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Six Novices Receive Habits

James La Grutta, Luis Rosado, Troy Hillman, Michael Lomas, Antonio Luevano, and Jason Damon were vested with their Franciscan habits at Mission Santa Barbara in California. (Photo courtesy of Octavio Duran)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The six novices participating in the OFM Interprovincial Novitiate received their habits in a Nov. 14 service attended by friars from around the country. The friars’ chapel at historic Old Mission Santa Barbara served as the venue for the 45-minute ceremony of investiture, which was live-streamed to enable friars, friends, and well-wishers outside the area to witness the event.

The prayer service involving novices from Holy Name and St. Barbara provinces took on a distinctly interobediential flavor as well, with the presence of confreres from the nearby Conventual and Capuchin Franciscan novitiate programs.

The six men represent Holy Name and St. Barbara provinces. They are Jason Damon, 23, from Buffalo, N.Y., Troy Hillman, 24, of Olean, N.Y., James La Grutta, 28, of Goshen, N.Y., and Luis Rosado, 46, from Puerto Rico, of Holy Name, and from St. Barbara, Michael Lomas, 29, from San Jose, Calif., and Antonio Luevano, 28, of San Bernardino, Calif.

Provincial Minister Fr. David Gaa, OFM, and Provincial Vicar Fr. Martín Ibarra, OFM, represented St. Barbara Province, while Ross Chamberland, OFM, photographer Octavio Duran, OFM, Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, Vocation Director Basil Valente, OFM, and Michael Blastic, OFM, represented Holy Name Province. Michael is a member of the novitiate team along with novice-master Br. Jeff Macnab, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, and Sr. Susan Rosenbach, SSSF.

Reflecting upon the inner meaning and purpose of the habit in his remarks, Michael Blastic reminded all present that for St. Francis and for ourselves “the habit, that is the poor clothes the brothers wore — must not get in the way of being who you truly are—a brother of the human race. . . . (It) should not get in the way of letting your body be your ‘tongue.’”

Friars from Holy Name and St. Barbara provinces attended the ceremony at the interprovincial novitiate in Santa Barbara. (Photo courtesy of Octavio Duran)

Michael further reflected that, through the writings of biographer Thomas of Celano, we learn that Francis changed his clothes on at least nine different recorded occasions – each event signaling a significant threshold in the course of the saint’s ongoing conversion. Recalling the last wishes of Francis that his body be left lying naked on the ground upon his death, Michael concluded that “for Francis, the poor clothes—what would become the habit—needed to become transparent in order to reveal what they covered—a poor simple man who had nothing of his own, a man who spent his entire life becoming a lesser and smaller person… (who) identified himself as ‘brother Francis’”.

A reception and dinner hosted by the novitiate team and friars at the Old Mission followed the mid-afternoon ceremony. And yes, the newly vested novices did the dishes.

Photos of the event can be found on the St. Anthony’s Guild and Be A Franciscan Facebook pages.

Fr. Charles is communications director for St. Barbara Province, which is headquartered in Oakland, Calif.

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