Franciscan Life Experience Program...
Men between the ages of 18 and 45 who are interested in exploring a Franciscan vocation, can apply to the Postulancy-Franciscan Life Experience Program, a six month to a one-year program designed to offer an experience of radical Christian/Franciscan living.
What is the Franciscan Life Experience Program?
Men in the Franciscan Life Experience Program live among the friars. Within the friary they participate in the community’s common life. They keep the same daily schedule as the brothers, joining us for worship, for meals, and for some community meetings. In the example of the Brothers, they will complete various tasks and have daily assigned duties in the friary. Postulants are trained as acolytes and begin to serve at the daily Eucharist. After at least a month of living in the monastery and adjusting to our daily routine, participants will work with the Director of Formation to be assigned some kind of part-time ministry outside the community in which they become involved. During the Franciscan Life Experience Program, the Community cannot be held responsible for a postulant’s health insurance and for providing for his other needs (room, board, clothing, monthly allowance, etc.). For those who are lacking in the ability to be financially self supporting, the Community will offer opportunities for working and will compensate the postulant for work done.
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Will I become a novice?
Some of the men who are accepted into the postulancy or Franciscan Life Experience Program may feel a call to test their vocation further as a novice. They can begin to discern this call with the positive recommendation of the Director of Formation and the majority approval of the Community after completing postulancy . When a man is so strongly attracted to living the life of a Franciscan Brother of St. Elizabeth of Hungary that he seeks admission as a novice, we shall look carefully for signs that he is in fact ready to test his vocation:
***1) A desire to seek the veiled face of God in the Word, the Sacrament and in the Community.
***2) A desire to speak to God through individual and corporate prayer.
***3) A longing to serve Christ in the poor.
***4) A willingness to rise up to the demands of family life within the Community.
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A Rule of Life for Aspirants
The word "Rule" comes from the Latin, regulare: to regulate, direct, guide.
We brothers live by a simplified version of The Rule of the Order of Friars Minor, a document that is both a description and a prescription for our life together. The purpose of a Rule of Life is to strengthen our abiding in Christ by bringing rhythm, discipline, order, confidence and trust into our relationships and discipleship. The Rule helps us to offer the whole of our being to God each day and keeps us open to God’s love and will for us.
During this period of time while you are discerning God’s call to test your vocation in our community, we would commend you to be intentional about a Rule of Life. If you are already living by a Rule, it might be helpful to see if the Rule is still reflective of the whole of your life. Does anything need to be added, modified or deleted, given where you find yourself at this moment? If you are not currently living by a Rule, begin one. Write your Rule in a form and length that is practical to your state in life and makes sense to you. We would suggest that you incorporate the following areas into your Rule:
Your parish is your connection to the Body of Christ. How is it that you remain an active participant in the worship and work of your parish? What do you contribute to its life in relation to your time, talent, and money?
We understand the Holy Eucharist to be the principal act of required worship on Sundays and other major Feasts. To what schedule are you committed to going above and beyond what is required?
Feasting and Fasting:
We commend you to incorporate into your Rule the rhythm of feast and fast days set out in the precepts of the Church. The discipline of regular fasting and abstinence helps to maintain a spirit of detachment, simplicity, and solidarity with the hungry and needy. Likewise, gratitude for the gift of creation and joy in the Risen Lord are nurtured by observing the Church’s feast days with appropriate forms of celebration.
We commend you to pray the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer each day. Our practice is also to include time each day for personal prayer and meditation. Whether you are drawn to meditation on Holy Scripture or to the lifting up of your heart in contemplation, you are united to Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. This union will find expression in the offering of adoration, thanksgiving, penitence, and prayer for your own needs and those of the whole world. Keep a journal or "log" of the progress made in your prayer life.
A brief self-examination made daily is helpful. On regular intervals, make a more thorough examination of conscience where you prayerfully call to mind the grace that has been given to you, acknowledge specific sins, and seek God’s mercy with the intention of avoiding near occasion of sin in the future. We also commend you to seek actual sacramental reconciliation and counsel through the agency of an ordained Catholic priest at least twice a year.
Care of the Body:
God sanctifies the whole of human life through the gift of the Incarnation. Care of the body – including responsible diet and physical exercise, rest, recreation, and medical attention – is an integral part of our stewardship of God’s gift of life. How should you be reverencing your body? It is truly the temple of the Holy Spirit?
Periods of silence and reflection are an integral part of the spiritual life. Just as our daily quiet is valuable, so quiet days and times of retreat are essential in the rhythm of prayer. What schedule works for you? Where can you go for quiet and solitude?
Stewardship and Simplicity of Life:
We believe it is important to keep economic injustice at the forefront of our minds. What are practical ways for you to take responsibility for avoiding waste and extravagance and to find ways of embodying in your life the simplicity and generosity of Christ?
