NEW YORK – The Vocation Office of the US-6 provinces recently produced several new publications – the result of a 12-month collaborative effort by the six OFM communities that are currently working to unify into one coast-to-coast province. Four brochures, each published in English and Spanish, were released last month just before Easter to the six provinces so that their ministries and members around the country can share them with men expressing an interest in a Franciscan vocation.
“This project was a major undertaking that was accomplished during the height of our worldwide pandemic – a time when divisions exist everywhere, especially in the political, social, economic, and religious spheres,” said Basil Valente, OFM, HNP vocation director and project leader. “During these often difficult times, we must remember we’re proclaiming the life and the light of St. Francis of Assisi, a follower of Jesus Christ – crucified and risen.”
The publications highlight the Franciscans and their ministries across the United States and invite men interested in a religious vocation to join the Order.
The brochures include:
- The US-6 OFM Franciscan Friars: An Introduction – a 16-page 5”x7” brochure describing the brotherhood of a province, the mission of the US-6, and how and where friars serve.
- Step by Step: A Guide to Becoming a Franciscan Friar – an 8-page 8.5”x11” brochure with information about getting to know the Franciscans, reflections from vocation directors, and details about initial formation – including its three steps – and ongoing formation.
- St. Francis’ Prayers – a 20-page 8.5”x11” format providing more than a dozen prayers.
- The Canticle of Brother Sun – an 8-page 8.5”x11” format with a prayer, description, and introductory rite.
Basil is optimistic that this set of new publications will “proclaim a joyful and bright invitation” for men to join the Franciscan life.
“As we know, Jesus gave up his life so that he, and all humanity, could live in a newness of life forever,” said Basil. “Francis of Assisi lived the joy and light of the Gospel by walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ with his brothers and sisters.”
All of the new publications are packaged in a 9”x12” pocket folder emblazoned with the logo of the US-6 OFM Franciscan Vocation Office, a unification of the vocation offices of the six provinces which include Assumption BVM, Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, Sacred Heart Province, St. Barbara Province, St. John the Baptist Province, and Holy Name Province.
The logo, designed by Jorge Martins, vocation office administrator for both HNP and the US-6 Vocation Office in New York City, showcases an image of the San Damiano Cross – the crucifix that spoke to St. Francis during the early phase of his discernment, inviting him to rebuild God’s Church. The icon is meant to be a metaphor for the connection of the six provinces as they work toward a 2023 unification.
The year-long project of creating the new brochures was headed by Basil, who prior to assuming his role in the vocation office in 2014 was a communications and marketing professor in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York. Javier Del Ángel De los Santos, OFM, an HNP regional vocation director who lives at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Massachusetts, served as the primary Spanish translator of the documents – and whose translation work continues to be lauded by men in discernment and friars around the country, according to Basil.
“I am delighted with the message and the presentation of this literature,” said Ignatius Harding, OFM, a regional vocation director based in Silver Spring, Maryland. “The lively colors and beautiful graphic design, the content, and the choice of pictures all seem to illuminate the positive presence we Minor brothers attempt to live out in this sometimes darkened world. It’s a fine Spanish translation, too. Thank you to the US-6 teams who made this material available as we share the promotion of our lives to those contemplating a vocation to brotherhood.”
Basil said that the information about the Franciscans was produced in printed format to provide a convenient way for men to learn and to pray while considering a vocation to Franciscan life.
“Discerners like to have information right in front of them,” said Basil, “especially as they’re experiencing Zoom fatigue from being online so much during the pandemic.”
He noted that the publications are also available in PDF format by request.
The literature was written by the vocation directors of the six provinces and reviewed by their secretaries of formation. The photos in the booklets were also a team effort, contributed by the US-6 provinces.
“We gathered input from many people, including Javier, who put in lots of hard work to ensure the best translations,” said Basil.
“Mirroring the diversity of the US-6, this project was accomplished through a collaborative effort from all kinds of folks,” said Martins. “The laborious effort to accomplish this project was enriching, in that its success was the result of teamwork, grace, and inclusion.”
Since the distribution of the publications, the vocation team has received feedback from both friars and potential discerners.
“The informational packet provided by the Order allowed me to delve deep into the meaning of becoming a friar,” said John, a discerner from New Jersey. “As I read the materials, many of my questions were answered and I was able to get a real image of what life as a friar might be like.”
“The US-6 OFM vocation booklets remind me of the Order itself – beautiful in their diversity and collaborative in their missionary zeal. It’s nice to see materials in Spanish and English that reflect what friars have been about for so many years,” said Ross Chamberland, OFM, a Holy Name Province regional vocation director for the Upstate New York-West Region.
Friars and laypeople with questions about the recently-produced brochures are welcome to contact the US-6 OFM Franciscan Vocation Office at 800-677-7788 ext. 345 or at vocation@USFranciscans.org.
Throughout the last year during the pandemic, the friars of the US-6 provinces have been working together remotely to strengthen their message about Franciscan life. Last summer, the vocation directors created colorful posters for use across the United States. In September, they held an online come-and-see retreat, and in December, they collaborated by offering an online Advent retreat. In February, they participated in two national Catholic conferences via Zoom.
In April, the vocation directors conducted an online discussion for discerners throughout the US-6 provinces, hosted by Minister General Michael Perry, OFM — a Franciscan priest and the 120th successor of St. Francis of Assisi. During the conversation, the Order’s leader invited the discerners to call him “Brother” or “Michael.” That simple invitation “spoke volumes about our life as Franciscan brothers, trying to live the Gospel message in community,” said Basil.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- Meet Your Vocation Ministry Team webpage of HNP.org
- “Revitalization of U.S. Provinces Progresses with Friar Forums, Discussions about New Entity’s Name, Governance Structure” – Feb. 18, 2021, HNP Today
- “Discerning a Religious Vocation in Age of COVID-19” – April 8, 2020, HNP Today