How Long Do NEW CATHOLICS Have To Wait?


#1

Hi,

I am a 25 year old male with a vocation to the brotherhood. I currently spend three days a week, every week with Capuchin Franciscans in Berkeley. I am already getting a feel for how religious life would be and they were thinking of putting me in a program called "Aspirancy". This is for people who cannot enter postulancy at the moment. I am a new catholic. Just received into the church this last Divine Mercy Sunday. So because of this, I have to wait. The question is how long? We talked about it and we cannot find anything in Cannon Law that specifically states 1 or 2 years. Most people say 2 years, some say 1, BUT if there is no official time period I would like to apply for postulancy as soon as possible. Thanks for your help. God bless all of you.


#2

The wait period depends mostly on the community. There are many communities that state that new Catholics cannot enter until after 3 years are over. However, I have a friend that entered a Discalced Carmelite Monastery on March 25th this year after only being a Catholic for almost a year. The community told her she did not have to wait because her entrance was approved by the bishop of the Diocese where the Carmelite Monastery was. She also had letters of recommendation from her spiritual director and pastor, so that helped.

I think the worry is that new Catholics are immature in their faith and zealous to live it out in any way that they can. That is why many communities want the new faithful to live out their faith in the world and dispel any myths of religious life. When you enter the community, you become part of a family and leaving is very difficult to any of the members, so it saves heartache.

Talk it over with the community. If they allow you to enter the formal aspirancy program, then that is their call. However, if you have to wait, use the time you have to grow into the Catholic faith! God bless. :)


#3

[quote="ragingbull4891, post:1, topic:198068"]
Hi,

I am a 25 year old male with a vocation to the brotherhood. I currently spend three days a week, every week with Capuchin Franciscans in Berkeley. I am already getting a feel for how religious life would be and they were thinking of putting me in a program called "Aspirancy". This is for people who cannot enter postulancy at the moment. I am a new catholic. Just received into the church this last Divine Mercy Sunday. So because of this, I have to wait. The question is how long? We talked about it and we cannot find anything in Cannon Law that specifically states 1 or 2 years. Most people say 2 years, some say 1, BUT if there is no official time period I would like to apply for postulancy as soon as possible. Thanks for your help. God bless all of you.

[/quote]

Remember that being in a religious order means obedience to the rules of that order. Either the order itself or that particular house apparently has some rule about accepting neophytes as postulants. "As soon as possible" means as soon as the order is willing to accept you into the program. In the meantime, please continue to pray about this and continue to follow whatever program/schedule the Franciscans are working-out for you. Keep in mind that if all works out, you are about to spend the rest of your life as a Franciscan brother, and that means accepting the authority of superiors to decide what's best for your spiritual formation. It's a serious commitment. Don't try to rush things.
If they feel that the program of "aspirancy" is where you need to be right now, the best thing to do is accept that--it will be good practice for the future. I wish you well in your journey.


#4

[quote="ragingbull4891, post:1, topic:198068"]
Hi,

I am a 25 year old male with a vocation to the brotherhood. I currently spend three days a week, every week with Capuchin Franciscans in Berkeley. I am already getting a feel for how religious life would be and they were thinking of putting me in a program called "Aspirancy". This is for people who cannot enter postulancy at the moment. I am a new catholic. Just received into the church this last Divine Mercy Sunday. So because of this, I have to wait. The question is how long? We talked about it and we cannot find anything in Cannon Law that specifically states 1 or 2 years. Most people say 2 years, some say 1, BUT if there is no official time period I would like to apply for postulancy as soon as possible. Thanks for your help. God bless all of you.

[/quote]

Having just been received into the Church, they are probably looking at you still being on a spiritual high so to speak.

Joining the priesthood, diaconate, monastery, etc.. is all a matter of discernment. Remember, everything is in HIS time, not ours.


#5

When I first converted, I had such a hard time waiting to “belong” and to take Holy Communion. However, I learned how wonderful and exciting this waiting period can be. It is almost like a courship and many new and wonderful things are learned and God is purifying us and correcting us so that we may be made worthy.

Patience will “pay off” and if don’t rush you will see how interesting things get with God as your usher, ushering you and mentoring you into a new way of life different than you have probably imagined.

