The Pursuit of Integration: Enhancing Post-Novitiate Formation at Holy Name College
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The purpose of this paper is to assess the post-novitiate formation program for the Franciscan friars (OFM) at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland. Currently, the program focuses heavily on academic and ministerial concerns, but lacks adequate emphasis on healthy human development. The Franciscan friars form part of a religious order within the Catholic Church. They strive to follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi as inspired by the life of Jesus. The residents of Holy Name College actually belong to Holy Name Province, which extends along the East Coast of the United States.
The paper begins with a detailed description of the situation in Chapter 1, which chronicles how the initial formation program has evolved since the province’s inception in 1901 (White, 2004). Initial formation refers to the process by which men discern and prepare to become Franciscan friars for life. The focus at all levels of formation up until the middle part of the 20th century was mainly philosophical and theological studies for priesthood candidates. However, the Second Vatican Council stimulated a renewal process that helped achieve more equality within the province, particularly between ordained friars and lay brothers. Additionally, the initial formation process was revised to place greater emphasis on human development concerns as well as to integrate both ordained and lay brothers into one program (White, 2004). Nonetheless, there is room for improvement.
Chapter 2 seeks to provide a richer understanding of both the assets and deficiencies of Holy Name Province’s post-novitiate formation program and illuminates the need for a more substantial focus on human development. The use of symbols, Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience not only help clarify the situation, but also highlight the complexity of discerning a call to Franciscan life. The search is not limited to acquiring certain degrees or job skills. It requires a wholehearted, genuine, and holistic assessment of one’s true identity in the context of community life.
Chapter 3 delves into the evaluation of current methods and offers suggestions for a more adequate response. The proposals include periodic imaginative reflection, guided discussions with an outside facilitator, sufficient mentoring for each simply professed friar, a sensible process for selecting post-novitiate formation directors, better preparation for formation directors, and finally providing and/or encouraging the use of support mechanisms and peer interaction for the directors’ physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Finally, Chapter 4 provides an assessment of my own strengths and growing edges as a simply professed friar who is rapidly approaching the end of my time at Holy Name College. The past four years in post-novitiate formation have shaped me professionally, intellectually, and most certainly developmentally as a human person. For this reason, I also provide a description of my evolving vision for a potential future as a solemnly professed Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province.