Whenever I meet guys who are discerning a Franciscan vocation, I always begin by telling them something I consider to be very important: that my job as vocation director is not to talk them into being Franciscan friars. Rather, from a ministerial perspective, my most important task as a trained spiritual director is to accompany them on the journey of discovering God’s call in their lives.
Sure, I think it’s great when they say “yes” to Franciscan life, don’t get me wrong! But even when men decide God is calling them elsewhere, I feel a sense of gratitude that somehow I have helped them listen to God’s voice, and helped bring them to a different space in their lives.
But for those men who do decide to follow in the steps of St. Francis, the day of their reception as postulants is one that is tremendously fulfilling for me. It is a day when I realize in a very powerful way what a great privilege it is walking with these men as they carefully considered taking this important first step in Franciscan life.
I always think back to the first interviews, the “Come and See” weekends they attended, the thoughtful questions, their amazing faith in God, and even the doubts and fears they expressed along the way. I recall how they have grown in their ability to discern God’s presence in their lives, and to respond to God’s call. And it is also a great experience meeting men from so many different backgrounds with such a diversity of talents they wish to use for the good of others.
Welcoming new men is also a time that reminds me how wonderful our Franciscan life is, and how blessed I am to be a friar. I feel a deep sense of encouragment that young men are still saying “yes” to our way of life. In doing so, they are participating in the great Franciscan mission to “heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring back those that have lost their way.”
And so welcome, Ramon, Edgardo, Dennis, Sergio, and Casey! The Church needs you! The world needs you! Thank you for saying, “yes!”