Reflections - Friars in Post Novitiate
Their Vocation Journey Continues...
Four of our brothers recently professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Capuchin Franciscan order. To see photos of the celebration, please click below and then click the Flickr link at the bottom of the document.
http://publishing.capuchin.org/Page Content Documents/Professions 2014.pdf
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
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.
Almost three years into initial formation, and nearly one year into simple vows, being a friar feels like who I am. It does not feel like a trial engagement. This is a way of life that, day by day, feels more and more like it is for life.
It would seem ordinary, even, if not for the unique encounters that come continually. The people I meet, or, rather, the people who meet me, with their tongues loosened and eyes widened as they regard a man in a quaint brown tunic and hood, never let me forget it. It is not ordinary to let go of everything, to renounce sexual relations, and to entrust your will to others, for the sake of God in the name of the one person who wagered that God's way will win out in the end. People react strongly, and sometimes strangely, to friars because they still believe that we do live what we believe. This gives them hope and, dare I say it, faith.
This first year in simple vows was about living this life like I mean it. First, it was to show myself that I could do it, that it could be lived the way it is supposed to be lived, in this time and place, Boston in the year 2014. Second, it was to show a watching world what God makes some of us do with the longing we feel.
Every day, then, in the public arena was a little triumph for the God of Jesus Christ, insofar as being seen by others as a follower of Jesus made them aware of the possibility that they were being seen by Jesus' God. What others were attracted to was not Brother Anthony, by any means! Rather, I hope, it was the image of Christ coming into focus in me.
To read more of our brother Anthony's reflection, please click here. http://publishing.capuchin.org/Page Content Documents/Anthony Zuba reflection.pdf
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.
Erik Lenhart, O.F.M., Cap.
Having just professed my final vows, I am a solemnly professed friar in studies for the priesthood. My experience of community has been a tremendous source of support during my initial formation, and has profoundly impacted how I view God and the world.
As I near the end of my formal education, I have come to view God as love in Triune relationship, who inspires us to strengthen our own relationship of love. Capuchins value community, because we believe that human beings reflect the love of the Trinity. Any covenantal commitment cannot be accomplished in isolation. My hope for the years to come is that God will continue to bless us and inspire us to build community in our ministries and fraternal life.