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

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Br. Scott Leet, O.F.M., Cap.

When I started the Novitiate I had high hopes about taking time to see the bigger picture, or the long view. Something that would answer my questions and calm my anxieties about the future.  So, I began the novitiate full of excitement and vigor.  I understood that this was  a retreat, a retreat from family and friends, from acquaintances and colleagues, a retreat from society. A retreat to permit myself solitude and time to focus on the big picture, on the mystery.

What I experienced was quite different. Each time I sat in the solitude and quiet of contemplative prayer, seeking insight into the life of God so that I could see my place, my Loving Creator held up a mirror and said “Look here to find the mystery.” During my sessions of spiritual direction, my director held up a mirror for me to examine my life, to find the mystery.  The more I sat in the solitude and attempted to be in the presence of God, the more I found myself directed to the interior of myself. This began to bother me. I wanted to find God, and I kept getting directed to look inside of myself. This was not answering the questions that I came with, it was not doing what I wanted it to do.

As I sat with this, and looked inside, I came to see that God was showing me first, God’s place in me. I saw God illuminating my heart and mind. I found a God so desirous on my Love, that He would go anywhere, and suffer anything to show me His love. And that was the first step into a love affair with the Divine.

Now, while I struggle mightily with my need for a plan, and a map, I can sit more comfortably with my God, the unknowable. I can see that God illumines my steps, far enough for me to take the next step, and not much more. I find that as I grow in Love of God, I grow in trust of God, and being able to see just far enough to take the next step is fine.  God illumines my steps, speaks to my heart, and directs my life,   “and that,” as the hymn says, “is good enough for me.”

Br. Arnold Lezcano, O.F.M., Cap.

As I reflect on the Novitiate, I can’t help but be in a state of pleasant awe when considering the magnificent gift that God has granted me. We were given a full year, away from everything, to become more sensitive in listening to the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit.

I would agree that this year was “amazing, and I would never like to do it again.” Hahahaha. I used to not understand it when I was told this but now I am in the know. The constant focus of seeking and discovering has led to many surprises; not all of them were “desired.” However, I was in the right place, with the right people around me, to travel into the depths of who I am, and who God is.

Some of the benefits I received this year would have have taken a decade if I had not been granted the gift of “going into the desert.” Some of the positives that I could share is that my level of trust has grown tremendously. I have also become more contemplative; being alone in silence with the Lord has become a blessing instead of a struggle. I have also become much more at peace with my limitations, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. As I was able to look at myself in my nakedness, the growth in self-knowledge also led to increased self-acceptance because the Father accepts me and has shown me His love through the birth, life and death of Christ. This knowing is much more than just words.

I know that my life will forever be changed. Although I don't know the extent of how or why, I am trusting that I will continue to be guided. And with that guiding hand, there is no fear.
 

Br. Francisco Serrano, O.F.M., Cap.

First of all I want to thank God and my province for my novitiate year. It has been one of the best years of my life. It allowed me to spend time with God and myself. It was not easy and even scary at times, because of the challenges. I had to stop running away from my imperfections and weakness, which was hard on my ego. One thing I learned is that God loves me the way I am and calls me to do the same with others. This has allowed me to accept, and be patient with myself and others. It was difficult to accept how much God loves me because I had always dwelled in my sin rather than in God’s infinite love and grace. A passage that gives me consolation is: Mark 2:17 (NAS) And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." I always felt unworthy to serve God so I kept putting His call aside. In my Spanish Culture we always emphases on sin which made it difficult to get out of that mind set.

Another Bible passage that has helped me is: John 15:16 (NIV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This has helped me to realize that I am not alone and most important that it is not about me, but rather God working through me. This has helped me to get rid of my fears and anxiety. One of my biggest fears was to disappoint God and be a failure in life. Until I realized that God will give me the gifts that I need and guide me wherever He needs me. The only way to do this was to trust in God and that could only be possible through prayer and meditation. My relationship with God had to be deepened, and I had to be honest with myself, and God who knows me best.

