Monday, February 3, 2014

The Following was written by Br. Paul Duplessie. Br. Paul was born in Stoney Point, ON, in July of 1945. He professed solemn vows on, September first 1967, and was ordained on, August 07, 1971. He has served as provincial minister to the Capuchins of Central Canada from 1995-2001 and 2008-2010.


There is a story told about two buckets who met at a well. One of them looked morose. "What's the trouble?" asked the second bucket sympathetically.
"Oh!" replied the first gloomy bucket, "I get so weary of being dragged to this well. No matter how full I am, I always come back here empty." The second bucket chuckled. "How curious! Why, I always come here empty and go away full. I'm sure if you started to think this way, you would feel more cheerful."
This story reminds me of my own approach to ministering in God's name. One can think of ministry as tedious and draining or as full-filling. It is so, not only for the person who needs my help, but to myself as well since I am convinced that this is what God has called me to do. Vocation is more than just a call from God; it is also a call to serve God and his people. Sure, there are moments that are challenging and stressful. However, the realization that I have been called to touch the life of an individual gives me satisfaction and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment (even if this individual is someone I may never meet again and upon whose life I may only make a small difference). God put that individual in my path and it was up to me to respond with loving concern. That is doing God's work! Many years ago when I chose to answer God's call to service in the Church as a Capuchin-Franciscan priest, I did not know where this call would take me or what form my ministry would take. Besides parish ministry, God would also call me to: teaching, retreat work, formation of young students, and even to leadership within the community.
Each ministry would have its own special joys and pitfalls. But Jesus remained in the centre of all of them. He would minister through me as well as being the object of my ministry. Prayer has always been at the centre of the challenges life brings. Through prayer, I find direction by allowing the Holy Spirit to point out the way that I must take to accomplish the mission at hand. At times, failure has been the hallmark of trying to do things without the inspiration of God. In the midst of hectic ministry, there has also been the need at various times to get away and be refreshed physically, emotionally and spiritually. These times apart have given me the space and energy I so dearly needed.
Furthermore, guilt about not being around the parish to help people when I have needed to get away has never entered my mind. The need to be personally refreshed was too important. I am not the Messiah and the Messiah must be allowed to do his own work! Unexpected experiences in life have a way of molding us into a different shape than what we sometimes would have imagined for ourselves. My personal dream had always been to become a priest like the priests that had been part of my life in my home parish of Stoney Point, ON and in the person of my father's first cousin. But God had other plans for me.
My grade eight teacher exposed me to the Capuchin-Franciscans, who at the time had a minor seminary in Blenheim, ON for boys interested in the priesthood.  The simplicity of their life resonated with me profoundly and by the end of high school I had decided to join them. This new journey would take me to many new places for study and ministry. It truly was a formative experience in my life.
Several years later God would call me to a leadership role in my own religious community. Challenges followed. Some of those moments were very trying and extremely stressful.
            These challenges really opened my mind to the need of becoming more prayerful. I realized that I needed to bring my concerns to God for support, and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my decision-making. If God is for us, who can be against!  God has been good. Like the bucket in the opening story, when I have felt empty God has always been there to fill me up!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It has been a while since I put up a new post. I have been busy over the Advent and Christmas seasons, but it is now back to work as normal. I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and look forward to a wonderful new year. Recently an article was written about our Brother Fadi. Click on the link below to read the article.

Pax Et Bonum
Br. Stephen Van Massenhoven
Vocation Director

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And The Lord Gave Me Brothers

When I was asked to take on the responsibilities of vocation   director I was filled with apprehension. The job of vocation director is one filled with disappointment and rejection; watching men you have walked with join other orders, the dioceses or leaving religious life. This is not to say there are no success stories and men who successfully endure the rigours of formation; it is the hope in these successes that gives me the desire and will to take on my new responsibilities.

This hope, in fact, led me to choose a quote from the testament of St. Francis as my maxim. The quote comes after St. Francis describes his encounter with the lepers and his love for the church. He says “And after the Lord gave me brothers,” and it is my   belief that the lord continues to give St. Francis brothers. The testament continues:

“ one showed me what I should do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the Holy Gospel. And I had this written down simply and in a few words and the Lord Pope confirmed it for me. And those who came to receive life gave to the poor everything which they were capable of possessing and they were content with one tunic, patched inside and out, with a cord and short trousers. And we had no desire for anything more. We who were clerics used to say the Office as other clerics did; the lay brothers said the Our     Father; and we quite willingly stayed in churches. And we were simple and subject to all.”

I believe the Capuchin Order still lives these precepts, and that by living them we will continue to inspire men to join us in living the Gospel Life. As evidence, in the short time I have been vocation director I have met several men who desire to follow           St. Francis and live his gospel life.

