New postulants with Friars Joe and Hilary
ciNews have given our new novices and postulants a write up!
“The Franciscans in Ireland have expressed great satisfaction over the news that three young men have joined their novitiate while another three young men have just begun postulancy. Five of the men are destined to serve in the Irish province and one of the postulants will join the English province.
Speaking to ciNews, Bro Pat Lynch, OFM, who acts as vocations director and animator for the Irish province, explained that Aidan McGrath, Vincent Finnegan and Dave Connolly were accepted into the novitiate at the Franciscan Friary in Ennis, Co Clare at the beginning of September. Two of the novices are in their 30s and the third turned 40 during his postulancy year.
Generally the Franciscan age policy specifies that candidates be between 20 and 40, though according to Bro Pat they, “might make the odd exception depending on the aspirant.”
In the novitiate, Aidan, Vincent and Dave will be given an intense experience of Franciscan life. The primary focus of their time in novitiate will be their ongoing spiritual formation, with a great emphasis placed on prayer and on the contemplative dimension of their Franciscan vocation.
Meanwhile, a few days after the trio started their novitiate, Ronan Sharpley, Richard Cutting and Denis Aherne were accepted for Franciscan postulancy programme in the friary in Killarney, Co Kerry. All the postulants are in their 20s, two of them in their late 20s and one has just turned 21.
Postulancy begins after a fairly lengthy time of discernment with the vocations director/animator and when the candidates have become familiar with the Franciscan way of life, and completed the necessary requirements for entry. Postulancy lasts one year and prepares the men to make a decision to embrace the Franciscan way of life by taking the next step of entering the novitiate.
The time in postulancy is designed to foster growth and maturity through the development of the intellectual and emotional dimensions of human life.
According to Bro Pat Lynch, during postulancy, there is a great emphasis on human development and Christian faith formation. The postulants are also involved in social outreach. They live, pray, eat and recreate with the Franciscan community and so become familiar with fraternal living.
“Most of these men had good professions before entering the postulancy programme. One of the novices was a chef, another was a paramedic and another was an artist who also had his own framing business,” Bro Pat told ciNews.
“One of the postulants had just completed some training in IT, another was a graduate of UCG in civil engineering. He spent almost four years as a lay volunteer with Viatores Christi in El Salvador. He met an Irish Franciscan friar there who has been ministering for years and he was impressed, so he made contact with me.”
The young man had been discerning for most of his time in El Salvador and while on visits home, Bro Pat accompanied him when he spent days with the friars in their formation houses in Killarney and Ennis. The postulant from the English province was in the British Navy for a number of years.
Speaking of his experience as vocations director over the past seven years, Bro Pat said he has accompanied many men who were discerning a vocation.
“Most years, with the exception of my first year in the ministry, men have entered, generally in twos or threes, but two years ago we just had one enter.”
The Franciscans were founded by St Francis of Assisi, and in recent years the order celebrated the 800th anniversary of the verbal approval of their Rule. “It’s easy being a vocations director in an order such as ours as many men are drawn to the life of that little poor man, Francis of Assisi,” Bro Pat explained.
Men who enter the order to become Franciscans will spend time during their formation discerning whether or not they will go for ordination within the Fraternity. All follow the same formation programme until Solemn Profession and then their subsequent studies depend on how they decide to minister as Franciscan friars.
According to Bro Pat Lynch, Franciscan friars, as followers of St Francis, are bound to lead a radically evangelical life, which means they are called to, “live in a spirit of prayer and devotion and in fraternal fellowship; they are to offer a witness of penance and minority; and, in charity towards all mankind, they are to announce the Gospel throughout the world and to preach reconciliation, peace and justice by their deeds; and to show respect for creation.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the Franciscan life contact Bro Pat Lynch at [email protected].”
By Sarah Mac Donald