Formation Update: Postulants Begin Year with Classes, Visits

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

Postulant class 2014-15

From left to right: Angel Vazquez, Alexis Alvarez Padron, Eufemio Dimas Robaina, Camilo Garcia Sanchez and Aaron Richardson. (Photo courtesy of the postulants.)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Five men interested in learning more about the Franciscans to determine whether they want to become friars have spent the first weeks of their postulancy getting acquainted with the Province and the Order. They have participated in retreats and workshops, and met friars and partners-in-ministry throughout the mid-Atlantic area.

Three days after arriving at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., in August, the young men — Alexis Alvarez Padron, Aaron Richardson, Eufemio Dimas Robaina, Camilo Garcia Sanchez and Angel Vazquez — traveled to Pennsylvania for an orientation at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston.

“They prepared meals for each other, had their first experiences of the Divine Office, began a study of the life of St. Francis, and received a general orientation to the formation program and the Order,” said Ronald Pecci, OFM, director of the HNP Postulant Program. “They also had an opportunity to meet and greet many of the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia who reside at their motherhouse adjacent to the Spiritual Center.”

Photos of the postulants with the sisters at the motherhouse on Labor Day weekend were published in the e-newsletter of the Franciscan Spiritual Center.


During a visit to St. Francis Inn, the postulants join volunteers in preparing food for the guests. (Photo courtesy of the postulants.)

Workshops on Franciscan Themes
The postulants returned to Holy Name College to participate in the Province’s Spanish Vocation Retreat. Afterward, they traveled to Wilmington, Del., to meet the resident Capuchin Poor Clare sisters, who have a long relationship with the HNP formation program, according to Ron. “Later that day, they traveled to St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, where they volunteered for three days. From there, they traveled to southern Delaware, to attend a meeting of the St. Clare Fraternity of Secular Franciscans. In less than a week, they were exposed to several branches of the Franciscan family.”

Back at Holy Name College, James Vacco, OFM, of St. Bonaventure University, presented a workshop on basic Catholic understandings and values. That was followed by a workshop by Daniel Grigassy, OFM, of St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, about the Mass and liturgical norms. The following week, Ron began a workshop about St. Francis and the early development of the Order that will continue until the conclusion of the postulant program in June.

Earlier this month, the postulants participated in a two-day workshop on the Psalms, given by James Scullion, OFM, of St. Francis Parish, Long Beach Island, N.J., and during the weekend of Oct. 10, they visited several Provincial sites in northern New Jersey.

The postulants have begun their ministerial assignments at St. Francis International School, on the property of St. Camillus Parish, and at the Jean Jugan Residence, sponsored by the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Washington, D.C.

“Along with all of this activity, the postulants meet at least weekly to discuss and process their experiences,” said Ron. He added that photos of the postulants’ activities can be found on the Postulancy of the Most Holy Name of Jesus Province Facebook page, a new account that features photos taken mainly by him and Eufemio.

Jim Vacco postulants

James Vacco engages the postulants during a lesson on the basics of Catholicism. (Photo courtesy of the postulants.)

2014-2015 Postulants
This year’s postulants, who range in age from 26 to 35, came to the Province from a variety of connections and places.

Alexis Alvarez Parron, a native of Cuba who immigrated to the United States early last year, completed his undergraduate studies in Cuba, where he worked as an English teacher. After moving to Florida, he was active in a Hispanic young adult group at his parish in Hialeah, where he met Martin Bednar, OFM, who encouraged him to consider Franciscan life.

Aaron Richardson, a native of Long Beach, Calif., has a degree from George Mason University in Virginia, where he was active in the young adult charismatic group and served as a youth minister at his parish in Arlington, Va. Before entering the program, Aaron worked in human resources for a large consulting firm.

Eufemio Dimas Robaina is a native of Cuba, where he worked as a speech therapist until he entered the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Order. He spent some of his formation years in Guatemala and Mexico. After deciding not to continue with the Oblates because he did not feel called to the priesthood, Eufemio researched Franciscan provinces based on having met friars when he was young. He has been in the States for four years and is a certified nursing assistant.

Camilo Garcia Sanchez is a native of Colombia, South America. He came to the United States in 2009 as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of New York after completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the diocesan seminary in Colombia. After realizing that he did not want to become a diocesan priest, Camilo worked as a receptionist at a Manhattan church and continued his English studies. Influenced by a Franciscan priest when he was living in Colombia, he decided to apply to join the program.

Angel Vazquez, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., graduated from Siena College. While working as an admissions counselor there, he completed his master’s degree in school counseling at nearby Sage Graduate School. He moved to Tampa, Fla., and worked as a high school guidance counselor before applying to join the program.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.