Our Capuchin Formation Process

As Capuchin Franciscan Friars, we are called to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis went through a period of discernment after hearing Christ call him to "Go rebuild my Church..."

Discernment is a process of spiritual exploration – a time in which a man acknowledges God's call to serve Him in a particular vocation. If you are inspired by St. Francis and his example, you may have a vocation to the Capuchin Franciscans.

Stages of Formation

Our formation process as Capuchin Friars consists of several stages:

1. Aspirancy (Period of Discernment)

Candidacy is an opportunity for men interested in a Capuchin vocation to build a relationship with the friars during their time of discernment. This period, which can vary in length, allows candidates to spend weekends with us, receive spiritual direction, and keep in regular contact with the friars, particularly the Vocations Director. During this time, they seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help them discern if the Lord is calling them to enter postulancy.

2. Postulancy (Language Formation)

Postulancy is the first stage of formation as a Capuchin Franciscan Friar. It is a time of initial discernment, currently held in our Raheny Friary in Dublin. While living at the Friary, a postulant comes to know the Capuchin life better through sharing in the lived experience of the community and prayer life of the Friars.

During the 10-month period, a postulant learns more about his Catholic Faith, St. Francis of Assisi, the Capuchin Order, religious life, and himself through in-house and external classes, dialogue with his director, and input from other friars. Postulants also have an opportunity to gain some experience of pastoral ministry in our Day Centre for Homeless People. The Postulancy usually lasts from September until May.

Listen to Postulant Daniel speak about his experiences as a Capuchin Postulant in the Irish Province. This interview is part of our 'Under the Hood' series of Podcasts.

3. Novitiate (Spiritual Year)

The novitiate is a structured year of prayer and some ministry, in which the novice enters more deeply into the process of his discernment of Capuchin Franciscan life. The novitiate year officially begins with Investiture, a ceremony in which he is clothed in the Capuchin Franciscan habit.

The novice furthers his understanding of Capuchin life through classes on the Rule and Testament of St. Francis, Capuchin Constitutions, Capuchin History, Franciscan Sources, Franciscan Prayer, Writings of St. Francis and St. Clare, and the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He meets regularly with his formator (Novice master) and spiritual director, who guide him through his discernment as a Capuchin Friar. At the end of the year, the novice professes temporary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These vows are taken for three years and then renewed annually for a further two before making final profession.

4. Philosophy (Intellectual Formation)

The post-novitiate program is closely tied to the study of philosophy. During this period, newly vested brothers aim to deepen their understanding of the charism they acquired during the novitiate by living in a community. They spend a month during their summer break in a remote location, away from distractions, to focus on their personal growth. Concurrently, they continue their philosophy studies, which are a mandatory requirement for clerical candidates. Non-clerical brothers are also encouraged to participate in these courses alongside their clerical peers.

The philosophy course, lasting three years, is designed to help brothers develop their personal convictions, mature intellectually, and gain an integrated understanding of the world. This enables them to engage in meaningful dialogue with contemporary society, addressing its challenges in a manner characteristic of the Franciscan Capuchin tradition. For those brothers who have not completed their graduation course, they are given the opportunity to do so as external students during the philosophy course.

Regency (Community Formation)

In the Capuchin Franciscan formation process, community experience or regency is a significant stage where young men discerning a vocation to Capuchin life engage in practical ministry and service while living in community with other friars. This period is designed to help them grow in their spiritual and ministerial skills, fostering a deeper understanding of the Capuchin way of life and their role within it.

During regency, the young friars typically serve in various ministries, such as teaching, pastoral work, or social services, while living in a community with other friars. This experience allows them to apply the spiritual and theological knowledge they have gained through their studies to real-world situations, developing their skills in areas like communication, leadership, and collaboration.

Regency is seen as a crucial step in the formation process, as it helps the young friars to integrate their spiritual and intellectual growth with practical service and community living. This integration is essential for the development of the Capuchin friars' unique blend of contemplation and action, which is central to their charism.

Theology (Theological Formation)

After a year of regency, Capuchin clerical candidates transition to the Theologate, where they engage in Christian theology, exploring the concepts of God, the world, others, and self through the lens of faith. This phase, lasting around three and a half years, involves immersing themselves in the rich tapestry of local customs, traditions, and wisdom. Here, they solidify their commitment to the Capuchin Order, receive minor Orders such as the Diaconate, undergo pastoral training, and face comprehensive exams, both written and oral. Upon completion of their studies, they return to their province, equipped with knowledge and readiness to serve their community and the Province.