Sunday, May 18, 2008

Franciscan Initiations

The religious life is not dying. The Society of St. Francis is growing. At our Chapter meeting for the Province of the Americas in New York earlier this month we welcomed two men: Br. Jailton from Brazil became a novice, taking the name Br. James(pictured at left), and Br. Eric Michael made his first profession of vows(pictured below). the liturgies were fairly low key affairs, but emotional nonetheless. I kept re-living my novicing ceremony (early Morning Prayer on Holy Saturday in a completely stripped chapel in 1990), and later witnessing Eric's Profession I remembered kneeling in front of Br. Justus, hands sweating, stammering out my vows. I have no regrets and I pray that these two men will find life with the friars as challenging and ultimately as rewarding as I have found Franciscan life to be. To be a friar is very counter cultural, as Br. Richard Jonathan reminded us. He is the novice guardian who preached at now Br. James novicing. There is much that is difficult, but no more difficult than married life seems to be. And there are tremendous rewards, namely doing what you feel called to do. Many people seemed perplexed when they have a friend who chooses to test a vocation to religious life. There are often well-meant questions like: are you sure you know what you are doing? Fortunately none of us really knows what is in store for us no matter what our choices early in life. But as a member of this community I have found tremendous love and acceptance, great opportunities for service and witnessing to the Gospel. Few if any of these things have been anything like what I imagined/hoped they might be 20 years ago.

At right Br. Jude the Minister provincial is receiving Br. Eric Michael's First profession of vows, May 7, 2008

As St. Francis said: "God is so good in the Brothers he gives to us."

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