I am also very grateful for all of the friars especially the ones from my home province. The friars are truly invested in the other friars. Going back to chapter I was able to understand and appreciate why Jesus chose disciples, and St. Francis brother. It is difficult if not impossible to walk this path alone. Brothers are always there to help you get up and receive you with open arms when you fall. God’s caring love is so palpable in the Community. It is a love that challenges me to get out of my comfort zone and give myself to others. Everything that I have said has not been easy and I continue to work on it. I would like to close my reflection with a quote from a dearly beloved Friar Fr. James Gavin “It is an honor and a pleasure to be a Capuchin.”

 

Br. Joseph Anderson, O.F.M, Cap.

This last year since making first vows has been a year of beginning to find my place within the province, the church and as a Franciscan in the world.  What has amazed me the most in my encounters with people on the streets and in ministry is their honesty.  It has also been one of the greatest gifts because it has allowed me to see the goodness in people that I wouldn’t see otherwise.  So often, the ones I would dismiss are the ones who display their goodness and their will to live a faithful life. 

If there is anything I have learned regarding ministry the last three years that I can offer, it is in my experience I do not bring God to a place, God is already there.  Everyplace I have gone to for ministry, I end up realizing God was already there, He just needed to be noticed.  It is not solely about my relationship to the people I meet in ministry, but it’s about their relationship with God and recognizing God’s constant friendship in their lives.

 

Br. Victor Russak, O.F.M., Cap.

As I come to the last stage of my novitiate journey, I am starting to realize just how tremendous a journey it has been. I have experienced a lot in these past 13 months, and it’s amazing to think that it is all almost over. From IPP (Interprovincial Postulancy) in St. Louis, to our first day here at the novitiate in Santa Ynez, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and on to Boston next month, I have gained countless precious memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.


    That said, it certainly hasn’t been an easy year. I arrived to the novitiate with massive enthusiasm and was overjoyed and ecstatic to be finally arriving to the place where I would be invested with the Capuchin habit, grow in my Capuchin identity, and encounter God in deeper ways than I could ever imagine. At the start of the year I was a total dreamer, wrapped up in my own glorious vision of the novitiate year to come. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I never thought that it would be as challenging for me as it was.


    Many of the challenges I faced during the year had to do with identity. Being in a new environment, in a massively diverse group of brother novices, and disconnected from the friars back home, it was difficult for me to enter into this new community. I struggled with my Capuchin identity, challenged by my formators to really examine and understand what it means to be a Capuchin friar in the year 2016, and what that means for my own vocation. It was also during this time that the Holy Spirit decided it was time to challenge my own sense of self. As I drew closer to God, I realized that in order to understand Him, I first needed to understand myself. That’s what I really think this year has been about: figuring out who I am in my relationship to others and in my relationship to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    The greatest blessing this year came in the form of my brothers. There is no way to describe in human words the kind of bonds that formed within our community this past year. Amidst all the difficulties that presented themselves throughout the year, we stuck together and supported each other. And although several of the men I have lived with this year have discerned that God is not calling them to Capuchin life, and have left our community, the bonds that we formed in brotherhood and the memories we shared together will not pass away. It is the same for all my brothers that have remained, and who will be taking vows come July. These too, no matter where they go in their various provinces around the world, will always be my brothers. Even with the difficulties that come naturally in community life, I am grateful for getting the chance to live with these admirable men. They were there for me in my struggles, supporting me each time I felt like falling, and in that I know Christ was at work within us the whole way through.


    As I reflect on the many challenges I face this year, and being at the end of the road with a massive yearning to just be back home already, it was at first a little difficult to conclude that this year has been good. But I had to look deeper than that. Surely I can’t deny that I experienced a lot of trials along the way, but I also have to recognize that it was because of those trials that this year has been so good. It is by staying firm in the face of trials that we learn and grow, and without them, the year would have been meaningless. When I first began this year I imagined it to be a year of wonderful contemplation in the lovely, golden hills of Santa Ynez. Instead, God sent me straight into the fray of answering all those difficult questions of discernment, Capuchin life, and who I really am. I look back now and see how much a blessing it has truly been.


    Now it is only a matter of weeks before I profess my first vows with the Capuchin order. I am tremendously excited, and just as nervous. I am definitely looking forward to being back in my province after a year away. I know that our loving and merciful God will be with me to strengthen and guide me along the road ahead, and that my fellow Capuchin brothers will be there to do the same.

 

Br. Paul Fesefeldt, O.F.M., Cap.

