Reflections - Friars in Post Novitiate

 

Their Vocation Journey Continues...

 

              

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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

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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.

My first year here in Boston as a post-novice has been an incredibly formative one. The transition from the silent, contemplative, and heavily structured novitiate into a more active and self-directed post-novitiate was a rocky one. Gone were the days of long hours in silence and manual labor under the sun; in were the days of philosophy studies and ministry at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless (BHCHP).

Though the transition from the novitiate was difficult, in due time I found myself comfortably at home in our new friary. Philosophy studies took up most of my time, but my greatest treasure was spending time with the homeless at BHCHP. It was my first time working with a homeless community, and my ministry helped me better understand the struggle that these men and women face on a daily basis. It was a blessing to enter more deeply into their lives, listen to their stories, and support them as I could.

The Lord blessed me with a good fraternity of brothers, both in the formation house and across the street at St. Francis Friary. Over the course of the year our fraternal bonds grew closer. The brothers faithfulness to common prayer made the Divine Office a true anchor for our daily lives.

My relationship to Christ strengthened and matured, as I experienced him in the faces of those I ministered to, and those I met in passing wherever I went. It was grace that helped me bring my experiences outside the chapel into my prayer life, as well as my experience of prayer into the world around me.

This coming year I will continue my philosophy courses, on the track to being ordained some day, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will continually guide me throughout this next year, and that our holy mother Mary may be a guiding star to lead me closer to her son.  
 

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.


The journey for me this past academic year was an incredible journey. Where did I go and how did I arrive? Well, it all begins and ends with my chief formator Jesus Christ, who through the example of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, showed me how truly to be a friar minor.  


The beautiful part of being a lesser brother of St. Francis is I can always count on my brothers to lift me up and encourage me when academics seem so overwhelming. It is one of the great gifts our life brings; to live and pray with each other; to encourage and carry us until we are able to stand on our own. The importance of our communal meditation, prayer and Eucharist allowed me to give whatever I’m going through to Him while giving me the freedom to pray for the friars in studies who are need. This is the gift which enriches and sustains my life as a Capuchin.

This summer I enrolled in a Clinical Pastoral Education program (CPE) at the Veterans Administration in NYC. The intensive 11 week course focused not so much on my ministry to the Veterans but to help me find and develop an empathetic listening skill which will help meet the patient where they are on their spiritual and emotional journey. Although the assignment was being an Interfaith Chaplain, the focus was on my own spiritual and emotional state working with patients and their families through issues like loneliness, health issues and death. It is in the identification of my own emotions and my imperfections (my minority) which helped me to become a more effective minister. The experiences I gained are not only necessary in pastoral situations, but they’re relevant in life.

As I enter my third year of theology at St. John Seminary I cannot help but to give our Good God thanks for everything I’ve received this past year. The academics as well as my summer assignment helped me grow closer to Jesus through my life as a Capuchin, in fraternity, knowing myself as truly a minor. I’m not done nor am I alone on this journey; I go with the love and support of my Capuchin brothers, the people who support me through their prayers and of course in Christ.





 


 

 

             
   
                                           
                                                                   
 

                                                

             
                                                                           

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