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U.S. Provincials Announce Combined Postulancy Program

Old Mission Santa Barbara in California (Photo courtesy of ESC)

This article has been reprinted from ESCOFM.org, the website of the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor. It has been edited for style.

The provincial ministers of the United States have announced plans for greater collaboration among OFM provinces in the area of initial formation.

Common Postulancy
While some U.S. provinces have previously engaged in a variety of collaborative efforts in initial formation, for the first time, all seven U.S. provinces have announced the creation of a common postulancy program. Postulancy is the entry-level experience of formation for men who embark on the Franciscan way of life.

This past fall, the U.S. provincial ministers approved a national postulancy program that will be located at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md. The new program is set to begin in August 2017 with the next class of postulants.

Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md. (Photo courtesy of ESC)

Last week, from Feb. 20 to 22, the secretaries for formation and studies from the seven U.S. provinces gathered at Holy Name College in Silver Spring to discern the first Interprovincial Postulancy Formation Team. From six friar participants, the following friars were chosen to serve on the team:

  • John Gutierrez, OFM (St. Barbara Province)
  • Charles Miller, OFM, and Walter Liss, OFM (Holy Name Province)
  • Rommel Perez Flores, OFM (Sacred Heart Province)

The provincial ministers and their councils confirmed the appointments. These four friars will begin immediately to plan the program that will begin this summer at Holy Name College.

The provincial ministers also expressed their gratitude for the other friars who participated in the discernment: Andres Gallegos, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, and Jerome Wolbert, OFM, of Assumption BVM Province, as well as Holy Name Province for offering Holy Name College to host the program.

Interprovincial Novitiate Moving California
The U.S. Franciscan provinces have been engaged in a collaborative formation effort at the level of novitiate for the last five years, forming the Interprovincial Novitiate that has been located at St. Francis Friary in Burlington, Wis., during this time. Previously, the three Midwestern provinces had a longstanding collaborative effort with a novitiate in Cedar Lake, Ind.

After consultation with their provincial councils, the provincial ministers have accepted and approved the unanimous recommendation of their secretaries for formation and studies and the current formation team that the Interprovincial Novitiate be moved from St. Francis Friary in Burlington, Wis., to Old Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, Calif. The transition will take place in the summer of 2017 with the next class of novices beginning in August.

This move will allow for greater collaboration with the novitiates of the Capuchin and Conventual friars who already have novitiates nearby. This possibility for greater collaboration has generated much enthusiasm.

Franciscan historian Fr. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, Provincial Minister of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, also points out that, “Old Mission Santa Barbara serves as a living bridge between the first Franciscan friars to come to what is now the United States and the friars of today. Founded in 1786, the Franciscan community in Santa Barbara is the oldest continuous Franciscan presence in the United States. Novices in Santa Barbara will be as close as they can get to more than 230 years of living Franciscan history here in the United States.”

The provincial ministers also expressed their gratitude to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province, which has provided the location for the past years in Burlington, and to St. Barbara Province for offering this next opportunity.

U.S. Provincial Ministers:

Robert Campagna, OFM, Immaculate Conception Province
David Gaa, OFM, St. Barbara Province
James Gannon, OFM, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province
Kevin Mullen, OFM, Holy Name Province
Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, Our Lady of Guadalupe Province
Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM, St. John the Baptist Province
William Spencer, OFM, Sacred Heart Province

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