Franciscans of the Immaculate


#1

Hello,

I’d like to ask a question for anyone who might know someone who is a member of The Franciscans of The Immaculate (FFI), or someone who might know a lot about them.

It happens that, thanks be to God, I was accepted to the aspirancy of the FFI. I was told though that because of my age (48), I could become a brother, but not be able to study for the priesthood. Subsequently I have delayed entering until next year so that I can prayerfully examine if God has in his eternal mind for me a path elsewhere to the priesthood (If it is His will).

My question is: does anyone know why there is an age limit? I do know that those called to study for the priesthood in FFI are sent to Italy and must study in Italian and I realize this could be a problem for someone a bit older like me. On a side note, (In a BIG “just in case’’) I have begun to study and speak/write Italian. I already speak Spanish well and I am actually having a bit if fun learning Italian and that I seem to have a knack for it (Who knew?)

Anyway, all that aside. If anyone has some insight or info to share, I would be happy to hear it. Thank you.

In Jesus and Mary


#2

You are not too old. I know a Franciscan brother in his mid 50’s studying at Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, WI right now.


#3

Most religious orders/communites put in an upper limit age due to the percieved fact (which seems to be supported by anecdotal evidence that I have seen) that it is harder for those who are older and have lived such a life to conform and fit within the community structure.

Also I believe you are correct that since the seminary training is done in another language that they would put this in. While you may be able to learn Italian before you enter will you learn it well enough to understand the complex theological issues that will be covered and discussed.

Then there is the added time to your formation. Do you have the necessary prerequisites to start the major seminary program? We require our candidates to have these prerequisites done before they enter the novitiate.

My communities stated upper age is 40 though they will talk with people over that age as it is not a hard rule but we have been burned in the past, so to speak.


#4

[quote="Ruben, post:1, topic:218503"]
Hello,

I’d like to ask a question for anyone who might know someone who is a member of The Franciscans of The Immaculate (FFI), or someone who might know a lot about them.

[/quote]

Not to be nit picky but I looked up this group on the 'net and see that they use the initials FI not FFI. Did my google search on (Franciscans of The Immaculate) turn up a different group?

[quote="WMM, post:2, topic:218503"]
You are not too old. I know a Franciscan brother in his mid 50's studying at Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, WI right now.

[/quote]

The issue is that the group he has been accepted to sends their men to Italy to study. It is probably the only major seminary they use.


#5

I know a little something about the FIs and their life, having read about it.

They are a very penitential Order. Their life is very simple, very bare-bones.

It can be hard on a younger person, too. I knew someone who was a friend of a family whose daughter was a postulant with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate (their female branch). She had to go to Italy for her postulancy, but came home after a few months because her health broke down under the strain of the life-and she was in her 20s!

Not that I'm trying to discourage the OP-far from it. I just want to let him know that due to his age he may not even be accepted if he doesn't have the health for the austerities that the FIs impose on their members.


#6

Jesus,our Lords peace be with You.
Sorry for my bad english. As far as I know there is no age limit,but I don't think they will accept a 70 year old man who want to be a priest. When I after my divorce once again was free to pursuit my call to priesthood I was close to 50,now I am 50,but I had to convert first. When I sadly married I was converting,but had to put that on hold because my x-wife already had one marriage behind her,and a daughter,but that is not what You want to hear. I did talk to the moderator of our small seminar here in Finland (the reason to my terrible english) and he let me do the choise. I do suffer from panic-attacks and depression,and I am retired because of that. I did a lot of thinking,and my ansver was that I are not let me be a burden to the church,so my choise was a no. I do not know haw it works where You live,I guess You live in the states,but here we have one dioce and 7 parishes,but You may be able to choose. I know what it is to live the call to priesthood,or any other calls that You may have. The call never go away,so I hope You find a solution,I offer one Hail Mary to You my friend,and wish You all the best,and remember,"where there is will,there is a way".


#7

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I ask out of natural curiosity. Up to this point I really have not spent much time asking why, but simply have been trying to forge ahead trusting in God’s will. At a certain point though one naturally has a desire to ask why about certain things.

I heard in a homily once that one of the signs that you may have a vocation to the religious life is simply that a religious order has accepted you. I have been thinking about this more on more. St Thomas said that it is better to enter religious life as trial than it is not to enter at all.

The vocations director once said simply that ‘some of the men in the FFI strive toward sainthood as brothers and others as priests.’ So it is clear that working toward sanctity is first in the order of things.

I’ll be visiting the Griswold friary in few months, hopefully for a couple of weeks (I visited the Bloomington friary earlier this year). Provided there are no obstacles, I will be entering in August as an aspirant. In your charity, please remember me in your prayers. Thank you.

In Jesus and Mary


#8

If you're talking aboiut the FI (Franciscans of the Immaculate), they follow the same rule as the other Franciscan communities. Franciscans do not place a stong focus on ordaining priests, though we have had priests since the 1200s. The focus is always on being faithful to the Gospel following the inspiration of St. Francis as he has given it to us in the rule and the testament.

Each of the obediences, that's what we call each branch, because each is obedient to its own General Superior and General Constitutions, though we all follow the same rule . . . each obedience has a particular focus and the formation prepares the friar to live the life according to the rule and to serve according to the ministry of the community.

The ministry of the community and the General Constitutions are the determining factors in where formation takes place. The FI are not large enough to have canonical provinces. They are still a small community. Therefore, they have one center for formation, which is in Italy. The larger obediences, such as the Franciscans, Capuchins, Conventuals and Third Order Regular have canonical provinces, because they are larger. They form their men inside their provinces. The other Franciscans are not that big. We do not have many places to go for formation.

As to the determination of who may or may not be ordained, that's up to the Superior General and the General Constitutions. The final call to Holy Orders comes from Christ, but only through the canonical authority in the community, never through the individual. I don't decide that I have a calling to the priesthood. I assume that I do. The community decides according to the mind of the superior and the policies in the constitution.

In their constitution, they have determined that Christ does not call men to the priesthood beyond a certain age. Christ, who never usurps his Church, works within those boundaries. He never calls someone where he cannot go. If the constitutions of the FI say that no one above a certain age may be ordained, then Christ will not call a man to the priesthood withing that form of religious life, if that person has exceeded the age limit.

It sounds more complex than what it is. That being said, among Franciscans, not being ordained is not a catastrophe, because the life and mission of the Franciscan family is defined by the life and mission of St. Francis, not by the Sacrament of Holy Orders as it would be for a community such as the Jesuits or the Fathers of Mercy. They were founded as communities for clerics. Franciscans were founded as a family for clerics, lay, men, women, married, single, and celibate. The focus is on the way of life, not the ministerial priesthood. That's why it's easier to have tighter restrictions on who is called to the minsiterial priesthood. The family can live without it, considering that the founder was not a priest.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#9

There are seminaries that accept late vocations. It's the Religious Orders that tend to have the age limits.


#10

Some dioceses also have age limits but you are correct in that it seems that it is religious institutes that have a lower upper age limit than most dioceses do.


#11

Ruben, you sound as if you feel attracted to the priesthood. As JREducation has repeatedly said, the Franciscans are friars first and priests second, a far second. I do not believe that Franciscans would even promise seminary to a candidate, unless it specifically fulfilled some intention of the community. If you feel called to be a priest, you might consider the diocesan priesthood, which may welcome you. There are several seminaries just for “delayed vocations” to the priesthood. I have personally met two priests who entered at your age, one a teacher, the other a former Trappist lay brother for 19 years (!). Both are diocesan priests.


#12

[quote="1234, post:11, topic:218503"]
Ruben, you sound as if you feel attracted to the priesthood. As JREducation has repeatedly said, the Franciscans are friars first and priests second, a far second. I do not believe that Franciscans would even promise seminary to a candidate, unless it specifically fulfilled some intention of the community. If you feel called to be a priest, you might consider the diocesan priesthood, which may welcome you. There are several seminaries just for "delayed vocations" to the priesthood. I have personally met two priests who entered at your age, one a teacher, the other a former Trappist lay brother for 19 years (!). Both are diocesan priests.

[/quote]

I should add a disclaimer here. It's not that the Franciscan family is anti-priests. But it is very careful to protect itself from clericalism: the control of priests and defining the way of life of the order by the work of the priest. That would be clericalism.

The Franciscan family defines itself by its fidelity to the Rule of St. Francis and its attempt to live the Gospel as outlined by St. Francis. St. Francis neither endorses nor rejects priests in the community. In his mind, if they came they came and if not, that was OK too. We welcome priests to join our family. We often give men permission to be ordained priests, but we do not promote ourselves as a family of priests. We promote ourselves as a family of brothers. Our priests are really brothers who serve the Church as priests, just as another brother may serve the Church as a theologian, a hermit, a cook, gardner, adminsitrator, preacher and so forth. The call to be a priest is a call within a call.

