Stages of Formation
What is Formation?
Our call as Capuchins is to follow in the way of St. Francis of Assisi, that is, to see God’s presence and action in all of creation and in all parts of our world and through this awareness to help bring about the Kingdom of God. But before we are able to help make the world a place of peace, justice and equality, we must first transform ourselves. This means going from a person who is concerned primarily with their own needs to becoming a person who also lives for God and for others, no matter who they may be.
Formation is how the men who join the Capuchins learn how to bring their religious call to life and how to learn a new way of being in the world. The Capuchin Province of St. Mary has been greatly blessed with twenty men who have agreed to undertake this journey of self-transformation; in addition, we have many candidates who are seriously considering our way of life. They are of all ages and they have come from many different places- geographically as well as with their personal histories and backgrounds. All of these men have shown a desire to discern together with those in charge of their formation what God is calling them to in service of the Church. They all have something very special and very unique to offer to the Capuchins and to the Church and their time in initial formation helps them to identify and to foster their own particular giftedness.
Please keep our men in formation in your prayers as they continue to discern what God is leading them to and as they prepare themselves to be the instruments of God’s peace and joy to the world.
“Candidates should prepare themselves interiorly for the future renunciation of goods and condition themselves for the service of all peoples, especially the poor.” Capuchin Constitutions 18:4
Our friars in formation experience fraternal brotherhood in their earliest stages, beginning with our non-resident candidate program. At this stage a candidate would attend discernment weekends, participate in ministries to the poor, receive spiritual direction and visit various friaries for prayer, fraternal and ministerial experiences. If one feels called to our resident postulant program they make a formal application in January or February of the year they would like to apply.
"The formation of Postulants aims primarily at completing their catechesis in the faith and includes an introduction to Liturgy, methods of prayer, Capuchin Franciscan instruction and an initial experience of apostolic work. It must also reinforce and promote human maturity, especially emotional maturity, and an ability to discern the signs of the times in light of the Gospel." Capuchin Constitutions 28:2
In August our newly accepted postulants begin their nine-month resident postulancy program at St. Michael Friary in Brooklyn, NY. They live with professed Capuchin Franciscans, participate in daily Mass and daily communal prayer, and attend classes and workshops on topics such as religious life, Franciscan spirituality, and the vows.
All of the postulants participate daily in various ministries to the poor, share in fraternal gatherings and continue to visit our many Capuchin friaries and ministerial sites. The postulants also take part in theological reflection and meet regularly with their formation directors to discuss what is going on in their lives and with their discernment.
To read about some of our postulants and their vocation journey thus far please click here.
"The formation of the Novice should be based on the values of our consecrated life as known and lived in light of the example of Christ, the Gospel insights of St. Francis, and the sound traditions of the Order." Capuchin Constitutions 29:3
Upon their completion of the postulant program, our brothers then enter into our nine-week pre-novitiate program presently being conducted in Victoria, Kansas. There they join postulants from the other provinces of the United States, and also from Canada, Guam, and Australia. As they get to know each other, our pre-novices attend classes and workshops, serve the poor in various ministries in the area and fully participate in prayer and fraternal celebrations with the local fraternity.
“Let the rhythm of the Novitiate respond to the primary aspects of our religious life, particularly through a special experience of faith, contemplative prayer, fraternal life, contact with the poor and work." Capuchin Constitutions 29:4
The novitiate program is conducted in Santa Ynez, California and concentrates on developing our brother’s spiritual life even more intensely.
Our one-year collaborative novitiate program includes all the provinces of the United States, Canada, Guam, and Australia, giving the novices an opportunity to have an experience of the wider Capuchin order. At investiture, the novices receives their habit, cord, rosary and sandals- signs of their consecration and witnesses of their poverty.
During the novitiate year, the novices grow in their Capuchin identity and further discern their particular vocation. The novitaite environment allows the novices to prepare for the profession of simple vows (poverty, chastity, and obedience) at the end of the novitiate year. The novices focuses on his inner spiritual growth; minister to the poor and the marginalized; attend workshops and conferences; and meet with their formation director to reflect on what is happening in their life.
To read about some of our novices and their vocation journey please click here.
“The Post Novitiate is the period in which the brothers, progressing further in maturity, prepare themselves for the definitive choice of our Gospel life that is undertaken through Perpetual Profession.” Capuchin Constitutions 30:1
“Let the brothers, according to each one’s gifts and grace, apply themselves to a more profound study of sacred Scripture, spiritual theology, Liturgy and the history and spirituality of the Order; let them also exercise various forms of the apostolate as well as domestic work.” Capuchin Constitutions 30:3
Our post-novitiate program in Jamaica Plain, MA, a section of Boston, prepares our student friars for solemn vows and full time service as ministers in the Church. Immediately upon completion of the novitiate, the brothers profess simple vows and begin to live at San Lorenzo Friary. Simple vows are renewed each year for a minimum of three years, but can be extended up to six years. Upon professing solemn (lifetime) vows, the student friar moves to St. Francis Friary, which is across the street from San Lorenzo, for the completion of his studies.
To see a slide-show presentation of two of our brothers taking simple vows, please click here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUgdIPnSTac
During their time at San Lorenzo, the friars learn to balance Capuchin values of prayer, fraternity, study and ministry. They study at both Boston College School of Theology & Ministry and St. John Seminary. Ministries include St. Francis House which provides many services for the homeless of Boston, as well as Shattuck Hospital for the indigent, and assistance in local parishes.
Further growth in the Capuchin life is gained ithrough daily communal and private prayer as well as the everyday aspects of fraternity such as cooking, house cleaning, regular community gatherings to discuss our life together, and monthly conferences with the Director of Post-Novitiate Formation.
Summers are times of more intense ministerial training in one of our Capuchin parishes or in developing their language skills in Spanish by attendance at language school followed by immersion in a Hispanic culture. Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which is based on training in hospital ministry, is also a summer option and is offered for credit towards the Masters of Divinity degree.
To read about some of our post-novitiate brothers and their vocation journey please click here