Reflections - Friars in Post Novitiate
Their Vocation Journey Continues...
As part of their formation, four of our brothers traveled to Central America to explore what it means to be brother, minor, and servant in a different culture. Please click below to read more about their experience.
http://publishing.capuchin.org/Page Content Documents/immersion experience 2014.pdf
Recently, a friar asked me: “So, how does it feel to be in a habit?” My response to him was: “Well, it fits!” I didn’t simply mean that the tailor had done a great job, but that it truly fits on me, and I in it. I meant that all that this habit represents fits with what my relationship with the Lord has led me to desire.
Its simplicity fits my desire to live poverty in humility and minority. Its uniformity affirms my desire to live and be part of a family community. Its symbol of service fits with my desire to labor to bring about God’s Kingdom and espouse God’s Church had her mission.
The support I have experienced from the brothers of this province has affirmed and assured me that I too fit in even with my flaws and shortcomings. As I now prepare to profess the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and to more fully immerse myself in this Gospel life, I praise God for inviting me to live such a beautiful and challenging life! Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
Paul Fesefeldt, O.F.M., Cap.
As I come to the end of my Novitiate year, I can really appreciate the gift that this year has been. I’ve shared often with the other novices that no one gets a year like this in the world and we should take the opportunity to enter into it whole heartedly. To take time to deepen my prayer life and my commitment to my Capuchin vocation has been a real blessing.
Although it has been tough to be separated from my home Province, I have grown in a greater appreciaton of the larger Capuchin Order. Living and praying with other novices from all over North America and the Pacific has been a blessing and it gives me great hope for the future of the Order to have such quality people from all over.
I look forward to continuing my Capuchin journey as I return East and begin my studies in Boston.
George Alvarado, O.F.M., Cap.
Novitiate was quite an experience. There were many challenges and struggles that I’ve faced throughout the year, such as being in the West Coast where things are done very differently from the East. The challenge for me was not having a formator from our province on staff or even somebody living in the house that was from our province. Thankfully Fr. Brendan Buckley from our province lived closed by and he came over regularly to hear confessions for the novices. He was very helpful to talk to and vent with over the challenges of the life. This is also were spiritual direction helped a great deal, as did talking to my brother novices. Besides all the struggles and challenges, there were also very beautiful moments and fun times during novitiate.
Our fraternity hit it off very well before even novitiate began because of IPP (Interprovincial Postulancy Program). The honesty from each brother during our vocation stories in IPP really helped build a foundation that grew even stronger in novitiate. Fraternity in novitiate was crucial to my discernment and vocation. I really have to thank my brothers who I have had the privilege of living with because if it weren’t for the bonds and relationships that were built, I would have easily left novitiate a long time ago.
Most of the beautiful moments happened when we all came together as a whole. For example during Christmas we hosted a posada for a large Hispanic community. Our musically talented brothers entertained the crowd very well, our top chefs of the class prepared great food and everyone helped in some way or form. The people left feeling joyful and loved because of the effort we all put into each individual person there. I can go on and on about Easter, Thanksgiving etc. It really was the best holidays I have ever experienced during my novitiate year. These were big moments where everyone came together but there were also smaller unnoticeable moments that made my novitiate experience worth it. Like hanging out with a brother past midnight and talking about family, struggles, fears, hopes and dreams etc. That’s where I felt the most love and the presence of God.
To read more of our brother George's reflection, please click here. http://publishing.capuchin.org/Page Content Documents/reflection George Alvarado.pdf
Michael Lettko, O.F.M., Cap.
At the end of my novitiate experience and getting ready to move into studies, some of the greatest experiences so far have been the depth and experience in my prayer life. Our fraternity is very supportive and at times challenging. There are many great experiences in this life, including the ability to build relationships throughout the order. I look forward to joining a new community, and to really getting to know the brothers in the province.
Andrew Skonieczny, O.F.M., Cap.
The novitiate year has truly been a blessing. In many ways it was not what I expected, I quickly learned to leave my own expectations behind and let God do His work.
Before arriving at the novitiate, I asked one of the friars for some advice; he told me to enter into the novitiate with a heart ready to "waste time with God" as a way to enter into the contemplative nature of the novitiate year. Another friar also gave me the advice to make the most of this year "because there will be no other year like it in your life." I have held onto those two pieces of advice throughout the year, but it hasn't always been easy to live by them. The novitiate year has also been one of the most challenging in my life; many of the blessings of this year have come after some sort of challenge.
One of the highlights of the year has been my ministry. Once a week I visited a retirement home and spent the day visiting with the residents. At first this was one of my greatest challenges- I have never had any experience in this kind of ministry. As the year went on, I started to look forward to ministry day. It seemed that almost after every visit I had gained so much, with each visit I would learn something new, I felt blessed to be a part of the lives of the many residents at the home.
Having recently professed vows for the first time, I cannot express how grateful I am to everyone who has supported me in my vocation up to this point. I look forward to the post-novitiate as I continue on to studies. I am filled with great joy and excitement as I continue to live out my vocation as a Capuchin Friar.
William Tarraza, O.F.M., Cap.
Throughout the novitiate, I viewed the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as an event. Of course there was a formal ceremony where I publically vowed to live the Capuchin way of life for a period 14 months with the hope of formally renewing them; however, the silence of prayer and the interactions of daily life is where my heart has been opened to the graces that come with taking vows.
