Brian Robert Bisgrove
"To know the will of God is the greatest knowledge. To find the will of God is the greatest discovery. To do the will of God is the greatest achievement."
-Brian Robert Bisgrove, October 22, 1976 - February 10, 1998
As a boy, Brian loved to play sports and spend time outdoors exploring nature; he enjoyed family gatherings, especially trips to the Adirondack Mountains. His many friendships were an important part of his life. When he was twelve he decided to attend a minor seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. In his application letter, Brian wrote, “I am not sure that God is calling me to be a priest, but I want to be with boys who are searching for God’s plan for their lives.”
Brian was very happy and energetic, enthusiastically fulfilling his responsibilities and loved the school. He learned to deal with his impatience, pride and other vices in this atmosphere. He had a great love and respect for his superiors who were guiding him along the path to holiness. He made many friends among his fellow schoolmates, and he discovered one very special friend, Jesus Christ. This friendship became the focal point of Brian’s life.
Brian completed High school at the age of 16. With the help of his superiors, he discerned that God was calling him to the lay vocation in which he could help boys and young men to develop into young Catholic leaders who would bring Christ to the modern world. When he returned home he met with his friends that he had left a few years prior, and realized that many had succumbed to the secular enticements of the world. He wanted more than anything to share his joy in what he had found; a personal friendship with Christ. His utmost desire was for them to receive the gift of faith formation that he had received in the minor seminary. He began getting them
together to play sports, a common thread and activity that all enjoyed. He introduced them to Gospel reflections and to his friend Jesus Christ and the first youth program was born. He volunteered to work with a priest who was serving in Syracuse. He started four youth programs, developed a team of businessmen to support his efforts, and identified a major sports facility that could host the youth programs. After two years, at age 19, he decided to return home to work on the family farm while continuing his apostolate.
However, God had a different plan for Brian. The day he was to start work, May 1, 1996, he had exploratory surgery to find the cause of continuous sinus infections and severe headaches. The surgery revealed a tumor in his sinuses. This was the beginning of his two-year struggle with cancer.
After major surgery for his sinus tumor, the doctor informed him of the very serious pain he would be undergoing during the operation. “If the pain gets too great, you just push this button here for an injection of morphine, which will help.”
“I want it removed”, said Brian. “What?” 'I said, I want it removed. Take it away.” “No, Brian, you see, you don’t understand. You are about to experience more pain than you have in your entire life. We’ll just leave it there… just in case.” “No, doctor, you see, you don’t understand: in my condition, I can no longer work for the boys the way I used to be able to; this is all I have to offer up for them, and you’re not going to take it away from me. I want it removed.”
Throughout his illness, he continued to develop a plan to establish boys’ youth programs called “Conquest” that would bring together fun and formation and bring youth closer to his friend Jesus Christ. He encountered many frustrations in his early efforts, but through them he became convinced that a simple starter program was needed, to get boys involved at a younger age, one that would allow fathers to work with the boys and would invite younger boys to participate in the program. This led to the later concept of the first Conquest Junior Program. Brian had a vision of making Conquest into an institutionalized youth program that could be spread across North America and beyond, to bring thousands of youth closer to Christ through fun, formation and apostolate. He offered all of his many struggles and suffering from cancer for this vision. He did not live long enough to see it fulfilled, and was born into eternity on February 10, 1998, at the young age of 21. His father, Jack Bisgrove, picked up the torch and helped form a team to institutionalize Conquest and make it into a formal youth program that could be spread far and wide. The Conquest national team today believes that through all of Brian’s suffering that he offered up for the boys and dads of Conquest, bountiful graces are still being received today.