Capuchin young adult ministry relaunches as Solanus Casey YouFra chapter

Young adults make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit on Feb. 3 for Simple Service Saturday, part of the relaunched YouFra Solanus Casey Chapter at St. Bonaventure Monastery. The young adult ministry relaunched this January to be in greater communion with the wider Capuchin Franciscan community in the United States. (Photos by Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

Ministry formally known as Tap Into Life introduces members to Franciscan spirituality, retains focus on service, faith

DETROIT — Young adult ministry at St. Bonaventure Monastery and the Solanus Casey Center is undergoing a bit of a facelift.

In an effort to forge a closer relationship with the wider Capuchin Franciscan young adult community in the United States, the local Capuchins announced the creation of a local chapter of YouFra — short for Youth Franciscans — a new identity for the province's Tap Into Life young adult ministry.

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The name change emphasizes the ministry's closeness to the worldwide Capuchin community, with YouFras all around the world, and a greater spiritual connection to the Third Order Secular Franciscans.

“Previously we had Tap Into Life, which was formed in 2015, and that was our young adult ministry here for several years,” Maggie Jackson, minister for the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter, told Detroit Catholic. “We made the decision to become an official YouFra chapter. We are one of many chapters across the world, inviting young adults to increase their spirituality and learn more about Franciscan spirituality.”

Naim Edwards, a council member for the YouFra Solanus Casey chapter, leads young adults in prayer and meditation at the tomb of Blessed Solanus Casey as part of Simple Service Saturday on Feb. 3.
Naim Edwards, a council member for the YouFra Solanus Casey chapter, leads young adults in prayer and meditation at the tomb of Blessed Solanus Casey as part of Simple Service Saturday on Feb. 3.

The Solanus Casey YouFra chapter officially launched Jan. 1. While the group will continue to meet on the third Sunday of the month at the Solanus Casey Center, as well as participate in "Simple Service Saturdays" on the first Saturday of the month, Jackson said the group will enjoy the benefit of being part of the wider Capuchin community.

As part of the transition, five members of the former Tap Into Life ministry made one-year commitments to live out the Franciscan values of poverty, chastity and obedience the best they can according to their station in life. The promises aren’t formal vows like professed religious take, but a sign of the core team’s commitment to living out the mission of YouFra, Jackson explained.

“Pretty much it’s declaring we’re going to live our Franciscan spirituality, that we are going to be a member of this group and we’re going to try and bring people to Christ and increase their knowledge of Franciscan spirituality,” Jackson said.

YouFras exist around the world, usually for people in their early teens, and work closely with the Secular Franciscans, but the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter is one of only three YouFra organizations in the United States, explained Fr. Fred Cabras, OFM Cap., who serves as the spiritual minister for the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter.

Fr. Fred Cabras, OFM Cap., serves as the spiritual minister for the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter. Fr. Cabras said young adults who join YouFra will be exposed to Franciscan spirituality rooted in service and community.
Fr. Fred Cabras, OFM Cap., serves as the spiritual minister for the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter. Fr. Cabras said young adults who join YouFra will be exposed to Franciscan spirituality rooted in service and community.

“What is a little different from Tap Into Life is YouFra is a little more grounded in the Franciscan spiritual life in the sense it's connected more closely with the Secular Franciscans,” Fr. Cabras said. “One of the hopes, obviously not a requirement, is for some of the YouFra members to be one day interested in becoming a Secular Franciscan or joining the first order as a Franciscan brother or sister.”

YouFra works closely with the Secular Franciscan community at St. Bonaventure Monastery, operating independently, but sharing insights and reflections about day-to-day operations, bridging the two organizations.

“In order to start a YourFra, you need to have a core group of people taking a promise for a year to live the Franciscan spirituality as they understand it in their lives,” Fr. Cabras said. “In November, when the council members took their promise, there also was a Secular Franciscan professing their final vows in a liturgy together. We’re hoping again if the Secular Franciscans have anybody making their profession that we’ll do it all together.”

Maggie Jackson, minister for the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter, speaks with staff members of On the Rise Bakery at the Solanus Casey Center. Jackson is one of five YouFra members who made a promise to live out Franciscan values for one year as part of their commitment to YouFra.
Maggie Jackson, minister for the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter, speaks with staff members of On the Rise Bakery at the Solanus Casey Center. Jackson is one of five YouFra members who made a promise to live out Franciscan values for one year as part of their commitment to YouFra.

YouFra retains many of the key components of Tap Into Life, including monthly spiritual and social gatherings with service opportunities.

Those characteristics drew Jessica Edwards to the group six years ago. She says the transition to YouFra has been smooth.

“Most of our things are exactly the same,” said Edwards, who is the gift shop manager at the Solanus Casey Center. “Since we already had the service component and the fellowship, with the Capuchin Franciscans shepherding over us, we pretty much already had something like YouFra, but we didn’t have the YouFra name. Since we had everything else, the transition was seamless.”

On Feb. 3, YouFra members participated in a "Simple Service Saturday," when around 30 young adults gathered at the Solanus Casey Center to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to be distributed at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen’s Connor location.

The connection to the Solanus Casey Center and various Capuchin ministries is what makes YouFra stand out among young adult groups in southeast Michigan, Fr. Cabras said.

Around 30 young adults made sandwiches and delivered them to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Connor location as part of Simple Service Saturday, a staple of the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter.
Around 30 young adults made sandwiches and delivered them to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen's Connor location as part of Simple Service Saturday, a staple of the Solanus Casey YouFra chapter.

“With other young adult groups with a parish or an individual starting a Bible study group or something like that, those are great, but they are not rooted in a particular spirituality,” Fr. Cabras said. “Here we have the connection to the Franciscan spirituality, the connection to the friars, the connection to the work the friars are doing here in Detroit.

“The one thing I love about Franciscan spirituality is we have this saying, ‘Living the Gospel,’ and that is exactly what we’re doing, living the Gospel through our actions and our spirituality and all we do,” Fr. Cabras added. “We’re looking to share that with other people, to live the Gospel life in a way that is meaningful and impactful in the world.”

The twice monthly events allow YouFra members to come and go and commit whenever they can, Jackson said.

“We know people's schedules are hectic,” Jackson said. “We want people to come and enjoy food and drinks, enjoy fellowship after Mass or a talk or going out and doing an activity. We want people to come out and really grow in their faith.”

YouFra next meets Feb. 18, with Fr. John McKenzie giving a talking about love, sacrifice and Lent. The full schedule can be found on the Solanus Casey Center's website.

“What I’m hoping is people get a better understanding of not only Franciscan spirituality and the Solanus Casey Center, because we are so lucky to have this in our own backyard, but I just want people to really figure out what Christ is calling them to do,” Jackson said. “And we have a group right here at the Solanus Casey Center to help them do that.”



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