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Sharing the Good News

Capuchin friars have a long tradition of preaching and teaching the Gospel as part of their ministry.
Sharing the Good News
Br. Bill Hugo presents on Franciscan spirituality at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington Township, Michigan.

By Br. Mark Joseph Costello, OFM Cap.

From the earliest days of the Capuchin order, itinerant preaching, or traveling from place to place to preach the Gospel among the people, has been a foundational aspect of our charism. In 1525, during the Counter Reformation, Franciscan Brother Matteo da Bascio started a movement to return to strict adherence to the Rule of St. Francis and in particular to focus on itinerant preaching.

Br. Matteo left his convent in Montefalcone, Italy in 1525, seeking permission from Pope Clement VII to launch a new, reformed religious institute of Franciscan Friars. This new fraternity, that would eventually come to be known as the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, began from the humblest of beginnings. Today, Capuchins preach and teach the Gospel, while offering direct assistance to people suffering from poverty, illness and hunger. This direct ministry, alleviating the suffering of  people on the margins, follows the example of St. Francis of Assisi. Throughout the Province of St. Joseph, Capuchins preach the Gospel, and put the Gospel in action.

Br. Jose Panakkalody preaches from the pulpit of St. Bonaventure Chapel in the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.

Capuchins preach at our three parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Benedict the Moor and Our Lady of the Holy Land. In addition, we preach at our Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington Township, Michigan, and at St. Bonaventure Chapel in Detroit. We preach among the Crow and Northern Cheyenne at our parishes and mission churches in Montana. And our friars serve parishes throughout the province doing “help outs,” filling in for pastors who are away. Our Capuchins have a long history of preaching in the overseas missions in Central America and the Middle East, bringing the Good News to remote or inhospitable territories.

Closer to home, our friars have a long tradition of preaching at parish missions across the United States and Canada, as well as leading retreats for parishes, secular fraternities, men’s and women’s religious orders and other groups.

Br. Dan Crosby leads a Lenten Day of Reflection at the Solanus Casey Center in 2022. In addition to preaching at Mass and leading retreats and parish missions, Capuchins preach the Gospel in a variety of other ways, including at scripture studies, religious education and days of reflection.

Among our fraternity today, we have accomplished preachers like Fr. Edward Foley, Capuchin. He is a regular presider and preacher at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago and at St. Paul VI Parish in Riverside, Illinois. For his outstanding preaching, he was the recipient of the 2022 Great Preacher Award from the Aquinas Institute of Theology.

Capuchin Ed Foley, Vice Postulator for the Canonization of Blessed Solanus Casey preaches from the pulpit of the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit during Blessed Solanus' Feast Day.

Foley has published 31 books and more than 300 other publications, many focused on preaching. His most recent book, Preaching as Paying Attention: Theological Reflection in the Pulpit, was awarded first place in the “Resources for Liturgy” category from the Association of Catholic Publishers. The book, geared toward priests, deacons and seminarians, was published in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is Foley’s sixth such award from the Association of Catholic Publishers. “It is good recognition and it gives the book a bit of a boost,” he said. The book included a section on preaching on the sciences, which dovetailed with Foley’s recent work directing the Preaching with the Sciences initiative at Catholic Theological Union, funded through the John Templeton Foundation. “I was hoping (Preaching as Paying Attention) would ring some bells,” said Foley. “I’m happy and delighted that it did that.” Foley notes that in this age of livestreamed Masses, people are shopping around to find preaching, music and hospitality that suits them, and that many have come to feel marginalized by the Church. “A lot of it is because folk haven’t changed the paradigm for preaching and who they think they’re talking to,” he said.

Foley, the Duns Scotus Professor Emeritus of Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and Vice Postulator of the Cause for Canonization of Blessed Solanus Casey, has recently been named to a faculty fellowship at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. He will hold the John S. Marten Faculty Fellowship in Homiletics and Liturgics at Notre Dame this fall. Fr. Ed joined the Capuchins in 1966 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1975. “I’ve learned a lot and done a lot of preaching since then,” said Foley.

Capuchin friars preach at Mass, at retreats, parish missions, through their accompaniment of those living on the margins and in many other ways.

For more information on Capuchin preaching, contact the Capuchin Preaching and Evangelization Commission at [email protected].