WHO WE ARE
St. Francis engaged the world as a brother to all. He sought unity in conflict. Perceived the goodness of the Creator in all of creation. Encountered Christ in the marginalized of his society. And discovered authentic joy in a life of simplicity.
Inspired by the Life of St. Francis, we seek to be a point of connection in our community. We seek to foster opportunities to encounter Christ in prayer, beauty, service and spiritual & intellectual formation.
The Port in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA is a Capuchin Franciscan evangelization ministry. Early in his conversion, St. Francis of Assisi was given a small chapel that he had rebuilt and called the "little portion," or Portiuncula (Por-zi-OON-coo-la). This became home for the first followers of St. Francis and is the inspiration for our ministry.
Our "little portion" is a storefront located on Butler Street. It will be a Franciscan home in our community. We hope to be a point of connection to draw people together across a variety of interests: prayer and spirituality, art and beauty, intellectual formation, athletics and outdoor activity.
In choosing the name, we liked the wordplay of "Port"—a place where ships dock to resupply and bring goods before heading back out to sea. The Port serves as safe harbor for people to make connections. We hope that those who come might find refreshment and inspiration to go out and live the Gospel in their daily lives!
The Capuchins have been present in Lawrenceville since 1873. In 2020 the friars renewed their commitment in the neighborhood with a major renovation of their “motherhouse”. At that time, space was set aside with the commission to establish an evangelization ministry. The ministry has been growing since July 2020, focusing largely on young adult ministry. We look forward to continuing to serve and grow this community.
Saint Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi lived from 1181 to 1226.
One of the best known and favorite Saints of the Church, Francis has been inspiring people by his simple way of life, prayer and charity for more than 800 years.
Having deeply encountered Christ, Francis sought to live a Gospel life to the fullest.
He had a special care for the poor and outcast, a deep appreciation for the beauty of Creation, and a heart for intense prayer and meditation.
We seek to invite others into this vision of St. Francis.
Francis' short, but impactful life was a spark of renewal in his turbulent era, inspiring thousands of followers within a few years of his death.
He established communities for men (friars or brothers), women (Poor Clares), and lay people (Secular Franciscans).
The Capuchin Franciscans emerged in 1524 as a reform movement to place renewed emphasis on Saint Francis' life of prayer and simplicity.
In 1873, Capuchins from Bavaria arrived in Pittsburgh to serve the German immigrant community in Lawrenceville. We became known as the Province of St. Augustine, named for the first church we served in the city and continue to serve today.
The Original Portiuncula
Early in his conversion, St. Francis was praying in the chapel of San Damiano. There, he heard the call of God: “Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is all being destroyed.” Taking this at face value, Francis dedicated himself to rebuilding churches which had fallen into disrepair.
One of these churches, Our Lady of the Angels, he called the Portiuncula, meaning the "little portion." It was here that Francis built a small hut for himself and his early followers. Use of the chapel was given to the group in exchange for a basket of fish, and it became the mother house of the growing group of friars. Here, St. Francis and his brothers came for nourishment and rest, before going back out to serve.
St. Francis so loved the Portiuncula that before his death he admonished the brothers that the Portiuncula might always be held in the greatest reverence and devotion. This small chapel remained important for the first friars as it was home to the early chapters (governing assemblies) of the Franciscan Order.
Today, the Portiuncula can still be found in the valley below Assisi, housed within the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels.