¿WHO ARE WE?
Brotherhoods "are not simply philanthropic or mutually beneficial associations, but groups of brothers who, desirous of living the Gospel and conscious of being a living part of the Church, seek to practice the commandment of love, which encourages people to open their hearts to others, especially those in need."
-Pope Benedict XVI, Rome,
November 10, 2007
THE Brotherhood of Penitents of St. Dismas is not a ministry or movement, but a family of brothers who strive to follow Jesus Christ, and, as the Holy Father says, try to practice that commandment our Lord has given us to love God above all things, and our neighbor as ourselves. Aware of the great need for mutual support among men in the Church today, the first group of our brothers began meeting in 2005. From that humble beginning our brotherhood has continued to grow.
The brotherhood is made up of groups (Chapters) of brothers who meet in their own parishes. The Chapters are united among themselves by The Council of the Brotherhood of Penitents of St. Dismas, which governs the entire brotherhood, and by their adherence to our Statutes and the Brotherhood Manual. Our Bylaws have received ecclesiastical approval and the brotherhood was erected as a private association of the faithful by the authority of the Diocese of Orange, California.
Currently, there are five Brotherhood's in five parishes in Los Angeles and Orange County, where our brothers meet every week. For major events such as the brotherhood's patron feast day, the annual pilgrimages, or our annual brotherhood bbq, all the brothers gather to celebrate together, even with their families.
OUR PATRON SAINT
Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.
Our patron saint is St. Dismas, the good thief of St. Luke's Gospel: They were also bringing two other malefactors to be executed with him. When they came to the place called Calvary, they crucified him and the malefactors there, one on the right and one on the left ... One of the criminals who had been hanged insulted him: "Are you not the Christ? Then save yourself and us!" But the other answered him, saying, "Do you not fear God, you who suffer the same condemnation? And we rightly, for we have deserved it by our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come with your kingdom." Jesus said to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Lk 23:32-43).
At the end of his criminal life, the good thief found himself dying on a cross next to Christ. Facing death and judgment, he was overwhelmed with sorrow for his sins and turned in faith to Christ as his Savior. Our Lord received his repentance and promised to take him to paradise that very day. St. Dismas is our patron saint because those of us who join this brotherhood realize, as he did, how much we need forgiveness and conversion for our sins. St. Dismas' example of sincere repentance and Christ's compassion for him inspire us to abandon sin, trust in God's mercy, and hope for our own salvation.