SANTA BARBARA, Calif — In the novitiate chapel, the side chapel of historic Mission Santa Barbara, OFM friars gathered on Oct. 15 with guests from the Capuchin and Conventual novitiates, and with some local supporters, to witness the Investiture of our 11 OFM novices.
Novitiate formation team members Michael Blastic, OFM, Jeff Macnab, OFM, and Freddy Rodriguez, OFM, had prepared the novices for this day. The ceremony began with a hymn and a gathering prayer that included the ritual of all present being sprinkled with water. The first reading was in English — from Celano’s Life of St. Francis. The second reading was from the Gospel of Matthew proclaimed in Spanish —“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…”
The reflection on the readings was opened to all in the assembly, whoever wished to speak stood in their place. Seven friars shared what the sign of the habit means to them.
One friar from each of our six provinces led the rite of investiture. Handing each novice from their province a folded habit, we heard each novice greeted by name, then “Receive this habit of probation in the Order of Friars Minor. It is a sign of your commitment to your brothers, the Church, and the world in service to Christ and His Church.”
The novices processed out to the sacristy to don their new habits. In a short while, the 11 newly-clad friars processed back in. They stood in the middle of the chapel, and we sang a moving Blessing Prayer based on the ‘Suscipe’ of St. Ignatius.
After heartfelt intercessions, we prayed the Lord’s Prayer and received a blessing.
The closing song began with the verse “Sing, O sing like the wind and sea; let music fill the skies! Lift your voice like the thund’ring waves: let songs of praise arise! Praise God with drums and dancing! Praise God with flute and horn! Blessed be our God, Mighty Lord of All!”
Afterward, the friars went out to the patio for a social time, and then into the dining room for dinner and dessert.
The 11 novices were received into the Interprovincial Novitiate in August. The class includes three members of Holy Name Province: Edgar Alberto, OFM, Michael Specht, OFM, and Carlos Wagner, OFM.
— Mark Schroeder, OFM, a member of St. Barbara Province, is guardian of the friar community at Old Mission Santa Barbara.
Editor’s note: Information about the 2019-20 novices can be found on the US Franciscans website.