Amid the hustle and bustle of Butler Street in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, the Capuchin Franciscan Friars offer young adults an oasis of Catholic community and connection.
Through a new young adult ministry, the Capuchins host diverse events that appeal to a wide array of interests: prayer, art and beauty, intellectual formation, and athletics and outdoor activity. Their goal is to help young adults deepen their faith and form new friendships, and to equip them to live out their faith every day.
Brother Ross Henley and Brother Matt Hindelang head up the ministry.
“We hope to offer an opportunity for people to encounter Christ,” said Brother Ross. “We try to create events that speak to everyone and form a bridge between the Church and the secular community.”
The friars aren’t exactly new to Lawrenceville; they have there since 1873. After completing a major renovation of their motherhouse last year, the friars set aside storefront space for an evangelization ministry focused primarily on young adults.
To anchor their new outreach, the Capuchins looked to the example of Saint Francis of Assisi. They named both the ministry and its location after the Portiuncula (Por-zi-OON-coo-la), which means “little portion.” The name is a nod to the chapel that Saint Francis rebuilt, which became a spiritual hub for his first followers.
The friars shorten the name to the “Port,” liking the image it evokes of ships coming safely into a harbor. They hope that, like ships on the sea, the people who come to the Port find refuge and rest, before going back out into the world.
“Being grounded in Catholicism and in Christian community at the Port helps young adults to engage the world better,” Brother Matt said.
The activities and cultural events offered by the Port help foster camaraderie among participants before drawing them deeper into the faith. Every Thursday at 6:30 a.m., friars and young adults meet for a run or a walk on Butler Street, followed by Mass, coffee and fellowship.
The friars host “Capuchin Café,” an evening of adoration with praise music, followed by live music, coffee, and snacks. On weekdays, Confessions are available from noon to 1 p.m. Brother Ross and Brother Matt are available to talk with anyone looking to unburden their heart or to process a difficult situation.
Through the Assisi Arts Community at the Port, the friars invite local Catholic artists to teach drawing workshops and host drawing sessions during which participants can sketch live models. At Sacred Art exhibitions, participants can connect with each other as they discuss beautiful works of art.
Emily Pino appreciates that the Port’s events are both social and prayerful. She had never encountered a young adult ministry that integrated art appreciation. She was inspired by the art she saw and the artists she met at the most recent exhibition.
Pino said that she and her fellow young adults have been bolstered by the authentic friendships with have formed with the friars.
“Everybody knows that they can count on the Capuchins and feels very welcomed by them. Young adults have someone religious that they can talk to and become genuine friends with,” she said.