Born to a family of five children, often moving around and parents sometimes at odds with each other, Father Carl Braschoss has dedicated his religious life to healing and reconciliation, not only himself, but others and helping people to find the tools within themselves to begin the process of coming together, and to find forgiveness within the Lord.
Father Carl gravitated to the Norbertine community about 21 years ago, but found his calling in religious life around 30 years ago. Prior to this, he moved around often in his young life, and wasn’t sure of his life’s path.. As a child, he lived in Basking Ridge, NJ, Raleigh, North Caroline and his family settled in Melrose Park, PA (just north of Philadelphia). Father Carl went to Villanova, where he majored in Accounting and minored in French. After college, he worked at a chemical company, but felt disillusioned by this position; he knew it was not his calling. After leaving this job, he traveled and lived in Vermont, New York, Colorado and Texas. It was through these travels that he found his path to healing and God.
During a stay in Austin, TX, Father Carl found himself drawn back to the church. At the University of Texas-Austin, Father Carl encountered and was attracted to the charism of the Paulist Fathers. The Paulist Fathers, founded by Isaac Thomas Hecker in 1858, were the first religious order of priests established in North America. Their ministries include ecumenism, interfaith relations and reconciliation.
Father Carl would later focus his life as a Norbertine priest on healing and reconciliation. But first, he had to find the Norbertine community. After encountering the Paulist Fathers, he went on retreats and found spiritual direction. Father Carl was recommended to our own Daylesford Abbey, and eventually connected with a spiritual director at Daylesford Abbey. He found that there were many similarities between the Paulists and the Norbertines. But unlike the Paulists, Father Carl was particularly attracted to the idea of living in and committing to a community of men. He was attracted to the contemplative nature of the Norbertine vocation. Here, he found himself ready to answer the call from God.
However, God knew Father Carl had some healing he needed to bring himself in his own life before he could fully commit to becoming a Catholic priest. In this time, Father Carl worked at Whole Foods market and volunteered in youth and young adult ministry at a parish about a mile away from Daylesford Abbey.
Father Carl felt called Norbertine community not only due to their common life lived together, but the ideas of evangelization, ecumanism and reconcilliation. Father Carl saw, in his own personal experience growing up, the need for healing. He sees that in today’s world, the role of peacemaker is almost extinct and yet it is needed more than ever. Peacemakers take the heat from both sides of a conflict. And they bring people together. But, he noted, we live in an increasingly polarized world where people don’t want to listen. This polarization destroys communities. Polarization demonizes people who are perceived as “different.” This destroys the community that Jesus wants.
Father Carl finds that, “There are always issues between people that have the potential to cause splits,” but God is calling us forth to be peacemakers; to be healers. Furthermore, Father Carl has found in his own personal life that it takes looking inside yourself. Often times, people think whatever problem(s) in their life is at the hand of outside forces. Father Carl promotes understanding your own inner self and fixing what needs to be healed within yourself before casting fingers at others.
Father Carl sees his role within Daylesford Abbey as a peacemaker and a shepherd. He helps others connect to the Lord using prayer and scripture, and to use these teachings to help them heal within themselves and ask the Lord for reconciliation. He helps others see each other as brothers and sisters of the Lord.
At this time, Father Carl is the Pastor at St. Gabriel Parish in South Philadelphia. This is the surviving parish in a community that was once served by three parishes. These parishes reflected the ethnic makeup of the city at the turn of the last century. Today, the Irish, German and Italians that worshiped at these parishes have largely left the city and have been replaced by new ethnic communities. Father noted that his job as Pastor is to bring together these communities. He says “healing is helping people who are diverse come together. God is a communion of diverse persons; all are unified (but different). God is calling us to be healing forces.”