Bro. Antony Kurian OFM Cap. was the first Capuchin to make his solemn profession in Ireland for seven years. The Indian-born brother first encountered the Capuchins in India, but he joined the order here hoping to join in a renewal of the Faith in Europe.
Only when I had this job and I felt I needed something more than this, I thought at least I had to try it, to have peace”
Bro. Antony’s initial contact with the order came when he was in his teens, living in India. Although he was attracted to their way of life, it wasn’t until he moved to Ireland that he seriously began to consider his vocation.
“I kept studying, I did engineering in India, then I came to Ireland to do a masters, then I worked for some time here as an engineer,” Bro. Antony explains. “All that time, I never felt really fulfilled with my life, even though I had a good job and everything. I had this good experience with the Capuchins in India, so I always felt attracted to that vocation. I was always thinking about being a Capuchin, but I hadn’t made a decision to join.
“Only when I had this job and I felt I needed something more than this, I thought at least I had to try it, to have peace. Either way, I have to try it, then only I will know. That’s why I made this step to contact the Capuchins and visited them. I finished my job, then I went to India for year; I came back and then I joined the postulancy programme.”
Before he considered his vocation, Bro. Antony had a foundation in the Faith. His community in India “was like Ireland maybe 50 years ago” he says, with the majority of people attending Mass regularly.
“I grew up where the Faith is really practised,” Bro. Antony continues. “It was like Ireland maybe 50 years ago, I’m not sure exactly. Every Sunday, there’s very few people who don’t go to the Church. Most people would go to the church, when I grew up.
“We would have catechism every Sunday. The Faith was really nourished when I was a young age. Even though it was not – it was simply what you do. It wasn’t something special. All the Catholic students would go to catechism class, also there would be retreats in our school. A few times it was given by the Capuchins, so I had contact like that with them also.”
“There was a friary close to my house, so I would go to their house sometimes. So my faith was maybe not very personal at that time. It was like, everybody does it so I do it too. Only when I started thinking about it. Even still, it took a long time to draw and even talk about faith. It took a long time to come to that stage.”
Having had those experiences with the Capuchins, Bro. Antony decided to join them. In particular, he says, the simplicity of their life attracted him: “Mainly it was the simplicity… Also the life of St Francis, when I heard about this. They were also very helpful to the people. Their retreats were very helpful. They had one of the first retreat centres in my area. That all attracted me to them.
“Then I had one priest who I know. The retreat he gave, that really touched me, in India, his message. You could experience God’s spirit working through him. That one priest helped, he attracted me to the Capuchins.”
Having joined the postulancy, Bro. Antony says there were many challenging times, but he never doubted his vocation: “It was challenging, because it’s a different world – because it’s changing the rhythm of the day that you would ordinarily have. That was difficult in the beginning. But even though it was difficult, in a way I was fulfilled, even when I joined – that doesn’t mean I had doubts. Overall I had a sense of peace in me, when I joined.
“There are challenges also because in our days, most religious communities are thinking about the future. There is also change happening. It is something that I like to take positively, that it is change for a better future.
“Sometimes there were lots of uncertainties, whether I will be able to continue here. You know there were issues over the immigration status, those kind of things, there were lots of uncertainties like that. But overall I was at peace once I joined the order.”
This is not a specific mission or ministry, but this overall motivation to be part of the renewal and re-evangelisation of faith in Europe”
Many people asked Bro. Antony why he decided to join the Capuchin’s in Ireland, he says, and it was something that he spent a good deal of time considering.
“I was thinking for a long time. Over the years I regularly thought, the journals in India and some of the magazines – they talk about the crisis of faith in Europe and how Europe was key in spreading the Faith to our lands.
“How people need to pray for Europe and help us begin to regain the Faith and even to bring back the Faith to Europe. That was my motivation, but I wasn’t sure what to do, what I was able to do. In a way that gave me a purpose to join. This is not a specific mission or ministry, but this overall motivation to be part of the renewal and re-evangelisation of faith in Europe. That was the motivation, it really influenced my decision to join, because I was already here.”