Enjoy this time and be obedient and you will see reward, I believe.:thumbsup:


#6

Our rule does not have a specific waiting period for new Catholics. The rules of the bishops do not apply to us, because Franciscans are exempt religious, meaning that we are not subject to the authority of any bishop or any diocese. We answer to our own major superiors who have the same authority as a bishop, even if they are not priests.

According to the rule you become a member of the order on the day that you are received as a novice, which is 6 to 24 months after you have been received as a postulant. Only the major superior can admit anyone to the novitiate. Here is the glitch. If the Provincial Minister wants a candidate to wait three years, he cannot admit him to the postulancy. Because the law says that the postulancy cannot extend beyond 24 months. My take is that the Provincial Minister is buying some time. He can shorten your aspirancy period, if he feels that you are ready to begin formation and admit you to the postulancy. But once he admits you to the postulancy the clock begins to tick. If you reach the 24th month and you’re not ready to enter the novitiate, you have to be dismissed.

If the Provincial Minister is willing to accept you as an aspirant, it’s a good sign that he is interested and that you show some promise. But he has to put his judgment to the test. It would be unfair to you to put you into the postulancy program and have to dismiss you in two years, because you need another six months and the law does not allow for it. Aspirancy has no time limit. A man can be an aspirant as long as necessary. Postulancy, novitiate and simple vows have time restraints.

There is another law in the Franciscan family. The formation of a brother cannot be less than seven years or longer than 10 years. When you get a convert, that person is at a disadvantage. The person does not have the Catholic life experience. This can cause problems down the road. The community can question whether the person has been a Catholic long enough to be admitted to solemn vows. However, if the time allowed has run out, it cannot be extended except by the pope himself. The person cannot be admitted to solemn vows when there is doubt on the part of the individual or the brothers.

Even though the Provincial Minister is the voice of Christ, Vicar of St. Francis and he alone can admit someone to the different stages of formation and to vows and Holy Orders, the rule requires that he consult with the brothers and take their counsel into consideration. Normally you would not live with him. You will be living in a formation house, not at the motherhouse. That’s why the scrutinuum must be held at the house where the candidate resides.

I hope this helps.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#7

As others have said, it depends upon the community. I have read, for instance, of Jesuit provinces requiring a convert to wait three years and that the Basilian Fathers ask one to wait for 5 years. The latter definitely counts more out! If something believes himself to be committed, I do not see why he should have to waste(perhaps, depending upon what he does during that) several years before being allowed to proceed in his spiritual formation. Lapsed “cradle-Catholics” who have “reverted” do not have to do that, from as far I am aware.


#8

[quote="Young_Thinker, post:7, topic:198068"]
As others have said, it depends upon the community. I have read, for instance, of Jesuit provinces requiring a convert to wait three years and of Basilian Fathers asking them to wait for 5 years. The latter definitely counts more out! If something believes himself to be committed, I do not see why he should have to waste(perhaps, depending upon what he does during that) several years before being allowed to proceed in his spiritual formation. Lapsed "cradle-Catholics" who have "reverted" do not have to do that, from as far I am aware.

[/quote]

The original poster is applying to the Capuchin Franciscans. I was responding to him from Franciscan law and the Rule of the Friars Minor as it was written by St. Francis. Every order has its own regulations.

It is not a waste of time if you look at it from our perspective. In the religious life the policy is that you do not decide if you have a call to our way of life. Only Christ decides that and Christ speaks only through the superior. The way that it works is that you postulate yourself, hence the term postulant. The superior decides if you should be given an opportunity to test your call. The community where you live monitors your progress and reports back to you every few months and they send their report to the superior. The superior, speaking for Christ, dictates every step of the way. You're not wasting time. If you are doing what the superior requires, you are doing what Christ wants.

In this case, since the young man in question wants to be a Franciscan, he's on the right track if he accepts the delays that the superior puts in place for him. The primary vocation of a Franciscan is to be subservient. True poverty is only achieved when you are totally detached from what you want and your goals, so that you own nothing, neither material, emotional or spiritual. You become totally available to Christ through obedience. For Franciscans this is the height of perfection. Accepting yeas of dely before making solemn vows is actually living the Franciscan rule.

Remember, that for the Franciscan family there is never any urgency to get out there and do ministry. Ministry is not essential to our way of life. It is accidental. We are mendicants, not clerks. Essential to our way of life are: prayer, submission, detachment from self, love of our brothers, penance, and the conversion of Catholics.

Do reverts have to go through these delays? It depends on the individual case. You have to know why the person left, how long he was gone, why did he come back and other information. It may take just as long for a revert to reach solemn vows as it does for a convert.

I cannot speak for other orders. Each has its own statutes and some also have a rule given to them by a founder. We are one of those orders that have both: a rule and statutes.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#9

[quote="JReducation, post:8, topic:198068"]
The original poster is applying to the Capuchin Franciscans. I was responding to him from Franciscan law and the Rule of the Friars Minor as it was written by St. Francis. Every order has its own regulations.

It is not a waste of time if you look at it from our perspective. In the religious life the policy is that you do not decide if you have a call to our way of life. Only Christ decides that and Christ speaks only through the superior. The way that it works is that you postulate yourself, hence the term postulant. The superior decides if you should be given an opportunity to test your call. The community where you live monitors your progress and reports back to you every few months and they send their report to the superior. The superior, speaking for Christ, dictates every step of the way. You're not wasting time. If you are doing what the superior requires, you are doing what Christ wants.

In this case, since the young man in question wants to be a Franciscan, he's on the right track if he accepts the delays that the superior puts in place for him. The primary vocation of a Franciscan is to be subservient. True poverty is only achieved when you are totally detached from what you want and your goals, so that you own nothing, neither material, emotional or spiritual. You become totally available to Christ through obedience. For Franciscans this is the height of perfection. Accepting yeas of dely before making solemn vows is actually living the Franciscan rule.

Remember, that for the Franciscan family there is never any urgency to get out there and do ministry. Ministry is not essential to our way of life. It is accidental. We are mendicants, not clerks. Essential to our way of life are: prayer, submission, detachment from self, love of our brothers, penance, and the conversion of Catholics.

Do reverts have to go through these delays? It depends on the individual case. You have to know why the person left, how long he was gone, why did he come back and other information. It may take just as long for a revert to reach solemn vows as it does for a convert.

I cannot speak for other orders. Each has its own statutes and some also have a rule given to them by a founder. We are one of those orders that have both: a rule and statutes.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

I see; thank you, Brother. I seem to have a habit of offering possibily unasked-for examples.


#10

I believe that your examples of the Basilians and the Jesuits are good. Some people don’t know that religious all have different rules and goals. Most religious orders and congregations, especially those of men, are varey autonomous. It’s good to know the diversity between us. Each is a very unique gift that God gives to the Church.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#11

[quote="JReducation, post:10, topic:198068"]
I believe that your examples of the Basilians and the Jesuits are good. Some people don't know that religious all have different rules and goals. Most religious orders and congregations, especially those of men, are varey autonomous. It's good to know the diversity between us. Each is a very unique gift that God gives to the Church.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

All right.


#12

[quote="ragingbull4891, post:1, topic:198068"]
Hi,

I Most people say 2 years, some say 1, BUT if there is no official time period I would like to apply for postulancy as soon as possible. Thanks for your help. God bless all of you.

[/quote]

the superior of your order where you are discerning will tell you, yes generally at least 2 years, at least for the diocesan seminary here, after a person enters the Church through RCIA, to allow full time for mystagogy and to insure the conversion is sincere and lasting. usually at least that much time is necessary for discernment of a vocation in any case. and there is often a "pre-postulant" period such as you are enjoying now. You will be given plenty of time during the formation process, and all of it including the waiting and patience, are part of the process. Remember how the wait and patience were for RCIA? again, Mother Church in her wisdom knows what we need, and when we need it.


#13

[quote="puzzleannie, post:12, topic:198068"]
the superior of your order where you are discerning will tell you, yes generally at least 2 years, at least for the diocesan seminary here, after a person enters the Church through RCIA, to allow full time for mystagogy and to insure the conversion is sincere and lasting. usually at least that much time is necessary for discernment of a vocation in any case. and there is often a "pre-postulant" period such as you are enjoying now. You will be given plenty of time during the formation process, and all of it including the waiting and patience, are part of the process. Remember how the wait and patience were for RCIA? again, Mother Church in her wisdom knows what we need, and when we need it.

[/quote]

Bold is mine. I agree that the Church has wisdom. But Church rules do not apply here. He's applying to our order. We are an exempt religious order. We establish our own admissions and formation system. That's why Fr. David asked me to respond to this thread, because the question is very specifically about the Capuchin-Franciscans.

