Reflections - Friars in Novitiate
An important part of our charism as Capuchin Franciscans is our work to protect the rights and the dignity of all persons, no matter who they are. One expression of this concern is the work of some of our friars in the Pro-Life movement, which works for the protection of all persons, from conception to natural death and everything in between.
Our novice brother Andrew Skonieczny has been involved in the Pro-Life movement for several years and he has written a reflection on his experience and on the 40 Days for Life campaign.
A couple years ago, the month of January was just another month for me; it had no significance, nothing that drew my attention to it as the frigid winter passed by. I was in high school when I first learned of the Pro-Life movement, and of the harsh realities of growing up in a “culture of death,” as Bl. John Paul II coined it. I was a senior in high school and was filled with zeal to do something, to make a change, to stand up for what I believed in.
I quickly learned about the March for Life in Washington D.C. and desperately wanted to be a part of it. I soon made plans to go to the 2011 March for Life with a small group from my parish. I was not prepared for what I was going to experience. My first March for Life left me with a great sense of hope; this movement was a movement of young people, young people excited about their faith and ready to stand up for it.
Needless to say, from that moment on, January became a very important month for me. I learned more about the history of the March and about Roe v. Wade.
This year, in the novitiate, I have been blessed to participate, along with some of my brothers, in the 40 Days for Life campaign. This was my first time participating in 40 Days, although I have known about it for many years. 40 Days proved to be a powerful experience of prayer. It was a joy to unite in prayer, for an end to abortion, with millions of other people across the country, and especially with the local people who stood with us in prayer across the street from a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Although I was not able to be at the March for Life this year, I was greatly inspired, yet again, to see that the March itself, and the Pro-Life movement as a whole, is growing, especially among the youth. This year, despite the snow storm and freezing temperatures, hundreds of thousands of people, most of them young, marched for the right to life; they marched to defend that right from conception to natural death, they marched to stand up for what they believe, for their faith; they marched with joy, enthusiasm, and with hearts on fire with the love of Christ.- Br. Andrew Skonieczny, O.F.M., Cap.
“We are all here because we want to save the thousands of innocent children who are being executed by the very people whose mission should be to heal and protect life. The truth is that we can save those babies only by saving the mothers. When they experience God’s loving mercy then they will become capable of showing mercy to their children. The Pro Life Movement has to be about saving mothers. We need to focus on the women to try to understand what they are suffering.”
- Seán Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M., Cap.- March For Life Vigil Mass
Their Vocation Journey Continues...
George Alvarado, O.F.M., Cap.
The time I spent in postulancy was great. Living in fraternity has been such a great experience and it has helped me grow into the person I am today. I have learned so much about myself through these nine months of the postulancy program and now I can see that I am not the same as I was when I entered. With the help of my brothers and my formators I have conquered my fears and have done things I would have never thought possible.
My hopes as I begin the novitiate are that I keep on growing in understanding and that I learn more about myself through revelations of the Holy Spirit. As I said when I first began my postulancy, "This was a leap of faith for me"- now through this leap of faith I have been grasped by something I don't fully understand yet. But I know that I'm in a better place, feeling at home with my brothers and that God is somehow calling me to dig deeper into myself and into my relationship with God. That’s just what I plan to do here in novitiate.
Michael Lettko, O.F.M., Cap.
The time that I have spent in postulancy has been one of the most intense, reflective, and best experiences I have had in my life. I feel very graced to have been given this opportunity to focus on my interior life with Christ, and to learn more about how God has been and is working in my life through my relationships with my brothers as well as with all the people I have come in to contact with ministerially.
I look forward to the novitiate as a place to grow in my spirituality and to grow closer in my relationship to God and to the people of God.
Andrew Skonieczny, O.F.M., Cap.
Reflecting back on my postulancy, I remember how excited I was to begin my life with the Capuchin Franciscans. As a postulant I have learned so much about what it means to be a Capuchin friar. Most of what I learned was through my ministry and through the example and witness of the other friars.
I look forward to the novitiate with the same excitement that I had beginning the postulancy program. As a novice I hope to grow in my understanding of Capuchin life and of my own vocation. I hope to grow in my relationship God and to leave as someone who is deeply rooted in prayer and fraternity.