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Rome Reports

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Michael Perry: From a guitar playing teen to the Head of the Franciscan Order

He was a regular teen from Indianapolis who loved to play the guitar. Now, Fr. Michael Perry lives in Rome and is the Minister General of the Franciscans.  It all started when he decided to take a month off of work.   FR. MICHAEL ANTHONY PERRY  Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor "I was working building houses, as a way of making money. And my boss, the owner of the company, who was Catholic, I said, 'I want to go and give one month to go build houses for the poor' and he said, 'OK, Iâ??ll pay your salary.' So he paid my salary. I went, I met the Franciscans and saw what they were doing. I fell in love with what they were doing working with the poor.â? He was thinking about studying law, but in the end he chose to become a religious. In May 2013, he was elected as Minister General of the Franciscans, where he leads the same order that St. Francis of Assisi began more than 800 years ago. It's not really a promotion, he says, it's just the opposite.   FR. MICHAEL ANTHONY PERRY  Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor "Itâ??s not an increase. Itâ??s a decrease. Itâ??s not a raise, I hope that itâ??s a descent.  Itâ??s not assuming power or authority, itâ??s descending to the last place.â? Leading is all about inner freedom. He says Pope Francis lives out this example in his life and style.  FR. MICHAEL ANTHONY PERRY  Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor "Iâ??ve been with him three times, and each time I find that this man- he doesnâ??t need to be Pope. He doesnâ??t want the authority. He is a man who is absolutely free and because he is free he is able to revolutionize our thinking and make us all question who were are and where we are going, not just as Catholics but as Christians, Muslims, as human beings.â?  Hundreds of years after the Order was founded, it now has more than 13,500 religious members serving throughout the world.  Even more, the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi has inspired dozens of movements, both lay and religious.  JRB/KLH  MG / OFM  JM -PR  Up: MAE # World