Fr. Anselm was born Wilhelmus Andreas Moons on August 7, 1924 in Holland. He was a Professed friar for 74 years entering the Novitiate of the Holy Martyrs of Gocum Province on September 7, 1942. He was a priest for 67 years following his ordination on March 27, 1949. His ministry included being a missionary in Pakistan where he served as Provincial Minister, and as the first Rector of Christ the King Seminary. In 1979, Anselm was elected General Definitor of the Franciscan Order for Asia.
In 1985, at the invitation of the Holy Name Province (New York), Fr. Anselm came to the United States to prepare friars for overseas mission, but his conviction that the “laity are the future of the Church” gained the support of the North American Franciscan friars. He would go on to become the founder of Franciscan Mission Service in Washington, DC, an organization that last year celebrated its 25th anniversary following his inspiration.
Fr. Anselm wrote, “The call to mission is a call to conversion, and echoes the message of Francis of Assisi to the Church and World: the radical follower of Christ seeks neither privilege nor power, neither worldly wealth nor ecclesiastical status.”
FMS missioners continue to reflect Father Moons’ vision of service, reaching out to impoverished areas and then using their experience to create social change in the North American Church and society. Fr. Anselm retired from FMS in 1995.
Fr. Anselm believed deeply in the role of laity in the church. He said, “Our Church today is 99% laity, but with all the power in the hands of the 1% who are clergy. In my opinion, that says it all. Francis of Assisi brought to the Church of the 13th century a smile and a bright outlook. He wanted his brotherhood to be lay, even though in his day a few friars were ordained ministers serving laity and the Church’s mission. Thanks be to God today that the Franciscan family counts in its ranks many gifted and professional lay brothers and sisters”.
General Minister Michael Perry, OFM, on behalf of the General Definitory and all the Brothers of the Order, expressed his sadness at the loss of Fr. Anselm. We are united in prayer for the eternal repose of his soul.