Quest comes to us from Latin. Its various forms could imply a search or an inquiry, an entreaty, or even begging for something. In ancient Rome, a "quaestor" was an official responsible for finance and administration, much like a treasurer.
By the time the Franciscan orders were spreading across Europe in the Middle Ages, a questor was the name given to the friar responsible for begging for alms and food. Money raised through begging, or questing, was, and still is, used to support the poor first and foremost and provide for the brothers' material needs.
Here's an example of a Franciscan friar's work as a questor in Ireland in the last century going door to door. "Fr. Seamus Donohoe, OFM recalls the good questing tips he received from dedicated questor Fr. Alban Doherty, OFM: 'One was: Never to pass anyone's door rich or poor, Protestant or Catholic. Knock or ring at every door. But then, never to knock at a door more than twice. Just to thank God if nobody came to the door and then keep moving, and of course never go back to a house if there was no reply' (Duddy, C. (2015). An Introduction to Franciscan Questing in Twentieth Century Ireland. Irish Geography.)."
Although questing wasn't officially his job as the Porter of St. Bonaventure, there are accounts of Blessed Solanus Casey accompanying others on questing missions to nearby farms seeking donations of food for the Capuchin Charity Guild, now the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
The tradition continues today. We Capuchins seek to bring people into our ministry to partner with us and share in the Gospel call of service to our marginalized sisters and brothers. So, we partner with others like you to raise funds to sustain and grow our ministries: including St. Lawrence Seminary, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, the Solanus Casey Center, Capuchin Community Services, Capuchin Retreat and our domestic mission in Montana. We don't go door-to-door like our Irish brothers did a century ago. Today we quest by sending fundraising appeals, hosting fundraising events and using technology like the World Wide Web and social media to seek support.
With many of our most strident supporters doing questing of their own, by asking others to join in our mission, we now have a dedicated crew of questors throughout the Province of St. Joseph working hard to support the Capuchin Franciscan mission. We are most grateful for these efforts. Thank you and happy questing!