Reflections - Friars in Novitiate
Their Vocation Journey Continues...
Joseph Anderson, O.F.M., Cap.
As I look back on my year as a postulant, it is clear to me that it was a year of ongoing conversion. When the visible moments of conversion were clear to me, I had a deep sense of joy. At times, visible happiness came with this joy, and at other times, deep internal movement that made my heart grow came with this joy. Each time my heart grew, I knew I had to leave a habit or way of thinking behind in order for this growth to be real. Thus, joy required me to grieve, but in the grief, I knew I was right where I needed to be. Knowing I am where I need to be is joy for me.
Now, as I am getting ready for the novitiate year, I am filled with joy. I am happy and leaving some people and things behind. I am joyously grieving for what was, and taking the next few weeks to prepare and open my heart for what is to be.
Kevin Camilo, O.F.M., Cap.
When I first arrived to our postulancy house, St. Michael’s friary in Brooklyn, I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried to go in with an open mind. I remember arriving nervous but excited to embark on the journey that I felt our Blessed Lord was calling me to. Looking back at the past nine months has made me see that in both the good times and the bad, in the struggles and in the peaceful times God’s hand has been working to make me grow a little more into the man that He wants me to be.
The postulancy program helped me to listen to and allow Him to guide me by providing a structure for communal pray, academics and ministry, while having plenty of time for personal prayer. One of the highlights has been the ministry that I was assigned at St. Matthias Church in Queens. There I had daily opportunities to interact with the poor and the broken. Along with prayer it was here that Christ most taught me to serve instead of being served.
As I move on to the next step of formation I am grateful that God has given me these nine months to really discern the call. I still have a very long way to go but as of now I am very fulfilled and happy, and I know that all the great Capuchin saints along with our Blessed Mother are praying for me and watching over me as I try to follow our Blessed Lord in the spirit of St. Francis.
Brian Dorrian, O.F.M., Cap.
Postulancy in Brooklyn was an experience that had a profound impact on my discernment. Aside from the expected increase of structured prayer, my ministries were avenues for grace in the midst of struggle and joy. I served at Neighbors Together Soup Kitchen in Brooklyn and taught catechism at St. Michael-St. Malachy parish during my nine months in Brooklyn. Both served as opportunities for me to engage directly with the surrounding community and both offered opportunities to reflect on life and my vocation in a depth that I had no journeyed to prior to postulancy.
Although there were many struggles over the course of the year with formators, community and ministry, Our Lord was sustaining me each step of the way by His Blessed Sacrament, our prayer life and the prayers of the Blessed Mother and all the saints.
My hope for novitiate is enter more fully into the contemplative aspect of the Capuchin charism. It is one thing to be at meditation but it is another to enter into contemplation of Our Lord, in particular His Passion, thus getting lost in His bottomless ocean of Mercy. Contemplation has always been a struggle for me and I am hoping that I can become more comfortable with 'silence' this upcoming year.
AJ Lezcano, O.F.M., Cap.
Postulancy has been a period of self-reflection and growth. It has also been a time of getting to know the friars on a more personal level and also further understanding how the community operates. There have been many aspects of the religious order that was an easy fit for me and some that I had to work on, ask questions about and integrate myself within the Capuchin style.
This new page of formation will be one of more spiritual growth and self-reflection. I am very excited and happy that I still see myself as a great fit for this community and the response from the other friars are parallel to my feelings. Their support and honesty has been a major blessing for me. However, I envision this next year will be one of creating a stronger relationship with myself and with God to discern what is Jesus calling me to do.
As of now it is still not clear but the Capuchins have been guiding me and helping me figure it out. I still have time to see if the priesthood is the path I will take or if God would love to use me as a brother working for the people who need it the most. I am pleased that I still have the necessary time to discern and I trust that the Capuchins are looking for my best interest and also that of the people of God.
Victor Russak, O.F.M., Cap.
I can honestly say that postulancy has been the most transformative year of my life. Not only was an opportunity to grow in my relationship with God, but it allowed me the space and resources to grow and mature in all aspects of my character, especially, with the grace of God and my formators, into a new emotional and affective maturity that has opened up many doors for me. I gained tools to learn how to self-reflect, to come to know myself better, and so realize areas where I can continue to grow and mature.
I am grateful for the gift of my brothers, even when we get on each other’s nerves. There really is something to be said for learning how to live in healthy relationship with four other guys from completely different backgrounds. I am extremely grateful for all of the blessings I have received this past year.
And now novitiate is on the doorstep. Every day closer brings more anticipation and excitement. I cannot wait to be invested into the habit which represents so many men from centuries before me, men who dedicated their lives to God and to God’s people, men who lived out their faith and vocation with zeal and perseverance.
As novitiate nears, all that comes to mind is a phrase that one of our friars told me: “You do not enter religious life for yourself. You enter religious life to give yourself totally to the service of the other.” I only hope that one day I will be able to adopt this maxim into my life, to grow in my love for God, God’s church, and God’s people. All things are possible for God.