Tuesday, September 17, 2013


A number of people have asked me why my Facebook name is "Fray Eric."  They have never heard of the title Fray.

Fray is the Spanish form of the word friar.

Most people have heard of that word. 

For example, Robin Hood's famous sidekick Friar Tuck....

There are friar coffee mugs....

...and friar cookie jars, usually with a nice warning, "Don't steal cookies!"

But what exactly is a friar?


When some men in the Catholic Church many centuries ago wanted to live in community as brothers, living a life of prayer, service, in chastity, poverty and obedience to a superior, they took the Latin word for "brother."  Even though many of these brothers were priests, they lived together as brothers, the priests and the non-priests alike.

As the Latin word frater was changed by their native pronunciation, new forms of the word frater were created as seen above.   Fray is the Spanish form of the Latin word frater.  In English, it became friar.

It seems the Franciscans are the most famous of all the friars in the Catholic Church.

Saint Francis of Assisi and his Friars

Saint Francis, who was not a priest, wanted his companions, whether priest or not, to live together as brothers (friars) and to be brothers to everyone and everything in the world.

So we Franciscans traditionally have stressed the fact that, whether priest or not, we are friars.

I like to use the Spanish version of the word Fray in honor of the Spanish Capuchin Franciscan friars who brought our way of life to Guam in the year 1901.

There are Other Kinds of Friars, Too

Like the Dominicans...

....the Carmelite Friars...

....and Augustinians....

....among many more!


Where these friars have established colleges and schools, sometimes their sports teams are named Friars.

On Guam, the athletic teams at Father Dueñas Memorial School are called the Friars because it was the Capuchins, when they ran the school, who began the intramural sports program there.

In Providence, Rhode Island, the Dominicans established a college whose teams are called the Friars.

And in a school run by the Servite Friars, their mascot is the Fightin' Friars.


Friars have also appeared in children's songs like "Frere Jacques."  Frere is French for friar.

And in cartoons, like the famous Brother Juniper series.

So "FRAY ERIC" simply means "Friar Eric" and points to my core identity as a Capuchin Franciscan friar.  I am not only a priest, but a friar as well.

Here is a great example of how the two identities - priest and friar - are combined in Spanish.

Father Aniceto Ibañez del Carmen was an Augustinian Recollect priest and friar on Guam in the 1800s.  So his name published here is P. Fr. Aniceto Ibañez del Carmen.

The "P" stands for "Padre," or "Father" and points to his priesthood.

The "Fr" stands for "Fray" and points to the fact that he was also a friar.

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