“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
– JEREMIAH 1:5
Is God calling you to take the next step toward your vocation?
Discerning a call to religious life can be an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking season of life. Often, all God asks us to do is to take the next right step. We’re here to help you navigate the process of discernment, answer your questions, and ultimately help you decide whether you’re called to a vocation with the Capuchin Franciscans.
Come and See
December 8-10 in Berkeley, CA
Are you discerning religious life and/or the priesthood? Would you like to know more about what it’s like to be a Capuchin Franciscan? Register for our upcoming Come and See Retreat, where you can spend a few days seeing what it’s like to live like a friar. Join us for prayers, Mass, ministry, and fraternal brotherhood.
Indicators You May Be Called to Religious Life or Priesthood:
The Journey to Becoming a Capuchin Friar
Formation isn’t just a brief period of time in religious life – it’s a lifelong endeavor. It’s an opportunity that allows us to constantly examine ourselves and our vocation so that we can better respond to God’s call. Ultimately, the goal of formation is to grow closer to Him as we live fully in the charism of the Order.
Capuchin formation involves two distinct periods: initial and ongoing formation. Initial formation is for those brothers who are starting their Capuchin life, while ongoing formation is for brothers who have made the commitment to live the evangelical counsel of Obedience, Poverty, and Chastity for the rest of their lives.
Because our vocation is the gift of the Holy Spirit, all brothers in initial and ongoing formation must strive to grow this gift through academic, human, mental, emotional, and spiritual formation while living and serving in the fraternal love of their brothers.
The journey to Capuchin life begins with Aspirancy. This is the moment where you’ve made a distinct commitment to say yes to discernment and have sought out the help of the Order to further discern this vocation.
Aspirants are candidates that have formally asked to be considered and are interested in applying into the Order. As an Aspirant, you’ll attend retreats, Come and See events, Mass, and/or community prayers along with the friars. This process helps you become more intentional about a possible commitment.
Postulancy is the beginning of a friar’s formal formation. Postulants have completed the application process and have been accepted into the program by the Order. This is a one-year period during which candidates experience the life of the Capuchin Friars.
As a Postulant, you’ll live with us, and a friar will accompany you in your first stage of formation. You’ll participate in the prayer schedule of the house, especially the Divine Office, liturgical celebrations, house work projects, chores, and fraternal activities. You’ll also be assigned to ministries throughout the year that directly serve the poor and marginalized of our society.
If, during this stage, you discern that the life of a Capuchin Friar is not for you, you can formally leave at any time by informing your director. After ten months and several evaluations, you’ll have the opportunity to petition the order to enter the next stage of formation. Upon recommendation of the Provincial Minister, you’ll then finish the last two months of Postulancy alongside other Postulants from the North American Capuchin provinces.
Many brothers look back at their Novitiate year as the best and most challenging part of their formation. Think of it as a year-long retreat to fully discern your call into the Capuchin way of life and the promises of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity as religious within the Church.
Novices spend this year away from the distractions of the world, in relative seclusion, to have the opportunity to pray about the life ahead of them. It is an intense time of discernment centered on prayer and fraternity. Ministries are minimized to allow for deeper contemplation and further clarity on the question “Am I called to be a Capuchin?”
At the end of the year, with evaluations and recommendations from their formators, Novices are invited to petition their Provincial Minister to profess the evangelical counsels of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity. This begins his life as a friar in simple vows.
Post novitiate formation is a time during which friars grow in virtue by living their vows. Led by the Director of Students, you’ll be continually formed, not only in academics but in human, psychological, and spiritual aspects of life. Your life will be a balance of prayer, academics, and ministry while living in fraternity.
Brothers in Post-Novitiate formation are considered part of the initial formation program, while perpetually professed friars are in their post-formation program. Temporarily professed brothers renew their vows every year until they reach eligibility for perpetual profession of vows. You must live the vows and renew for a minimum of three years, not exceeding nine years, to be eligible for consideration to perpetual profession.
This period of temporary profession gives you and the Order time to fully discern your vocation as a Capuchin before making a lifelong commitment.
Life of a Student Friar
Brothers without post-secondary degrees are enrolled for continuing education (Bachelors, trade, professional, etc.), while brothers who already possess undergraduate or graduate degrees can continue with courses that will help in their ministries.
Continuing from their novitiate experience, brothers participate in the daily celebration of the liturgies. Students participate in the preparation and celebration of the Mass by serving as altar servers, lectors, and acolytes. We pray the Divine Office communally each day.
Opportunities for more varied ministries are available to post-novitiate student friars. These opportunities include prison ministry, hospital chaplaincy, catechism, outreach to the poor, young-adult ministry, evangelization in universities, parish ministries, and more.
We participate in a Holy Hour with Eucharistic Adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament every Friday. Brothers participate in group faith sharing and Gospel reflections. The community observes days of recollection, especially during Lent, and encourages individual penitential practices like fasting to promote spiritual growth.
All brothers, especially those who are not in the seminary academic program, are required to take fundamental Philosophy and Theology classes to ground and reinforce their knowledge of our faith. They also continue in their study of Franciscan history, life, and spirituality.
All brothers, in the spirit of Capuchin simplicity and austerity, participate in the general upkeep of the community, which includes cooking, doing chores, cleaning, and maintaining the friary. To foster this fraternal life, brothers also come together for activities like community outings, basketball games, or just simply hanging out together.
Our Vocation Staff
We’re excited to welcome you as you enter this time of discernment!
Fr. Victor Taglianetti, OFM Cap
Br. Alex Rodriguez, OFM Cap
ASSISTANT VOCATION DIRECTOR
Frequently Asked Questions
The Capuchins are an Order of men who look to St. Francis as their founder and example in the way they live their lives. They are part of the First Order of Franciscans having the unique charism of contemplative prayer with a radical approach to austerity and simplicity of life.
