Sunday, 30 June 2013

Cardinal Sean O Malley serving meals at a Capuchin soup kitchen for the homeless.

The vocation of a Franciscan is to serve. Service of the homeless and marginalised is a priority for us. St. Francis emphasised this in his Rule and, more importantly, like Pope Francis, he practised what he preached. This is the Franciscan way.

Anyone interested in living like this can contact me at 086-3230638 or I can provide you with information about our Order and accompany you on a vocation discernment journey.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Br. Sean Kelly's Vocation Story

As a child I was introduced to Christ not just in the formal way of prayer but also by the living faith of my parents as witnessed in their everyday lives. My earliest childhood memories are probably similar to those of most children raised in the 60s in an Irish Catholic family. The family rosary was an integral part of the evening ritual immediately after tea. Chairs drawn to centre of floor, everyone kneeling down, and beads in hands, the rosary was recited. It was said every day without fail, complete with all the trimmings and with the image of ‘The Sacred Heart’ watching over proceedings, red lamp aglow from its prominent position over the open fireplace. The love of Christ was very much alive and present in our home in the way our parents loved us and instilled in us the values of Christ’s sense of compassion, forgiveness, honesty, and respect.

Even though my father, John, died at the young age of forty eight, my mother, Rose Anne, despite being devastated and broken-hearted managed to cope with rearing three children and working in Ballinamore Textiles factory only by the strength of her faith and her firm belief that God would ‘get her through’ the bad times. It was impossible for me, then, to grow up without a strong sense of Christ being at work in the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations as well as the joys and

successes in my life. It is of course when I reflect on the various milestones in my life that I can appreciate just how active God’s Spirit was at work in my life’s journey.
I remember learning in Secondary school that a vocation is ‘a manifestation of the will of God’. What we weren’t told was how long it would take for Gods will to actual manifest itself! I suppose when I look back on my teenage years I always had an interest in the religious life. This interest would never be consistent however; it was either very strong or almost non-existent. It depended on events and people that always put my focus back on the priesthood. In retrospect I suppose I was very naive in that I was half expecting God to give me a call, if not in a clap of thunder, the least he could afford me was a gentle whisper. Well he did call but not in the way I expected.
Again in hindsight, he called me so often; he must have been hoarse trying to get my attention. I now know that he chose the time for me to be ready, time when I would overcome low-self esteem and gain some confidence to be able to say yes to him and start the journey to religious life. From the early 90’s a series of events happened that made the call very loud and clear. In 1994 a group of people from Belfast were undertaking a peace walk from Armagh to Knock in Co Mayo over a period of five days. On their second day they walked 36 miles from Clones in Co. Monaghan to Ballinamore (my home town) where they had Mass in the Church and stayed with local people that night. The Mass was celebrated in a way I had never experienced before. The music, singing and praying was such that the sheer sense of joy was so tangible, one could almost touch it. The Spirit was vey present and active in the Church and in the people that night.
I gave one of the walker’s accommodation in my house that night and had a long conversation with him about life in Northern Ireland and what it meant to actually live in the midst of the troubles. I discovered that all the walkers had one thing in common. They were all members of the Cursillo movement. The Cursillo Movement was founded in Majorca in 1946 by a man named Eduardo Bonnin who died in January of this year. Cursillo de Christiad, which means ‘a short course in Christianity defines itself as a movement of apostolic action. Its objective is to create Christian groups that work together to become catalysts for community evangelization. The Cursillo movement believes that it is the testimony of these groups and of the cusillistas i.e. those who partake in Cursillo weekends themselves, which will Christianise communities.

As a result of my conversation I was invited to partake in a Cursillo weekend. I participated in the weekend in Belfast the following September and have worked on numerous Cursillo weekends since then to the present in Belfast, Derry, and Dublin. The structure of the Cursillo is that it runs from a Thursday evening to Sunday Afternoon. A series of talks are given by laypeople on the basics of what it is to be a Catholic. The three days are said to be three encounters. Friday is encounter with oneself, Saturday is encounter with Christ and finally the Sunday is an encounter with the greater Christian community. The format is such that you come away from the weekend feeling that you have indeed felt the total self-giving love of Jesus in a very physical way. This very real encounter with Christ was the beginning of a new found confidence and self belief that maybe I could indeed have a vocation and have the ability to proceed in studying for the priesthood but I still wanted to ‘hear’ the call.
Because I had made so many friends through being involved in Cursillo mostly from Belfast, I decided to have my 40th birthday celebrations comprising firstly a Mass followed by a party in west Belfast. This occurred in April of 2000 and it turned out to be a wonderful night with family and friends. At the end of the night I was presented with a present of a paid trip to Medjugorje in Bosnia where Our Lady was reportedly appearing to six visionaries since 1984.  I went to Medjugorje in May 2001 with the full intentions of praying for guidance and discernment with regard to having a vocation and the ability to pursue it if indeed I had one.

