Vocation Events Offered From New England to Florida

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News


Four men joined the friars in New York City for five days of a unique “Come and See” experience during Francis Week. Here, Brian Jordan welcomes the discerners and Vocation Office staff to St. Francis College in Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy of the Vocation Ministry)

Do you know someone interested in Franciscan life? Opportunities are offered during the coming months for men to meet the friars and to get to know what goes on at a friary and a ministry.

From Massachusetts to Florida, events are taking place at many HNP ministry sites. Each is similar in format. Yet, the events differ in their style because the personality of each friary varies based on its residents.

At each event, visitors share meals and conversations, pray and celebrate the Eucharist with the friars to get an “immersion style” taste of Franciscan life. Participants also learn about the ministries of the friars and their lay partners-in-ministry, laypeople who work or volunteer at assorted ministries.

“Discernment retreat weekends provide men interested in the Franciscan way of life with the chance to pray and to minister with the friars in special and unique ways,” said Basil Valente, OFM, vocation director since 2014. “By taking time to minister with God’s people and to pray with the friars, as well as spend time in fraternity with us, candidates receive not only a closer and more intimate look at our life, but they have the opportunity to experience community living — with its great joys and great struggles — for themselves. Hands-on ministry work, in addition to meeting friars whom they might not have known before, allows the candidates to see the true diversity, beauty and outreach that is Holy Name Province.”

In the next few months, visitors are being hosted at four events. Those interested in attending are encouraged to contact Basil and his staff at vocation@hnp.org or 800-677-7788.

Dec. 2, 2016: Come & See Discernment Weekend, St. Anthony Shrine, Boston

Dec. 9, 2016: Come & See Discernment Weekend at Holy Name College, Silver Spring, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.

Jan. 20, 2017: Come & See Discernment Weekend, St. Francis of Assisi Church-Friary, Raleigh, N.C.

Feb. 3, 2017: Come & See Discernment Weekend at St. Anthony of Padua Friary, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Feb. 10, 2017Vocation retreat for Black Catholic men at Holy Name College

Several vocation events have already taken place this fall.

On the weekend of Sept. 24, Gonzalo Torres, OFM, associate director of vocations, spoke at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Camden, N.J., at a Franciscan Awareness Weekend.

“I preached the Gospel of that weekend, shared my personal story of how God calls me, told people about our ministries in the Province, and of course, invited young men to consider joining us, and other people to spread the Good News. I was also available after Masses to distribute brochures and answer questions,” he said. “I also encouraged the friars to create, with the support of the Vocation Office, a formal organic discernment community for those men interested in learning more about our Franciscan way of life.”

In New York City this week, the Vocation Ministry held a discernment weekend at St. Francis of Assisi Friary that began on Friday and is concluding on Wednesday morning. This five-day retreat, which involved nearly all of the friars who live at the West 31st Street friary and many staff members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, was more comprehensive than most, Basil said, in order to give the men time to learn about our patron saint and to experience as many aspects of our life and our ministries as possible.

“It remains both an honor and a privilege to spend Francis Week with these tremendous men who are discerning God’s call to the Franciscans,” said Basil. “Their gift of openness and joy, combined with their ability to seamlessly enter into community and fraternity with the friars at St. Francis Friary, was truly one of the more extraordinary retreat experiences of my life. I’m grateful to these men for providing me with boundless opportunities to journey, more deeply, with God and with Francis.”

Information about the Province’s vocation events as well as about the formation programs can be found on the Be A Franciscan website and Facebook page. In addition, visitors can also gather information about participating in a discernment community. At these casual gatherings – taking place in Boston, New York City, Maryland as well as at Siena College and St. Bonaventure University – men visit friaries on an informal basis, partaking in prayer, meals and reflections. They have dinner with the friars, usually on weeknights, and they get a feel for the friars’ daily lives.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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