St. Francis’ vision was so powerful that there are literally hundreds of groups who call themselves Franciscan. The Franciscan Order is divided up into three distinct groups. The First Order is the order of men which bears the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M.) after their name. The Second Order is the order of cloistered women (Poor Clares, Colettine Poor Clares & Capuchin Poor Clares). The Third Order includes the Secular Franciscans (OSC) which is the lay order of men and women, Third Order Regulars (TOR), and the various men and women religious orders that do not fall within the First or Second Order. The Capuchins Friars (O.F.M. Cap.) is the last reform of the First Order of Franciscans that includes the Conventuals Friars (O.F.M. Conv.) and the Friars of the Leonine Union (O.F.M.).
Cappuccino (Italian for “Capuchin”) is named after the Capuchin Franciscans. Legend has it that the whipped cream rising to a point reminded some Italian wag of a Capuchin friar with his long, pointed hood, or capuche, up, and he dubbed the coffee beverage “cappuccino.”
The drink “cappuccino” has also been attributed to Capuchin Blessed Marco of Aviano, a charismatic figure that helped Pope Innocent XI gather an army to oppose the Ottoman Empire’s expansion over Europe in the mid 17th century. It is said that after the war, the armies captured numerous bags of coffee which they found too bitter to drink. One legend said the Blessed Marco advised them to mix it with milk to sweeten it. Thus, the drink was born, and since it was the same color as the friar’s habit, they named it after the Order in honor of Blessed Marco’s contributions.
No, in fact the monkey is named after us. These creatures reminded the early Spaniards of the friars because their heads appeared shaved (like the friars who wore the tonsure) and they seemed to have beards, a trademark of the Capuchins. So they called the monkeys capuchinos, which has caused the friars delight and embarrassment ever since.
The word “Capuchin” is a reference to the long hood that the friars adopted from the Camaldolese Monks, which in Italian is called a “capuce.” In its early years, children would call them “cappuccini” as they passed along streets in the towns or cities they would minister to. The nickname eventually stuck.
The Capuchin Order, like many others, is divided into various regions, called provinces. Sometimes, a province encompasses an entire nation. At other times, there may be several provinces in a single country. In the United States, there are six provinces, and two in Canada. The Capuchin Friars of Western America comprise the Province of Our Lady of Angels, with friaries in California and Northern Mexico.
It is possible for a friar to serve anywhere in the world where there are Capuchins. In practice, a friar usually stays within his own province. Friars in Our Lady of Angels Province are usually assigned to our houses in California or Northern Mexico. The Province has ministerial responsibility for the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. The custody of San Juan Diego has ministerial responsibilities for Northern Mexico.
St. Francis of Assisi, out of a desire for minority and humility, wanted his friars to avoid high offices. Throughout history, the Church has called on Capuchin friars to become bishops, usually in missionary lands. However, friars do at times answer the call even in non-mission areas like the United States. Both Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and former Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput are Capuchin Friars Minor. There are currently 85 Capuchin Bishops serving the Church around the world.
In many ways, one never becomes a full-fledged Capuchin Franciscan friar because the vocation of a Capuchin is to continue growing in the Spirit throughout his entire life. However, there is a period of initial formation leading up to the profession of perpetual vows, and this period is between three and six years. If a friar is studying to be a priest, he will also be involved in theological studies for several years.
A college degree is not necessary to join the Capuchins, although some experience of life and work is desirable. For some ministerial work, friars are given professional and technical education, as St. Francis wanted us to use our gifts and talents in service of Jesus and the Church.
The Capuchin Franciscans are a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church, and so membership to the Order comes from among faithful Catholic men. Some friars have been Catholics from childhood, while others came into the Church later in life.
The order of friars is a brotherhood, open to faithful Catholic men. However, there are also Capuchin Poor Clare sisters who lead a contemplative life, and various communities of Sisters founded within the Capuchin ideal. There are also Secular Franciscans, men and women who try to follow the ideals of St. Francis within lay life.
We believe Jesus called some Christians to witness to the kingdom as celibates. Like any form of Christian life, this has its challenges. For the Capuchins, this celibacy is lived within a fraternal life, where the friars strive to support each other. The friars also seek God’s help in prayer to remain faithful to their vow of chastity. They also nurture life-giving friendships, among themselves and with others, especially those with whom they minister.
While seeing marriage and family life as a beautiful gift, consecrated celibacy offers us the joyful and life-giving freedom to be completely available to serve God and his Church. Living as celibates doesn’t mean we are just bachelors, but moreover, our vow of chastity calls us to love fully and wholeheartedly just as Christ has loved us. This allows a celibate to fully give himself up to the work God has asked him to do. In essence, you are given a bigger family – which is the people of the Church.
St. Francis wanted his followers to learn to put all their trust in God. While we look on all creation and the things of this world as good gifts from God, we try to live simply and trust in the Lord’s providence. Sometimes we are compensated for the work we do; often, especially in serving the poor, we have to depend on the generosity of our benefactors. It’s all part of learning to trust in God’s love for us.
Like the other vows, obedience is meant to help us grow in God’s grace. We believe that God acts through the ministers of our Order and our friaries in guiding us in grace. Our obedience is not “blind obedience,” but a faith-filled openness to going beyond our own desires and fears. It’s about having a willing heart, rather than a willfulness of having things “my way.” Ultimately, this vow is meant to help us mean it when we pray: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…”
Take the Next Step
Pursue your calling – find out more about joining the Capuchin Franciscan Order today.