Capuchin Franciscans -
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“A Vocation Story” -
Running time: 12:22
The Capuchin Franciscans are an order of brothers, also called “friars.” The Capuchin order began as a reform of the Franciscan Observants in 1525 when several friars, disillusioned with the relaxations of the life, desired to return to a stricter observance of the rule and testament of St. Francis. In particular, they sought a more contemplative life, coupled with rigorous poverty and austerity, in accordance with the earliest traditions of the order. The Capuchins were originally persecuted for their split with the Observants, but became incredibly popular among the common people and were eventually recognized as an official, independent Order on July 3, 1528. In the papal bull, Religionis Zellus, Pope Clement VII constituted the friars as a separate family and distinct members of the sons of St. Francis.
Capuchins are perhaps most easily recognized by the brown habit and long capuche (hood) for which the order is named. Renowned as peacemakers and simple, approachable brothers, the Capuchins have been serving the Church in the United States since the 17th century. Capuchins were among the first missionaries in Maine, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, and all along the Mississippi River. The first pastors of both New York City and St. Louis were Capuchins.
Today there are seven regional jurisdictions of Capuchins in the continental United States and others in Puerto Rico and the Marianna and Hawaiian Islands. Usually found in the poorer sections of towns and cities, the Capuchins have a special charism for working with the common people and taking those assignments which others refuse. Capuchins can be found working in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, serving as hospital chaplains or prison ministers. Additionally, Capuchins may be found serving as parish priests or university professors, as preachers and nurses and as missionaries to distant lands. One may even find Capuchins serving in the local shopping mall.
Capuchins build their life and ministry on two essential foundations: prayer and fraternity.
The priority of prayer and the contemplative life is at the heart of the Capuchin charism. Personal and community prayer nourishes the brothers’ relationship with God and one another and enables them to give fully of themselves to everyone them meet. The Capuchin tradition has placed great emphasis on Eucharistic devotion and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Along with prayer, fraternity is of great importance to the Capuchin charism. A Capuchin is first and foremost a brother among brothers. This fraternal life is founded upon the Gospel in which, after washing the disciples’ feet, the Lord exhorts his followers to do the same for others. This witness to fraternity is crucial in an increasingly isolated and alienated world.
The Capuchin Province of St. Conrad, also called the “Province of Mid-
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