Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the road to the priesthood


On the road to the priesthood

We have some very exciting news here in our parish, as a young man of our community, Stefan Steiner, is leaving on Sunday, August 26th to begin his period of formation in the hopes of one day becoming a Franciscan priest.

We are incredibly proud to have a young man in our midst hearing God’s call with the courage to respond. And so, I invite you to join with Fr. Mike and me in making a daily prayer for Stefan and for any other young men and women in our parish who may be hearing the call of God in their lives into service in the Church.

Stefan’s departure also presents a perfect opportunity for us all to learn more about what someone goes through in pursuing a religious vocation. So, from time to time as Stefan, God willing, progresses through the process, I will use this space to discuss a bit about the stages on his road to the priesthood.

Becoming a religious and a priest is something that takes time. In fact, all things being equal, Stefan will most likely be ordained a priest somewhere around the year 2016.

Religious and Priest: The first thing to understand is that Stefan is not only beginning a process to become a priest. He has felt God calling him to do this in the context of religious life. Not all priests do this. Some priests, in fact most, are what we call diocesan priests. They serve their call to the priesthood in the context of a diocese as a parish priest typically. The priests who served here prior to Fr. Mario’s arrival were all diocesan priests.

The difference is that for we who are members of a religious community, there are really two vocations going on. The first is a vocation to the Franciscan Order; to live a life with the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the context of our Franciscan fraternity. Not all Franciscans, though, become priests. Some are called to live our religious vocation as brothers engaging in a wide variety of non-ordained ministries. The second call is to the priesthood.

The first two years of Stefan’s formation will be dedicated to his Franciscan religious formation, not necessarily his priestly formation. So, he begins this first year what we call Postulancy. The name comes from the Latin word postulare which means “to request.” A Postulant is not yet a member of the Order, but rather is requesting to become a member. So, this first year is a probationary period where the postulant begins to experience our way of life. Stefan will live in community with a few other friars – you’ll remember Fr. Vit who gave us our beautiful concert in May; and he’ll be with Fr. Rick Martignetti, the friar who is in charge of postulants. He’ll also be with four other men also entering Postulancy this year.

As a Postulant, Stefan will begin to live our Franciscan way of life in common prayer, learning about the life of St. Francis and the life of St. Clare, our founders, and perhaps beginning to learn about the history of the Order and of our Province. He will also most likely engage in a study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Postulants typically also engage in some sort of ministry to be determined by their director.

It is really a year of being re-formed and molded into the image that God is calling forth. It is a challenging year because during this year you begin to live a way of life that is very different from what you have known before. In fact, those who leave formation usually leave during this first year. So, this is a critical year of praying, learning, living as a friar.

So, please join me in praying for Stefan as he becomes a Postulant, as he makes formal his request to become a Franciscan brother and eventually a priest. God bless you Stefan!

Love, Fr. Tom

1 comment:

  1. I will add my prayers for Stefan as he begins his journey toward becoming a Franciscan and a priest! May God bless him and his ministry.