Capuchin brothers to assume parish responsibilities

Father Michael Banks, Capuchin Provincial, welcomes friends at the “friend-raising” event that took place at San Lorenzo’s Friary in Jamaica Plain May 22. Cardinal O’Malley, Father Charles Bourque and Capuchin Father Jack Rathschmidt are also pictured in the photo. Pilot photo/Neil McCabe

BOSTON -- Former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette joined Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley May 22 at Jamaica Plain’s St. Lorenzo Friary of the Capuchin brothers for an open house for friends and supporters of the order.

The open house was meant as both a “friend-raiser” and opportunity to make the brothers more accessible as they begin the process of assuming operational and administrative control of the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Jamaica Plain, said Jack Dunn, who helped organize the event and is the director of public relations for Boston College.

The cardinal said that after 23 years as a bishop and serving four different dioceses, it is the first time he has members of his order in his diocese.

The order has another house in Roxbury, St. Benedict the Moor Friary, which they established in 2000 at the invitation of Cardinal Bernard Law, he said.

At a time when many orders are turning ministries and facilities over to the archdiocese, it is great to see a growing presence of the Capuchins taking on more responsibilities, the cardinal added.

In addition to their work at the parish, the Capuchins will minister to the area’s immigrant population, especially to the Spanish-speaking and Cape Verdean communities.

“This is our chance to welcome you and answer your questions,” Dunn said in his remarks during an informal program held in the chapel where brothers shared the history of the order and the order’s future plans for the Boston area.

Although many other orders are better known, the Capuchins are one of the biggest communities in the Church with more than 12,000 members, he said.

The cardinal shared an example of the order’s lower profile when he said he met the Vatican astronomer, who is a Jesuit, at the recent commencement at Boston College.

“I told him there are 36 craters on the moon named for Jesuits, including a comet named for him,” the archbishop said. “We only have a cup of coffee named after us.”

The order’s largest presence is in Africa, which is consistent with the brothers’ devotion to poorest of the poor, said Dunn.

St. Lorenzo Friary is a former parish convent converted to function as a dormitory for brothers who attend the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, he said. There are 27 students living at the friary.

Over the next two years, the order will move into the rectory building and the parish staff will move into the basement of the parish center, said Father Charles Bourque, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Father Bourque said after he moves out of the rectory, he will remain the pastor until a Capuchin is selected to relieve him. In the meantime he will move into the rectory of the nearby St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

“Like thousands of other people in Boston I will be commuting to work,” he said. “Fortunately, my commute is only a five-minute drive or a 30-minute walk.”

When he leaves his current post, Father Bourque hopes he will be given a new assignment where he can continue his more than 30 years of ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics, he said.

For the last 14 months, Duquette said he has led the Boston Capuchin Council, an organization set up to coordinate fundraising and lay volunteers working with the brothers, as well as raise awareness of the order in the media.

Duquette said his uncle, Brother Joseph Duquette, who is a Capuchin brother in Maine approached him about joining the council. “He asked me to help -- and when your godfather asks you to do something, you do it.”

Since working with the council and the brothers, Duquette has been impressed by the brothers’ humility. “Their work is so inspiring,” he said.

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