Postulants Christian Gonzalez (left), Jimmy Beh (2nd left), and Luke Cumby (2nd right) joined friars and vocation directors in a prayer service at the first Interprovincial Vocation Weekend Retreat earlier this year sponsored by the National Vocation Office and hosted by the St. Anthony Friary fraternity in St. Petersburg, Florida. Gregory Plata, OFM (right), Central Region Vocation Director, was among the friars at the gathering.

Three Men Discerning Franciscan Vocation Will Enter the Interprovincial Postulancy Program with HNP in August

HNP Communications HNPNow

Three men will enter the interprovincial postulancy program this August with Holy Name Province. They will live with the friar fraternity at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they will experience one year of combined academic classes and ministry work. It’s the continuation of their vocation discernment of friar life and the start of their Franciscan formation.

Basil Valente, OFM (right), enjoyed an after-dinner single malt scotch with Jimmy Beh, who brought the spirit to the St. Anthony Friary in Florida to share with fellow discerners and friars at the weekend retreat.

The trio of HNP postulants are Jimmy Beh, who will be departing from an administrative position in higher education; Luke Cumby, a college senior, and Christian Gonzalez, a former U.S. Marine. With the Spirit’s work, says Basil Valente, OFM, HNP’s director of vocations, the postulants could be joined by others once all of the US-6 provinces complete their candidate evaluation process.

This will be the last class of postulants entering the Order with a specific province, noted Basil, who said the 2024 class will be the first that is welcomed into postulancy by the new United States province, which will become operational this October when the unification process of the US-6 is completed.

“It has been a blessing to work with these three men who are discerning Franciscan life. It is a tender joy and prayerful opportunity to walk with Jimmy, Luke and Christian as they are considering our way of life,” said Basil, who also serves as National Vocation Director, and as the eastern region vocation director, of the new U.S. province.

“As friars, we should all feel privileged when God places us in the position of journeying with discerners. It is one of the most essential, rich and fulfilling ministries of my friar life. I am excited about the future of vocation ministry in our new province and look forward to collaborating with the regional vocation directors and the 72 friars from across the country who have graciously responded to the call of serving in their areas as local vocation directors,” continued Basil.

The Holy Name vocation director since 2014 expressed his gratitude to HNP friars who have served all or parts of the past nine years as regional vocation directors channeling their efforts to recruiting and journeying with discerners.

Basil is also thankful to friar fraternities around the country – especially at St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street in New York City, St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Massachusetts, St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa – for hosting discernment weekends and organic gatherings, inviting candidates to fraternal dinners and communal prayer, sharing their own vocation stories and giving inspiring talks in group and personal dialogue, and staying engaged throughout the process with men considering Franciscan life. Jimmy, Luke and Christian attended the first Interprovincial Vocation Weekend Retreat in early January at the St. Petersburg friary.

Basil said he is immensely grateful, too, for the work and dedication of the HNP Vocation Office’s Board of Admissions, the 8-member panel (which Basil chairs) that evaluates candidates for postulancy, and then makes its recommendations to the provincial minister. The board has consisted of Joseph Cavoto, OFM, Fred Dilger, OFM, Dan Dwyer, OFM, Lawrence Hayes, OFM, provincial vicar, Walter Liss, OFM, Joseph Rozansky, OFM, and Basil, as well as Laurie Branch, a former member of the Board of Trustees of St. Bonaventure University.

“They have always been conscientious about sustaining the friars. They objectively evaluate each candidate to determine if this is what God might be calling these discerners to do. One of the board’s single-most important priorities is ensuring a strong and healthy future of the Order, with talented high-quality men who believe God is calling them to be Franciscans,” Basil said.

Luke Cumby (left) and Ken Lavarone, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, were among the candidates and friars who shared stories and camaraderie during the vocation weekend retreat at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg.

“As we celebrate the joyful Easter season, we can be joyful about how we approach vocations in Holy Name Province, and how we will move forward in vocation ministry in the new province,” said Basil, who also extolled the effective and essential work of Ben Simpson, the former office administrator, and Jorge Martins, the current office manager of the new national province.

A snapshot of each of the men who will enter the interprovincial postulancy illustrates the diversity of the group. Jimmy, a native of Washington, D.C., lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where he works in career partnerships and recruiting at a major university. He attended two discernment weekends in St. Petersburg and visited the 31st Street community, where he attended a Mass of solemn profession. Luke was inspired by the Franciscan life and ministry of Phil O’Shea, OFM, who integrated his Franciscan vocation with his lifelong medical condition of cerebral palsy, a condition also embraced by Luke.

Completing studies for his undergraduate degree, he serves his community by volunteering in his local parish and working at a Christian leadership initiative for high school students. Christian, a Bronx native and resident of Union, New Jersey, is a former member of the United States Marine Corps. A trained carpenter, Christian’s proximity to the tristate area afforded him the opportunity to meet friars at 31st Street, and at the fraternities in Butler and Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.

As these three men are poised to begin their postulancy, three solemnly professed friars – James Bernard, OFM, Steven Kuehn, OFM, and Aaron Richardson, OFM – who were the first group of postulants under Basil when he became HNP vocation director, will be ordained to the priesthood on April 29 at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring.