2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the Brotherhood of Hope!

– by Brother Ken Appuzo

Since September 14, 1980, the Lord has guided our community and entrusted to us the mission of building up His kingdom.

God’s grace and the strength of the Holy Spirit has grown our Brotherhood from a few laymen and our founder, Fr. Philip, to a flourishing community of 25 consecrated religious Brothers, 18 of whom are perpetually vowed.

The 40 years reflect three dynamics: God’s faithfulness, our commitment as Brothers, and your faithfulness as our friends who make it possible!

Throughout 2020, we are pleased to reflect with you at our major milestones, and to look ahead at our vision and goals for the future.

Our story

Every so often someone asks me: “What did you have in mind when you began the Brotherhood; what was your plan?” Well, honestly, I didn’t have one! The Brotherhood was a surprise gift from the Lord, wholly His own initiative! —Fr. Philip Merdinger, B.H.

In 1980, Fr. Philip Merdinger and five laymen founded the Brotherhood of Hope, consecrating themselves to God through private vows.

Six years earlier, Fr. Philip, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, had experienced a new conversion as he was prayed with by lay people involved in the Catholic charismatic renewal. Out of this experience, Fr Philip called together a Brotherhood built on:

     A personal relationship with Jesus Christ,
    The powerful witness of joyful brotherhood,
    The gifts and promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Our founding brothers were attracted to Fr. Philip’s vision for a fraternal common life, to become “a family in the order of grace.” The Brotherhood grew as more men, having experienced the transforming power of Christ, chose to give up everything to live and to serve together.

Fr. Philip’s prior experience as a campus chaplain convicted him of the dire lack of faith on college campuses. He saw the immense potential for college students, hungry for the truth, to be transformed by the Gospel, so he made college campus outreach an integral part of the brothers’ mission.

We began our first apostolate in New Jersey, ministering to students at Rutgers University. Through God’s providence we moved our headquarters to Boston in the 1990s. By the grace of God, we have grown to 25 vowed brothers, serving on five campuses, with five households in four states.

Today, the Brotherhood of Hope is blazing the way for this generation to renew the Church.


Br. Ken Apuzzo has served as General Superior of the Brotherhood of Hope since 2013. Born in New York, USA, he met the Brotherhood as a student at Rutgers University. Since professing his first vows in 1982, he has served at campus ministries nationwide. He currently leads the Catholic campus ministry at the University of Minnesota. Taken from Living Bulwark April/May 2020 issue. Used with permission.