The novitiate, or second year of formation, is an opportunity for student friars to immerse themselves in Franciscan spirituality, and deepen their relationship with God. Several months into the year, an important milestone occurs when the novices receive the Franciscan habit. This year was particularly noteworthy for the novitiate class with the visit of Fr. Jose Carballo, OFM, who is the General Minister of the Order.
Four Holy Name Province novices — Br. Dennis Bennett, OFM, Br. Casey Cole, OFM, Br. Edgardo Jara Araya, OFM, and Br. Ramon Razon, OFM — participated in the rite of investiture in the habit held Dec. 9 at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. They were joined during solemn evening prayer by novices from Assumption, Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. John the Baptist Provinces.
Provincial Minister Fr. John O’Connor, OFM, and Vicar Provincial Fr. Dominic Monti, OFM, attended the ceremony along with provincials and vicars from the remaining six OFM provinces in the U.S. —which include, in addition to the provinces mentioned above, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadelupe and St. Barbara.
Br. Norbert Bertram, OFM, the guardian of the novitiate, from St. John the Baptist Province, prayed a blessing over the habits that the novices would be receiving.
Each novice was invested with his probationary habit by his mentor on the novitiate team, and received a cord without knots to symbolize the status of novice. The three knots on the cord represent the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience every Franciscan friar makes.
It was a great privilege to host the General Minister, Fr. Jose Carballo, OFM, and the provincials and their councils from the seven provinces on Dec. 12. They arrived at 4 p.m. and attended a solemn evening prayer in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The prayer service was led by Br. Ramon Razon, OFM, and assisted by Br. Josh Froning, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province. Br. Edgardo Diaz Vazques, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, gave a reflection.
After the evening prayer, Fr. Ralph Parthie, OFM, of Sacred Heart of Jesus Province, gave a brief description of the formation program of the novitiate. Then there was a novice panel, during which the novices gave a talk about their experience in the Interprovincial Novitiate, their hope for the future of the Order, and their concerns. Br. Dennis Bennett, OFM, and Edgardo Jara-Araya, OFM, as well as Br. Jason Shell, OFM, of Assumption Province, were the members of the panel who spoke, summarizing what the novices wanted to express to the Minister General, the provincials and the council members.
A festive meal celebrating our fraternity followed. The novices entertained the guests by singing songs in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The highlight for the novices was the time they spent after dinner meeting privately with the General Minister. It was an opportunity for them to personally get to know Fr. Jose and ask questions about the future of the Order.
Adapted from an article by Fr. Scott Brookbank, OFM, that appeared the Dec. 19, 2012 edition of HNP Today, the Province’s bi-weekly e-newsletter. Fr. Scott is a member of the novitiate team at the North American Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. Updates about the novices can be found on the interprovincial novitiate’s Facebook page.