The simplicity of a Capuchin.


Much has been written about many of the American papabili over the last few weeks and I don’t propose to break new ground here, just to reflect on the simplicity and humility shown by one of them in a very short encounter in a dim doorway.

My second year in seminary I and a number of other seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg trekked to D.C. the night before the March for Life to attend the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

We had awful seats. The choir and sanctuary were so chock full of cardinals, bishops, priests, and deacons, that the seminarians were put wherever there was room around the high altar.* I sat on the steps behind the baldacchino, looking up at the “Christ in Glory” mosaic that dominates the church. The faithful who had been seated in the three apses around the high altar had a better view—they had TV monitors, of which we seminarians could see the backs.

That night we stayed on the floor in the back room of the Capuchin College up the street from the Basilica. The next morning came early, we had quick Franciscan breakfast, and hurriedly packed our things so we could catch up with the rest of the Mount seminarians at the Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center.

As we were bustling with our backpacks or duffels and pillows and sleeping bags and whatever else out in our arms into the dimly lit corridor, a side door opened and four or five capuchin friars came out from the staircase right ahead of our traffic. They also sauntered toward the front door. One of them, a touch taller than I, with a grey beard, glasses, and an eminently serene but intense face,** held the door for us seminarians as we hurried out into the light of the cold January morning.

I was the only one who looked up as I neared, recognized, and mumbled a surprised “thank you, Eminence” to the cardinal archbishop of Boston for that act of kindness.

Again, not a revelation, nor any sort of grand “a-HA!” moment regarding this conclave and Cardinal O’Malley’s chances. But the humility it showed was obviously an impressive lesson.


* I know: first-world seminarian problems.

** That doesn’t narrow it down much, does it?


The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Tom Crowe is a cradle Catholic with a deep love for and commitment to Holy Mother the Church, colored by a rather interesting life-long relationship with her. Born during the great liturgical upheaval of the 1970s, Crowe was brought up in a parish that continued using the Missal of 1962—the Traditional Latin Mass—for which he developed a love. Crowe learned the faith as a child from the Baltimore Catechism, and didn’t stop learning and wrestling with the Church’s teachings at his Confirmation. Through reading and many conversations with friends and converts far smarter than he, Crowe came to know, accept, and love the Church and what she proposes far more intimately. For three years these conversation took place in seminary before Crowe, with the blessing of the formation team, determined that seminary was not right for him. In the wild and humorous ways of God, Crowe landed on his feet in Steubenville, Ohio, where he manages the online presence for Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he also trains altar servers and is the head master of ceremonies for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form on campus.

Leave A Reply