In collaboration with Capuchins from Spain and Germany, American Capuchin missionaries were sent to China in the early 1920s.

Four Capuchin missionaries sent to China in the 1920s

Working and living in very challenging circumstances and with the help of the Seraphic Mass Association, Capuchin missionaries succeeded in establishing the Church in various regions until they were expelled by the communists in 1950. However, the Church in China has survived communist persecution. Efforts are underway to re-establish the Capuchin Order in China.

Puerto Rico

In 1929, Capuchins from the United States mainland were asked to care for the people of Puerto Rico. Spanish friars had lived and worked on the island for 300 years, and the Puerto Rican people were predominantly Catholic for many generations. However, they lived in poverty and cutoff from the rest of the world.

Capuchin missionary with some Puerto Rican childrenCapuchin priest helping a sick man in Puerto RicoFr McCreary in Puerto Rico

Thanks in part to the assistance of the Seraphic Mass Association, the Capuchin Order is well established in Puerto Rico, where several missionaries from the mainland United States still live and work.

Papua New Guinea

The biggest missionary challenge was yet to come. In 1955, Pope Pius XII asked American Capuchin friars to send missionaries to the just opened mountainous region of Papua New Guinea. Hundreds of thousands of people in this remote area had never heard of God, Jesus Christ or the Church. In fact, they had never even seen a wheel and lived much as their ancestors had for thousands of years.

Papua New Guinea men in tribal dress

Six American Capuchin missionaries entered the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea in 1956.

First six American Capuchin friars to enter Papua New Guinea

This was to be the first time that many people saw a white person; for some it was a frightening ordeal. They believed they were seeing ghosts, as their religious traditions taught.

However, myths on both sides soon diminished, and the Gospel was received with great enthusiasm. As the mission grew so did the need for support.

Papua New Guinea children looking at the manger sceneCapuchin friar laughing with a Papua New Guinea manPapua New Guinea citizens at MassBishop Don with congregation of Mendi

The Seraphic Mass Association saw to every need of the Capuchin missionaries in Papua New Guinea. Donations made to the Seraphic Mass Association were used to build chapels, classrooms, churches, priests' houses, schools, clinics, water supply systems, power grids and to purchase motorbikes, pick-ups and even an airplane!

A Growing Capuchin Mission Partnership

With the decline of United States vocations in the 1970s and 1980s, the number of missionaries to Papua New Guinea diminished. However, the Capuchin brotherhood is worldwide. Friars from India, Philippines, Europe and Australia helped to augment the needed missionaries in Papua New Guinea.

Today, the Capuchins in Papua New Guinea come from the United States, India, and Tanzania; but the majority of Capuchins in the mission were born and raised in Papua New Guinea. Young missionaries are growing in number. At least one new United States missionary is sent to Papua New Guinea each year, along with missionaries from our Capuchin mission partners.

The youthful Capuchin mission makes it among the youngest of religious communities in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea priests

Partnerships with India and Tanzania have enabled the Seraphic Mass Association to continue the tradition of supporting Capuchin missions all around the world.

The Seraphic Mass Association – thanks to its wonderful donors – has dug water wells in Ghana, built schools in numerous countries, established clinics and medical centers among the poorest people of the world, proclaimed the Gospel in the most remote areas and forgotten people on the planet, and has established the Catholic Church for people who have lived in fear and unending cycles of war and revenge.

Father John speaking to a class of childrenFather John and another Capuchin building a brick wall in KithyokoThree Capuchin missionary priestsChurch built thanks to Seraphic Mass Association donors