew up in Brazil. He is the son of Hime Franca and Elizabeth Franca. He received his bachelor's degree in Physical Therapy at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil.

“I’m blessed to be here at Saint Joseph Abbey. It’s a wonderful place,” said Br. Leo, a lover of music and the arts.

In fact, the paintings by Dom Gregory de Wit, the late muralist of the Abbey church and refectory, was a draw to Br. Leo, a self-taught painter and violin player.

“I like how traditional everything is here, including the music in the church, plus the Schola from the seminary, they sing beautifully,” said Br. Leo, who also plans to pursue his own artistic interests here at Saint Joseph.

A cradle Catholic, Br. Leo thought for much of his youth that he was being called to become a priest. He graduated from high school and went to college without giving it much more thought at the time. After receiving his undergraduate degree, he then decided to travel abroad as a traveling therapist before settling on graduate school in Indiana. Then, during a trip with friends, he visited St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Ala., where the tranquility of the monks really hit home and the idea of becoming a monk himself started to grow in him.

Asked about what he would tell someone considering a similar path, Br. Leo said a lot of reflection is necessary.

“It’s definitely worth it if it’s your call. Prayer is really important. You have to spend time praying and talking to God, and taking the first step by visiting a monastery you are interested in. I would say don't just think about it, make the first step. Talk to the vocation director. It’s a wonderful kind of life if that’s what God is calling you to do with it,” Br. Leo said.

To learn more about a monastic vocation at Saint Joseph Abbey, visit