The Program of Initial Formation is a gradual process of personal, spiritual, and ministerial development. During initial formation, candidates develop their personal character and theological understanding to be able to live and work effectively as Franciscan friars in service to the Church. There are three stages of initial formation.
Candidates begin their journey as postulants, spending a year living with our inter-provincial friar community at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., and engaging in various aspects of our life and work. During this time, they are presented with resources, including workshops and personal advisors, to help them develop the psychological and emotional qualities necessary for religious life and ministry.
During the novitiate stage, candidates deepen their relationship with God by participating in the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate at the Old Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, CA. Novices come from six OFM Provinces in the U.S. Receiving the habit, they are introduced more intensely to our Rule of Life and the history and traditions of the Franciscan Order. At the conclusion of the year, the novices profess their first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as Franciscan friars.
For the next three or four years, student friars attend the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago to hone their ministerial skills and take coursework related to their field of interest. Those interested in priesthood are enrolled in a Master of Divinity degree program at the Catholic Theological Union.
Initial formation concludes with profession of solemn or final vows, an event which fully incorporates student friars into our province and the Franciscan Order. Friars preparing for ordination receive an additional year of training.