Post-novitiate Formation Program Relocating to Midwest

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The friars of Holy Name Province were notified this week that the post-novitiate formation program will be moving west. Beginning next year, simply-professed friars will live and study in Chicago.

The Provincial Council announced the news on Monday to the residents of Holy Name College in Silver Spring, which for decades has been the home to the Province’s simply-professed men preparing for solemn profession, along with a solemnly-professed community.

“The move is intended to enhance the post-novitiate Franciscan, ministerial and theological formation of our friars,” said Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. “Chicago was chosen because it can best accommodate the needs of our simply-professed friars, both lay brothers and clerics.”

Discussions will soon begin about the student friars becoming part of the interprovincial post-novitiate setting at St. Joseph Friary in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, according to an announcement distributed yesterday to HNP members. The student friars will attend the nearby Catholic Theological Union, DePaul University or other suitable schools in the city.

Factors Leading to Decision
The decision to relocate was based on the analysis provided by an ad-hoc committee of HNP friars convened by the HNP Formation and Studies Directorate as follow-up to the closing of the Washington Theological Union three years ago. The committee, chaired by Daniel McLellan, OFM, was charged with making a recommendation that included equal attention to the needs of friars whose work will be other than ministerial priesthood. After studying several possible post-novitiate schools of study, two were selected for site visits by the committee: CTU and the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

Among the many factors that led to the committee’s recommendation of Chicago, according to Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, were the existing interprovincial post-novitiate formation house with its solid formation program, the strong Franciscan identity and presence already found at CTU, the diversity of ministerial, apprenticeship, and other educational possibilities outside CTU, the multiple and diverse program options at CTU, and the “union” model guiding that school.

Resources at Catholic Theological Union “are exceptional thanks to the alliance with DePaul University and participation in Chicago Cluster of Theological Schools,” said the committee’s report. “Multiple and diverse program options with varied modes of delivery indicate a vital flexibility, helping to ensure a future.” Besides the Master of Divinity in preparation for ordained ministry, CTU also offers a Master of Divinity with fewer credits, general preparation for ministry, other degrees with a focus on particular areas of interest, resources for students with English as a second language, and certificate and sabbatical programs.

The faculty at CTU is made up of 28 full-time members. The religious and lay faculty have a ratio of about 60/40, according to the report. “However, the religious faculty represents a diverse selection of religious institutes of both men and women and one diocesan priest.” Total enrollment is about 300 students, roughly evenly divided between laity and religious. CTU also offers diversity in terms of religious and ethnic backgrounds — 24 religious communities represent 30 countries.

In addition to the diversity of ministerial opportunities and education possibilities, the city has much to offer. “Chicago is the third largest city in the USA and has just about everything in terms of resources and institutions for friars preparing for a variety of ministries and tasks, including those outside the sacramental or explicitly pastoral setting,” said the committee’s report.

Formation Residence
St. Joseph Friary — located just two blocks from CTU — currently has six simply-professed friars from three OFM provinces along with a formation team, and can accommodate 20 men.

The spiritual formation of students in the Franciscan tradition is the major responsibility of the formation house, and the program at St. Joseph’s appears “solid and geared toward responsible formation. If our students were to become part of the St. Joseph’s fraternity, we would need to have a friar from HNP serving on the formation team.”

The potential of the post-novitiate restructuring is strong. “If the realignment of the U.S. provinces is going to work, it will begin with the youngest generation of friars,” the committee said. “Collaborative efforts in the Burlington novitiate program will be reinforced when those efforts are extended into post-novitiate formation in Chicago.”

For several years, Holy Name Province — like other OFM provinces in the English-speaking Conference — has participated in the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis.

The move will take effect at the start of the fall 2016 semester. HNP students who are close to completing degrees at The Catholic University of America will have the option to remain in the Washington area to finish their education. Solemnly-professed friars who live at Holy Name College will be able to remain there until the 2017 Provincial Chapter.

Details about other aspects of Holy Name College that will be affected by the change of location of post-novitiate formation are being determined. They include the location of the HNP postulancy program (still under study) and the future use of the HNC building.

The friars on the ad-hoc committee with Dan were Provincial Councilor Brian Belanger, OFM, Vincent Cushing, OFM, Daniel Grigassy, OFM, Daniel Horan, OFM, James Scullion, OFM, and Jud Weiksnar, OFM.

Holy Name College opened its doors in Silver Spring, just outside the nation’s capital, in 1985 after having been located in Washington for 40 years. Last month, the Province announced leadership changes at Holy Name College. Joseph Rozansky, OFM, and David Schlatter, OFM, were named director and assistant post-novitiate directors, effective Aug. 15.

Information about the Province’s formation program can be found on the Be A Franciscan website.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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