Monday, May 21, 2007

Meet our New Postulants!

Following our annual admissions retreat (May 10-12) at Danville, California this year, our Provincial Minister, Father Mel Jurisich ofm, announced the acceptance of four candidates to our 2007-8 postulancy in Portland, Oregon. They will begin start their initial formation program at the Transfiguration Community in early September with Brother Robert Rodrigues ofm as their director.

Here’s a quck sketch of each of our new postulants:

Eric Burke (26) was born in Jemez (NM) Pueblo and grew up in Chino Hills, CA. He is full-time retreat coordinator for St. Paul the Apostle Parish in San Bernardino. Eric is a recent graduate of Cal State- Fullerton, (human resources). With deep family roots in the Jemez (New Mexico) Pueblo, Eric is understandably proud of his Native American heritage.

Javier Diaz (23) hails from Riverside, CA, and is a recent graduate of UC-Riverside, (business). Since graduation, he has been working at a local Smart & Final outlet. While at school, Javier was active in the Kyrie student group at the Newman Center. As part of his discernment process with the Franciscans, Javier spent six weeks volunteering at our Casa Franciscana program in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.

Victor Vega (32) was born in Michoachan, Mexico, and has lived in the Salinas, California, area. A former farmworker, he recently completed a three-year course of studies at the Mount Angel (OR) Seminary ACE/ESL program while living at the House of Welcome. Victor is the first of our House of Welcome students to complete the entire ACE program. This summer he will be working at the San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, California, before entering postulancy in September.

Adam Weaver (28) was born in South Bend, Indiana and brought up in Florida. He is a graduate of Notre Dame University’s liberal studies program and is a former Holy Cross volunteer. Adam lives in Portland, OR, and has worked most recently at the St. Francis dining hall. In addition to his service commitments—Adam has worked in a number of programs for the homeless and other marginalized people during the past several years—he has a passion for music and plays his violin whenever he is able to make time for it.

Q: What exactly is the postulancy?
A. The postulancy is the point of entry into community life for men who are discerning a call to a Franciscan vocation. After a period of reflection and discernment with us, men are invited to apply to the community. The applicant then undergoes an extensive process including the writing of his spiritual autobiography, psychological testing, resume, letters of recommendation, and a face to face interview. Successful applicants are then invited to enter into this first phase of our formation program.

Postulancy programs vary from one religious congregation to another, but for us it consists of a nine-month period of residence much like an academic year—September through June—at our community in Portland, Oregon. In a way, the postulancy is a half-way house—a period of adjustment to the reality of religious life. It provides men with the time and space in which to focus on their growth in our shared humanity, our Christian faith, and in our Franciscan tradition.

Basically, men arrive with their clothes and a few other personal possessions. They settle in to our daily routine (aka horarium) of morning and evening prayer, Eucharist, breakfast, ministry/ paid work outside the house, meal preparation, dinner, cleanup, and classes most nights of the week. Everyone is expected to pay rent for their room & board by taking part-time jobs of more than 20 hours a week. In addition, men volunteer for ministry commitments on the weekend according to their interests. Evening classes given at home focus on our prayer life, an examination of our Catholic faith and teachings, communications skills necessary for group living, the meaning of the vows we take, etc….. Men are expected to have a regular spiritual director and are encouraged to maintain avocational interests and physical exercise. Throughout the year, men meet with their director to discuss and reflect upon their experience.

In addition to the formal program, each man has his own personal program to work on during his postulancy year. Upon entry, he is given a list of specific recommendations meant to assist him in growing spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally during the year. One man may be encouraged to develop his mechanical skills or artistic talents. Another may need to experience a new type of ministry. A third candidate may be directed to appropriate 12-step work such as Al-Anon.

Again, the fundamental intent of the postulancy is to enable the candidate to discern his vocation by experiencing what it is like to live with others in community. Men maintain their own possessions; they are not in vows. Contact with family and friends is encouraged as long as it does not interfere with the program. Through group interaction and regular feedback and dialogue with the Director and others, each candidate really has the opportunity to grow more deeply in faith and to discern his calling with greater confidence. Participation is by mutual consent; a man may leave or be asked to leave during the year. Those who complete the year successfully may then apply to the next stage of formation—the novitiate.//

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