By Br. Mark Joseph Costello, OFM Cap.
When you say you’re on a “quest,” what does that mean? It might entail a harrowing, globetrotting search for something precious, like the golden fleece sought by Jason and the crew of the mythic Argo.
Or maybe it’s a mission to obtain something precious but not quite so grandiose as the stuff of mythology. For Capuchin friars, to go questing is to ask for alms to support those whom Jesus called “the least brothers of mine (Mt. 25:45).”
Alleviating suffering is the precious goal that the friars seek. Not a golden fleece, but rather when we go questing, we seek the means to ease the suffering of those struggling at the margins. This goal could not be more important to us. Indeed, like the early martyr St. Lawrence, who gathered the most marginalized and impoverished people of Rome and submitted them to the Roman tax authorities, calling them the true treasure of the Church, we see our suffering sisters and brothers as our equals.
A questor is the historic job title for the friar charged with the special task of begging for alms to fund our ministry. In earlier times, questors would go door-to-door begging for donations to support those in need, including orphaned children, seniors and people experiencing poverty, homelessness or illness.
Since the founding of the Capuchin Order nearly 500 years ago in Italy, and even since the beginnings of the Franciscan movement 300 years earlier, we Franciscan friars have been blessed with strong community support in our mission of humble and joyful service. People of good will, whether Catholic or not, have generously supported the works of mercy performed by the Capuchin friars and our partners in ministry. Scholars found evidence of gifts and bequests to the Order of Friars Minor in medieval Spain:
“...wills of the time reflect the comparative popularity of the religious orders, and bequests made to the Franciscans in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries are frequent. Many of the testators went further and expressed their wish to be buried in the Franciscan cemetery, clothed in the habit.”
Webster, J. R. (1980). Unlocking Lost Archives: Medieval Catalan Franciscan Communities. The Catholic Historical Review, 66(4), 537–550. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25020911
Here and now in the Province of St. Joseph in 2023, when we friars go questing, whether in the form of an appeal letter, a fundraising dinner or an offertory basket, the outpouring of support is truly humbling.
We invite our Milwaukee supporters to join us as honorary questors to raise funds at an evening supper-club-style fundraiser. The inaugural Questors Club on April 27, 2023 will bring the classic Wisconsin supper club experience to our new Capuchin Center adjacent to the historic St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Monastery in the Cream City’s Halyard Park neighborhood.
The evening will feature entertainment, dinner and dessert, including after-dinner grasshoppers as well as a live and silent auction. As we went to print with this issue of Sandal Prints, tickets were going fast, so if you are interested in tickets or sponsorship, or would like to inquire about the 2024 Questors Club, please get in touch with the Capuchin Development Office at [email protected].