Novices Receive Habits at Interprovincial Novitiate

Maria Hayes Franciscan World


From left to right: Javier Del Angel De los Santos, Daniel Beckham, Wilmer Garcia, guardian Scott Brookbank and Christian Seno. (Photo courtesy of the novices)

The following is a complication of recent news from the website of the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, composed of provinces from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania and Malta.

On Sunday, Dec. 14, 11 novices received their habits of probation at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis.

Those completing the rite of investiture included four Holy Name Province friars — Daniel Beckham, OFM, Javier Del Angel De los Santos, OFM, Abel Garcia, OFM, and Christian Seno, OFM — as well as Brothers Denis Aherne, OFM, of the Irish Province; Mathieu Belanger-Leduc, OFM, of St. Joseph Province; Dale Brewer, OFM, Joshua Critchley, OFM, Joshua Davis, OFM, and Jay Woods, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province; and Michael Perras, OFM, of Christ the King Province.

By receiving the habit, each novice signaled his commitment to move into a deeper level of discernment with God and the Order. Each Franciscan robe was fitted, measured, altered, ironed and folded by Br. Jay, who was a tailor in his previous profession. Photos from the ceremony can be found on the novitiate’s Facebook page.

In other news, the English-speaking Conference shared a story from The Catholic Telegraph about the mall ministry of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati. Last year, the friars rented a storefront in the Northgate Mall during the holiday season, not to sell goods, but to offer a ministry of presence. Their initiative attracted media attention from around the world, including a feature in The New York Times.

This year, the friars returned to the mall for a second holiday season. Passersby of all faith traditions are invited to visit for coffee and a break from shopping. The friars make themselves available to talk, and this year, priests are ready to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“We were surprised last year at the number of people who wanted to celebrate Reconciliation,” Provincial Minister Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM, told The Catholic Telegraph. “We weren’t prepared for that. There was just a warehouse room in the back. We still have to go into the back for privacy’s sake. We’re going to make a nice little room with some office dividers, chairs, a lamp and a plant. It will make the space a little more friendly and inviting.”

In addition to confession and coffee, the Franciscans are inviting visitors to take part in a social media movement, based off the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral earlier this year.

“We’re going to make some cards that have the Peace Prayer of St. Francis on them, and we’re going to invite people to pray the prayer,” said Fr. Jeff. “We’re also going to invite people, if they have the ability and the interest, to make a video of themselves praying it and then inviting someone else to do the same.”

Fr. Jeff remarked that this new ministry has been helpful for both the shoppers and the friars.

“We can get caught up in running a parish and producing a magazine, which are important things and good things, but just being with people is really what St. Francis wanted to do,” he said. “The Franciscan charism is that we weren’t founded to do any particular ministry like education. This is more of a lifestyle. Your lifestyle is supposed to hopefully evangelize and share the Good News.”

Other topics that the ESC has publicized recently through Facebook and Twitter include:

  • The letter from the U.S. provincial ministers to President Barack Obama in support of his recent executive action on immigration
  • News about the recent unification of the New England and New York Jesuit provinces to form the USA Northeast Province
  • A letter from the General Minister on World Aids Day, Dec. 1
  • The recent celebration of International Human Rights Day on Dec. 13 at St. Francis Church in New York City

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.