The year 2021, despite the challenges of pandemic, has been a fruitful year for vocations in our fraternity.
On April 24, the feast of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Br. Michael Dorn was ordained to the priesthood. Ordination took place at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Milwaukee before an assembly of family, friends and brother Capuchins. Most Reverend Robert J. Lombardo, CFR, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, presided.
Br. Mike, a native of Adrian, Minnesota, professed his solemn vows as a Capuchin friar in 2020. He took his first steps of discerning a call to life as a Capuchin Franciscan in 2015, when he entered the Capuchin postulancy program in Milwaukee.
Before discerning a vocation with the Capuchins, Br. Mike had previously served with AmeriCorps, the Catholic Worker, and had a career as a social worker. His social work focused on assisting young people experiencing homelessness, as well as working with citizens in recovery from addiction or returning from incarceration.
“My vocation was born out of having experienced the visceral and unconditional love of God when I needed it most in my life,” said Br. Mike. “It is only by the grace of God that I’m alive today and am now a Capuchin brother whose priesthood is to share this love of God with all of Creation.”
Br. Mike completed his theological studies and formation for the priesthood at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. While in formation in Chicago, Br. Mike served on bread trucks and at food pantries, in building repairs and maintenance, as a jail and hospital chaplain, and as a deacon at St. Rita Parish. In his first assignment following ordination, Br. Mike currently ministers on the Crow Reservation in Montana.
On July 26, four friars professed solemn perpetual vows as Capuchin Franciscan Friars at St. Francis of Assisi Church. Br. Alwin Anthonysamy, Br. Nathan Linton, Br. Thomas Skowron and Br. José Vera professed their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience before Br. Mark Joseph Costello, provincial minister of the Province of St. Joseph. At the same time, two friars professed their simple, or first, vows: Br. Anthony Yousef and Br. Shebin Philip.
Br. Alwin Anthonysamy comes to the Province of St. Joseph from the Amala Annai Province in southern India. He is currently working to receive his Master of Divinity degree. He recently finished his eighth year of formation. “I was an altar boy in my parish and one day a Capuchin priest came to celebrate mass. At the time my parish priest was called out for a meeting, so the Capuchin priest came and asked me for a broom. That was my first encounter with a Capuchin,” recalled Brother Alwin.
Br. Nathan Linton grew up in Cumberland, Wisconsin, where his Catholic faith had been an integral part of family life. Br. Nathan’s discernment included a year at St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mt. Calvary, a ministry of the Province of St. Joseph. Following that, Br. Nathan entered Postulancy in Milwaukee. “I would describe what happened as a deepening of my own understanding of who we are and what our life means, our life together as brothers and friars,” said Br. Nathan.
Br. Thomas Skowron was born in Poland and grew up on the shores of the Baltic Sea in the small city of Koszalin. There, he would spend most of his formative years until, when he was 17, he would move to Germany and enter formation with the Capuchins. He later came to the U.S. in October 2019. Br. Thomas is currently splitting his time ministering at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit and completing his divinity studies in Chicago.
Br. José Vera was born in Mexico and moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin with his family when he was in his early teens. He grew up as a Catholic until age 15 when he began to question the importance of his faith and became less active in it. He was searching for something but was unsure of what it was. He ended up hanging out with the wrong people, abusing drugs and alcohol, until at age 20 he ended up in jail. “I think that was kind of a turning point for me,” said Brother José. “There came a point where I needed to really look at myself, look at my life and realize that I needed a drastic change, although I didn’t know exactly what it was.”
On October 16, four friars were ordained deacons, also at St. Francis of Assisi Church. They are Br. Peter Chinnippan, Br. Antony Julius Milton, Br. Truyen Nguyen and Br. Thomas Skowron. The Most Reverend Jeffrey Haines, Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee, presided.