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An Interview with Brother Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap., MSW

by Gordon Nary

Gordon: When did you decide to specialize in Social Service and where did you earn your Master's Degree in Social Work?

Brother Paul: I had been assigned to Manchester, NH as DRE and Youth Minister. Working as CYO Deanery Director and founding a Summer Basketball League with over 300 players. Also was asked by the Bishop to serve at the State Detention Center.

I asked to go to school and went to Springfield College School of Human Services in Manchester, NH In 1998, and after getting my Degree I asked to get a Master's in Social work because I felt that I needed more knowledge to help others in need. So I went to Boston College and got my MSW with a minor up in Public Policy and Community Organizing in 2000.

Gordon: When and why and you decide to be a Capuchin, and Why did you decide to be a Brother?

Brother Paul: I have been told that when I was very young when asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I said that I wanted to be a Franciscan. Growing up in Boston, I got close to the Friars at Arch Street a downtown chapel. After High school, I ended up applying to be a Capuchin. I felt it was the right place for and so I entered the Novitiate (first year of discernment). The rest is history. I became a brother instead of a priest because I saw a need to have a bridge between the laity and Religious Communities.

Gordon: Where are you currently assigned and what are your primary religious responsibilities?

Brother Paul: I am current at our Friary of St. Clare’s which is our communities Retirement and assisted living facility. I‘m here to take care of some medical problems. I am also still working on JPIC for the Capuchin Province of St. Mary’s. I am also a member of our community’s planning and Content for our Chapter in November. A Chapter is where all the Friars gather to pray and discern our future by making decisions and electing our Leadership team.

Gordon: What are your responsibilities as Chairman of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission?

Brother Paul: I gather together a group of the friars to pray, research, advocate and witness to a life of justice and equality.

Gordon: When you were Vocation Office Manager of CapuchinFranciscan Province of St. Mary, what were the primary challenges in religious vocations?

Brother Paul: Working on Vocations is always a challenge. Our times make that even more so perhaps from any time before us. Making commitments are difficult, living with others can be either a blessing or a difficulty. Those who are seeking discernment are less, so we have to pray more and rely more on God touching hearts and minds.

Gordon: What impact has the Covid -19 pandemic had upon faith?

Brother Paul: My hope is that there will be a reboot, that we will be not just reopen, but to try new things The Holy Spirit is calling us as a Church to Re-evangelize, to Reinvent, to Accept and talk and build up one another. Too many of us go into being afraid and finding a safe place. So, we all need to dip our hands into the water and then jump in and let God do a new thing.

Gordon: What is your favorite prayer?

Brother Paul: St Francis’s “Make me a channel of your peace”.

Gordon: Thank you for this insightful interview.

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