By friar Bob Moynihan (Novice)
A huge crowd gathered to hear Jesus teach. The disciples thought satisfying their spiritual needs was all there was to it. Jesus showed them that the physical needs of the people: food, and lodging, were just as important. As significant as the feeding of the 5,000 was, the disciples learning that the fruit of the faith we profess and the communion we receive is to tangibly respond to the basic, dire, and real needs of our brothers and sisters was equally important.
“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people.”
In entering the Franciscans, the first stage of formation is POSTULANCY, a time of INTRODUCTION to Franciscan life and ministry. The next stage is NOVITIATE, a time of INCORPORATION into Franciscan life and spirituality by way of a contemplative year for discernment. I have just completed postulancy and will soon enter the novitiate.
My postulancy was at Mt. St. Francis, the home of the Franciscan Friars Conventual, Province of Our Lady of Consolation, in Southern Indiana, near Louisville. Postulancy has three components; all of which involve COMMUNION. First, living in community. Learning to live, pray, work, laugh, and share concerns with a dozen friars.
Second, I worked part time in our Mission Advancement Office. This is where we receive the spiritual needs as well as the incredible generosity of those who support our Franciscan life and mission. Third, I worked part time at our Franciscan Kitchen in Louisville. This ministry places us where Jesus told his disciples to be and where St. Francis followed: tending to the physical and spiritual needs of the hungry and isolated.
In our Conventual Franciscan tradition, mission flows out of community. I hope to use the contemplative dimension of the novitiate to reflect on the things to which the worldwide process of Synodality within the church calls to each of us: to “plant dreams, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another.”