SILVER SPRING, Md. — Autumn has begun with renewed energy for the US-6 interprovincial postulancy program. In August, six men from around the United States were officially received into the program and, in the weeks since, they have been getting acquainted with the geographic area while completing orientation and beginning their year of education and ministry.
The interprovincial formation team members – a group of four friars from several provinces of the US-6, the entities working to unify as a coast-to-coast province – welcomed the men last month at a ceremony in the chapel of Holy Name College where they are now living.
The ceremony took place on Aug. 19 at the formation house just outside the nation’s capital with Fr. James Gannon, OFM, Provincial of Assumption BVM Province, as the main celebrant and homilist. It included a blessing of Tau crosses, handcrafted by Br. Luis Rosado, OFM, that were presented to the six postulants by the formation team – director Fr. Gino Correa, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, Br. Walter Liss, OFM, of Holy Name Province, and Br. Tom Carroll, OFM, and Fr. Rommel Perez Flores, OFM, both of Sacred Heart Province.
Also participating in the ceremony were Fr. Lawrence Hayes OFM, HNP secretary for formation and studies, and Br. Basil Valente, OFM, director of vocations for the Province, and the friar community from Holy Name College and St. Camillus Parish next door.
The 2021 postulants represent three provinces and six states. They are: John Paul Kashmer, from Burlington, N.J., and Martin Thach Tran, from Cumming, Georgia, of Holy Name Province; as well as Ivan Delgado Arevalo of Hollister, California, a member of St. Barbara Province; and Tyler Grant Harris, of Palatine, Illinois, Richard Michael Madere of Prairieville, Louisiana, and Jeremy Lorenz Mayeaux, from Long Beach, Mississippi, of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province. Their ages range from 26 to 42.
Br. Basil, who is stationed in New York City, found the Aug. 19 welcoming ceremony inspiring.
“Jim’s admonition to the postulants made a lasting impression on me, and I dare say, on the new men joining the Franciscan formation program,” he said. “Jim shared how St. Francis embraced ‘perfect joy’ and followed his vocational calling and the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Then, Jim continued the homily by inviting the new postulants to consider, and pray about, how they find the Gospel joy in their own lives — each in his own, gifted way.”
Fr. Larry, who is stationed in Silver Spring, observed the joy and energy of the welcome ceremony. He also commented on the unified and diverse nature of Holy Name College, where the postulants live.
“We spend so much time talking about the future of the US-6,” he said. “How energizing it was to celebrate and witness that six, enthusiastic young men have been so captivated by the Franciscan charism, that they desire to explore their vocation with us this year as postulants. Yes, we have a future — hopefully with men like these.”
Fr. Larry described how the interprovincial nature of the postulants gives him hope.
“This year’s postulants hail from all over the country, and the postulancy team is composed of friars from three provinces,” said Fr. Larry. “The provincial who presided at the welcoming ceremony was from a fourth province. And the friar in charge of maintenance at the postulant house is from yet a fifth province.
“What is so wonderful about this is that no one thinks in terms of provinces anymore,” he said. “We are all brothers and our provincial differences pale by comparison with our common values and ideals, lived out concretely in simple, warm and fraternal ways each day. Initial formation is truly the ‘first wave’ of our new coast-to-coast province. It’s already in existence, and it is a joyful ride.”
After a year of restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s program is close to its traditional format.
“There is more mobility than last year,” said Fr. Gino. “The postulants and formators have more interaction among each other and with the people we meet. That has made quite a difference. Although it is my second year at Holy Name College, it feels like my first year in many ways because it is a program with a lot of the Covid restrictions lifted.”
“We’re a 100% vaccinated community so that has enabled us to pray, eat and recreate in the same space without distancing,” said Br. Walter.
During their first weeks in Silver Spring, before the year of classes and ministry work began, the postulants and their leadership team were busy with an orientation that included visits to historic sites in the Washington, D.C., area and to OFM ministry sites. They took day trips to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, where they received a tour from Fr. Larry Dunham, OFM, director of the monastery, and visited the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. They also visited the site of the original Holy Name College and took trips to Franciscan ministry sites in Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia, as well as to New York City for the solemn profession of three HNP friars.
Carlos Correa, Fr. Gino’s brother, introduced the postulants to several U.S. government buildings, as well as to other monuments and museums, in Washington, D.C. They also visited Judge Patricia Broderick, an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, who gave a talk on Washington’s unique judicial system.
“The postulants have gelled quite readily and willingly into a community that seems to have known each other for years,” said Fr. Gino. “They are from different corners of the country with a storehouse of stories that will take much more than a year to share.”
Postulant John Paul appreciates the sense of community within the program.
“I very much enjoy the camaraderie between the other postulants and myself,” he said. “I am very thankful for the formation team’s warmth and attentiveness. From the moment I arrived, I felt very much at home here and find it is a wonderful place to grow closer to God and learn more about myself.”
Learning about Franciscan Life
After their orientation concluded, the postulants immersed themselves in their new routine – a combination of education and ministry. Two days a week, they take classes and on the other three days, they work in pairs at ministry sites – Saint Francis International School in Silver Spring, where they help with classes and on Sundays teach religious education; Meals and Wheels in Silver Spring, where they prepare, package and deliver food to local homebound people; and the Langley Park community of Silver Spring, where they assist residents with immigration information and learning English.
All six also work three days a week in the garden of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in the northeastern section of Washington. The produce is given to food banks in the area.
“I am excited that this year all of the postulants have the chance to volunteer at the Franciscan Monastery garden which helps provide nutritious food for the hungry and also gives the postulants the chance to learn more about the natural environment,” said Walter.
The education portion of their week includes classes on Monday and Friday mornings. They focus on theology and Franciscan spirituality with Fr. Charley Miller, OFM, as well as workshops on human development given by a psychologist, and liturgical classes taught by Fr. James Sabak, OFM. On Sundays, the group goes to a liturgy at a different church to experience varied cultures.
“I have really enjoyed living and praying in community,” said postulant Tyler. “The consistent time for prayer and personal development has been a real blessing. The trip to St. Francis Inn was a very rewarding and challenging experience for all of us to share together.”
Richard, who goes by Ricky, also expressed satisfaction with his experience so far.
“What I am enjoying most is being in community with my brothers also also doing ministry work and meeting and working with new people,” he said. “The things I’m finding most rewarding thus far are learning more about Church history and Franciscan history and spending a lot of time in prayer.”
This is the fifth group of postulants to live and learn at Holy Name College. The combined interprovincial postulancy program began in 2017. Updates from the postulants can be found on the Franciscan Interprovincial Postulancy – Holy Name College Facebook page.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: Information about the Province’s vocation program can be found in the Become a Friar section of HNP.org and photos taken at events are located on the Be a Franciscan Facebook page.
- “HNP Formation Program Announces Transitions” – June 24, 2021 HNP Today
- “Revitalization of U.S. Provinces Progresses with Friar Forums, Discussions about New Entity’s Name, Governance Structure” – Feb. 18, 2021, HNP Today
- “Formation: 15 Men Join Interprovincial Postulancy” – Sept. 11, 2020, HNP Today
- “2019-20 Postulants Reflect on First Months of Formation Experience” – Feb. 13, 2020, HNP Today