Wilmer Garcia and Junior Joseph have begun their first year of formation in Wilmington, Del. As postulants, the men will discern their calling to friar life by attending workshops and retreats, and visiting ministries throughout the Province. Originally from El Salvador, Wilmer was an active parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Durham, N.C. A native of Haiti, Junior got to know the friars at St. Francis Church in New York, N.Y.
This past fall, two men — Wilmer Garcia and Junior Joseph — joined Holy Name Province as postulants. During postulancy, candidates further discern their calling to Franciscan life while living in community at St. Paul Friary in Wilmington, Del. There, they participate fully in daily life, including prayer, meals, Eucharist and ministry.
The postulant year provides opportunities for spiritual and educational growth. The men deepen their relationship with God through private prayer, faith sharing and spiritual direction. They also take classes and workshops on Franciscan spirituality, human development and theology.
During the year, the men hone their ministerial skills by spending one day a week in the Wilmington area. They also travel throughout the Province to learn about Franciscan ministries and to meet the friars.
Throughout this stage of formation, the men receive ongoing guidance and support from postulant director Fr. Ron Pecci, OFM, and assistant postulant director Br. Bill Herbst, OFM.
Meet Our Postulants
Born in La Union, El Salvador, Wilmer Garcia is the fourth of seven children in a very close and supportive family. He grew up in a single parent home, living in poverty due to the political situation in his country. His mother came to the United States to better provide for her children. Eventually she returned to El Salvador, but not until five of her children, including Wilmer, had immigrated to America.
In 2000, Wilmer followed his family to Durham, N.C., to find work in the construction industry. There, he became a member of Immaculate Conception Parish and was soon very active, leading the young adult group and serving in the Baptismal preparation ministry. Wilmer discerned a vocation to the Franciscans five years ago, but did not act on it until his family had reached financial stability.
Currently, Wilmer is studying in an intensive English language program to improve his reading comprehension and writing skills. He will be a postulant for two years so he can improve his language skills before he moves on to the novitiate and higher studies.
As depicted in the top section of the photo above right, Wilmer received the Tau cross, a symbol of being part of the HNP formation program, from Br. Bill on Nov. 4, 2012.
A native of Les Cayes, Haiti, Junior Joseph comes from a devout Catholic family. After high school, he joined a lay ecclesial community but left one year later to enter the Benedictine monastery in Haiti. After two years, he decided to leave the monastery and begin college.
Political turmoil in Haiti interrupted Junior’s education. The government shut down his college and was suspicious of its alumni. Junior’s mother thought it best if he left the country and completed his education in America, where he had some relatives and friends. In 2000, Junior traveled to the United States and earned a BBA in accounting from Monroe College in 2008. To pay for expenses, he worked full time as a security guard and attended classes at night.
Junior became active in a number of parishes with large Haitian populations, eventually joining the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City, where he enjoyed the diverse community. While participating in the liturgical ministries and working as an accountant, he discerned a vocation to the Franciscans. He is fluent in Haitian Creole, French, Spanish, and English.
As can be seen in bottom section of the photo above right, Junior received the Tau cross, also from Br. Bill, on Aug. 29, 2012.
Early Experiences in Formation
Wilmer and Junior have been busy during their first few months at St. Paul Friary in Wilmington, Del., where they are living as they participate in the first level of formation. In addition to acclimating to their new lives and getting to know Holy Name Province, they have attended several workshops, according to Fr. Ron.
From Oct. 28 to Nov. 2, the postulants participated in a profiling workshop with the other OFM postulants from across the U.S. at the Jesuit Spiritual Retreat House in Milford, Ohio. During this exploration into personality types, they took tests and reviewed the results with a psychologist to see if they were able to give accurate descriptions of the way people act, according to Fr. Ron. This teaches postulants ways to better observe themselves and to understand others, including their future classmates.
They also attended an Inter-Franciscan Formation Workshop Nov. 6 to 9 at Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in Garrison, N.Y. Open to all religious Franciscans in formation, the gathering took a look at Franciscan origins and early sources to help postulants better understand their vocation. It was an opportunity for people in formation to meet their peers in the other branches of the Franciscan family and to learn about other expressions of Franciscan life, said Fr. Ron. “Typically, about 15 communities participate in our program.”
From Jan. 8 through 11, 2013, Wilmer and Junior participated in the Province’s annual formation intersession program for student friars held in Marriottsville, Md.
Adapted from an article by Maria Hayes that originally appeared in the Jan. 2, 2013 issue of HNP Today, the Province’s bi-weekly e-newsletter. Maria is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
Photos by Fr. Ron Pecci, OFM.