BURLINGTON, Wis. — A major step toward deeper collaboration among the Franciscan provinces of North America was taken on Aug. 15 when an expanded interprovincial novitiate officially opened at St. Francis Friary, with 15 men from six provinces based in the United States and Canada being received into the Order of Friars Minor.
Three men from Holy Name Province — John Aherne, OFM,Pedro Corces, OFM, and Jeffrey Upshaw, OFM — were among those received during an evening prayer ceremony at 4 p.m.
After statomh their desire to enter the Order, each candidate stepped forward to sign the respective province’s “Book of Life,” the official record of those received into the Franciscan brotherhood. And so, Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, invited John, Pedro and Jeffrey to step to the altar to sign Holy Name Province’s book, whose first entry records the class received into the novitiate 60 years ago in Paterson, N.J.
Impressions, Prayer and Meeting
John O’Connor said, “I believe our novices are in good hands, and I believe the experience of a novitiate year shared with 14 other men instead of just one or two will prove to be very beneficial. Though they had just arrived, the spirit of our men was upbeat and very positive. This is the first of what I hope and suspect will be many collaborative endeavors by provinces of the OFM English-speaking Conference.”
The day began with morning prayer and Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, during which Fr. John Puodziunas, OFM, provincial minister of the Assumption Province, to which the friary belongs, read the decree from the General Minister establishing the novitiate. He then blessed the new chapel, and the assembled friars formed a procession from the chapel to the other major rooms of the house. He blessed each room for its new use.
The balance of the morning was devoted to a meeting of the provincial ministers and secretaries of formation — including Dominic Monti, OFM — of the participating provinces with the novitiate team. They discussed the program and policies as well as future steps that will be taken to insure success.
“According to this program,” Dominic said, “the various symbolic elements of entering Franciscan life are taken in stages. So, the new novices will not be invested with the Franciscan habit until later in the fall.”
Best of Both Worlds
John, Pedro and Jeffrey will spend the coming year praying and living with men from five other provinces. They are Br. Joseph Glaab, OFM, of Christ the King Province, Br. Jared Cowell, OFM, and Br. Zachary Wood, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province, Br. Jorge Hernandez Hurado, OFM, and Br. Juan Arellano, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, Br. Robert Barko, OFM, and Br. Joel Schroeder, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, and Br. Adam Farkas, OFM, Br. Erick Seguin, OFM, Br. Jonathan Beer, OFM, Br. Joseph DiAte, OFM, and Br. William Gibson, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province. Assumption Province is also a member of the collaborative novitiate but has no novices this year. According to SJB provincial minister, Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM, “The Commissariat of the Holy Land and other entities may use it for certain novices.” Fr. Jeff wrote about the reception in the Aug. 18 issue of SJB News Notes.
The historic Burlington friary, constructed in the 1930s with an addition from the 1950s, originally served as the house of philosophy of Assumption Province. “It then served as a retreat house for over three decades,” Dominic said, “but had been vacant for several years prior to the decision to locate the new novitiate there.”
He noted: “The Assumption Province and the novitiate team devoted much time and energy readying the friary for this latest phase of its life. There is also another friary, Queen of Peace, on the same grounds, which is a retirement community of about 20 friars. The two communities will be establishing connections in the days ahead, as each can enrich the other.”
John O’Connor added: “The location impresses me as the best of two worlds — a truly contemplative atmosphere, yet close to metropolitan areas.”
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province