It’s amazing how quickly the Postulancy year is flying by. Our return from the Christmas holiday seems like it was only a short while ago, and yet we are already well into Lent with less than one month until Easter. Our time as Postulants is quickly coming to a close: in less than two months, my Postulant brothers and I will be sent home for a five week vocation vacation. God willing, we will return from that period of in-depth discernment refreshed and fortified in our Franciscan vocation.
There have been many events and transitions within the Postulancy program that may have contributed to the break-neck speed that has characterized this year. Two weeks ago, we attended the second session of the Inter-Franciscan Formation Program at Graymoor, which is a continuation of the workshop we attended last Fall. The Postulants have also had several in-house workshops pertaining to liturgy, Scripture, and the history of our province, as well as a seminar on diversity and inter-cultural living at the Regional Formation Conference in Brentwood, Long Island. Most significantly, we visited the Inter-Provincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wisconsin, which will be our home for one year starting on August 15th (should we persevere with our vocation). The Inter-Provincial Novitiate is where the Postulants of our province will send one year as Novices with other OFM’s in formation from the various Provinces of the United States, Canada, England/Ireland, and Australia.
In addition to all of these workshops and seminars, two of the Postulants have discerned to return to their secular lives. Because of the intensely personal and reflective nature of the Postulancy program, it is easy to forget that I am not the only one on a journey and that my brothers, too, are trying to forge their own paths and relationships with Christ. Because of this, the abrupt departure of any of your bothers can lead to a sudden questioning of one’s own vocation and a period of spiritual unrest and mental agitation.
For me, the antidote to this has been prayer and a humble trust in God’s providence and divine plan. A very wise friar once told me, “Some of us are called to be Franciscans and some of us are called to be former-Franciscans”. Whatever sense of personal loss or sadness we may feel when one of our brothers opt for another path, we must have faith (and hope) that their choices are as inspired by the Spirit as our own choice to stay. At any rate, I have no doubts that the time they have spent in discernment with the Franciscans has enriched their own lives and will benefit them as they continue to live the Gospel life in the world.