A new generation of Servants of God
What a year 2020 has been! In my 84 years, I don’t ever remember anything like it and I thank God for that.
During my time in isolation, I often thought about our friars who were in Postulancy, the initial stage of formation. (The word postulancy comes from the Latin word “postulare” meaning to consider.)
In August of 2019, 14 men, ages 21-44, entered this initial stage of considering life as a friar. The postulants represent all six U.S. provinces.
The program is an intense orientation to Franciscan community, life, and prayer as well as ministry. A large part of their daily life is fraternity—with morning and evening prayer, community Eucharist, daily Mass, devotions and adoration, faith sharing, and social time before dinner.
Just like many of you, the postulants prayed a lot and ended up working on projects that Br. Ed Demyanovich, OFM, Provincial Building Coordinator, had been wanting to get done for a while. They cleared out, cleaned, and disinfected four different areas of the friary, painted hallways, organized and sorted books in the library, power washed the building, and cleaned up around the property.
They also helped sort food for St. Camillus, a busy parish next door, and distributed it to the poor. Much of the food was left on the porches in order to maintain a safe distance. Volunteers were very scarce and the postulants helped out tremendously.
Ten of the fourteen men will now move on to novitiate in Santa Barbara, California, after three weeks in quarantine. The novitiate is a year-long residential period in which a novice discerns his calling to religious life. He works to deepen his relationship with God and to develop his Franciscan identity by studying our Rule and General Constitutions, as well as the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
As a formal member of the Order, the novice receives the unique Franciscan garment, or the habit of the Order, which consists of a brown tunic and hood (or capuche), and a white cord that serves as a belt. Normally, the cord has three knots, symbolizing each of our religious vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience. But since the novice has not yet made that commitment, his cord is without knots.
I ask your support of these men through your prayers and financial gifts. Your support shows that you want to see the faith passed to a new generation of servants of God. Let us continue in the spirit of St. Francis.
Fr. John Bok, OFM
P.S. Your prayers and support have helped us through these trying times. Please know that we continue to pray for you every day.
Meet our some of our men in formation and read what drew them to the Franciscans.
“Over the past few years, I had been working in the financial sector as a compliance analyst – landing my dream job after graduating from college with a degree in criminology. However, upper management’s interest in bottom-line profit was hindering my work – and repeatedly pointing this out only made things worse for me. That’s when I started looking elsewhere – work that sought justice, truth, and doing things right. Being born in the Middle East – in Kuwait – and being of Indian descent, I have been well acquainted with wars in the Arab world and on the Indian subcontinent. As Neville Chamberlain said it best: ‘In war, there are no winners, but all are losers.’ This is one of the early precursors that drew me to seek peace and good – the motto of the Order of Friars Minor.”
I had a calling to religious life ever since I was seven years old. I grew up in a diocesan parish that had a retired Franciscan friar – Fr. Rock Travnikar – who gave great homilies. When he passed away (three years ago), there was a letter in the parish bulletin from a friar of the Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist. He said the province would love to have someone from my parish come and imitate Fr. Rock’s love for the faith and people. My mom said, ‘Will, that is God calling you to try this and see if it’s for you.’”
“Before joining the postulancy, I was working in warehouses, mostly at the main UPS hub in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was born Pentecostal, but my family and I converted to Catholicism in 1999. I started to hear God’s call around 2014, and in the summer of 2018, I finally contacted the friars.”
Please pray for men discerning a vocation and studying for a life with the friars. If you would like to make a gift specifically for their support, visit our Donation Page and choose Friars in Formation under Use My Gift For.
Are you discerning a vocation or know someone who is? Visit our Province vocation page, Become A Friar.
Posted in: Vocations