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After acceptance into the Province, a candidate must complete the following initial formation programs:


Postulancy:

This is usually a period of twelve months in which a man lives with the friars, participating in their life of fraternity, prayer and service. Classes during the week help to nurture his spiritual life, his knowledge of the faith, and his acquaintance with the Capuchin charism and way of life. The period of time for Postulancy could be extended if a man is not ready for Novitiate.

Novitiate:

This is accomplished in collaboration with other provinces. It begins with a three-month period of preparation, then formally begins the first week of Advent when a man receives the novice's habit ('clothes of probation') and title "Brother"; he is then expected to begin to live the vowed life. It is an intense experience of fraternity and prayer. There are continuing classes on religious subjects and Capuchin life, with ongoing spiritual direction and supervision. 

At the end of the Novitiate year, believing that God has called him to be a Capuchin Franciscan Friar and accepted by the Provincial Minister, a man professes temporary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience one year at a time for a minimum of three years.  During the first two years of this time of formation, all temporary professed friars live together. They participate in the regular life of a Capuchin friar seeking to deepen their vocation to this way of life. During the third year of temporary profession, a friar is assigned to another of our houses to continue to grow in the life. At the end of his time in temporary vows, which could extend up to six years, but usually does not exceed four years, a friar perpetually professes his vows for life.

Post-Novitate:

The Post Novitiate is the period in which the brothers, progressing further in maturity, prepare themselves for the definitive choice of our Gospel life that is undertaken through Perpetual Profession. Further growth in the Capuchin life is gained through daily communal and private prayer as well as the everyday aspects of fraternity including regular community gatherings to discuss our life together.  During the post-novitate period, Friars are assigned to minister in various places throughout the Province.

In 1209 while attending Mass, the words of Jesus in the Gospel (Mat. 10: 7–10) bidding his apostles to go forth on their mission struck Francis as a call.  He set out to preach; when a small group had gathered about him, they went to Rome to see Pope Innocent III, who gave them oral permission to live in the manner Francis had chosen. Thus began the Franciscan Order, an entirely new type of order in the church. They wandered about Umbria and throughout Italy preaching the Gospel, working to pay for their very simple needs. The expansion of the friars was very rapid. In 1212 St. Clare began to follow St. Francis and the Poor Clares (Second Order of St. Francis), a cloistered, contemplative order was established. Francis not only sent the brothers abroad but also went himself—to Dalmatia, to France, to Spain, and in 1219–20 to the Holy Land. On his way to Palestine he stopped at Damietta and preached to the Sultan.

A growing dissension in his order recalled him from Palestine, and after his return a great assembly was held at the small chapel of the Portiuncula near Assisi, with which Francis's calling was closely identified. There, the saint gave up active leadership of the order, for he felt it had become too unwieldy to guide. He continued his preaching and the composition of his Rule and sponsored the Franciscan Tertiaries consisting of devout men and women, some of whom lived in communities.

There are now three branches of Franciscan friars: the Friars Minor [O.F.M.] formerly called the Observants; the Friars Minor Capuchin [O.F.M. Cap.]; and the Friars Minor Conventual [O.F.M. Conv.].

The Capuchin Franciscan Order was founded in central Italy as a reform within the Observants, led by Mateo di Bascio. It is one of the largest orders. Born, like the Jesuits, at the beginning of the Counter Reformation, the Capuchins became a major force in church activity, especially in preaching and in missions.

The Capuchin charisms are:

Fraternity: We are brothers.

Minority:
We choose to live and work among the poor and marginalized.

Contemplation:
We commit ourselves to quiet contemplation every day.

Ministry:
We serve those in most need, rooting our work in Minority and Contemplation.

Justice-Peace-Ecology:
We seek the common good of all humanity and God’s Earth.

Through these, Capuchin Franciscans strive to live after the example of St. Francis, who points us to Christ.

In North America, the Capuchin Franciscans are organized into the following provinces:

province map

Our strength is derived from our rich heritage of contemplative prayer, preaching the Word of God and caring for those in need. We circle the globe with approximately 12,000 friars, who serve our Lord and the Church in a variety of ministries: preaching God’s Word, comforting and supporting the sick in hospitals, nursing homes and homes, directing retreats and leading parishes. Friars also staff soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters for the homeless, poor and needy, minister to migrants and their families, and serve as missionaries in foreign lands. Our ministry focuses on service to the poor, the oppressed, the infirm, the troubled and the forgotten. Our Capuchin Franciscan lives celebrate the traditional religious values of poverty, chastity and obedience through all our work and leisure as we answer the call of Jesus Christ.

Capuchin Franciscans wear the traditional habit of St. Francis of Assisi: sandals on our feet, ropes at our waists and rosary beads at our sides, as an outward sign of belonging to a Franciscan brotherhood. However, it is living habits of service to God and others that are at the heart of our capuchin lives and communities.