BURLINGTON, Wis. — On Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 13 Franciscan novices were received into the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate during a poignant ceremony that involved provincial ministers (or their delegates), the interprovincial leadership team, and Franciscan friars from around the globe, including the General Vicar of the Order of Friars Minor, Fr. Julio Cesar Bunader, OFM. One of the highlights of the service was the washing of the newly received novices’ feet by their respective provincial ministers, delegates and members of the interprovincial novitiate leadership team.
Moved by divine inspiration, the postulants requested to share in the brotherhood of the Order of Friars Minor. They asked to be admitted to our “way of life” and they requested to be tested and to “learn how to take on their shoulders, the yoke of the Lord in love and joy.” They continued by asking to join us in the humble service of the Lord, following the example of St. Francis of Assisi. The ministers followed their petition with this important reply, “Thanks be to God. We congratulate you and in the name of the our provincial fraternities, we accept you into our brotherhood.”
Those who were received into the novitiate were James Bernard, Nicholas Carbuto, Steven Kuehn, and Adolfo Navarro-Blanco of Holy Name Province; Gabriel Lacerte of St. Joseph Province, Canada; Kesstas Watson and John Paul Carrol of the Province of Ireland and Custody of England; Matthew Tenney and Bradley Tuel of St. Barbara Province; Tony Marchetti of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province; and Gerardo Camacho, Casey Hoversten and Dan Gordon of Sacred Heart Province.
After the reception of novices, Michael Blastic, OFM, Fr. Jeff Macnab, OFM, Sr. Susan Rosenbach, SSSF, and Fr. Kim Studwell, OFM, were commissioned to the interprovincial novitiate leadership team. The ministers entrusted their new novices — those who had previously requested to join the brotherhood — into the hands of the leadership team. “Test them and help them discern the call of God,” the ministers said. “With the support of this community, and the entire brotherhood, call forth their talents and gifts and help them come to know our way of life.”
Following the commissioning, Fr. James Gannon, OFM, the provincial of the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, read from the Gospel of John (13:1-15) and reflected on the novitiate year. Fr. Jim described the novitiate year as an intense time of “serving one another” and also an “essential time of being served,” too. “This is a most important year,” Jim suggested. “To create a true novitiate and Franciscan community,” he admonished the novices to act out this mutuality of service for the rest of their lives, saying this “attitude must be part of every community you join. This world has so many people to be served and it needs good people to serve them.”
Fr. Jim further noted that the novitiate year is a time of conversion and an opportunity for ongoing discernment. It’s also a time of experiencing, concretely, fraternal living and service. Jesus, at his Last Supper, washed the feet of his disciples in order to provide an example. So, too, our seraphic father St. Francis had this very gospel passage proclaimed as he lay dying just outside of the Portiuncula in Assisi.
As the novitiate team followed the example of the Lord Jesus and St. Francis, they invited the novices to come forward and have their feet washed. Additionally, the leadership team reassured them that they, too, will be called upon to care for and serve one another for the rest of their lives.
“These friars and sister have given you an example, in imitation of Christ, of the service that you will be expected to show each other. May the Lord strengthen your resolve to love and care for one another.” Many were moved to tears as we watched our provincials (or their delegates) wash and kiss the novices’ feet.
The service concluded with a blessing, in Spanish and in English, by Fr. Julio.
— Br. Basil is director of vocations for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: Information about the Province’s vocation and formation programs can be found on BeAFranciscan.org.
- “Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate Welcomes Thirteen” — Aug. 18, 2015, HNP Today
- “Seven Received into Postulancy Program” — Sept. 2, 2015, HNP Today
- “Formation Update: Postulants Begin Year with an ‘Abundance of Grace’” — Nov. 20, 2015, HNP Today