If a man feels that his strongest identity is that of a priest, then he should join a community of priests. This can be a religious community. There are such communities: Jesuits, Vincentians, Salesians, Carmelites, Dominicans, etc. Or he can join a diocese and design his own rule of life, rather than live an ordered life as is lived in a religious community.

The example given above of the Trappist lay brother is wonderful example. The Trappists do not define themselves as an order of priests. They are Benedictines. The Benedictine tradition is like the Franciscan tradition. The priesthood is an accident, not an essential. Any Benedictine, Trappist or other, who sees his primary vocation as priestly ministry, it out of place in that family, because they have no external priestly ministry. The priests among the Trappists celebrate the sacraments for the sanctification of the universal church and the benefit of the local community of monks. But they do not go outside the monastery to serve as the "peoples' priest" as does a Jesuit or a diocesan priest. Therefore, it's up to Christ to call a man to Holy Orders through the Abbot and his council, if he wants him to an ordained monk. Obviously, this particular man was not called by Christ to be an ordained monk. That's why he is now a secular priest instead of a regular priest.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#13

[quote="1234, post:11, topic:218503"]
Ruben, you sound as if you feel attracted to the priesthood. As JREducation has repeatedly said, the Franciscans are friars first and priests second, a far second. I do not believe that Franciscans would even promise seminary to a candidate, unless it specifically fulfilled some intention of the community. If you feel called to be a priest, you might consider the diocesan priesthood, which may welcome you. There are several seminaries just for "delayed vocations" to the priesthood. I have personally met two priests who entered at your age, one a teacher, the other a former Trappist lay brother for 19 years (!). Both are diocesan priests.

[/quote]

To add to my remarks re the two 'older' priests I knew, both served in rural underserved areas. Both appeared to me to be outstanding, very happy, bright and appeared to be well suited to what they were doing and where they were. One could argue that, mutatis mutandis, 'older' men could become very good priests.


#14

Yes, I certainly feel very drawn to the priesthood. That’s why I decided to delay entry to the FI for a year (also my mother passed away just weeks before the entry date). I needed time to prayerfully examine if my desire to become a priest might actually be God’s will, although I do want to be prudent in this, so that my desire does not become stubbornness and frustrate God’s will. I realize a vocation (priestly or otherwise) is God’s initiative and not my own. It is a good possibility that God may very well be calling me to become a brother in the FFI. After some months of prayer, it does seem to be forming into the most likely path for me. I know if God desires otherwise for me, that he will open doors. In the mean time, I pray for docility.

A small btw, I often use “FFI” because the full name is “Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate”. Their email addresses begin with ‘ffi’. I realize ‘FI’ is in comman usage though.

In Jesus and Mary


#15

[quote="Ruben, post:14, topic:218503"]
Yes, I certainly feel very drawn to the priesthood. That’s why I decided to delay entry to the FI for a year (also my mother passed away just weeks before the entry date). I needed time to prayerfully examine if my desire to become a priest might actually be God’s will, although I do want to be prudent in this, so that my desire does not become stubbornness and frustrate God’s will. I realize a vocation (priestly or otherwise) is God’s initiative and not my own. It is a good possibility that God may very well be calling me to become a brother in the FFI. After some months of prayer, it does seem to be forming into the most likely path for me. I know if God desires otherwise for me, that he will open doors. In the mean time, I pray for docility.

A small btw, I often use “FFI” because the full name is “Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate”. Their email addresses begin with ‘ffi’. I realize ‘FI’ is in comman usage though.

In Jesus and Mary

[/quote]

Just remain open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. He will show you what to do.

The Friars of the Immaculate use the ffi in their email because of a technical thing. FI belongs to someone else. When you create a new e-mail server, you have to create a name that is not in use. Their canonical initials are FI.

We have similar situation. Our email is brothersoflife.org. Many people refer to us as the BoL or BOL. Our canonical initials are OSF, because our canonical name is the Brothers of Life of the Order of St. Francis. People often confuse the OSF with the SFO, which is the BIG Franciscan order. To avoid the confusion, we avoided using OSF in our email.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#16

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