- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - After more than 100 years of service, the Capuchin presence in West Virginia is no more.

The order’s provincial minister, based in Pittsburgh, reassigned the two remaining Capuchin priests in the state after concluding the community could not support an order, the Charleston Gazette reports (https://bit.ly/1fcesRw).

The Rev. James Kurtz is the 14th, and last, Capuchin priest to lead Charleston’s St. Anthony Parish since it opened in 1908.

Kurtz and one other priest, The Rev. Joseph Tuscan, ministered to five churches in the area: St. Anthony; Our Lady of the Hills, in Elkview; Christ the King, in Dunbar; Holy Trinity, in Nitro; and St. Patrick, in Bancroft.

Capuchins are a 16th century reform movement of the Franciscan order, followers of St. Francis of Assisi, who dedicated his life to the poor. Priests, or friars, must live in “fraternities” of at least four, and that’s a number that the Charleston area has been increasingly unable to support in recent years.

“We have a community life, we pray together every day, and eat together and so forth and it’s really important for us to maintain that community life,” said Kurtz, who goes by Father Jim.

Kurtz will leave Charleston for Pittsburgh on Wednesday, before being assigned to another parish in western Pennsylvania. Tuscan will head to Canton, Ohio, where he will be the rector at a seminary.

“I came to love West Virginia,” Tuscan said. “Some of the most beautiful scenery that I’ve seen in the country and some of the most beautiful dear people.”

“You develop these friendships or bonds and you come close to a lot of people because of deaths and funerals and your ups and downs and just being here every week and worshipping with people,” Kurtz said. “So it’s hard to leave.”

The churches will continue and have been assigned two new priests from India.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com


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