WHO WE ARE
The spirit of St. Francis of Assisi is very much alive as the Capuchins of Central Canada live out the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to God and all people. Our lives and ministries are commitments to the poor, the sick and the needy. Our brotherhood stresses the importance found in the joy we share and the respect we hold for one another.
The year was 1927 when the first two friars arrived in Blenheim, Ontario from Belgium. Three other friars would arrive in St. Boniface, Manitoba. In 1933 a Capuchin fraternity was established in Notre-Dame de Toutes-Aides. Capuchin roots were quickly spreading throughout Central Canada. Taking to the soil, the Custody of Central Canada was created in 1938.
These roots began stretching ….. in 1951, a Novitiate for the Capuchin Custody was opened in St. Boniface. A year later St. Philip Neri Parish in Downsview, Ontario was established by the friars. From there it was on to Georgetown, Ontario and Holy Cross Parish in 1956. Five years later the Capuchin Minor Seminary was moved from Blenheim to Mount Alverno near Orangeville, Ontario. From fertile soil to rocky soil the roots expanded all the way to Newfoundland in 1969. It was at this time that ministry would be extended to include chaplaincy to schools. Before long, in 1974, Mary Queen of the World Parish in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland was entrusted to the care of the Capuchins. Indeed, a historic period for the Capuchins of Central Canada!
In 1970 the Custody became the Vice-Province of Central Canada. The next year the First Chapter was held to elect a Vice-Provincial and a Formation Policy was created. In 1972, mount Alverno became a retreat centre for students. All the way to 1989, youth ministry was highlighted with over 25,000 students and teachers participating in a Capuchin staffed retreat program. In 1976 our roots in Canada’s west spread again as St. Conrad Friary was established in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Following this St. Felix Friary was established in Weston Ontario.
In 1980 our Capuchin roots in Central Canada stretched far beyond geographical borders when one of our friars (Bro. John Corriveau) was elected to the General Definitory in Rome. Although small in number, roots were advancing in ways that were never imagined. In 1983 another milestone was reached with the election of lay-brother (Bro. Ignatius Feaver) as Minister Provincial.
Indicative of firmly planted roots, the birth of a new Capuchin Province, known as Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd, became reality in 1986. With the new Province came the formulation of a Vision Statement and Pastoral Plan.
In response to the Vision Statement, St. Francis Table was opened in the Parkdale neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end. As a restaurant for street people, the friars were busy preparing and serving meals with the help of volunteers. A presence and a purpose was what gave us reason to become rooted in the ministry of feeding the hungry. Emphasis was also being placed on our Formation Program with the establishment of Good Shepherd Friary also in Parkdale where a direct ministry to the poor could easily be incorporated into the schedule of our students.
In this new millennium, Capuchins are proud of our roots! Our ministries have been as varied as our friars; from parish to hospital, from youth to seniors, and from the institutions to the streets, the Capuchins of Central Canada are keeping alive the ideals of our founder and brother, St. Francis of Assisi.
Courage, commitment and challenge continue to be our focus for continued growth. Would you like to spread the good News while being rooted in a Capuchin-Franciscan community? Why not give it a thought and LIVE THE DREAM … MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!
MINISTRY TO THE POOR
With a commitment to those in need, the Capuchins of Central Canada have been rooted in direct and community minded ministries for the poor. Outreach has focused on the homeless and hungry, sick and unemployed. Shoppers Drop-In, started in 1968, provided a meeting place for shoppers along Yonge Street. Poverello Charities continues with a residential housing program in downtown Toronto’s east side. In 1976, “Our Place”, a drop-in for those suffering from mental illness, was established near the intersection of Yonge and Elm Streets. Today it is known as “Community of Hope Centre” where volunteers have hearts of gold.
“Capuchin Outreach to the Poor (Parkdale)” was set up in 1987 to oversee the operation of St. Francis Table, a restaurant for the poor in Parkdale. As a visible presence to street people, our friars continue ministering at St. Francis Table, along with volunteers and hundreds of guests daily who enjoy a nutritious “Menu of the Day” for a donation of only one dollar.
The Capuchins have ministered in parishes since their arrival in 1927. From Ontario to Manitoba and Newfoundland our friars have been actively involved in promoting good stewardship and reconciliation. From parish ministry flows many opportunities for expanded ministry. Capuchins have been involved as missionaries, chaplains and as youth ministers. It is their function to build-up the Family of God through examples of peace and fraternity.
The parish setting provides many unique ministries in which a local fraternity can work and pray together as part of the wider faith community. In Central Canada, parish ministry has been a source of countless blessings for all involved in the promotion and preservation of our Franciscan spirit and life.
MINISTRY AS CHAPLAIN
The Capuchins continue to serve the needs of many people as Chaplains to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, service organizations and the Canadian Armed Forces. Educated and trained friars respond to many needs in all walks of life.
They recognize the importance of the various spiritual needs people have in times of crisis. From children’s hospitals to acute care centres, in schools and on bases, the spirit of compassion and consolation is alive in the response of each friar. The Capuchins are fortunate to walk with their sisters and brother during times of need.
Last, but certainly not least … fraternity is the root of all joy for Capuchins. They live work, pray and minister to one another daily. As friars, they recognize and accept the call for personal and communal prayer and worship; the very foundation of the community! St. Francis thanked God many times for the gift of his brothers and today, over eight hundred years later this ideal lies still very much alive! Capuchins are ever mindful of the gift each new friar brings.