NEW YORK — The Provincial Council, at its Feb. 11 meeting, decided to suspend Holy Name Province’s novitiate program in Wilmington, Del., when the current novices are professed in June. The new entering class of novices will participate in a joint novitiate maintained byAssumption, Sacred Heart and St. John the Baptist provinces, located at San Damiano Friary (photo to right) in Cedar Lake, Ind.
The main impetus for this move, according to Dominic Monti, OFM, secretary of formation and studies, is to assure a “critical mass essential for stronger peer formation and dynamics than we have had in Wilmington for the last several years with smaller classes.” The Council has been examining this option for several months, in discussion withRonald Pecci, OFM, director of novices.
The move is also a step in realizing one of the goals in the Province’s Strategic Plan: to collaborate with other Franciscan entities wherever possible in realizing common objectives. This decision should be seen as an interim step, Dominic said, as part of the larger discussion currently underway in the English-speaking Conference looking toward the possibility of establishing a new common novitiate program for all U.S. provinces in one or two years.
Currently in the United States, there are three OFM novitiate programs, each with a relatively small number of candidates. A task force composed of the directors of three existing programs as well as representatives of the other provinces was established last fall by the ESC to study the situation. Their discussions have revealed that all three programs contain the same basic elements; the main obstacle at cooperation seems to be mainly differences in the cultures — real or perceived — of the various provinces. The provinces presently collaborating in the Cedar Lake novitiate, which has been operating for more than 15 years, have already had to overcome some of these difficulties, Dominic said.
Dominic was in Cedar Lake Sunday and Monday for a meeting of the secretaries of formation of the ESC to further the discussion of establishing a new common novitiate program. Dominic found the Cedar Lake friary, approximately 40 miles south of downtown Chicago, to be an attractive setting.
Christ the King Province of Western Canada, which has sent its novices to Wilmington the past several years, will also be joining the novitiate in Cedar Lake, resulting in a possibility of as many as 12 novices there next year. Ronald will remain as liaison for the Province’s novices when they participate in the Midwest program.
In light of this move, the Council also decided to move the Province’s postulant program from St. Anthony Shrine in Boston to St. Paul Friary in Wilmington. Ronald, shown in the rear photo, will resume the role of director of postulants, which he held from 2006 to 2008 at Holy Cross Friary in the Bronx.
The postulant program has been located at the shrine, under the direction of John Maganzini, OFM, for the past two years. Dominic said that although having the program’s location had many good aspects, such as immersing the candidates in a large, diverse friary with many opportunities for outside ministry, it was felt that having the program in Wilmington would facilitate men’s adjustment to fraternity.
At St. Paul, the postulants will begin their lives as friars in a smaller setting, similar to the Bronx, where they also can be called to greater responsibility in the life of the friary. “The Wilmington area has a number of good sites where the postulants can become involved in ministry,” Dominic said.
Among the other factors in the Council’s decision, Dominic said, is the significant financial benefit that will be achieved by reducing the number of formation sites in the Province, as well as relieving the pressure of identifying additional friars as formation personnel this year. John, pictured “behind” the photo above, had asked to step down at the end of the current year in light of his other responsibilities at the shrine.
More details on the implications of these changes will be described in upcoming months.
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.