St. Francis was a zealous and charismatic figure who captured the attention and admiration of young people throughout Italy. Many left a life of wealth and comfort to join him in living the Gospel life. Today, the Capuchins wish to offer that same invitation to contemporary youth. Young people growing up in Western society are faced with serious challenges to living the Gospel life: materialism, radical individualism, and a culture of godlessness. St. John Paul II referred to this modern aberration as the “Culture of Death.” Recent studies show that nearly 85% of youth in religious education programs will no longer identify as Catholic by the time they reach young adulthood.
The Capuchins believe that the appeal of St. Francis to a radical Gospel life provides an answer and a new way for the youth of today. For this reason, Capuchins work with youth and young adults throughout their province, helping them to encounter Christ, challenging them to a radical conversion, and walking with them in discipleship. Our Capuchin Constitutions outline this important ministry:
"When taking on new forms of the apostolate we should show special concern for people who are far from the faith and from religious practice, and for those who are deprived of ordinary pastoral care because of the conditions of their life: the young during moments of crisis in their Christian life..."
Capuchins in our province work with various youth groups at the parish level, where young people are encountering Christ and walking in discipleship with the accompaniment and support of the Capuchins. The Capuchins also serve as spiritual directors to the FOCUS headquarters and as priests and confessors to various FOCUS campuses in Colorado. In Lawrence, Capuchins serve in campus ministry at Kansas University, working with thousands of college students every year and leading them to a renewed commitment to their Catholic faith. In Hays, the Capuchins serve as spiritual directors to the high school students at TMP Marian, a ministry they have had for many years. Throughout the province, Capuchins speak to youth and young adult groups and bring the simple messages of the Gospel that attracted so many young people to follow St. Francis of Assisi.