Written on: April 1, 2013
Mr. Frank Cappelli, a Grey Nun Associate, recently offered his responses to some questions we posed under the heading of the “Year of Faith”.
What role did faith play in your life as a child, Frank?
My Catholic faith played an extremely important role in my childhood. The devotional life of my Italian immigrant grandparents and my mother and father nurtured the seeds of my baptism.
I was especially attracted to Eucharistic Adoration, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and contemplative prayer, ever since I can remember.
What place did faith have in your family when you were growing up?
I was born in Wayne, PA., and attended CCD classes with the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Strafford, PA. My parents were practicing Catholics and so were we. We observed the Friday abstinence fast, and other devotional practices. We were considered “good” Catholics.
How has the faith story of another person inspired you?
Ever since I was in fourth grade (1959 I guess) the life of Mother D’Youville inspired me greatly. I read the story of her life in “Hands to the Needy” and gave a report on the book to my class. In imitation of her, I would organize little groups of children to go and minister to the needy of the neighborhood.
How has the faith story of another person inspired your faith?
The GNSH’s were at our parish (Our Lady of the Assumption, Strafford, PA) and I witnessed the gentleness and kindness of the sisters to all the children in their care. In particular, I remember Sr Mary Virginia and Sr Immaculata, both of whom inspired me greatly. Sr. Immaculata and I would venerate St. Marguerite’s relic together.
How has the faith journey of your youth changed in your present time?
Even though I feel the same attractions of grace are present in my soul, I have become more aware of my personal limitations and weaknesses and, thus, more sympathetic and compassionate for others’ weaknesses. Obviously, going through many personal changes (conversions) I feel my love for the Catholic faith is much greater and more mature.
What is your favorite scripture passage?
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
What special meaning does this passage have for you?
Oftentimes I am overwhelmed by my lack of abilities and much afraid of interior forces that war against me. Reminding myself of the Divine Indwelling within my interior vessel gives me a quiet assurance that “all will be well” and a quiet strength comes to meet me when I recollect myself in Him who strengthens me.
How does this passage relate to your experience of God?
Living this mystery has given me a sense of the divine transcendence and the littleness of my person.
How have you encouraged or supported another person in their faith journey?
I have been director of formation for my community of secular Discalced Carmelites and in this position my role was to teach, support and encourage others in their vocations as secular men and women.
I continue to do my best to evangelize and share the beauty of my Catholic faith, everywhere I go.
Has your faith journey taken any unexpected twists and turns?
As I changed over the years, there have been too many twists and turns in my faith journey to explain. However, as I faced the confusion, the upheaval in the Church and personal crisis, my love for her grew deeper.
My call to ministry as a GNSH Associate has anchored my life of contemplative prayer (as a Secular Discalced Carmelite) and has given me the balance I needed.
When he was twelve, a young Frank Cappelli received a copy of the book about St. Marguerite’s life, “Hands to the Needy.” After reading it, he did an oral book report for his class. At that time he had a serious stuttering problem. As Frank was trying to speak to the class, he experienced feeling “a presence come over him” and at that moment he could speak clearly. Now, he cannot stop speaking of St. Marguerite. He has been an Associate of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart since 1985.