The grace to live a life in the spirit of Francis who imitated Christ so intimately is centered in the Eucharist. The vows are renewed constantly in the Eucharistic celebration. This year has shown me that if this is where God wants me, it will be evident in my desire to go deeper into the meaning of the vows. The vows are more than a single event, but a lifelong commitment to see the world in a different way.
I pray that God may continue to open my heart so that I may share it with others and hopefully be of assistance to those who may be hearing a similar call to live without anything of their own, in chastity, and obedience as a Capuchin Franciscan.
John Alvarado, O.F.M., Cap.
This past year I have been living in Jamaica Plain, which was a great experience. I had to start college which was practically a new experience for me because I had been away from school for almost three years. Going to school was not easy but the best thing about asking for help in a fraternity is that everybody will give a hand. It was my brothers who motivated me to study and gave me good tips on study habits.
I realized that my whole life will be asking for help and calling out for aid in my most difficult times, including in spiritual matters. But I have my prayer books and my loving God who is willing to pick me up when I fall. In my ministry I tried my best to do the same which the brothers did for me, which was gave a hand and smile. I worked with kids of all ages, most of them from troubled homes, so I did my best to listen to them and pray for them. I tried to make them see the good things in this life and the beauty of learning. I did my best and that was all I could have done for them- that was enough.
So I could truly say that living in Boston has been very good and that ministry is an amazing experience. I just looking forward for what else God has in store for me and I have to be ready for it; in prayer and with a humble heart.
Anthony Zuba, O.F.M., Cap.
God is everywhere. But we cannot find God just anywhere. Where one person finds herself and God, another person may be lost, even though the same God abides there. Every person is different. Therefore, God prepares special places for each of us. When the moment comes, Jesus brings each of us to the special place where God is waiting for us. And Jesus gives us the inner vision and wisdom to recognize which places are for us.
Initial formation with the Capuchins has showed me how to recognize the places where Jesus will lead me to God. It has showed me how to recognize the hour of God's choosing. Initial formation has done this because it has showed me the unique person God is making me through the Holy Spirit.
Over the last four years, Jesus has brought me to several places: first to Brooklyn, then to Victoria, Kan., then to Santa Ynez, Calif., then to Boston. Now, Jesus brings me to New York City to minister with the brothers and with God's people at our two parishes in midtown Manhattan. It is less common these days for initial formation to occur outside a formation house, yet it is a testament to the friars' faith that they see Jesus leading me to live the Gospel here and now in New York City. We friars are of one heart and mind, whatever our particular feelings and thoughts, that this is an opportunity from God, and it will be for the good of the order, the Church, and for all people. And it will be good for me, too.
No one knows how this will work out. No one can foresee how God's love and mercy, and the peace and justice of Christ, will show forth through my ministry or through the evangelical fraternity the brothers and I will share. With Thomas we can justly say to Jesus, "Master, we do not know where you are going" (John 14:5); but when he continues, "How can we know the way?" we will fall silent, for we will trust that Jesus is our way, our companion and our guide through every uncertainty. Wherever we are, whatever happens, good or bad, we go and we live with God who has formed each of us uniquely and has destined each of us for glory. As an emerging Capuchin, it gives me joy to be on the move again and rebuild God's great house in a place I never expected to go.
John Koelle, O.F.M., Cap.
I’ve returned to formation to begin study for the priesthood in the fall of 2013 after 3 years as the Controller for the Province of St. Mary. Although I enjoyed the work, serving the friars and my local community, there was this nagging, tugging on my heart which kept pointing me toward ordained ministry, With good spiritual direction, conversations with my brothers, my family and friends, I decided to respond. With my first full year of philosophical studies under my belt, I’ve chosen to minister this summer in our Capuchin parish of St. Anne-St. Augustine in Manchester, N.H.
The parish of St. Anne-St. Augustine is a multicultural community consisting of English, Spanish, African and Vietnamese parishioners coming together to serve Christ and His church through the celebration of the Eucharist and serving the poor. My ministry consisted in participating in the daily rhythm of the parish which included serving lunch to the homeless at a drop in center every week and dinner once a month at a shelter. Additionally I wanted to practice my Spanish and learn leadership skills.
This summer, with the help of the parish community, I organized a neighborhood evangelization mission from July 7th to the 11th. The mission was simple: to go to the homes of our neighbors to share our faith and invite the people to “come and see” our parish. Our teams were multicultural reflecting the richness and the beauty of the people who call St. Anne-St. Augustine their spiritual home. . The experiences we shared after our mission reflected Christ’s goodness in our lives and a desire to show His Love and Mercy to those whose hearts were ready to receive Him.
My summer has deepened my own relationship with Christ, who has called me by name, to put aside my fears to follow Him and continue with my studies. My love for the people here in Manchester has helped me to lose myself by serving others.
Scott Surrency, O.F.M., Cap.
I’ve heard more than a few of the veteran friars say that the reason they stayed in the Order is not the same as the reason they entered the Order. Although I’m still in many ways a neophyte when it comes to religious life, I can already begin to appreciate the truth and wisdom of these words. As I begin my third year of temporary vows and look back over the last few years, I can see how much my understanding of vocation in general and of my vocation in particular has changed. I believe that a vocation isn’t so much a goal or destination as it is the road or the journey. It’s quite easy at times to get side-tracked or turned around somewhere along the way, but there’s always a brother – and God’s grace – to help you get back on track so that eventually you’re headed in the right direction again.