BURLINGTON, Wis. — More than 60 guests from around the world gathered at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate on Aug. 2 to witness the first profession of nine friars, three of them from Holy Name Province.
Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, received the vows of Javier Del Angel De Los Santos, OFM, Abel Garcia, OFM, and Christian Seno, OFM, during the ceremony on the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula. During the service, each novice resolved to live in chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, embrace voluntary poverty and offer the sacrifice of obedience. Following his provincial’s acceptance in the name of the brotherhood, each newly professed friar received a knotted cord and signed the Book of Life.
The other friars professing first vows included Br. Denis Aherne, OFM, of the Ireland Province, Br. Mathieu Bélanger-Leduc, OFM, of St. Joseph Province (Eastern Canada), Br. Michael Perras, OFM, of Christ the King Province (Western Canada), and Brothers Dale Brewer, OFM, Joshua Critchley, OFM, and Jay Woods, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province.
The ceremony embraced the diversity of the group, each reading in his native language, including French, Spanish and Hmung.
“I’m very proud of our three friars who professed vows,” Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, said. “It is a sign of hope for us as a province and for the Order to have such quality men following in the footsteps of St. Francis.”
Sunday’s ceremony was a powerful experience for the friars.
“The profession of vows was an emotional moment,” said Christian. “It not only made real, in a way, my suitability as a Friar Minor, but also manifested in that small chapel the essence of Franciscan fraternity. I was moved by the presence and support of so many brothers, in particular Ron Pecci, OFM, and Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM, who had been pillars of support and kindness during my novitiate.” Ron is the Province’s director of postulants and Stephen is a regional vocation director.
For Christian, the novitiate year was a transformative experience.
“Though the year included some difficult moments and tensions, it was, on the whole, a truly positive and grace-filled experience,” he said. “It was in those moments of challenge, of personal difficulties and conflicts, that I most clearly saw God’s hand at work in my life and in the community.
“The culmination of the novitiate year in the first profession of vows then seemed like a natural progression: one of deeper and deeper commitment to living out the Gospel and a reaffirmation of one’s desire to stand with a ragtag, but loveable, band of brothers,” he added.
Strengthening fraternity was an important part of Abel’s experience as a novice.
“The highlight of the novitiate year had to be the support from my fellow novice brothers and the local friar communities, in particular the friars from Queen of Peace and Franklin,” he said. “The whole experience of novitiate was a good learning experience about myself, my spiritual life, and my formation as a Franciscan.”
“The silence of the novitiate house helped me to get deeper into my prayer and helped me to reflect on my journey as a Franciscan,” he added. “For me, first profession of vows means even greater freedom to live the Gospel and to be fully present to the ministry and relationships I will be called to as a Friar Minor.”
Other Holy Name Province friars who attended the profession were the novitiate’s guardian, Scott Brookbank, OFM, former vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, Juan Turcios, OFM, and vocation director Basil Valente, OFM.
Guests began arriving at the novitiate on Aug. 1. The Sunday Vigil Mass became with a prayer service at the Portiuncula Chapel on the grounds, followed by a procession to the chapel for the liturgy.
“This was my first visit to the novitiate,” Kevin said. “I was very impressed with the whole class and the warm welcome that was extended to the friars who were visiting.”
The novitiate won’t be empty for long. The next class of novices will be received there on Aug. 15. Other upcoming formation events include the solemn profession of Gerald Hopeck, OFM, on Aug. 22 in New York City. Seven men will begin the postulancy program on Aug. 20 in Silver Spring, Md.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Novices Receive Habits at Interprovincial Novitiate” — Dec. 15, 2014, HNP Today
- “Abraham Joseph Professes Simple Vows in Wisconsin” — Aug. 5, 2014, HNP Today
- “Province Welcomes Largest Class of Postulants in More Than a Decade” — Sept. 11, 2013, HNP Today