First thing to get out of the way is people will ask “Are you a priest or brother?” The easy answer is that we are all called brother; within that some of us are ordained to the priesthood and some are not. All of us have taken perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. A way of remembering is this way; “In the order, all fathers are brothers, but not all brothers are fathers.” Hope I didn’t confuse you there.
We are a branch of the Franciscan Order called Capuchins. The Franciscans were founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. In the 1500’s in Italy, there was a reform of the Franciscan Order and the friars of the reform became known as the Cappuccini or Capuchins. We wear a brown habit with a long hood or capuche with a white cord or rope around. The cord was favoured by St. Francis because it is not a belt and therefore simpler and poorer.
Today you can find us on all five continents and we work in a variety of different ministries. Some teach in schools and colleges. Some are chaplains in hospitals, prisons, universities, and to the forces. Some are spiritual directors and counsellors/therapists. Some Friars are in the medical profession. Some are in parish ministry or working with those less fortunate. Some friars are travelling preachers engaged in retreat work in schools, colleges, and parishes. We have friars who work overseas in developing countries in justice and peace projects. We have friars engaged in the prayerful support of all in retreat houses. There are Capuchin friars who work in the media and in the spreading of the gospel over the web. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The main Franciscan charisms are; Fraternity; Prayer and Contemplation; Poverty and Minority; Ministry and Apostolate; and Justice, Peace and Respect for the integrity of Creation. Our first charism is fraternity. We live together as brothers and from there go out to our work and ministry. Here in our friary in Dublin city centre the friars spend some of their day depending on the work they are engaged in. One is involved in ministry to the homeless so he is generally up at 5.00 a.m. to get the centre opened and the kettles/machines on. Generally the friars ar early risers but on an odd occasion resting on is allowed!
We gather as a community for Mass at 8.00 a.m. and Morning Prayer (lauds) at 8.30 a.m. Some have had an earlier breakfast but generally we have breakfast together by 9.00 a.m. Two of us are engaged in Parish Ministry as Parish Priest (Pastor) and Curate so there is a 10.00 a.m. Mass for the people of the parish. We go to various ministries, check mail, email, etc and we gather again for rosary and mid-day prayer at 12.40 p.m. Lunch is at 1.00. As the public office is in our Friary is open from 9.00 a.m. till 5.00 p.m. we can have visitors and enquiries to the friary office for counselling, confessions. We have the Parish Office here too so there are Parish enquiries and applications for baptismal certificates etc and because the parish is old (records from 1700’s) sometimes there are people tracing ancestors and family tree-lines etc. We also visit those who are house-bound and also the parish schools too.
We gather at 5.45p.m. for evening prayer (vespers) and supper is at 6.00. Supper is less formal that the midday meal so whatever is in the fridge is on the menu.
One of the principal ministries from our friary in Church St. is the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless. We serve food to up to 250 for breakfast and 500 for dinner Monday to Saturday. There is take away groceries available on Wednesdays all morning and there can be up to 1,000 people queuing for groceries. The Day Centre has featured on the media over the last while and you can go to www.homeless.ie for more information.
Some of the friars gather to look at the 9.00 p.m. RTE News and chat about their day. If there is sport on there are soccer and Gaelic or Hurling fans. It will be the Golf no doubt this weekend as the US Open is on. We generally retire afterwards but as with all families, there are some night owls in the community too. There is always a visit to the chapel before bedtime to say night prayer privately and the place quietens down for the night.
That is just a flavour of our life and ministry. If you have a look on the web you can find out more:
www.irishcapuchinfranciscans.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter
The international Capuchin Website is www.ofmcap.org