In the past one hundred years many people – many different kinds of people – have found their way to 4th street in Marathon and turned left through that stone gate and into the grounds of St. Anthony’s. In the early years it was young Capuchin friars who came here to further their theological and philosophical study and eventually be ordained. After they turned through the gate their lives would be changed forever continuing in serving the church. According to the Rule of St. Francis, they would come to “follow the basic teaching of Jesus Christ and to walk in His footsteps”.
As you approach St. Anthony’s you come upon a statute of St. Francis of Assisi. It is on purpose that it is upfront and always greeting everyone who comes through that gate. St. Francis has been the spiritual guide of this place and the people through these one hundred years. St. Francis was the founder of the Order of Franciscans of which the Capuchin Order is a branch. It was the Capuchin Order in the United States that opened St. Anthony’s friary in 1919. It is the teaching of St. Francis and those that follow him to follow the basic rule “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in His footsteps”.
After their ordination these young Capuchins would be placed in a variety of difference ministries, perhaps at a native American missionary settlement in the American west or kitchen in the poor sections of Detroit.
Soon you walk up the path to St. Anthony’s you look up to see the statute of St. Anthony of Padua holding the infant Jesus. St. Anthony was an early friar to the Franciscan Order. He came to be highly regarded as a preacher and teacher, one whom Francis could trust in furthering the elements of his ministry to young friars.
Through the course of those one hundred years, the Capuchins closed the building as a school of theology in 1970 and created a retreat center. By 2013, the Capuchins decided to leave St Anthony’s entirely, leaving it up to local residents to continue the ministry of St. Anthony Spiritual Center.
The true heart of St. Francis and St. Anthony teaching is still a key part of the Center. “To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in His footsteps” still remains as the guiding rule and teaching of those who grace this center.
As you came through the gate you may have had many thoughts about what is ahead of you. Our hope is that your time here at St. Anthony’s will bless you with the abiding presence of St. Francis and St. Anthony as you try to “follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in His footsteps”.