Francis – the founder of the Franciscans, came from a wealthy family who lived in Assisi, Italy, during the 12th century.
Francis’ mother was a lovely lady, a woman of great virtue. She was a moderating force in the family. She taught Francis to respect persons for who they were, rather than for their money, position or power.
Her strong faith became Francis’ Faith.
As a child he was named ‘John’. It was after a successful business trip in France that his father renamed him Francis.
During his youth Francis was far from being a ‘holy joe’, but was rather the leader of a very noisy group of town youth who enjoyed parties, songs, a good-time and were often caught for disturbing the peace in the streets of Assisi. Francis never lost this love for life, song, dance, custom. So many saints are portrayed in ‘holy terms untouchables, unreal – Francis was very real, very much in touch with all the facets which make a human person human.
Francis had always dreamt of being a Knight. He saw his chance in a domestic skirmish.He was taken prisoner, spent a year in prison, then went home sick. Then again in 1205 Francis attempted to go to war, a Papal War this time. It was here on this mission that he underwent Francis’ Conversion Experience, which he felt while on his way to Apulia and war, was that he felt he heard the voice of the Lord telling him to return to Assisi and await word about what he was to do with his life. He returned showing his change in life-style. He now wanted to serve the Lord – not a War Lord and from 1207 to 1220, Francis went to Yugoslavia, Spain, Egypt and the Holy Land. He gave up his wealth and began preaching around the countryside. With no monestry to go home to he relied on the good will of people for food and shelter.
Father O’Reilly O.F.M. was Wellington’s first priest. He arrived here in 1842 and died here in 1880. The Capuchins came to Wellington again at the request of the late Cardinal McKeefry in 1958.Their first work was with the University Chaplaincy.