"We, the Capuchin brothers, are a religious Order of the Catholic Church, which operates worldwide. We are a community of brothers who have made vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, in order to live the gospel of Jesus Christ in the spirit and way of St. Francis of Assisi. Many of our brothers are priests."
Our consumerist society usually cannot imagine life devoid of material possessions and lived only on a purely spiritual basis. Therefore the way in which Capuchin Friars live may seem strange or even incomprehensible. A life of renunciation helps Capuchins to be truly free. Getting rid of all material things on which we cling, is the first step to a happy life. Capuchins see fulfilment in helping others. They are always willing to help or advise if people ask for it. Their main aim is to live within the spirit of the life of St. Francis. They practice a life of poverty - "diminished" - that feels solidarity for the poor. Although they live modestly, it doesn't seem like they are missing something. Qualities as modesty and humility, that many people lack, embellish their personalities.
Capuchin Friars are one of the three branches of the Franciscan Order; in Slovakia, they are a community of about 80 brothers. The head of the Capuchin monasteries is the Provincial and the Guardian heads the individual monasteries. Slovak area is currently occupied by six monasteries in: Bratislava, Žilina, Pezinok, Hriňová, Poniky, Kremnické Bane and a missionary house in Bratislava – Rača. Slovak Capuchins are on a permanent mission in Iceland. Life in the monasteries in the countryside is, of course, different from life in larger cities. While in Hriňová, Poniky and Kremnické Bane Capuchins live more peaceful lives and are not so much connected to the outside world, life in Bratislava and Žilina is more hectic.
Friars in Hriňová care for their animals, while the priests offer the sacraments. In addition to helping with the activities in the church, friar-priest help out in the parish of Hriňová, in whose territory the church and monastery are located. On the first Saturday of each month, they also visit old and sick people in nearby social care homes, where they offer the sacrament of reconciliation. Hriňová “postulate” is a place where people who are interested in Capuchin life can experience life in the community along with the Friars. They learn to live in the community, to provide for themselves and for others. They handle all the routine work around the monastery, the church and with the animals. They have got a precisely determined daily routine. For all the brothers the most important service of all is to help others, especially the poor, or people living on the margins of society, providing both spiritual and physical aid.
The Brothers Capuchins in Poniky have similar duties as those in Hriňová, with the difference that the monastery doesn’t work as a postulate; although in the past there was a Capuchin novitiate that moved here from the nearby parish of Podlavice. Capuchins here manage the parish and care for the old Gothic church from the 13th century. They have a small farm, keeping a few sheep and ducks. Brothers in Kremnické Bane are also in charge of the church and take care of their farm. The monastery in Kremnické Bane is the place for novitiate. Here the followers of the Capuchin life learn their strict rules and norms. It is up to them, to decide how much of what they learn they will take into their next life. Capuchins have more peace here, and therefore can fully concentrate on prayer, meditation, and learning about themselves.
The monastery in Žilina is made up of brothers – post-novitiates who are students attending the philosophical and theological faculty at the Salesians. The nature of Capuchin work is to help people on the margins of society and to work with children and youths. They teach at schools, in their spare time they meet with kids on the premises of the monastery and organise various activities. Also, some brothers work in hospitals and give Confession. In Žilina meetings are held for the candidates to Capuchin life sometimes. Their aim is to make applicants familiar with life in the monasteries and with Capuchin Brothers. Capuchins lead the meeting and prepare the programme. In the monastery Bratislava - Rača live brothers who focus on the missions in Slovakia and in neighbouring Czech Republic. Missions typically last for one week and each day is defined by a theme, which is linked to individual activities. Capuchin Brothers thus devote each day to a catechesis for men and women; they teach religion to primary schools students and, for the elderly people, they give the sacrament of anointing of the sick. They also organise a meeting for youths from across the parishes, play a missionary concert with their band “Capuchins & Stanley” and bless the missionary cross.
The work of the Capuchins from Bratislava is mainly to administer the sacrament of reconciliation for penitents. They also offer a number of Masses daily. They also spiritually support Mother Alexis High School in Bratislava and the Institute of Oncology St. Elizabeth Street. They offer support to families, children and youth. In this monastery young Capuchins attend lessons. Capuchins in Pezinok do mainly pastoral work, and one could say that the monastery is focused on providing the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the faithful. Individual brothers are devoted to various activities: pastoral care of the sick and dying; the integration of disabled children into schools; art of sacred mosaic and poetry; a lot of musicians can be found among the Capuchins. Perhaps their most famous achievement is the gospel group "Capuchins and Stanley". Capuchin Friars also organise summer camps for children and youth and adult revivals.
Pax et bonum