What is Capuchin?

Capuchin Way of Life

Capuchins give priority in their ministries to the two loves of St. Francis' life: serving the poor and preaching the Gospel. Friars can be found working in central city ministry, in retreat centers, in peace and justice work, in impoverished rural areas, in domestic and overseas missions, in environmental issues, in classrooms, in parishes - all in response to St. Francis' desire to place himself at the service of others.

Capuchin Franciscan friars live in community, supporting each other and developing bonds of brotherly love. In addition to participating in the "basics" (meals, prayer, work, and recreation), friars share values, faith, and personal life experiences that unite them on a deeper level and strengthen them in their common life as followers of St. Francis.

Capuchin Franciscans friars are actively engaged in the world, not shunning it, recognizing in all people and in all of creation the real presence of God.

Prayer is the cornerstone of Capuchin community life, drawing each friar into a closer relationship with God and a closer relationship with his brothers in community.

Morning and Evening Prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist are staples of Capuchin community prayer. Individually, each friar strives to commit at least one hour each day to personal prayer and meditation. In addition to these standard times of community worship, friars will gather to share theological reflections on their lives, their ministries, and their faith.

To learn more about the Capuchins, visit the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph web site.


Although St. Francis of Assisi died in 1228, the Capuchins were not established as a religious order until 1528. Three friars in the Franciscan Order founded the Capuchins as a reform movement, trying to restore the ideals of St. Francis that had gotten lost in the years after his death. Matteo da Bascio and Ludovico and Raffaele da Fossomdrone wanted to live more simply, serve the poor, and preach the Word of God as St. Francis had done. The Capuchin Order was begun in Italy, but has spread to nearly every region of the world, today numbering approximately 11,000 members, making it one of the largest religious orders in existence in the Catholic Church.

Establishment in the United States: In 1856, two diocesan priests from Switzerland - Francis Haas and Bonaventure Frey - admired the Capuchins so much in their homeland that they desired to establish the Capuchin Order in the US. Looking for a home that resembled their native Switzerland, Francis and Bonaventure settled in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin which became the founding site of the Capuchin Order in the United States.

The first few years were rocky, but eventually the small community grew with new members. There in Mt. Calvary, Francis and Bonaventure built not only a friary, but eventually a seminary for the religious training of new members. St. Lawrence Seminary was opened in 1860 [as "The Convent Latin School"] and continues in existence today as the largest residential high school seminary in the United States.
St. Lawrence Seminary High School.

The Capuchin Order grew rapidly in the United States to the point where it became necessary to divide the friars into different regions or "provinces." The Province of St. Joseph(of which Capuchin Retreat is a ministry) covers the upper Midwest United States and numerically is the largest province in America. We serve in communities from Detroit to Montana and into Central America. www.TheCapuchins.org