The Irish Times view on the departure of Brother Kevin: more than five decades of invaluable service

Brother Kevin’s retirement from the Capuchin Centre is the end of an era - but Dublin’s social problems mean its work must continue

A small number of public figures are instantly recognisable by their first name. One of them is Brother Kevin. The founder of the Capuchin Centre in Dublin’s Bow Street is to retire at the age of 87. He founded the centre in 1969 - more than 50 years ago - and from small beginnings it has grown to a major operation, vital to the lives of so many.

It is a remarkable achievement and an extraordinary record of Christian service to the community of Dublin’s Inner City. That Brother Kevin deserves our thanks is clear – many of us see and read about his work at Christmas, but this is a year-round operation which has helped the lives of so many, feeding them, supporting them and always treating them with dignity.

Few others will have touched and helped so many in a lifetime. Brother Kevin, and the many workers and volunteers who help him in the centre , should be proud.

In his own way, Brother Kevin has spoken up for the poorest in society. Strikingly , he has commented that it is sad that there is still a need for the Capuchin centre after all these years. That there is – and on such a scale – tells us something of the inadequacy of our social safety net. No system is perfect, but too many in our society remain afflicted by homelessness, hunger and lack of hope for the future.

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The crisis of homeless is clearly central to this – and the legacy of years when too few homes were built still looms large. So too, as Brother Kevin outlines, is the scourge of drugs, now again at deeply concerning levels. These are big challenges to State social services and the cost-of-living crisis will only make the situation worse.

After Brother Kevin leaves, the work of the centre will go on, supported mainly by donations and also the exchequer. The challenge for the State is to tackle more effectively the problems which end up with people queueing for a meal at the centre.

Brother Kevin Crowley will leave the centre next week and will go to live with his family in West Cork. He has said he will miss Dublin. But Dublin will miss him even more.