SCOTTSDALE, Arizona - Capuchins aren't generally known for being on the Church's avant-garde, but the friars of the Mid-America Province just did something which, technically, they're not supposed to do according to canon law. And, frankly, they're pretty proud of it. They elected Brother Mark Schenk, a lay friar, as their provincial minister.

The problem lies with Canon 129 Sect.1, which prohibits a lay person from holding jurisdiction over ordained men. This rule clashes with the Capuchins' understanding of their constitution, which, in its latest form ratified by the Vatican in 2013, reads, "By reason of the same vocation, brothers are equal." It goes on to say that "all of us are called brothers without distinction," and all offices in the order are open to all brothers.

St. Francis, from whom the Capuchins trace their origins following one of the fractures in the Franciscan family, was not a priest. Whether or not he was a deacon is a subject of some debate, but what is undisputed is that his successor was not ordained. Brotherhood is the Franciscan tradition, and it's something they continue to fight for in terms of who leads their provinces.

Capuchin-Franciscan Father Blaine Burkey says the distinction between brothers and fathers is irrelevant, because their "gift to the world is brotherhood."

Although the Congregation for Religious vetoed Schenk initially too, he said he's got friends in high places who went directly to Pope Francis and said something along the lines of, "Holy Father, this should happen." In the end, he got the dispensation necessary to take office for a three-year term, though it's uncertain what might happen if he is re-elected.

Schenk describes the Vatican process as byzantine.

"When I was elected, they notified our general minister. Since I was not a cleric he had to write a letter to the Congregation for Consecrated Life requesting them to grant the dispensation. Their automatic response is always 'no, it's not been our tradition to grant it.' Even though they knew that would be the response, they still have to go through the process."

Still, "I'm mildly hopeful that something will change," says Schenk.

Now that Francis has set the precedent, Schenk said the Congregation for Religious could change some of its procedures so that they don't deny permission for a non-ordained person out of hand, but instead take qualified people directly to the Holy Father for consideration.

Excerpted from CruxNow article by Shannon Levitt, June 19, 2019.


July 3 is a special day in the Capuchin calendar, for it is the date of the papal bull Religionis zelus (1528) by which the Capuchin reform was recognized officially 491 years ago. Each year on this day we remember that we are a Capuchin family and we celebrate the spiritual bonds that unite us with about a hundred institutes of consecrated life that are part of the Capuchin story. Therefore on July 3 we will gather as a family in order to:

Each friary, fraternity, and place is a space to take up this simple initiative and to keep alive the gift the being a family, adapted to different realities. Another, more convenient date may by chosen, but with the same purpose of communion and mutual rapport. The proposed theme for 2019 invites us to reflect on the meeting of St. Francis with the Sultan as well as the fourth centenary of the death of St. Lawrence of Brindisi as a means to study the topic of intercultural dialogue through the sharing of experiences and inspiration.


From the Facebook page of Los Angels Auxillary Bishop Robert Barron

"Friends, I spent a wonderful afternoon yesterday (May 29) with the men from all three Franciscan novitiates in southern California: the OFMs from Mission Santa Barbara, the Capuchins from San Lorenzo Seminary, and the Conventuals from Arroyo Grande. After Mass and lunch, we had a great Q&A.

Please pray for these faith-filled men as they leave for their home provinces to take first vows!"


Fr. James Lawrence Cleary was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 31, 1937 the son of Hugh X. Cleary and Madonna U. Magers. He entered the Capuchin Order on September 4, 1964 at Santa Ynez, CA. He was ordained a Catholic priest on September 5, 1970 at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada-Flintridge, CA.

He was an alumnus of St. Francis High School Class of '55 and St. Mary's College in Moraga. He served in the U.S. Army from 1961-1963. He then received a Master of Divinity from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA in 1970. After his ordination Fr. James was sent to Our Lady of Angels Church in Hermiston, OR to serve as associate pastor. He was a teacher at St. Francis High School in La Cañada-Flintridge, CA. He was Pastor at St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church in Los Angeles, CA. He was elected definitor 1979-1982. He was Guardian of San Buenaventura Friary in San Francisco, CA. He was Vicar at San Lorenzo Friary in Santa Ynez, CA. He was Pastor at Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, CA. He was Director of Postulants at San Buenaventura Friary in San Francisco. Afterwards he served as a chaplain at St. Francis Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. He retired at St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church in Los Angeles and then received care at St. John of God Care Center in Los Angeles and then at Mercy Care Center in Oakland. He died of heart failure at Alta Bates Summit Hospital in Oakland, CA on January 15, 2019.

Fr. Jim was known by his brothers as a man of prayer and good humor. He was skilled not only at pastoral work but with his hands. He had a deep faith. Fr. Jim continued to help out as best he could even as his medical problems increased. He handled the consequences of his condition with patience, even though at time his disabilities wore on him. Fr. Jim was always friendly and loved to receive visitors and keep in touch with his Capuchin brothers, family members, and many friends he made throughout his life. He was a compassionate man who treated everyone with kindness.

His mother, father and sister Theresa have gone before him but he is survived by his siblings: Hugh Joseph, John Francis, Mary Jeanne, Jerome, Madonna, Marian and Regina.

