Seven Received into Postulancy Program

Maria Hayes Friar News


From left to right: (bottom row) Associate vocation director Gonzalo Torres-Acosta, Nicholas Carbuto, James Bernard and Adolfo Navarro. (Top row) Crawford Bennett, Mitchell Ortiz, Steve Kuehn, Ken Grassell and vocation director Basil Valente. (Photo courtesy of Christian Seno.)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — In a chapel filled with friars and Franciscan Volunteer Ministers, seven men were welcomed into Holy Name Province’s postulancy program on Aug. 30 during evening prayer at Holy Name College.

During the prayer service, Crawford Bennett, James Bernard, Nicholas Carbuto, Ken Grassell, Steve Kuehn, Adolfo Navarro and Mitchell Ortiz received the Tau cross from formation students Abel Garcia, OFM, Javier Del Angel De Los Santos, OFM, and Christian Seno, OFM, who recently returned to Holy Name College after completing their novitiate year.

Postulant director Ronald Pecci, OFM, led the prayer service. “There are going to be challenges,” he told the postulants. “There are going to be moments when you say to yourself, ‘I am mad. I must be crazy to be here.’… and maybe you’ll be right. Or maybe you’ll take that step beyond human reason, beyond knowing for certain, beyond the guarantees. Maybe you’ll accept the fact that you’re mad. You could be madly in love with God. Everyone we fall in love with doesn’t necessarily do everything we want them to do, and they’re not always reasonable. Nor is God.”

Also in attendance were vocation director Basil Valente, OFM, and associate vocation director Gonzalo Torres-Acosta, OFM, who welcomed their first class of postulants as members of the vocation ministry. The friars from St. Camillus Parish and the new Franciscan Volunteer Ministry class, who were on retreat at nearby Loyola-on-the-Potomac, were also present to lend their support.

John Ullrich, OFM, told me these guys are a wonderful gift to our community,” Basil recalled. “He said it was heartening to see what God has provided for the future of the Order through these men.”

Several of the friars were impressed with the way this year’s class had connected on social media. Even before they arrived at Holy Name College, the postulants were using Facebook’s private messaging feature to exchange prayers and blessings, and support each other as they prepared for the move to Maryland.

“The way they support each other, pray for each other, bless each other and challenge one another — both in person and through social media — is inspiring to witness,” said Basil. “I feel really blessed that I’ve been able to walk with all of these guys and to continue to walk with them on their Franciscan journey. It’s wonderful to watch God lead them.”

This year’s postulants come from several states — New York, Florida, Maryland and Texas. The men will spend the upcoming months participating in orientation programs, catechetical workshops and visits to ministries around the Province. This past week, they spent several days serving at St. Francis Inn soup kitchen in Philadelphia. The postulancy program concludes next summer with six weeks of graduate-level courses at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., where the men will meet fellow Franciscan postulants as they prepare for novitiate.

This is the program’s third year at Holy Name College. The program was previously located at St. Paul Friary in Wilmington, Del.

Basil thanked all those who supported the vocation ministry this past year.

“None of this would have been possible without everyone on the vocation ministry team and all of the friars of Holy Name Province and the laypeople who work in the administrative offices,” he said. “It’s a real communal effort and none of this would have been able to happen if everyone wasn’t a part of that. It’s God that is leading each one of us.”

Meet the Postulants
Prior to his acceptance to the HNP postulancy program, James worked for the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he served as vice president and director of member services operations. Jim was also an active member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, where he served as a Eucharistic minister and lector five times a week, as a member of the RCIA team, and as a regular volunteer with Franciscans Deliver.

crawford-bennettA former seminarian with the Diocese of Venice in Florida, Crawford was connected to the Franciscans through Sacred Heart Friary in Tampa, Fla., and St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla. He was especially attracted to the community life and variety of ministries provided by the Franciscans, and wishes to more fully integrate the Franciscan dedication to the poor into his own life. He was an active member of St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, Fla., where he served as the spiritual director for the Legion of Mary, taught Confirmation classes, led wake services, prepared and served at liturgies, looked after the homeless and aided the youth group. He also has experience in hospital ministry.

nicholas-carbutoNicholas came to know the Franciscans through interaction with the friars of St. Barbara Province while he was studying for a certificate in sound, voice and music healing from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Upon his return to New York, where he worked as an activities aide at the Grand Pavilion in Rockville Centre, he contacted Holy Name Province’s vocation ministry. Drawn to the diversity of ministry in Franciscan life, Nick is especially inspired by the Franciscan spirit of direct service in relationship to the poor and marginalized. He has a strong background as a chorus teacher and a professional choir singer.

ken-grassellKen converted to Catholicism in 2000 and, before entering the postulancy program, he was an active parishioner at St. Martha Parish in Miami. He served with many ministries there, including Emmaus Brother, Feed Our Own Food Program, ministries for centering prayer and nursing homes, and also as a “Why Catholic” group leader. Ken has felt a very strong connection with the Franciscans since his conversion, and is excited to continue his journey in faith as a postulant with Holy Name Province. Before moving to Florida to work as a network administrator and image specialist, Ken worked in Sacramento, Calif., as the art director for Crocker/Flanagan.

steve-kuehnBorn in Annapolis, Md., Steve served in the U.S. Navy as a flight student, navy aviator, disclosure analyst, and catapult officer. He learned about Holy Name Province from a friar’s blog and was drawn “first and foremost to the fraternity and brotherhood of the friars in imitating and serving the Lord through the example set forward by St. Francis.” As a member of St. Brigid’s Parish in San Diego, he was active in a variety of ministries, including packaging meals with Sacred Heart Coronado, Neighbors in Need, young adult ministries, bible study, prayer groups and Connection to Christ small groups.

adolfo-navarroHailing from Costa Rica, Adolfo has worked as both a French teacher and a nursing assistant. He spent three years at the Carthusian Monastery “Mira Flores” in Burgos, Spain, before he discerned that his calling to the consecrated life was not with a monastic group. He is excited to be joining the postulancy program and continuing his journey to religious life. Adolfo is particularly drawn to Holy Name Province because of their “ministry and compassion for the poor, the infirmed and the outcast of society.” Adolfo was an active member of his parish, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in St. Cloud, Fla., where he was a lector and member of the choir.

mitchell-ortizMitchell has worked in a variety of roles, primarily as a science, math and guitar tutor, and as a sacristan at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in McAllen, Texas, where he was an active member. He studied as a seminarian for the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, for a year, but after a year of seminary study, decided to withdraw from the program to further discern his vocation. He learned about Holy Name Province through Internet research and has already spent time with the friars, participating in various retreats in Silver Spring, Md., Boston and New York City. Mitchell is very excited to be a part of the 2015 postulancy class and wishes God’s blessings on everyone.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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