Vocation Office Creates Vibrant Posters to Awaken the Call

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

NEW YORK – Is God calling you – or someone you know – to be a Franciscan? That’s the message jumping off vibrant posters distributed last month to pastors, guardians and regional vocation directors around the Province to awaken the call of men who may be considering religious vocations.

One of two vocation posters being displayed across the United States. (Photo courtesy of Jorge Martins)

The invitation to discernment of a Franciscan life is made compelling by images shown on the 17.5” x 23.5” displays. One shows a mosaic of photos of more than 30 student friars – illustrating diversity of age and background – with an arrow pointing to an empty Franciscan habit, the space for new candidates. The second shows three friars – two in conversation and one smiling at the viewer – with an invitation to join the friars, expressed in Spanish.

Also inscribed on the posters is the message: “The people of God need you now more than ever. Join the friars.”

“We are hopeful that you and your brothers in community will take a renewed interest in vocation ministry by praying for vocations, promoting our way of life, and inviting someone to consider our life,” Basil Valente, OFM, said in a letter to friars that accompanied the poster.

He emphasized in his letter that all friars play an important role in recruiting men to Franciscan life.

“We think the poster campaign might prove particularly effective, in conjunction with our online initiatives, especially since vocation inquiries have been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Basil, who has served as HNP vocation director since 2014.

A vocation icon – a stylized image of the San Damiano cross – appears on each poster. It was developed by the administrator of HNP’s vocation office, Jorge Martins, and represents six separate, yet unified, parts as a metaphor for the connection of the US-6 OFM Franciscan provinces involved in the unification process.

This recently-produced poster shows friars at the interprovincial novitiate in California. (Photo courtesy of Jorge Martins)

Basil said he and the vocation directors of the other five provinces are also displaying the posters at churches and ministry sites so they are visible to their congregations as social distancing restrictions continue and people can return to Mass and other group and ministry events.

Like the other provinces, Basil and his vocation team have been finalizing plans for new members of the 2020-21 postulancy class. As of late June, four men – with the possibility of a fifth – were scheduled to be part of the postulancy through Holy Name Province, according to Basil, who noted that HNP’s vocation ministry is considering seven candidates for 2021.

The total number of postulants from the participating provinces could be as many as 18 men for 2020-21, according to John Gutiérrez, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, who directs the postulancy program.

The postulants are scheduled to be welcomed to the Interprovincial Postulancy at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Aug. 12, although that date could change, says John, because of restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic. The postulants will spend a year at Holy Name College learning about the Franciscans and working at local ministry sites.

Although the application process is slightly different than in past years because it is difficult for candidates and vocation personnel to meet in person, Basil remains heartened by the candidates’ interest in social justice concerns — especially racial equality issues — and their desire to work with the poor and the marginalized.

“The recent ordination of our brother Abraham Joseph generated an online, organic reach of more than 20,000 with nearly 6,000 online engagements and more than 200 shares and comments through Facebook, which was wonderful,” said Basil, a former professor of communication, advertising and integrated marketing at St. Bonaventure University. “For our small province, those statistics are considered viral.”

Friars who would like additional copies of one of the vocation posters to display at their ministry sites are asked to contact Basil at 800-677-7788 ext. 345.

Men interested in learning about a vocation as a Franciscan friar with Holy Name Province should contact Basil at the vocation office by emailing vocation@hnp.org. News about vocations can be found on the Be A Franciscan website and the Be A Franciscan Facebook page.