Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This August, Casey Cole, a young man who worships with us when he is home from college and a recent graduate of Furman University in Greenville, SC will be joining the initial formation program of the Franciscans of Holy Name Province. Casey is a 2007 graduate of Green Hope High School in Cary and the oldest of three. Last week he joined the friars for dinner and shared this reflection with us on what led to his decision to join the friars.
Up until two years ago, I had never even considered religious life; it was too hard, too pious, and I had never met anyone in religious life to which I could relate. I knew I was called to ministry, but like many of my generation, I had an ignorant understanding of consecrated life and the idea of taking vows kept me from taking any steps towards a more enlightened one. That’s until I was invited by the campus minister at my college, Fr. Patrick Tuttle O.F.M., to spend a summer with three other students on the campus of his church. He wanted us to live, pray, and work as a community, offering ourselves as a service to the Church.
To my surprise, I have never had a more fulfilling experience! The community we formed was a source of life for all of us that kept us rejuvenated and ready to live the Gospel, no matter how long or tough the day’s work was. With this as our foundation, work transformed from “something we have to do” to “something we get to do.”
When the summer ended, I realized that my conception of a religious life in community had changed dramatically, and frankly, it scared me. God had completely altered the life plan I had for myself and He forced me to take this new option seriously. The best advice I received was to pursue this possible calling with all my heart; only then would I know whether or not it was for me.
Knowing that this was sound advice, I spent Summer 2010 between my junior and senior year of college at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, Pa. Not only was I able to witness Franciscan community living out the Gospel as Francis did, I was able to experience (to a lesser extent) the life of a Franciscan. Through prayer, work, and humble living I was given a small taste of the life Franciscans enjoy each and every day. Combined with an opportunity to travel to other friaries and meet a large number of friars, and reading a lot of material on Francis’ life and thought, I found myself wanting to enjoy this life myself.
I would not be in the position that I’m in, entering the order this August, had it not been for great friars encouraging me to give the life a chance. I knew that even in the worst-case scenario, all I had to lose was a summer; what I was set to gain was much greater. I encourage everyone to take that step and see what God might have in store for them.
Casey will join five other young men in our postulancy program in Wilmington, Delaware. For more information about the friars and our formation program go to www.beafranciscan.org.
In the peace of Christ,