Men who are interested in the Capuchins take the time to learn about us, meet friars, and visit Capuchin ministries. Vocation directors are available for guidance and assistance in this process of inquiry. They participate in scheduled weekends at various sites throughout the Province of St. Joseph [upper mid-west U.S.] to become more aquainted with the Capuchins, our way of live, and our ministries. During this time, candidates should also be pursuing Spiritual Direction to help them discern where God is calling them.
The Candidacy step has a new program that allows men to live, work, and study while living in residence at a friary. There is no commitment to the Order, rather it is an opportunity for candidates to get a first-hand look at how we pray, eat, work, and live together. During this time they are usually volunteering at a ministry and asked to "try on" the rules that we live before moving on to the next step.
The Postulancy Program lasts for one year at St. Conrad Friary in Milwuakee. It is the first full-time, residential program for someone entering the Capuchin Order.
Postulants spend 20 hours a week in ministry with the poor. Shelters for the homeless, soup kitchens, nursing homes, programs for battered women, educational opportunities for children in poverty are just a few examples. Another 20 hours are spent receiving input, reflecting together on experiences, or studying privately. Input during postulancy includes the life and writings of St. Francis of Assisi, basic catechesis in the Catholic faith, Liturgy of the Hours and community prayer, Eucharist, and social analysis and theological reflection on experiences with the poor.
The province treats postulants as members of the Capuchin Order, even though they have not professed vows. The Capuchins assume financial responsibility for members at this point for as long as they remain in formation and in the Capuchin Order. With successful completion of the year, postulants move into a year of novitiate.
Like postulancy, novitiate is a one-year residential program. It takes place in suburban Pittsburgh. But while postulancy is a time of intense ministry experience, novitiate provides the environment in which one is more reflective on his life in the Capuchin Order in preparation for first profession of vows [poverty, chastity, and obedience] at the completion of the novitiate year.
Novitiate begins with a 3 month program in Victoria, Kansas. This Investiture Program allows guys to prepare for the community and schedule that is lived in Novitiate. Not only are prayer schedules and quiet times observed, but tools for understanding others and conflict resolution are gone over to help Novices as they move into a much bigger community. Novitiate officially starts after the guys have left Kansas and are invested into their habits in Allison Park, PA.
Novices offer six hours of volunteer ministry each week. They also spend 20 hours weekly in classroom and private instruction. Topics include the history of spirituality, the history of religious life, the Capuchin Constitutions, the lay Franciscan movement, personal prayer forms, and the history of the Franciscan First Order [men] and the Poor Clares [the Second Order]. Novices practice a rich prayer life as they further discern their vocation.
Novitiate concludes with the profession of temporary [lasting for one year] vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Post-novitiate begins with the profession of temporary ["first"] vows. In this time of post-novitiate formation, a Capuchin friar lives what he has learned through postulancy and novitiate. It is an extended time of prayer, reflection, and final decision-making prior to professing perpetual [lifelong] vows. Most men in post-novitiate formation use this time to further prepare themselves for ministry, including priesthood.
With the completion of each year of post-novitiate formation, a friar renews his temporary vows for another year. This process of renewal continues for anywhere between three and six years until a friar is ready to commit himself to live the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for the rest of his life [in "perpetual vows"].