Brother Francis: A New, Faith Building Cartoon Series

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In light of the coming holiday, I decided to take a break from my usual, heavy apologetics stuff to provide a review for a Catholic kids cartoon series that I ran across, entitled Brother Francis,  one of which I purchased for my two year old daughter. She is already hooked, and being that she is one who soaks up what she sees on her favorite cartoons like a sponge (she can count  thanks to Mickey Mouse and knows her exotic animals thanks to Dora), I thought that Brother Francis would be a perfect way to help her memorize the prayers and Teachings of the Church, things that I have already begun to teach her on my own.

The biggest Christian cartoon series out there right now is Veggie Tales. My daughter loves Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, just as I did as a kid and still do today. Veggie Tales is a Protestant produced cartoon, but the message is simple and ecumenical, free of denominational specific messages; I have yet to come across anything that the Catholic Church would disagree with in any episode. In fact, in their Christmas special on Saint Nicholas, they indeed depicted him as a bishop and incorporated aspects of the Mass into the episode telling of Saint Nicholas’ life. So Veggie Tales is a hit in this house—but sometimes you really want to drive home those deep, 2,000 year old Truths that the Church has received from the Apostles. Brother Francis delivers in that department.

The main character is young monk wearing a brown robe (hence the “Brother” in his title), sporting blue jeans underneath his robe, sneakers, and a basketball in tow: in other words, a very friendly, down-to-earth guy. But as the theme song says “he ain’t no fuddy-duddy, his faith is strong in every way”. Brother Francis addresses the invisible audience that is the children viewers, explaining classic Catholic prayers and theology in a very simple, childlike way. The DVD I purchased was “The Rosary” and the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Apostles Creed are recited, broken down line by line, and the purpose of each is explained. Brother Francis then throws his basketball to the sky to make it draw a Rosary in the air, and the order of the Rosary is then explained, along with each mystery. There is also an animated portrayal of the Annunciation, showing Mary’s joyful submission to God’s Will.

Other episodes available on DVD include “Let’s Pray!: A Lesson on Prayer”, “The Bread of Life: Celebrating he Eucharist”, “Forgiven: The Blessings of Confession”, “Born into the Kingdom: the Miracle of Baptism”, and coming in Spring 2013, “The Mass”.  The graphics in each are bright, colorful, and three-dimensional, which easily grabs toddler and young children’s attention.

I should be clear that I am not advocating for leaving your toddler’s religious education in the hands of a cartoon DVD series, or that you should ignore you children while they watch television. But for those of us less-than-perfect parents who occasionally use television as a means to catch a mental health break or breathe for a few minutes, then I say you can’t go wrong with a program that teaches them the Faith of the Apostles.

6 Replies to “Brother Francis: A New, Faith Building Cartoon Series”

  1. I grew up pre-Veggie Tales (I’m an old “croc”) and never liked them. I could never tell which they were promoting, Faith or eating your spinach. On the other hand something like “Brother Francis” is a delightful way to teach children and even uninformed adults about the Faith. It is the modern equivalent of the methods used by St. Don Bosco. Keep up the good work. We need to use every wholesome means available to inculcate the Faith. PS which vegetable portrayed St. Nicholas?

  2. I believe St. Nicholas is a pickle! 😉 Bob and Larry are friends who go back in time to visit him. haha!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I had seen an ad for these somewhere and thought they looked really cute. I’m filing this away in my brain for future use and possibly for gifts ideas for Godchildren. (I’m also pre-Veggie Tales and have never seen them, so have no opinion, but I’m glad to know that they are not anti-Catholic in any way. Thanks for sharing that.)

  4. Brother Francis was borrowed to my two children, ages 8 and 6 by my parish pastor. We brought home The Rosary, Forgiven and Bread of Life. As a new convert, (being brought up by a Bible belt family, in a non-denom church) it was an awesome way to help my children learn about our new faith and (I am unashamed in saying this) it even taught me a few things too. When we had to give the DVDs back my kids were extremely upset and I had to “re-borrow” them after a few months because my kids wouldn’t stop asking for them. Im not in the process of buying the entire set, as I would rather they watch Br. Francis than Spongebob. These DVD’s are full of great information and make it simple to learn. My daughter, who is making her first Holy Communion this year, is, as we speak, practicing the Act of Contrition that Br Francis recites in Forgiven. However, Im sure I’ll have the theme song stuck in my head for the next week. Lol. It keeps them interested in learning about God while injecting humor that even I giggle at. We love Br. Francis in this house!!

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