My second year in post-novitiate formation has been even busier than my first. Many job opportunities have allowed me to both work in active ministry and continue with my formation responsibilities. My volunteer affiliation with common cathedral has led to a part time job running their homeless drop-in center two days a week. We’re presently looking into funding to make that full-time next year. I have also just finished my first year as Choir Director for St. Mary of the Angels English-speaking Mass in Roxbury and it has been very rewarding. Finally, I have been added to the Spiritual Directors list at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and hope to expand that ministry more next year. On the voluntary side of the equation I finished my training to become a facilitator with the Ignatian Spirituality Program and hope to start that in the fall.


This has kept me quite busy and has called for some creativity in staying connected in a house that revolves around an academic schedule. But this has also been fruitful, as it helps me to prioritize to be present to the community, which will be an ever-present challenge in community life wherever I am living. All in all, I continue to grow in my capuchin life as I move towards my solemn vows next year, balancing the active with the contemplative.
 
 

Br. John Koelle, O.F.M., Cap.

Matthew 25:36: “I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.”


I reflect on my vocation journey with gratitude to our Good and Gracious God who has blessed me with an incredible life. Since I returned to formation to study and discern the priesthood, I’ve been touched in so many ways how God has put people in my life who have blessed me with their presence.
    

This past academic year I returned to St. John Seminary as a first year theologian. The excitement began with a fraternal barbeque with my classmates; catching up on summer ministerial experiences along with meeting new men who were equally eager in discerning God’s call for them in their lives. More importantly, however, was greeting our brothers who returned from novitiate professing their first vows along with the friars who renewed their vows. God is certainly good when all is well.
 

A frustrating experience which truly became a blessing for me was trying to find a ministry where I could visit the sick. It took longer than I expected but after prayer and discernment with my formation advisor and fellow friars, I accepted a student chaplaincy position at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Brighton, MA. The supervisor and the 2 Catholic priest chaplains could not have been more supportive, loving and generous with me as I was “learning the ropes”. My time visiting patients and family on 2 floors presented me with a multitude of experiences: from a young Russian Orthodox man realizing that life is short after surgery to comforting family when a loved one dies. I’d like to share briefly one beautiful experience.
    

I was finishing a visit with a Catholic patient when I heard a woman in the next bed move into a chair. Knowing that I may have been a little loud, I popped my head around the curtain to apologize. The woman was young, middle aged to be sure, and seemed quite anxious. Suddenly, she burst into tears. I couldn’t leave her so I came around and asked what’s going on. The patient, not Catholic, shared that she has to make some life changes if she wants to stay alive. A mother of a couple of young children and a wife, she suffered a major heart attack which requires her to undergo open heart surgery. She was frightened. I allowed her to share with me what she was feeling while at the same time I was asking our Blessed Mother to listen to the patient’ heart. We chatted about faith, assuring her that the hospital is one of the best for heart surgery and she can place her faith in God and the staff who will care for her. We said a prayer and promised to speak after the procedure.
 

I went to see the woman a couple of days later. Although she didn’t have the procedure because of other complications my friend was certainly lighter and in better spirit. It was as if another “thing” was not going to bother her and with the Lord, her family and medical staff they will get through this!
 

When I was a candidate discerning religious life with the Capuchins I remember talking with many friars who were chaplains in jails, hospitals and mental institutions. They shared that the core of chaplain ministry as a Capuchin is one of presence; being there for those who need someone to talk to or pray with at a time when they are most vulnerable. My experience at St. Elizabeth helped deepen my vocation as a Capuchin Friar Minor; giving thanks and praise to God the Most High for the opportunity to serve Him and His Church.
 

 






 


 

 

             
   
                                           
                                                                   
 

                                                

             
                                                                           

                                                          .                               
                    

      

Our Capuchin Novitiate

Our Capuchin Novitiate

Please click the link below to see a video describing our Capuchin novitiate in California. Novices from all over the country make up this community.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

To get the answers to some frequently asked questions about the Capuchins, please click the link below.

Learn More

Reflections on consecrated life

Reflections on consecrated life

To see a video of some of our friars reflecting what inspired them to become a Capuchin, please click below. Some are relatively new to our life and some have been Capuchins for many years, but they all have much wisdom to share.

Learn More