This is not an exhaustive list, just some of the more common questions we get.
What is the process of becoming a brother?
There is a structured process to becoming a life professed brother or sister; Postulancy, Novitiate, First Profession and then Life Profession. After some months as a postulant, we become novices and are given a habit (the brown Franciscan clothing). After a few years of training, living with our brothers, and working in various houses, we ask to be elected to First Profession. Three to six years after that we ask to be elected to Life Profession and take our final vows.
What will I do when I join?
Our ministries depend on our individual talents, interests and on the needs of our community. In the Solomon Islands, brothers go out on missions, grow food, maintain and manage our friaries. In San Francisco (USA), sisters work with refugees and people with HIV/AIDS. In Hamilton the brothers work in administration, hospital chaplaincies, provide spiritual direction, conduct retreats and provide pastoral care to the sick, the disabled and the disadvantaged.
Jesus calls us to serve those around us, and all of us are involved in some way in our local communities. When asked to define our mission, one brother said that it is “to love and keep on loving.”
Our lives are structured around the times when we meet together for formal prayer. In most houses this is four times a day – morning, noon, evening and night. In some urban houses, we may only meet for morning and evening prayer.
Why do you pray four times a day?
Our praying together gives our lives a focus. No matter what other things we may do our very presence at prayer reminds us that we are with God and God is with us.
What vows do I take?
The vows taken at profession are the three fold vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
What is life like in a Community?
The prospect of living in a religious community can appear to be frightening. Over time we realise that our fear is not that we will come to know our brothers (or sisters) but that they will come to know us.
Through the disciplines of our life together we try to discover if a ‘constant recollection’ of God’s presence is possible.
We all come from different backgrounds and cultural traditions. Living together can be hard, but we try to find a common ground, to communicate honestly with one another. It is not easy to confront another’s anger, to be vulnerable, to admit our own shortcomings and to change.
Perhaps the most frightening, yet grace-filled moment in community is when a brother or sister looks at one with whom they have had a long disagreement, and sees their own reflection looking back at them. Living with each other can be difficult. But God takes our imperfections and, in the mysteries of Christ’s body, makes us whole.
We celebrate life’s important moments with considerable joy. We laugh together and come to learn not to take ourselves too seriously.
We enjoy each other’s company when we work together in an important ministry or an issue of social justice.
Will I have to study?
Study is an important part of our life. It starts with the scriptures. Franciscan spirituality and theology also form part of our study and education. Study can be both formal and informal. It is life long.
Will I become a monk or a Friar?
Franciscans are known as Friars. Very simply a monk spends most of his life living in one community. A friar moves from house to house and over the course of his life can spend time in many of the Society’s houses and thus in a number of very different communities and ministries.
What do I tell my family and friends?
There is no simple or easy answer.It is perhaps helpful to realise that as friars we maintain contacts with our friends and families. We increase and extend our circle through a wider group as our family and friends become part of the community’s whanau.
Do you have any other questions?