Meet Michael Charron: Franciscan Brother and Law Student
Franciscans friars have the opportunity to serve in many ways—through traditional priestly parish roles, or by mixing their vocations with their professions in different settings.
Br. Michael Charron, a Franciscan friar at the Province of St. John the Baptist, serves in one of the less common capacities. A professed friar, he is also a law student who is scheduled to graduate this May (2019) from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. Upon graduation and completion of the Ohio State Bar, he hopes to open a law firm in Cincinnati (near the province’s headquarters in Over-the-Rhine) that is dedicated to serving the poor who can’t afford legal representation.
“A law firm serving the city’s poor with sliding scale payment options will be a unique addition to the many services and ministries the friars already provide,” he says. “It will be a great way to continue to serve the poorest of the poor.”
For as long as he can remember, Br. Michael had a desire to work for the poor, and it became a goal in his life serve them in some capacity with other like-minded people. He knew the Franciscans offered many opportunities in line with his desire for a life of service, so he entered the postulancy program with the Province of St. John the Baptist in 2008 and took solemn vows in 2014.
He didn’t join the Franciscans specifically to become a priest, though he was open to the vocation and knew there was time for discernment during the initial two years of required philosophy and theology study. While he did enjoy ministry in a parish setting, he ultimately decided that he was not called to the priesthood. After his solemn vows, he studied one more year of theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago to complete his Master of Divinity for non-ordination.
He never stopped thinking about law school, even after his master’s degree, as it was something he was always interested in and passionate about. He even worked at a law firm as a paralegal after high school. He decided to study for the LSAT while simultaneously studying Spanish and temporarily living in Mexico with a community of Franciscan friars in Guatemala.
He was accepted to the Appalachian School Law in 2016 and has been there ever since. It’s a unique setting that he enjoys because it allows him to continue to live a life of simplicity and service in union with the Franciscan way of life.
The rural Appalachian area also affords Br. Michael many volunteer opportunities, and he completes 25 hours of service each semester with the school. He often works at the remote area medical clinic, which offers free medical services to nearby residents. People usually begin lining up at the clinic at midnight the night before it opens, and he staffs a booth donating blankets, drinks, and coffee to those waiting in line, as well as sometimes uses his legal expertise to help with medical powers of attorney. This semester there is also a tax clinic, and he hopes to be able to help people with their taxes.
While his time in Appalachia has been fulfilling, he is eager to return to the Franciscan community in Cincinnati.
“My brothers are my family—we live, pray, and eat together. It will be great to get back into the community after living alone for the past three years.”
Br. Michael appreciates your prayers for his Ohio State Bar exam as well as for the creation of his future law firm. He also encourages any men who may feel called to live in community with other like-minded people to please consider the Franciscan order.
Posted in: Serving the poor