A reflection by Br. Peter Ciolino:
St. Francis had many followers in his time, some of them laymen and some of them priests. Francis felt that his Gospel call was big enough for all of them. The call of the lay brother today is the same as always: to proclaim the Gospel by a life of joyful penance, quiet prayer, and loving service. This service can take many forms, including cooking, tending garden, working on cars, as well as teaching or serving parish groups. St. Francis wanted all his followers to truly be brothers, while following different calls within one Gospel family.
Being personally drawn more to the contemplative dimension of our Capuchin life, I have found the role of the traditional lay brother to be very rewarding. Whether cooking for the brothers, doing repairs around the friary, sewing habits, or making sandwiches for the homeless, I am able to extend our times of community prayer to periods of quiet prayer throughout the day.
I have been inspired by the example of holy Capuchin lay brothers, including our first saint, St. Felix of Cantalice, who begged alms on the streets of Rome, and St. Conrad of Parzham, who welcomed pilgrims at a shrine to Our Lady in Germany. The holy lives of the Capuchin brothers of our own Province, especially Br. Patrick Honohan and Br. Alexius Paolucci, as well as several brothers who are still with us, have shown me how this vocation is both life-giving and a gift of faithful service to the Church.