Wednesday 17 August 2016

Opening the Door of Mercy: The Capuchin ministry of welcome

The monotony of waiting to collect someone from the airport was broken by whoops of joy as 'Martha and the Gang' (according to the 6 foot florescent banner) arrived home. Long before their arrival that banner, and others like it, had brightened the eyes and widened the smiles of the travellers who walked through the doors. They knew they were home. It may not have been a welcome specifically coloured in and shimmering just for them, however it was a well received welcome none the less.

We all need to be welcomed and we all need to feel like we belong. One of the oldest Capuchin ministries was that of 'Doorkeeper'. The Doorkeeper, most often a Friar not ordained to sacramental ministry, was more than just someone who opened the door. They were the face of welcome and mercy to all who called to the Friary seeking help, consolation and support. Not alone where they the 'face of the Capuchins' to those who called but also, and more importantly, they were the 'face of Christ'. They were holy men and many of our Capuchin Saints and Blesseds were Doorkeepers.

As Capuchin Friars, regardless of whether we are ordained or not, we are called to be Doorkeepers. We are called to be men of welcome, mercy, compassion and consolation. We are called to both open doors for others and also to help hold doors open for those struggling to hold them open by themselves. As Capuchin Franciscan Friars we are called to be ministers of the Lord's welcome; ministers of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

Today our society often slams doors shut and refuses a welcome. Not us. Our welcome is an extension of Christ's welcome. It's the welcome of the forgiving father to the prodigal son and the welcome of Christ to the repentant thief. It's expressed as a compassionate and non-judgemental welcome to the lonely, poor, isolated, sick and homeless. It's God's welcome, we merely have the privilege of sharing it.
Br Martin OFM Cap
(Vocation Promoter)

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