On the second day of my pilgrimage I went to the 10am Mass in English in the Church of St James in the small rural village in the valley between the hills. The main concelebrant was an Irish Priest from Cork but who was living and working in Fall River in the State of Massachusetts in America. Fr Edward A. Murphy spoke during his homily about his own vocation and how he had failed his exams in the seminary he was attending in America and was subsequently asked to leave. Feeling devastated he himself went on pilgrimage to Medjugorje to pray for guidance. He said that he felt a strong sense of being told by Our Lady to try again. On returning to the States he did apply and entered a different seminary and consequently achieved his degree in Theology and Philosophy without any great difficulty. The difference he said was that in the second seminary the rosary was recited every evening in addition to the Divine Office.

Despite the fact that the congregation in St James’ Church was full to capacity on that specific day, I felt that there was no one else present and that Fr Murphy was talking directly to me. It was as if Christ Himself was speaking to me through this priest reassuring me in all my uncertainties and fears. I made a point of talking to Fr Murphy after the Mass and he too reassured me that once I made the decision to say yes to Gods call, I would lose whatever fears and doubts existed and would overcome any obstacles that I felt were stopping me in saying a profound ‘yes’. I went home from that pilgrimage feeling very secure in the knowledge that I had indeed heard the call very loud and clear.
On returning home I contacted the vocations director of the Irish Capuchin Franciscans which set in motion a process of discernment and assessments which lasted over a period of twelve months. Having passed the various psychological and psychiatric assessments all that remained was an interview to gain admittance to All Hallows College to begin studies in theology and philosophy. On completion of that interview in the College’s coffee Dock, I was invited to have a tour of the rest of the college. As I looked around the coffee dock I noticed two men sitting at a table in the opposite corner of the room. On closer inspection I was shocked and surprised to see that one of the men seated was Fr Edward A. Murphy who had just one year previously given me the confidence to begin the course of action in which I was now engaged. Fr Murphy was there for the annual ‘Intercession for Priests’. This encounter was such a positive confirmation that Christ was directing the events in my life and that I had no need to fear the future. This was another Christ centred moment on my vocation journey.
I joined the Capuchin Franciscans in 2002 as a postulant which was also my first year in All Hallows. This was a huge transition for me in many respects, moving to Dublin, living in community, and returning to education after almost 22 years. After a few shaky months I settled in to this new life mainly due to the friends and support I received in All Hallows and some very close friends and family at home. After that I had to take two years out from college as part of my novitiate and post novitiate programme to gain a better insight into living as a Capuchin Friar and explore various pastoral roles which for me was working for one year in Belfast. The highlight of that year 2005 was as a counsellor with the ‘Ulster Project’ bringing twelve teenagers, six Catholic and six Protestant to Ohio in America for the month of July.
For someone reading or hearing my story for the first time it would be easy to say that all these events when I felt Christ very close were just coincidental. And were it not for my parents who were truly my first and best teachers in the ways of faith, I would probably have said the same.  But having had a good grounding in a Catholic upbringing and finally having access to a good Spiritual Director with whom I felt comfortable and open, I was able to reflect and realise that these were in fact God incidents. These were indeed moments of grace when Christ was truly present in a very tangible and heartfelt way. I was fortunate not just in experiencing these occasions but in being able to explore them more deeply and definitely in conversation with a qualified and understanding spiritual director.
As a result of having sessions in spiritual direction I can honestly say that I have been helped in my own restlessness. Along my life’s journey I have experienced many mixed emotions of joy and sorrow, fear and love, anger and peace, success and disappointment, and have often wondered where I was being led. Through the conversations and the silences with my spiritual director I have been able to explore and reflect where God was in all those events in my life I mentioned earlier. Now, it is not a question for me of is God present in my life but rather where is God leading me in this or that situation. The more one is open to see God in every life experience, the more one feels in contact with the divine that all- encompasses us.
Today, I am working in the inner city parish of Priorswood, Dublin 17 having been ordained in 2009 in Ballinamore Parish Church of my youth. A Priest though is never a priest on his own. He is chosen from a family and a community. I have been blessed to have been chosen from a wonderful, encouraging and loving family and a very supportive community. I can honestly say I have never been happier and I want to say a sincere thank you to my family, and all my friends who have supported and encouraged so much me over the last eleven years.
Pace e bene,        
Br Seán Kelly, OFM,Cap.
If you are interested in joining the Capuchin Franciscans please contact either myself at or  on 087 0550584
or our Vocations Director Br. Terence Harrington at or 086 3230638.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

What will you do with your life?

Contact: Br. Terence Harrington, Director of Vocations, Capuchin Friary, Clonshaugh, Priorswood, Dublin 17. 'Phone 086-3230638. Email:

Monday, 17 June 2013

Capuchin Students speak of why they chose the Capuchin vocation....

This is a very good video produced by our Brothers in the US. Student Friars speaks of how and why they responded to God's call to become a Capuchin Friar.

If you resonate with what they have said and would like to find out some more about being a us.

Capuchin Student Friars (Click Here)

Friday, 14 June 2013

Faith..Francis..Future: Preparing for Chapter

Peace to you!!

