BURLINGTON, Wisc. — On August 2, 2017, nine men professed first vows in the novitiate chapel at St. Francis Friary here.
As friars, friends, and sisters gathered together for this wonderful occasion, the tone of the day was set starting with the first reading. The first line of Isiah 61:1-3 read “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.” The novitiate year, the second year of formation, is one that was described by many throughout the ceremony as “a personal journey about faith and learning who you are.” Those journeys can be overwhelming at times but with the help of God’s presence, it can also be a gift and a way to learn how to better serve him in everyday life.
Director of Novice, Friar Jeff Macnab OFM, told the novices, “The work we have done this year is the start of a story. Today may mark the end of a wonderful chapter but you are far from the end of the book. Going forward, share your story and grow from your experiences but don’t forget this chapter you’ve built together for it will be what you build upon.”
During the Ceremony, provincial ministers received vows from friars:
- James Bernard OFM, 51, of New York City, N.Y.
- Nicholas Carbuto OFM, 30, of Long Island, N.Y.
- John Paul Carroll OFM, 35, of Athlone, Ireland
- Stephen Kuehn OFM, 36, of Annapolis, Md.
- Mathieu Gabriel Lacerte OFM, 36, of Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada
- Thomas Marchetti OFM, 24, of Reklaw, Texas
- Adolfo Navarro Blanco OFM, 42, of Costa Rica
- Bradley Tuel OFM, 44, of the Bay Area, Calif.
- Kestas Watson OFM, 24, of Norwich, England
After every brother knelt and professed their vows for the next year, they received a knotted cord as a symbol of their promise and signed the Book of Life.
“When we first gathered, I started a metronome for you all and we talked about finding each of our rhythms. While difficult, we each found it and eventually all became synced together in the journey towards today,” said Friar Jeff.
One of the most moving parts of the day was when the newly professed brothers offered up intentions for those in attendance, for the sick and dying, and for spiritual guidance in their next journey as Franciscans.
The profession of simple vows is an important milestone in the life of a Franciscan Friar. It marks the end of a year-long novitiate period for nine men who professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. After each novice did so in front of their provincial minister, they, in turn, received a cord with three knots symbolizing those vows.
August 2 is a special day for Franciscans as it is the feast of the Portiuncula. The Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels (the Portiuncula, meaning “Little Portion”) is the small chapel in the valley below Assisi. It became the birthplace of the Order of Friars Minor and also the Poor Clare nuns, as it was here where St. Clare entered into religious life. It would also be on the grounds of this chapel where St. Francis ended his life on earth.
Included in the ceremony was a large thank you to the novitiate team of Friars Jeff, Michael Blastic OFM, and Kim Studwell OFM, and Sister Susan Rosenbach SSSF.
Following the Rite of Profession, those in attendance congratulated Friars Thomas, James, Nicholas, Adolfo, Stephen, Bradley, Kestas, John Paul, and Mathieu with warm wishes and embraces of joy and congratulations. It was followed by a celebratory luncheon in the dining room.
In attendance were friars from various provinces, as well as friars from Canada, England, and Ireland.
The nine newly-professed friars will now enjoy a short stint of vacation before continuing work in their next assignments. The 2017-2018 novices will be received at the new novitiate site in Old Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, Calif., on August 21. The move will allow for greater collaboration with the novitiates of the Capuchin and Conventual OFM friars who have novitiates nearby.
Written by Andy Tretow, Director of Communications for the ABVM Province of the Franciscan Friars.