St. Francis inaugurated his sacred ministry with manual labor. Meditating alone in a chapel in Assisi, he heard the Lord speak to him from the San Damiano Cross hanging over the Altar: "Francis, rebuild my Church, for you see it is falling down." And so Francis labored day after day gathering chiseled stones that had fallen from the walls of the holy place he and his friends called Portiuncula (Little Portion, named for the small parcel of land on which it was built). Much of this little chapel, raised by hermits and named St. Mary and the Angels, was now lying about on the ground in random piles of debris. Soon, his friends would join him, and together they would rebuild the church. Before long the little, holy building was completed, and these young men had coalesced into a community that would, before all was said and done, rebuild the Christian Church as few others have done. It is said of St. Francis that no life, besides that of our Lord Jesus Christ, has touched and transformed so many lives as his.
Manual labor has always been an intrinsic part of Franciscan spiritual life. Kapa Workshop is the center of that work at Na Pua Li'i Hermitage, Third Order of St. Francis. Here, we build furniture. Here, we maintain and rebuild our vehicles. Here, we create the architectural elements that our buildings will be thoughtful and beautiful. Here, we center our agricultural ministry reaching hundreds of people through donations of food and money. We even call our software workspace "Kapa Workshop," where we constructed our website and where we develop the tools that run the administrative infrastructure of our Franciscan community.
The word Kapa'au, where the Hermitage is located, means "high altar" in the Hawaiian language. Kapa is a cloth that was made by ancient Hawaiians, which the kahuna, or priest, would shake as he chanted that his prayers would become airborne in its current. You might say that all our manual labor is covered in kapa.
In the workshop we carry on
carpentry and cabinet-making,
construction of buildings,
theology books and articles,
even composing sonnets.