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Formation Intersession Becomes Interprovincial

The student friars who attended this year’s intersession. (Photo courtesy of Christian Seno)

Mundelein, Ill. – Friars in formation from the Order of Friars Minor got 2017 off to a good start with the annual Formation Intersession at Cardinal Stritch Retreat House. This year’s event was special. Not only did it bring together all of Holy Name Province’s student friars from postulancy through post-novitiate, but it also included all of the Interprovincial Novitiate Community with friars from Saint Barbara, Assumption BVM, Sacred Heart, Western Canada, England and Ireland. Friars from the Interprovincial Post-Novitiate house, which included members of John the Baptist and ABVM provinces, also participated.

The gathering, which took place from Jan. 5 to 8, included a workshop on the Psalms and Liturgy of the Hours, as well as structured conversations regarding the Restructuring & Revitalization process, and the recent presidential election. Most importantly, as Joe Rozansky, OFM, the Province’s director of post-novitiate formation, told the group on the first evening, this event gave the men an opportunity to be together and get to know one another better.

Mark Soehner, postulant director of SJB Province, leads a discussion. (Photo courtesy of Christian Seno)

The first day’s seminar was led by Catholic Theological Union professor John Barker, OFM, and focused on the experience of praying with the Psalms. It included time in small groups, sharing thoughts and reflections on particular Psalms.

The second day was led by Provincial Vicar Larry Hayes, OFM, who facilitated discussions on the Restructuring and Revitalization of the U.S. provinces. Larry is working with the team that is developing a report for the U.S. provincials about the R&R Project, which will give the student friars a voice in the ongoing discussions.

The final day included conversation about how each friar was feeling and thinking after the divisive election. The discussion elicited strong emotions, and spoke to a need for fraternal support and understanding in our local communities. Many guys enjoyed the group discussions. HNP postulant Michael Cerretti said he appreciated the level of sharing and the quality of the time spent together that allowed him to meet friars he hadn’t met, and “to deepen and build upon existing relationships.”

Included in the program were community meals, prayers, and time for recreation. HNP novice Steve Kuehn, OFM, was particularly moved “to see and hear the strong voice of all the brothers praying in the chapel. It was very inspiring, affirming, and encouraging.”

During Mass on Friday evening, two of our simply professed brothers, Br. Robert Serrano, OFM and Br. Jay Woods, OFM, renewed their vows. Robert said, “It was exciting to renew vows for the first time with Holy Name Province, and great to be in a province with so much energy.” As we parted ways on Sunday afternoon, some of us were a little exhausted by all the weekend’s activities, but the general consensus was that we were looking forward to an opportunity to get together again.

— Br. Aaron, who lives at St Joseph Friary in Chicago, professed his first vows as a Franciscan in summer 2016

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