The Postulancy Year

>> Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Postulancy year is a time of discernment for men who are somewhat sure that they are being called to the Capuchin Franciscan religious life. The word "somewhat" because it is difficult to have more certitude without having first experienced Capuchin life firsthand, which is what the Postulancy year allows one to do.

When a person applies to the Postulancy program, he is not committing himself for life. Rather, he is taking a year to come and live in a Capuchin friary, and to participate in friary life. The Postulant attends daily Mass, Morning Prayer, meditation, Evening Prayer and meals with the friars. In addition, he also prays Night Prayer with the other Postulants, attends classes, and volunteers in some kind of apostolate or ministry to the poor. Classes include Catholic doctrine, Liturgy, Prayer, and Franciscan studies. With the exception of some classes in Catholic doctrine taught outside the friary, the classes are not formally academic. There is some required reading for each class, but the focus is on discussion and reflection on the various topics.

The purpose of the Postulancy is to help the person arrive at a little more certitude as to whether the Lord may be calling him to serve as a Capuchin Franciscan. If by the end of the year the Postulant discovers this to be the case, he then applies to the next level of formation, the Novitiate.

The Postulancy application process itself may take six to eight weeks. An administration board made up of friars from the Capuchin Province of Mid-America meets in order to process the applications, and make a recommendation to the Provincial Minister. The Provincial Minister of the Province then sends a letter to welcome the Postulants into the program. The future Postulant will then receive a letter from the Postulancy Director to inform him of what is necessary to bring, the beginning date and what should be left behind for the duration of the year.

To help the Postulant in his continued discernment of what God is asking of him, we ask the person to make a reasonable cut with his past in order to be free enough to make a prayerful choice with regard to the Lord's call. So, for example, we ask the Postulant to take care of any major financial debts and to resign from present employment; we also ask that he put aside financial responsibilities during his stay with us. If he is presently in studies at a university or college, we ask that he take a pause from that pursuit as well. This allows the Postulant to have the time and freedom in his life to give himself to prayer, discernment, reading, and work with the poor. Then whether he decides that he is called to the Capuchin Franciscan life or not, at least he will be satisfied that he gave sufficient time and reflection to that possibility.


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