"If anyone wants to profess our Rule and comes to the friars, they must send him to their provincial minister, because he alone, to the exclusion of others, has permission to receive friars into the Order. The ministers must carefully examine all candidates on the Catholic faith and the Sacraments of the Church. If they believe all that the Catholic faith teaches and are prepared to profess it loyally, holding by it steadfastly to the end of their lives…tell them what the Holy Gospel says (Mt. 19:21), that they should go and sell all that belongs to them and endeavor to give it to the poor…when this has been done, the ministers should clothe the candidates with the habit of probation …"
(Taken from the Rule of 1223 by St. Francis of Assisi)
Welcome to the vocation web site of St. Maximilian Kolbe Province, India, of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. We are a Province (community) of brothers dedicated to the Lord Jesus, living in community with one another, witnessing to the power of the Spirit at work in our lives and the world. Francis of Assisi models for us an approach to the world where all people are valued because they reflect the beauty and love of God. For Francis, as for Jesus, no one is excluded from the circle of God's love; no one has sinned too much to be received back into communion.
Francis' vision of the unity of all people challenges us to learn new ways of living in diversity with people of other religious and cultural backgrounds. Such diversity provides us an opportunity to view people of other faiths and cultures as opportunities for the healing and unification of a broken world. Francis' presence in situations of violence and exclusion in his times challenges us to become instruments of peace and defenders of the rights and dignity of all, particularly the poor, marginalized and all who are in any way excluded from the 'banquet of the Lord' and from participating in fullness of life in the life of the world.
We welcome you to the Franciscan vision of the world, a world where love is more powerful than hate, forgiveness more powerful than revenge; hope more powerful than despair, community more powerful than isolation and God is more powerful than anything is.
A priest's distinctive role in the Church is to preach the Gospel and to minister the sacraments, and this is certainly true for Franciscan priests. All priests baptize, anoint the sick, hear confessions, preside at weddings and, of course, celebrate Mass. What makes the Franciscan priest unique is the spirit of Saint Francis he brings to his priesthood. This is evident in the manner in which he greets people, the style of his preaching, and the simplicity of his life. His priesthood becomes fashioned by his prayer and by the fellow Franciscans with whom he lives. Community life allows him the fraternal support and the connectedness to the human condition that broadens his perspective. Through the Incarnation, Jesus entered the world in the flesh, not to be served but to serve. Franciscan spirituality views the world and ministry in these incarnational terms. In the same way, the Franciscan priest preaches and ministers in concrete, human ways and attempts to bring God to others sacramentally, personally and through the Word of God.
"What is God asking of me?” “What is God’s will for me?” “How do I live out a life of holiness in service of God and the Church?" "How do I follow the Lord?" "Where is God leading me?" "What is my calling in life?" Answering these questions and many like them is the process of discernment.
Discernment involves listening to an inner voice. We can call this inner voice the “soul” or the “desire of the heart.” From a religious standpoint, we understand this inner voice as the wise and inner presence of God. In the quiet of prayer, over time, in a life nurtured by word, sacrament, and life in the Church, we begin to experience the stirrings of the Spirit that invite us to a particular lifestyle in the service of the Church.
A first indication of this call is a desire to serve in this way. For example, I begin to discern a call to be a Friar because I feel a desire to live the life of a Friar. In my prayer, I have a sense that this is the will of God for me. Sensing this call, feeling this desire to serve in this way, I discern further by sharing my experience with friends and family members. We can ask simple questions like; "This is what I am thinking about doing with my life. What do you think?" "I feel called to Franciscan religious life. Can you see me being a Friar?" The input of those who know us best is always important.
We can further test this call by discussing our experiences with a spiritual director who can help us see more clearly the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I need to look at my abilities and talents, my health and well-being, my life of prayer and faith in order to see if they are consistent with what the life of a Friar entails. A spiritual director can help in doing this.
The next part of discernment is to visit with the Friars and get to know them. Discernment is never simply an individual task. What we discern on our own must always be confirmed and supported by those around us. Discernment is always a mutual relationship between an individual and a community. It is not something that we do alone. If I am discerning a call to a particular community, I need to have a sense of feeling comfortable with that community and they need to feel comfortable with me. At the end, a deep sense of peace or joy related to this vocational choice is going to be the fruit of my discernment process. If I am called to be a Friar, a sense of enthusiasm, joy and peace around this decision is going to confirm this call.
As Christians, we believe that each person is created in the image and likeness of God. In the journey of life, we strive to become the people God wants us to be as disciples of the Lord Jesus. Formation is the process of becoming the person God wants us to be.
Franciscan formation is the process of becoming the person God wants us to be as sons of Saint Francis. Formation gives us the tools to deepen our relationship with the Lord as we recognize him in the poor and the needy and as we come to know ourselves. The process of formation involves prayer, study, reflection, dialogue and life in community. We grow from the wisdom of the Scriptures, our tradition, the example of Francis of Assisi and the insights of our brothers in community. We never want to underestimate all that we learn in the practice of silent prayer as God continues to call us into a deeper relationship with Him. With each day, we are formed more and more into the person God is calling us to be.In our life as Friars, we have different stages of formation periods.
During this stage, the candidate is immersed in Franciscan community life. He is introduced to the Liturgy of Hours, attends daily Mass, deepens his own personal prayer, and continues to meet with a Spiritual Director. Candidates learn to be good stewards of the Friary by doing household and maintenance work. Keeping physically fit by working out or playing sports is encouraged. He is exposed to Franciscan traditions and studies the life of Saint Francis. It lasts for one year.
During the two years of Aspirancy a candidate might do some college work or take pre-requisites for graduate. They do it living in a community and deepening in the Franciscan way of life.
The one year Pre-novitiate is to deepen the postulant`s knowledge of the community and the community`s knowledge of the candidate, including his social and family background before going to the Novitiate.
During this yearlong program, the candidate is formally accepted into the Order. He is now a novice. During this contemplative year, the novice deepens his knowledge and appreciation of the Rule of Saint Francis, the Constitutions of the Conventual Franciscans, and the history of the Franciscan movement. This stage of formation intensifies the development of the inner prayer life and the practical skills of being a Friar to one another. It also focuses quite purposefully on the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. At the end of the year, and if the novice, directors and rest of the community concur, he professes Temporary Vows.
After the philosophy years, the student-friars shall stop their academic formation for a regency year. The aim of this year is to evaluate the student-friar`s assimilation of the values taught during the previous years, especially his capacity to live and give service outside his formation community.
During this stage of formation, the student-friar specializes in ministry training and academic studies. He might complete a college degree; begin graduate philosophical and theological studies. Usually we have three years of Philosophy Course and three and a half years of Theological Course. The focus on this three or four-year period is on commitment. His continued discernment ultimatelyconcludes him whether he is called and ready to profess the vows for the rest of his life. After five or six years and passing through different stages of formation, and ongoing discernment, he is finally able to profess Solemn Vows. Completing the Theological Course, normally we have the Priestly Ordination. All together, the whole formation program lasts for thirteen and a half years.