Over the next few months, three of our friar students plan to profess the Solemn Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Here is a bit about what they have been experiencing during their Apostolic Year of Formation:
In 2019, friar Richard Rome, OFM Conv. participated in the JPIC Summer Experience in Shamokin, Lexington, Colombia, and El Salvador, led by Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv., along side four more student friars, with a “home base” set up as Mother Cabrini Friary, in Shamokin, PA. In May 2020, friar Richard returned to the Shamokin area to begin his Apostolic Experience serving as Coordinator for FAR (Faith Alliance for Revitalization) of The Franciscan Center, in Coal Township, PA. There he has been working in conjunction with our three friar priest who are in pastoral ministry in Shamokin, Coal Township and Trevorton, PA. In a video on FranciscanVoice.org, friar Richard sums up his time in ministry there as this: “We don’t just serve in the churches here. It is not just Sacramental Ministry only. There is more to it than that. We get to go out of the friary and out of the churches, to serve the people of God; to meet them where they are at, to meet them in their struggles, in their joys, and walk ‘with’ them as we are all working together to rebuild Shamokin.”
In September 2020, a short lived opening in the USA/Canadian Border, afforded friar Tim Blanchard, OFM Conv. the opportunity to begin his Apostolic Experience, serving alongside our friars in Toronto, ON, and focusing on ministering to the people of The Franciscan Church at St. Bonaventure and to the needs of St. Clare Inn (a transitional housing project that offers accommodation to homeless women between the ages of 30-60 who are struggling with a diagnosed mental health issue). He also spent countless hours working behind the scenes on digital content for these ministries, and new content for the province JPIC Commission and Vocation Offices.
Although this school year has been a very challenging one for all, the Fraternal/Apostolic Experience (last year of formation) for friar Franck Lino Sokpolie, OFM Conv. has also been a joy filled one. Since August 2020, he has been serving alongside our friars in Columbus, GA, with his main focus in ministry to the St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School (PreK – 12th Grade) students and St. Anne Catholic Church parishioners. The intent when he first began the school year was to assist with campus ministry programming, offer classes to all grade levels on Franciscan Spirituality, and pitch in where needed should a teacher be absent or out for a couple of days. The year proved to be so much more.
Another friar who will be Professing Solemn Vows this year, is Fr. Louis Maximilian Smith, OFM Conv., who serves in Campus Ministry at The Catholic University of America. Friar Louis Maximilian is a friar priest who has transfiliated from another Order, and has been in formation to become a Solemnly Professed Franciscan Friar Conventual with our province, since 2018.
Keep friar Richard, friar Tim, friar Franck in your prayers, as they finishes up their Apostolic Experience, and then mve onto a month long preparation (including communal and private prayer, fraternal interaction, and a retreat) for Solemn Vow Profession this Summer. Also please keep Fr. Louis Maximilian in your prayers as his 3-yr probationary period comes to and end, and he can now fully become a Solemnly Professed member of our province.
For more information on discernment as a Franciscan Friar Conventual of our province, visit FranciscanVoice.org