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

As I reflect on my novitiate year, I am grateful for the gift of being able to have a full year to go into deep prayer to reflect on my past and on the present, and to discern even more intentionally God's invitation to me.  

Each time we had a recollection day or retreat, at one point or another, I asked myself "How many people have authorities in their lives who provide this much time and space for prayer and reflection so we can grow in our relationship with God and to discern our path in life?"  When I struggle with the extra times of silence and structure, the gift in it is a reminder to me that it is a unique opportunity and gift.  

I thank God for this opportunity, the brothers in the fraternity and the many benefactors who makes this formation and way of life possible.  
 

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 first year in vows has been both challenging and rewarding. It was challenging because as a lay brother with no more schooling to do this was a transitional year of looking for ministry opportunities that fit into my formation schedule. Being new to Boston this took time. Even after setting up ministries it takes time to discover how my identity as a Capuchin Franciscan informs my work.


But now that the year is over I can say it has been a real blessing. I was able to work in direct ministry to the Homeless helping the Behavioral Health Team at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) as well as getting involved in the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) – a program to offer free retreats and spiritual follow-up work to men and women on the street to help end homelessness. This work connected me to folks at the Common Cathedral who do the Chaplaincy work at BHCHP and I am getting more involved in their work next year. I was also able to do an Internship at a local retreat center, and get involved in the music ministry at a local parish, at which I will be the English-speaking Choir Director next year.


So, from a year of deep prayer in the Novitiate, to a year of very active ministry in Boston! This is truly the life of the friar: to learn to balance both of those worlds of contemplation and action. That’s what the Post-Novitiate years are about. I look forward to next year and the challenges and the rewards that it holds. Mostly, though, I look forward to deepening my vocation and identity as a Capuchin Friar; a life that I truly love.
 

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.
 

 






 


 

 

             
   
                                           
                                                                   
 

                                                

             
                                                                           

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