How do you continue to develop your understanding of the Christian faith in the contemporary world, deepen your knowledge of the Scriptures, and nurture your spiritual growth through regular reading and study?
Family, Friendships and a sense of belonging:
The Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary is first and foremost a family of loving brothers. Where do you make time in your schedule and your heart for family and friendships? Do you have a trusted friend, pastor, or spiritual director who could help you with the writing and maintaining of your personal Rule?
Norms of Our Community:
We pray that men will hear God’s call to test their vocation with our community. We also pray for the gift of discernment to know who should be encouraged and invited to accept this test, and who should be directed elsewhere. What follows is a listing of some norms which, over the years, we have found to be general guidelines for aspirants, our prospective new members.
Aspirants are normally between 18 and 45 years of age.
We are an Anglo-Catholic religious community whose life of prayer and worship is ordered by the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church and we serve at the pleasure of Bishop Julian Dobbs of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
The Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary are not a highly specialized and highly educated group of disciples. The primary focus of the Community is fraternal love, love of Christ, and the desire to serve Him in the poor that we will always have among us. The academic formation during the friar’s life is an on-going program of study, as needed. This pursuit of study is intended to equip the brother for the personal enrichment of his own religious life as well as studies specifically geared toward improving ministries within our apostolate.
An aspirant must be debt-free which includes being free from child support or alimony.
Men must be already ordained when they enter the FBSE community.
Recovery from Addiction:
A man’s addiction is not necessarily a barrier to his exploring a vocation. If there is an addiction, we expect that the aspirant give evidence of sustained sobriety for at least the previous two years and that he is ongoingly active in some kind of support program.
One’s sexual orientation is not a determining factor in our discernment. An aspirant must be on the path toward a mature self-understanding and sexual integration. He must demonstrate a sense of call that incorporates the gift of freely choosing to embrace the celibate life.
Previous Marriage or Committed Relationship:
For a man who is widowed or divorced, or whose committed relationship has ended, a sufficient period of time for grieving and healing needs to transpire before a discernment process with FBSE can begin. Prior to exploring a vocation with us. . . We expect a man, having experienced such a loss, to commit to having a sustained period of time for experiencing the freedom and fulfillment that living the celibate life can bring.
Because of the current visa policies governing U.S.A. Homeland Security, we primarily consider men who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.A. We take notice of all whom God sends. Each candidate is evaluated on a case by case basis regardless of citizenship.
Skills and Personal Qualities:
We have come to recognize that certain qualities and skills are essential for a man to be able to join, thrive and contribute in our community. Though we do not expect to see all of the following qualities and skills fully developed in those aspiring to our life (nor, for that matter, in the present membership of the community), we do look at least for the capacity for these to develop:
a personal faith in Jesus Christ
a devotion to Holy Scripture
a sense that he is truly seeking God in community, i.e., he sees community life as a channel of grace and conversion
a sense of God’s presence in the movement of his life
a desire to pray both in community and alone with God
a valuing of the sacramental character of Catholicism
a responsiveness to the demands of the Gospel for social justice
an acknowledgment and adherence to the Apostles’ Creed which is the foundation of our Community of faith
Skills for Living in Community
evidence that he knows and accepts himself, his strengths and limitations
the ability and desire to live in community sharing in the active apostolate as well as observing periods of solitude and silence
the evidence of being able to sustain healthy personal relationships
an ease in relating to women
an ability to accept, mold oneself, and work harmoniously within community life as it is without immediately wanting to reform it
an ability to trust in God’s loving care, walk in faith, be patient and persevere in the face of ambiguity, tribulation, and trials
evidence that he is in touch with his emotional life and willing and able to develop skills for compassion, intimacy, trust, vulnerability, and forgiveness
Skills to Join in Our Work
the evidence of a stable work history
a willingness to study, an ability to learn, and willingness to change
an interest and openness to theological questions and truths
an ability to listen to others and to accept both praise and correction
an ability to work cooperatively with and interdependently of others
a zeal to offer service to the poor
physical health and emotional well being
a willingness to do the humblest of tasks without complaint
an inclination and availability to accept new challenges which life places in our path
a willingness to embrace and enjoy the Community’s rest and recreation
Aspirants should become familiar with General Constitutions and General Statues of the Order of Friars Minor
For More Information
Are you still thinking that this life may be of interest to you and intent on pursuing the consecrated life further?
The application process includes short term visits to the friary, interviews, application forms, medical and dental check-ups, a background check, and a psychological evaluation.
For more information, please contact:
Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Inc.
55 Orcutt Mountain Road
Bucksport, Maine 04416
Friars’ Brewhouse Taproom
P. O. Box 1922
(physical address: 84 Main St.)
Bucksport, Maine 04416
Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Inc. 55 Orcutt Mountain Road Bucksport, ME 04416 Tel: (207)469-0882
© Franciscans of Bangor 2013