This year is Chapter year for us. Every three years the Friars from Ireland and representatives from our missions in New Zealand, Zambia, South Africa and South Korea gather together for a week to reflect, pray and plan for the future. 

During the Chapter we elect a new leadership team headed up by a Provincial Minister. Every Chapter has a theme and this years theme is Faith, Francis, Future. We have designed a logo to capture the essence of this theme and the following explains the elements of the logo and their significance.

The Logo designed for the forthcoming chapter contains a number of elements that, when taken together, invite the brothers to a meditation on the spirit of the Chapter as moment of grace in the life of the Province and an integration on of the challenge and mission indicated by our themes of Faith, Francis, Future. 
The Logo is surrounded by the thrice knotted cord, as was the logo of the last chapter.
This indicates a sense of continuity with what has gone before and a remembrance of the
vows that bind us together as a fraternity of Gospel inspired mission in the spirit of St.
Francis and our Franciscan forebears. 

The thematic wording: Faith, Francis, Future is found outside the cord in vibrant colours
as a reminder that our chapter, while being a time of contemplation and even
introspection, is meant to invite us to take up our mission again with renewed vigour, in
the light of the Gospel and with the wisdom gained by the last triennium. 

The central image is a painting by Piero Casentini showing Francis and Giles on mission together. Staffs in hand, they set out on the road confident of the Good News they bring to all creation. Giles strides ahead down the road to the place of mission and apostolate while glancing back at Francis as his inspiration. Francis pauses to look heavenwards caught in a moment of contemplation and prayer, thus indicating the two sides of our Franciscan Charism in balance: contemplation and action; the former the inspiration and source of the latter. 

It is our hope that the logo inspires us at the chapter and in the upcoming triennium to "begin again" as Francis would have us do, entering into the future with the courage of faith.

We ask for your prayers as we prepare for this important gathering.
Br Martin


Thursday, 13 June 2013

St Anthony: 'His only desire was to follow Jesus Christ'

Happy Feast of St Anthony to you all. Anthony remains one of the best loved Saints, not alone, here in Ireland but around the world. Renowned as the 'finder of lost things', there is much, much more to Anthony than this talent, which I am sure we have all called upon from time to time!

Anthony was a contemporary of St Francis of Assisi and died just a few years after Francis. We even have a letter that Francis wrote to Anthony in which he gives Anthony permission to teach Theology to the Brothers:
'To Brother Anthony, my bishop (i.e. teacher of sacred sciences), Brother Francis sends his greetings. It is my pleasure that thou teach theology to the brethren, provided, however, that as the Rule prescribes, the spirit of prayer and devotion may not be extinguished. Farewell'. (1224)

Anthony was famed for his learning, preaching and holiness of life however he wasn't always a Franciscan! Anthony, or Ferdinand as he was then known, joined the Canons Regular of St Augustine. In 1220, Anthony witnessed the funeral procession of the first Franciscan Friars to be Martyred and was so taken by the strength of their faith, even to the point of death, that he resolved to become a Friar Minor. He took the Franciscan habit and the name Anthony. 

Anthony's call to be a Franciscan came to him through the example of the Franciscan Martyrs. In seeing their love of Christ, love of others and desire to preach and uphold the Gospel, he felt he couldn't go on without being part of this.Today we are surrounded by example: some good, some bad. These examples, whether we notice it or not, influence how we are, who we are and what we do. 

The call to faith, to prayer and to vocation is based upon good sound example. This example comes, primarily, from our faith community and family. Each of us is a unique product of generations of good faith example, passed on in the home, the parish and the school. Today, sadly, things are changing. Our society is becoming one based on instant results and passing on something like 'faith' takes too long. The good example of faith formation is being replaced by the bad example of 'lack-of- faith' formation in the media and society. The message of Hope, which the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings, is being threatened by a message of 'self' as centre. Many no longer need or want God and many no longer need or  want each other.

Christ's message, the message preached by St Anthony, is a message of Love. God is are loved infinitely more than you can even comprehend. You are needed, you are valued, you are uniquely important and irreplaceable. You also have a responsibility. That responsibility is to project a positive example into the world: Christ's example. Pope Francis recently said' Ask God what he wants of you....and then be brave'.

We thank God for the example and witness of all those people who have helped us in our faith journey, who have been heroic in their own way, who have asked God what they should do, listened to Him and then forged ahead bravely in Faith, Hope and Love.

St Anthony, Pray for us!

Br Martin

Friday, 7 June 2013

American Capuchin Postulants

These Capuchin Postulants are currently completing their Postulancy programme. It's their first year in the Order. Soon they will begin the Novitiate. That's a spiritual year.  Among other things during the Novitiate they will study in greater depth Franciscan spirituality, prayer and the Rule of St. Francis. Please include them in your prayers.

Between six and seven hundred candidates join the Capuchin Order throughout the world each year.
Perhaps you might like to be numbered among them. If you are interested feel free to make contact with me at or 086-3230638.
I look forward to hearing from you.
God bless,
Br. Terence Harrington,
Vocations director.