Brother Alfred Vincent, OFM Cap.
I Sing of Brother Alfred,
Nay not a song but a saga,
for Alfred was a Viking.
Our brother Alfred was a warrior
who was seeking the little way.
By his stature he would have been a recruit
for King Arthur his patron saint.
For Alfred the Great was considered a saint by some,
so Brother Alfred was following the sometimes saint
as a warrior who was fighting the Danes
who were invading England.
Alfred the Great fought them to a stand still
until they lived by the Danelaw.
Our Brother Alfred was actually a warrior,
in the war we called the Korean Conflict in the 1950’s.
There he was part of the forces that were using bazookas
against the enemy tanks and armored vehicles.
Alfred was an intense warrior being taught the rules of survival
which meant the rules of exterminating the enemy.
This was all the opposite of what he himself wanted.
For when he became a Capuchin, a person of the consecrated life,
he became a determined imitator of the Little Flower in her Little Way.
Alfred had to undo all the tactics of being a warrior.
In his effort to become little
this man of giant stature
had one episode in which he was diverted from his goal.
As he was walking the streets of D.C.,
he was mugged by six husky young locals.
By his automatic training,
he fought back and smashed faces.
Alfred forgot to turn the other cheek,
so now he had to undo once again
the warrior elements of his makeup,
to get back to the Little Way.
As part of his devotion
and effort to follow the Little Way,
Alfred spent a great deal of time decorating for Christmas.
He had a great devotion to Jesus as a child.
He venerated Jesus in every way possible,
decorating and making Christmas a special event.
But of course the main way was his life of prayer.
All the other capuchins
eventually noticed and remarked
about the prayerfulness of Brother Alfred.
He was remembered as a prayerful person,
as one who spent a long time in chapel,
the first to arrive and the last to leave,
the typical words that we hear about our capuchin saints.
Oddly enough some of the authors would actually say,
like Donald Atwater, that they were not going to write up individual
descriptions of the way the brother lived.
They simply said he was a typical Capuchin Brother
of a simple, humble way of living.
He summarized all in one block paragraph
that covered a dozen men.
Well Alfred fit right there,
always the prayerful person
who was trying to be little
and fit into the hand of baby Jesus.
After he became older,
and with all the battering of life,
Alfred actually had to live through the
babyhood of Jesus
when he entered a nursing home.
He was virtually helpless in his condition,
always being cared for, bathed and being fed,
and all those things of taking care of another patient.
Now all this is Alfred
of the Little Way
following the sometimes saint Alfred the Great.
Again by his stature,
he was a Viking ready to do battle
with the other Vikings,
the Berserkers that were trying to invade England.
So that was Alfred of the warrior type.
When he came into the community
he was stationed for most of his life
in the order
in Capuchin College.
There he was literally a pillar
holding up the entire place.
He was the one, the young friars, the students,
went to if they had any problem.
If something was not working, they ran to Alfred,
and he would repair or replace whatever they needed
and then add a word of encouragement.
Part of his ministry was to encourage and pray
in all his dedication and fervor
for those who were trying to become priests.
He was always a brother praying
that the young friars would become good priests.
He lived for their sakes, he lived to care for them
and even more, to pray for them,
and to help them see the glory
in the goodness of their vocation
in the ministry they would have
in proclaiming the gospel.
June 13, 2016
Bonaventure Stefun, OFM Cap.
with a hand from Larry Domencic