Sunday, June 1, 2008

Meet the NEW Postulants!

The word is out. We have four (count ‘em) new postulants! And we’re pleased as punch. Meet (left to right) Phillip, Ryan, José, and Mike—the latest members of the formation program of the Province of St. Barbara. After a period of individual discernment varying from six to twelve months, this quartet of candidates was approved for admission to our postulancy program following an intensive screening and rigorous (but hopefully, not totally intimidating) application process. Our Admissions Retreat took place at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, California (May 7-8-9), and shortly afterwards, final approval was given by our Provincial Minister, Father Mel Jurisich. So here’s the lineup:

Phillip Polk, 26, is a member of the San Carlos Apache Nation in San Carlos, Arizona. He has known the Franciscan all his life and has been most recently encouraged in his discernment by his pastor, Father Gino Piccoli, ofm. Phillip is presently a fulltime caregiver for his elderly grandparents. He has been in discernment with our province since last September.

Ryan Thornton, 25, hails from Monrovia, California. He comes to the friars after having spent a year as a diocesan seminarian for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Ryan is a recent graduate of Harvard and has a special interest in the work of Franciscan philosopher Dun Scotus.

José Rios Merida, 43, of Oakland, California, is presently working as Clerk of Court for the Superior Court of California in San Francisco. Born in Mexico’s Yucatan, he has spent most of his life in southern California and the Bay Area. In addition to his work, José has been an active participant in our vocations prayer and discernment groups in the Bay Area over the past year.

Michael (Mike) Minton, 44, also of Oakland, is a social worker for an Alameda County agency which inspects and evaluates board and care facilities for disabled adults. A native of Indiana, Mike moved to the Bay Area some five years ago, and is an active member, along with Jose, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Oakland.

All four candidates will soon enter our postulancy house (aka the Transfiguration Community) in Portland, Oregon, for a nine-month residential program starting the first week of September and ending in early June, 2009. Brother Robert Rodrigues is director of the live-in formation experience, which provides candidates with hands on experience in Franciscan life. Father John dePaemelaere, who lives close by, will assist in the program as well.

The entering postulants will plunge into community living from their very first day, following an intense daily horarium (schedule) which includes morning prayer a/o Eucharist, part-time work outside the community, meal preparation, and various household chores. Evenings are dedicated to classes in a variety of areas which will introduce men to Franciscan life and spirituality. In addition, the men will attend a weekly class in developing communications skills facilitated by a professional counselor, Sister Noreen Orazio, SSMO. Work experience and in-house classes will be supplemented by short-term volunteer ministries in the community at large as well as participation in events organized by the local Franciscan community. The schedule also provides time for personal and group recreation, spiritual direction, and, yes, even a good ol’ Sunday afternoon nap. Contact with family and friends is encouraged within the bounds of the program and the men will have vacation time during the Christmas holiday.

Each candidate will plug into a common template of group experiences aimed at exposing him to a deeper experience of Franciscan community living. In addition, he will also follow a personalized program aimed at facilitating his development as a human, Christian, and Franciscan. This personalized program, tailored to the needs of each individual candidate, is based upon our assessment of each man’s interests, talents, and needs. This assessment grows out of our experience of the man during his time of discernment with us, complemented by the comprehensive psychological testing which is part of the application process. For example, one man may need to work on his language skills, or start a personal plan for improved diet and exercise. Another candidate may be encouraged to attend meetings of (AA) Alcoholics Anonymous or ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). A third candidate may be encouraged to experiment with volunteer ministry in a new or unfamiliar area for him. And so on. In every case, regular periodic meetings with the program director provide for feedback and evaluation. No one gets lost or falls through the cracks.

This year, the entering postulants will enjoy wonderful new digs at the former convent of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in southeast Portland. The crosstown move will put them in closer contact with local friars at our Ascension fraternity and our House of Welcome. They will also experience the warm welcome and gracious hospitality of the OLS parishioners and their pastor, Fr. Ron Millican, who have gone all out to make the friars feel at home. We haven’t even started our program and already we’ve been completely spoiled. Parish staff and volunteers have already spruced up the seven bedroom facility and provided for repairs and yardwork in anticipation of our move. Many thanks to our new church family at Our Lady of Sorrow!

We welcome our new brothers and wish them all the best in their postulancy experience.
We are grateful for their open and generous hearts and their willingness to trust and follow the Spirit. Let’s all of us keep them in our prayers as they embark on this important new step in their spiritual journey.

1 comment:

Daniel K. said...

Right on, guys! I am anxious and excited for each one of ya. Good luck in Portland.