"In whatever capacity they are dedicated to the apostolate, let the brothers integrate their life and activity in the exercise of the love of God and people, which is the soul of every apostolate. Let them, therefore, perform works of the apostolate in poverty and humility, not making a ministry their own, that it may be clear that it is Jesus Christ alone whom they seek."- Capuchin Constitutions #154-1,3.
Capuchin Franciscans joyfully witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ through their way of being in the world. We see our ministry as being a privileged opportunity to participate in the mission of Jesus Christ, manifesting the Kingdom of God here on earth through our healing and empowering work among all people. We are blessed to have so many friars, both lay brothers and ordained priests, who lovingly share the gifts they have been given by the Spirit to build up the Body of Christ and to begin to make the world the way that God wants it to be.
We minister in all types of settings, to diverse groups of people, and in all kinds of ministerial opportunities, always with the desire to offer what we have been blessed with for the good of others and for the glory of God.
Capuchin Franciscans have numerous ministerial sites and opportunities in the New York and New England area. We minister in all kinds of parishes (urban, suburban, and rural); we work as chaplains in hospitals and prisons/correctional facilities; we teach in elementary schools, high schools, and universities; we offer our services as preachers and retreat directors; we are employed as social workers to help people to begin to help themselves; we engage in missionary work both here in this country, as well as in Honduras, Guam, Japan, and Africa.
To learn more about our Capuchin brothers in Guam and Hawaii, please go to www.pacificaps.blogspot.com.
Parish ministry is an important part of what the Capuchins offer to the local churches in which they live. Both lay brothers and ordained priests work in these ministerial sites, serving incredibly diverse groups of the faithful and helping the parishioners to participate fully in the life of the parish. An important difference between these parishes different and those run by diocesan priests is that our friars strive to share the spirit of our fraternal life with those we minister to.
Capuchins have been involved in parish work in this country since they first came here in the late 19th century. As the neighborhoods of the traditional city parishes changed, the Capuchins adapted to meet the needs of the newest groups to enter these neighborhoods. Capuchins worked hard to include African-Americans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and many others from around the world into parish life. Today, as waves of new immigrants enter our country, Capuchins stand ready to meet he needs of the new groups that have decided to make America their home.
Learning from the Poor:
The poorest of the poor always catch a Capuchin Franciscan's eye and therefore Capuchin Franciscan spirituality emphasizes that we can learn from the poor. We need to experience them as they are and to be fully aware of their plight if we are to be true evangelists and agents of hope to the poor.
Capuchin Franciscans address the needs of the poor in many ways. For example, we provide direct services to the hungry and homeless; we advocate for these persons by helping them to access the resources they need; and we are involved in community organizing to help ensure that our society never forgets the needs of the poor and the vulnerable. Another ministry some of our friars are involved is in helping people to deal with their addictions through drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. In the continent of Africa, we have reached out in compassion and strnegth to begin to address the needs of the persons and communities whuch have been so effected by the epidemic of AIDS.
Both lay brothers and ordained priests have tremendous opportunities for missionary outreach. Capuchin Franciscans in the province of St. Mary can be missioners in Central America, Africa and the Pacific. In addition, each of the seven Capuchin Franciscan provinces of North America allows its members to participate in the missions of the other six.
Our Varied Ministries to the People of God:
From our beginnings in 1528, Capuchin Franciscans have been known as eminent preachers, highly regarded for the way that they were (and are) able to powerfully and effectively communicate the good news of what God is doing for the world in Jesus Christ. Our connection with the people allowed us to know firsthand what they were going through and that has helped us to speak to their own experience- their own needs and concerns- and to discover together what God is calling us to to make this world a better place to live.
Today, many of us preach in parishes as well as in giving retreats, days of recollection, parish missions, etc. Some of our brothers take part in urban retreat ministry, some offer AA and healing retreats, and some offer retreats for groups such as religious sisters, married couples and teenagers.
Fr. Jack Rathschmidt, O.F.M., Cap. has a blog called "Bro. Jack's Preaching Ministry" which offers his daily reflection on scripture. Please go to http://brjackspreachingministry.blogspot.com.
Capuchin Franciscans are involved in education at all levels: elementary school through graduate studies. Those with higher degrees teach in colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the country. Some of our friars also serve as campus ministers in secondary education and in colleges, offering the students the spiritual support they need to get through the stresses of academic life.
Capuchin Franciscans tend to spiritual needs of the people we serve as chaplains for a variety of institutions. Both brothers and priests serve the physically ill as hospital chaplains, our prison chaplains comfort the imprisoned, and our military chaplains support the spiritual and emotional needs of our service men and women.
Capuchin Franciscans are becoming increasingly involved in ministries concerning justice, peace and ecology. It is not surprising that men whose origins go back to Francis of Assisi would find themselves in this kind of work. While some Capuchin Franciscans devote themselves full-time to this work, we all strive to make justice, peace and ecology an integral part of how we live in the world and minister to our brothers and sisters, no matter what kind of ministry we are engaged in.
As you can see, we are men of action. We are diverse men who do diverse ministries.
In this tradition of service, Capuchin Franciscans find their purpose, inspiration and hope.