A Rosary will be prayed at 10:30 am on Saturday February 9, 2019 at Old Mission Santa Ines, 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA. A Funeral Mass will immediately follow at 11:00 am. Followed by burial at San Lorenzo Friary, 1802 Sky Drive, Santa Ynez, CA. Reception will follow.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that you may consider making a donation in memory of Fr. James Cleary to Capuchin Franciscan Order, 1345 Cortez Ave., Burlingame, CA 94010.


Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of Medan, Indonesia presented by Most Rev. Anicetus Bongsu Sinaga, OFM Cap., and appointed as metropolitan archbishop Br. Kornelius Sipayung, OFMCap, until now Provincial Minister of Medan.

Br. Kornelius Sipayung, OFM Cap. was born on August 26, 1970 in Bandar Hinalang-Kabanjahe, North Sumatra, in the Archdiocese of Medan. After attending the Christus Sacerdos minor seminary in Pematangsiantar, he studied philosophy and theology at the St. John school there. He professed perpetual vows on August 22, 1998 and was ordained priest on December 11, 1999.

From 1999 to 2002, Br. Kornelius was pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption in Kabanjahe, Medan. From 2002 to 2005 he studied for the licentiate in dogmatic theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, during which time he also studied English in Brisbane, Australia. For the next ten years Br. Kornelius served as formator of Capuchin seminarians in Pamatangsiantar and taught various disciplines at the St. John school there. From 2012 to 2015 he served as guardian at Pamatangsiantar and Vice Provincial Minister of Medan. Since 2015 he has served as Provincial Minister, having been reelected for the 2018 to 2021 triennium.

Br. Kornelius was also a member of the collaborating group of Indonesian Capuchins, which brought together the two Provinces of Medan and Pontianak, as well as the Custodies of Sibolga and Nias. He was also part of the Pacific-Asia Capuchin Conference (PACC). At the national level, Br. Kornelius is a member of the theological commission of the bishops' conference. At the diocesan level, he is a member of the presbyteral council and serves as an administrator for the Harapan Jaya Foundation and Catholic Charities.


ROME - When storm clouds gather and the Catholic Church is tossed by the scandalous behavior of some of its members, Catholics must repeat what St. Francis of Assisi repeated: "God is and that suffices," the preacher of the papal household told Pope Francis and his aides.

"Let us also learn to repeat these simple words to ourselves when, in the Church or in our lives, we find ourselves in circumstances similar to those of (St.) Francis, and many clouds will disperse," said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa on Dec. 7.

The preacher of the papal household leads the pope and Roman Curia officials in a spiritual reflection on most Fridays of Advent and Lent. For his 2018 Advent reflections, Cantalamessa said he would "set aside every other theme and any reference to current problems" and focus on each individual's need for a personal relationship with God.

"We know from experience that an authentic personal relationship with God is the first requirement in dealing with all the situations and problems that come up without us losing our peace and patience," said the 84-year-old Cantalamessa.

At the suggestion of Pope Francis, Cantalamessa will lead a retreat for the bishops of the United States Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago as they continue to discuss and discern ways to handle the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

For the theme of his Advent reflections at the Vatican, the Capuchin chose a verse from Psalm 42: "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."

"People today are passionate in searching for signs of the existence of intelligent beings on other planets," which is "legitimate and understandable," he told the pope and Curia officials. "Few, however, search for and study the signs of the Living Being who has created the universe, who entered into its history, and who lives in it."

Yet while "we have the real Living One in our midst," he said, "we overlook him to search for hypothetical beings who, in the best of cases, could do very little for us and certainly could not save us from death."

A fundamental fact for those who believe in God is not only that he exists, Cantalamessa said, but that he lives and continually seeks a relationship with the human beings he created.

Many Christians see Jesus' remark "Seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" as a promise that Jesus will give them everything they ask for, and then are "perplexed because we see this rarely happens," he said.

But the basic promise is "Seek me and you will find me; knock and I will open the door," Cantalamessa said. "He promises to give himself, above and beyond the small things we ask of him, and this promise is always infallibly kept. Whoever seeks him finds him; he will open to whoever knocks, and once someone has found him, everything else is secondary."

According to a Franciscan scholar, he said, St. Francis was comforted and went around repeating to himself, "God is and that suffices! God is and that suffices!" Cindy Wooden Catholic News Services, Dec. 7, 2018.

Mission Statement

As Capuchin Franciscans we follow St. Francis of Assisi as brothers, living the Gospel in prayer, fraternity and ministry, witnessing simply to Jesus Christ and the Church as a joyful presence of hope and salvation to all, especially to those most in need.

Guiding Principles

PRAYER - Rooted in our Capuchin contemplative tradition and expressed in many forms

As followers of St. Francis, desiring to be conformed more perfectly to the crucified and risen Christ

FRATERNITY - Rooted in mutual love, humble reverence and respect for one another and for all people

We Capuchins are friars minor, rooted in mutual love, humble reverence and respect for one another and for all people.

MINORITY - Following the meek and humble Christ and sharing our joy as lesser brothers by walking with people of every social condition

As brothers of St. Francis, we faithfully follow the meek and humble Christ.