Our statutes do not require that a convert wait any specific period of time before entering the novitiate. Remember, that you become a full Franciscan when you becme a novice. It is assumed that the novice plans on spending the rest of his life in the order. He has all the obligations of the professed and all of the rights except the right to vote and hold office. Even the professed do not have that right until they make solemn vows. Those in simple vows do not vote and cannot hold office.

The issue is that the novitiate cannot last longer than 18 months. The other issue is that the postulancy cannot last longer than 24 months. That's 3 1/2 years at the most. Then you have to leave or make simple vows. When a person applies for admission and the Provincial Minister is interested, but feels that the person still needs a little more of whatever he feels they need, he can tag on an aspirancy period in the front end. If he admits the candidate to postulancy the clock begins to tick. The Church cannot change that clock. It does not have the authority to change without a papal bull. The Rule of St. Francis was deliberately sealed by a papal bull so that no one, not superior, not bishop, no department in the Vatican, and no council can change it. It requires that the pope lift the papal bull, mandate a rewrite of the portion of the rule that is in question or problematic. That's a very long and complex process. You can't rewrite a section of a rule over night. You must have a general chapter with delegates from at least 2/3 of the order present. We have 114 regions around the world. 2/3 of those regions must be represented to change one sentence in the rule to extend the formation period. That's after the pope himself has lifted the bull banning any changes to the rule.

Since we don't want to go there, it's easier to attach an aspirancy period up front. The Provincial Minister can change that at will. He is not bound by canon law or by the rule to have an aspirancy period at all. Not in the Franciscan family. Other religious families do have an aspirancy period in their statutes. It unavoidable. We do not have it in our statutes. It's discretionary.

Let's help the original poster understand how the Franciscan formation system works, because that's what he's looking to join. The rules from the dioceses do not apply here. Canon law only applies if there is no established tradition that is more than 100 years old. If the tradition is over 100 years old, the canon does not apply. The canon may also apply if it abrogates the tradition.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#14

Since I shall also be applying rather soon as a recent convert(though not to the Capuchins), I wonder if I should go to law(I once wanted to be attorney, and I know that a few priests have degrees in both canon and common/civil law) or graduate school in the meantime if I am told to wait. Just a thought.


#15

[quote="Young_Thinker, post:14, topic:198068"]
Since I shall also be applying rather soon as a recent convert(though not to the Capuchins), I wonder if I should go to law(I once wanted to be attorney, and I know that a few priests have degrees in both canon and common/civil law) or graduate school in the meantime if I am told to wait. Just a thought.

[/quote]

You can do that or if you have not taken any philosophy courses, you can take them now. They are pre-theology requirements. Either the seminary can tell you what courses they require or the vocation director may know. Every semnary and every religious house of studies has their own set of philosophy courses that they require. There are some that are universal: ethics, classical philsophy, metaphysics, epistomology and there are others that cetain schools are looking for.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#16

[quote="JReducation, post:15, topic:198068"]
You can do that or if you have not taken any philosophy courses, you can take them now. They are pre-theology requirements. Either the seminary can tell you what courses they require or the vocation director may know. Every semnary and every religious house of studies has their own set of philosophy courses that they require. There are some that are universal: ethics, classical philsophy, metaphysics, epistomology and there are others that cetain schools are looking for.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

I am grateful for your advice. In my case, there is so much uncertainty right now.


#17

And you can get more involved in your local Church. I know my order looks for this and has had candidates wait for entry even though their academics were good they had not had enough experience in working within their parish.


#18

[quote="Young_Thinker, post:16, topic:198068"]
I am grateful for your advice. In my case, there is so much uncertainty right now.

[/quote]

Some of that uncertainty will clear up when you start talking with vocation directors and actually visiting communities.

There is no time period that you must wait to do that.


#19

[quote="ByzCath, post:18, topic:198068"]
Some of that uncertainty will clear up when you start talking with vocation directors and actually visiting communities.

There is no time period that you must wait to do that.

[/quote]

All right.


#20

[quote="ByzCath, post:17, topic:198068"]
And you can get more involved in your local Church. I know my order looks for this and has had candidates wait for entry even though their academics were good they had not had enough experience in working within their parish.

[/quote]

Thank you, Br. David. I shall certainly try to do that.


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