Midwest Capuchins ordain two men to the priesthood

MILWAUKEE – Brother Fred Cabras, OFM Cap. And Brother M.J. Groark, OFM Cap. were ordained Roman Catholic priests during a priestly rite of ordination celebrated at 10:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, December 7, 2019 by Bishop John Corriveau, OFM Cap. at Saint Francis of Assisi Church, 1927 N. Vel R. Philips Avenue.

Br. Fred, a native of Paw Paw, Michigan, grew up attending St. Mary’s Parish in his hometown. “I remember, as an altar boy, seeing the priest speak and thinking, that would be cool to do, and I feel like that was the spark of my vocation, before fully realizing it later as an adult.”

He is a graduate of Hackett Catholic Central High School in Kalamazoo and the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he received a degree in Psychology. Br. Fred’s spark re-lit and he discerned the call to become a member of the clergy while attending the FOCUS Conference for young adults as an undergraduate at UIC.

“I got this sense that there’s something more that I’m searching for,” said Br. Fred. “I realized that community and social services were at the hallmark of my spiritual life. Being with and journeying with people on the margins and living in community is where I found spiritual richness.” This led Br. Fred to the Capuchin Franciscans.

Br. Fred is working to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) through clinical work at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. When he completes his clinical work, Br. Fred will be both a licensed clinical social worker and also an ordained priest, and hopes to utilize his social work background in Capuchin ministries.

“It’s so grace-filled, to be able to journey with people,” Br. Fred said. “It’s what I love about social work and my ministry, to be able to walk with people in their faith journey, and their life journey, because I don’t feel like there are enough people out there who just listen. Not necessarily to offer some sage advice that’s going to change your life, but to just listen and be present. We often miss the face-to-face interaction because we forget to be present.”

Br. M.J. joined the Capuchins in 2009, leaving behind a grinding, high-pressure life in business that nearly consumed him. The road was not easy, nor was it straightforward. Br. M.J. hit rock bottom in Southern California following years of drug and alcohol abuse that left him jobless, destitute and homeless. After detox, rehab and continual reflection, Br. M.J. had an epiphany while attending Mass at St. Josaphat in Milwaukee in 2007. It was there, that Br. M.J. sensed that he was being called to something greater and from there, he entered the Catholic Church.

“I heard a talk on divine mercy, and they were talking about Father Solanus Casey, who was poor and simple and he answered a door, and it led to me finding out about the good works the Capuchins have done with the poor, the vulnerable, the needy, the forgotten, the marginalized, and the drug addicts, and that was me, years ago,” Br. M.J. said. “I felt drawn to the Capuchins because of their solidarity with the poor and the marginalized of our society, because everyone deserves dignity and respect.”

Br. M.J., upon this ordination as a Capuchin priest, is excited to serve in Montana, doing multi-cultural and cross-cultural work with the Native Americans, as a campus minister providing sacraments, counseling and spiritual presence for the youth.

About the Capuchins

The Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph is a region of the worldwide order of Capuchin Franciscan friars covering the Midwestern United States with headquarters in Detroit. There are currently 163 friars serving in ministries such as soup kitchens, parishes, schools and retreat centers, in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Montana. The Capuchins are funded primarily by donations, receiving no government assistance. www.theCapuchins.org