Please pray for these men as they discern their call to join us:

Michael Giglio          from  Toronto, Ontario
Akram Esho              from  Toronto, Ontario
Martin Ngo                from  Toronto, Ontario
Vince Thomas          from  London, Ontario
David Clark               from  Ottawa, Ontario
Victor Doudolad       from  Montreal, Quebec
Joe Rodrigues          from  Winnipeg, Manitoba

It is my prayer that these men be inspired by God and the life of the  Capuchin Friars to follow the gospel life as St. Francis understood it and experience the joy of that life.

- Bro. Stephen Van Massenhoven, ofm, cap

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sunday, September 22 , brother Frédéric Lavoie of the Eastern Canadian Province made ​​vows in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in the presence of the brothers, family and many friends.  

The following an excerpt from the homily delivered by his provincial minister, Louis Cinq-Mars, and a few pictures .
"Religious life is a Christian way of life, a way in which God is the center and all! It's a different way of life other vocations, and has its own requirements including the plowing your own inner world. It is a different way to live the basic human vocation to which we are all called: choose life and be fruitful.

At the heart of the religious life there is an encounter with God and a call to build our lives from this intimate and romantic encounter. The radical demand of this call is to enter into the moment and never look back. "Do you remember anything of you, wrote St. Francis, that you receive all the integers which gives you the whole."

In Canada there are currently more than 16,000 religious and the average age is  over 78 years. Despite the decline and aging, religious life retains its strength and its meaning: it is a reminder that a happy, full and fruitful life can be built from an intimate relationship with God and in reality no life can not be happy without a full and fruitful relationship with God, our source.

In a society that says that happiness lies in personal success at any price or performance, the vowed religious announces through there life that happiness is actually in the gift of self, passing from egocentric to welcoming and serve our brothers and sisters. "

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The following reflection was written by Br. Michael Mascarenhas. Br. Michael professed his first vows as a Capuchin earlier this summer.

  On July 18th 2013, I professed temporary vows during evening Mass at St. Philip Neri parish in Toronto. It was a very          emotional experience for me. I felt God`s presence as I recited the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in front of my   brothers and members of my family. I felt at peace and I was full of joy.  My family was there with me, and I was home in my province. It meant a lot to me for them to be there.   I spent the last three and a half years discerning my vocation with the Capuchins, including this past year in my novitiate in Santa Inez, California.  It all led up to that moment where I professed my temporary vows before God. My provincial was emotional and I also felt like crying when I professed my vows and I remembered how far I have come and how much growth I have made. I remember thinking after the Mass how it was all worthwhile. I am a different person now than I was when I began this journey three years ago. I’m grateful for the support over these beginning years.   I feel God has called me to live as a Capuchin friar and I thank Him for always being by my side. I    always think about that evening. It was so special and I will never forget it.   Bro. Michael Mascarenhas, ofm, cap

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The following reflection was written by Br. Fadi Touma. Br. Fadi professed his first vows as a Capuchin earlier this summer.


For as long as I can remember, I have been seeking to be united with the Crucified Christ. To follow in His footprints is all I strive to do in life. This has not been an easy task and I do not always succeed, for I am a sinner. I have had many trials that have led me down dark paths; however, I have also had many blessings that, by the grace of God, have allowed me to continue to be open to the Spirit working in my life.

After a year of intense prayer and discernment during novitiate, the Holy Spirit led me to falling to my knees to profess poverty, chastity, and obedience. Again. This was not the first time I put my hands into a superior to profess public vows. I was too young to really appreciate the value of vows. They were beautiful words that I proclaimed; however, I didn’t understand. God held onto me when I left the Franciscans of the Holy Land. God held onto me when I decided to follow my family to Canada. God held onto me while I was walking down the path of selfishness. God held onto me when I sought money over His infinite love.

After I experienced intense loneliness and a sense of misdirection in life, He allowed me to return to Him to truly give myself to Him this time. When I was invested with the Capuchin habit, I felt my nakedness clothed with love. The wandering child returned home to Christ. As I said earlier, at vows, I fell to my knees. I knew of my lowliness and my desire to submit to humble Christ on the cross. Proclaiming vows this time was like confessing my love for Christ. I smiled. I cried. I loved. The words were beautiful, and I knew it this time.

As I continue to come to understand the meaning of vows, I ask that the Lord strengthen my desire for Him. I pray that I may let go of my fear of insecurity and rest in the love that Jesus has for me. The vows that I have taken are now a journey. At times, I know that the vows will take me, for I am weak and a sinner. But Christ’s love will never fail me. May our father St Francis pray for me to follow the footprints of Christ living His Gospel the best I can each day.

May God give you peace and rest.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Vocation Discernment Weekend.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of giving a vocation discernment weekend at Mount Alverno, near Orangeville, Ontario. Six prospective candidates spent the weekend with Br. Michael, Br. Fadi and myself. We took time to learn and practice creation centered prayer on the beautiful grounds of the retreat centre.

I wish to thank the guys who came to the weekend as well as Br. Fadi and Michael who help me. I pray that the men were inspired by the weekend.

God Bless
Br. Stephen