The Ethiopian Capuchin Franciscans are part of a story that goes all the way back to St. Francis of Assisi who, in 1209, having heard the call of Christ from the Cross to “Go and Rebuild my Church!”, dedicated himself and his first followers to the living of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the service of the Church through a life of brotherhood, prayer and sharing the Good News with all creation. In so doing he founded what would grow to be a huge religious family of brothers and sisters who continue to spread the Franciscan message of Peace and Joy to all people. Recognised for his holiness of life and joy filled contemplation of creation by all people, of all spiritual traditions, since then St. Francis remains the inspiration and the model for Franciscan life to this day.
Coming to Ethiopia in the late 1800’s the Capuchins have
been known as friars who have stayed with and saw the seed of the Catholic faith in Ethiopian history of Christianinty.
The essence of our life is to recapture the simplicity of the charism of Francis, with a focus on contemplative prayer, penance and smaller communities of between 3-12 friars. The Capuchin habit provides a witness to the world that the Church is visible, alive and active, and is a sign of our consecration to the Lord. It is brown in colour and – significantly for us – when we put on the habit each day it is a reminder to follow the Lord’s invitation to take up our cross everyday and follow Him – for if a friar stretches out his arms and puts the hood on, the habit forms the shape of the cross. In fact, we are called ‘Capuchins’ because of the long hood (capuche) of the habit – hence it is a nickname that has stuck. But, I guess, more people are familiar with the ‘cappuccino’ coffee that was named after us.
We follow the Rule of St Francis according to the Capuchin Constitutions that help us live the charism of St Francis in our own time and context.