If you are interested in the Franciscan way of life please contact:
Friar Liam Kelly OFM
Phone: 087 396 0262
Postal address: Franciscan Friary, The Abbey, Francis Street, Galway City.
The Franciscan Way of Life: Some Essentials
The Franciscan friars have been in Ireland since the mid 13th century. Over eight hundred years the friars have had to adapt to changing circumstances in the Church and in wider society. The Rule of the Order which St. Francis referred to as ‘the marrow of the Gospel’ continues to guide our form of life today.
What are the qualities needed for the Franciscan life today?
A Man of Faith
A friar must be a man of faith. A friar minor is called to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A candidate for the Order should already have a strong faith in Jesus Christ, a faith expressed in a daily commitment to prayer and to the reception of sacraments. A candidate for the Order is typically someone who is already participating in the life of his local parish, someone living out his baptismal call to serve Christ in his brothers and sisters.
A Brother among Brothers
The life of a friar is a life in community. The candidate needs to be a man for others; generous, flexible, open and good humoured. The life of a friar, especially today, is one of change. The familiar patterns of Religious Life are changing. Numbers joining are smaller and the types of ministry in which friars are involved is changing. Friars are always on the lookout for those who may be forgotten and on the margins of our society. In formation, a candidate will work with those who are poor or in need, after the example of St. Francis. Friars are not lone rangers! All our ministry is undertaken on behalf of the Franciscan community to which we belong.
A Way of Life, not a Career!
Becoming a friar isn’t like learning a trade or entering a profession. It is formation into a way of life. St. Francis speaks of the ‘tenor and sense’ of the life of a friar minor; something which is not so much mastered or learned as ‘picked up’. Realistically, formation in the life of a friar, which takes place over several years is something one undertakes in the formative part of one’s life.
Ideally a candidate will be in the 20s or 30s, in good physical and mental health, emotionally mature, without dependants and family obligations (single, not divorced, without dependent children) and basically free to give it their all. Candidates for the Irish Franciscan Province should be between the ages of 21-40.
What would I do, as a friar?
This is an obvious question! The answer is there are many things you can (and will) do as a friar. It is important to insist, however, that a friar isn’t defined by his particular work or ministry, which may change over the years. For example, friars who become elderly and infirm and who are no long working in the vineyard continue to live the life of a friar minor. Friars can work as ordained priests, helping in parish, or involved in chaplaincy in hospital, prison or schools, confessions and retreats.
Friars have also worked in many projects for the poor, at home and on the missions, promoting justice and peace and care for creation, work in education, preaching retreats and missions and, of course, there is the ordinary and essential work of keeping our homes and welcoming visitors. St. Francis worked with his hands, and he wanted the friars to work with their hands also.
Whatever kind of work a friar is asked to do, it is a work of service for others, a sharing of time and energy for the benefit of others.
In today’s world, a friar is given a strong academic formation and training. Because university degrees are typically part of the formation programme a minimum requirement is a good Leaving Certificate.
If you think this may be the life for you, you may wish to make contact for an initial conversation, by email or by phone. Over several weeks and months the vocation director will meet you to discuss the various questions you may have and, through dialogue, discern with you if this is the way of life God is calling you to live.
The fact that you have looked at our website may indicate that there is, indeed, something you need to follow up on, perhaps a spark which may yet become a flame. Having read about what is involved in the life of a Franciscan friar today you may want to reach out, and take another step.
Whatever your path, may God bless you and may the Lord give you peace!
First Steps: Stages of Franciscan Formation
The Postulancy Programme has been run from our friaries in Ennis and Galway in recent years. In this year the candidate, called a postulant, learns what St. Francis calls ‘the tenor and sense’ of the life of a friar minor. Whilst not bound to the commitment of the Religious Life, there is an expectation that postulants participate fully in the fraternal and prayer life of the friars, engage in some work with the marginalised, and work at personal development.
The postulancy is an opportunity to explore life in community as a Franciscan, sharing in our prayer and work. It follows the adage that ‘grace builds on nature’, that is to say, our human development and emotional growth are a key part of growing in Christian maturity and, as such, human development forms a key part of the postulancy year.
After the postulancy comes the novitiate. During this year, the novice lives as a member of the fraternity at the International Franciscan novitiate in the Friary in Killarney, Co Kerry. There he deepens his relationship with God in prayer and learns to live as a brother in community.
Exploration of the spirituality of St Francis and St Clare, along with instruction in the meaning of the vows, prepares for the profession of vows at the end of the year. It is in the novitiate that one receives the habit.
The novitiate concludes with the taking of simple vows, professing to live the Rule and Life of the Friar Minor for a period of time. The formation continues but takes on a more academic character.
In recent years our post novitiate formation has taken place in Collegio Sant’ Isidoro, Rome. Sant’ Isidoro (St. Isidore’s College) is a 17th century Franciscan College, founded by Irish Franciscan friar, Luke Wadding, for the training and education of Franciscan friars for the Irish mission. Today it is home to Franciscan friars from around the globe, specializing in the Franciscan philosophy and theology.
During post novitiate formation the young friar will continue to grow in spiritual and emotional maturity, continue to share his gifts with the community and the poor, but he will also apply himself to the studies in philosophy and theology. These are essential for friars who will be ordained priests, but all our friars, whether ordained or not are given a good grounding in these disciplines, to better answer the questions men and women have today about faith, meaning and God.
Initial Formation as a friar is completed when the friar makes solemn profession, typically several years after starting his journey as a friar.
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