Initial Formation Series: Novitiate

The second year of Initial formation is the Novitiate year. It begins with the Investiture ceremony, when a young man first receives his habit, and becomes a member of the order.
If we look at the experience of Francis, in particular at the years of his conversion, we notice that they were decisive moments of his life, a time during which he fell in love with Christ with a consequent desire to give up all that was not Christ and to change “his heart and mind.” Thus, after the one being formed has been immersed in the task of acquiring a certain level of maturity and has learned about the Franciscan charism [in postulancy], he arrives at the period of “integral initiation” [novitiate], and of a deepened understanding of discipleship and discernment. (Excerpts from Franciscan Discipleship, FD 62).

The Novitiate year includes a deeper understanding of his divine call, a clarification and assessment of the stability of his own motivation, and a good understanding of the charism of our Order (FD 63). Only to the extent that the novitiate fosters interior silence will it succeed in helping the Franciscan disciple to find himself and to dialogue, as Francis did, with the Lord who is present in Sacred Scripture – especially the Gospel – and in the Holy Eucharist. The novice should be helped, likewise, to become perfect in the art of prayer by means of instruction, days of recollection and desert experiences, but especially by finding adequate time during each day for personal prayer. Such a spirit of prayer, accompanied by appropriate instructions and guided experiences, will permit the novice to participate actively in the communal celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist and to cultivate liturgical music and sacred chant. The novice should also be introduced to devotions that are specifically Franciscan. Both spiritual direction and regular sacramental confession are indispensable means for growth in the interior life. (excerpts from Franciscan Discipleship, FD 64).

This year, the house schedule is:

Monday - Friday
07:30 AM Morning Prayer with Mass*, Breakfast
09:00 AM House Jobs
09:30-11:15PM Morning Program: Classes or other activities
11:30 AM Office of Readings & Midday Prayer – Lunch
1-2:00 PM Non-structured – Personal Time
2:15-4:00PM Afternoon Program: Classes or other activities**
4:45 PM Meditation & Evening Prayer***
6:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM Solitude
8:00 PM Recreation
8:30 PM Night Prayer & Rosary
10:00 PM Silence
*Monday Evening – Lectio Divina with EP
**Wednesday Afternoon – Shopping, etc. (Evening Prayer 6:00PM)
– Common Recreation after Supper – Night Prayer in private.
***Thursday Evening – Holy Hour with Evening Prayer beginning at 16:30.

7:30 AM Office of Readings, Morning Prayer with Mass, Breakfast
9:00 AM Morning Program: House Cleaning and special activities
12:00 PM Midday Prayer – Lunch
1:30 PM Afternoon Program
5:00 PM Solemn Evening Prayer
6:00 PM Dinner followed by Rosary and Night Prayer
8:00 PM Recreation
10:00 PM Silence

9:00 AM Morning Program: TBA
12:00 PM Midday Prayer – Lunch
Afternoon Activities
5:00 PM EP with Benediction - Dinner
Franciscan Crown
Recreation – Night Prayer in Private
10:00 PM Silence

I liken the Novitiate year to a year-long retreat. The focus is prayer, and listening to God. It becomes the foundation of a lifetime of praying. It is a very important year, because prayer is essential to not simply survive, but to thrive, as a Franciscan and minister in the Church. Often life of ministry is very busy, without this solid foundational year of prayer, one cannot hope to survive! Read about our Postulancy Program here. Read about Post Novitiate formation here. Read the details of initial formation in Franciscan Discipleship here.

Pictures from our 2016 Investiture (The Receiving of the Habit)
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