Postulancy is the entrance into Capuchin life and formation. The Postulancy is a minimum one year period of discernment for men who are somewhat sure that they are being called to the Capuchin life. The word is “somewhat” because it is difficult to have more certainty without having experienced Capuchin life firsthand, which is what the Postulancy allows one to do. When a person applies to the Postulancy program, he is not committing himself for life. Rather, he is taking time to come and live in a Capuchin friary, and to participate in community life. The Postulant joins the friars for daily Mass, praying the Divine Office, periods of meditation, meals, and fraternal times.
In addition, he also attends classes, and volunteers in some kind of apostolate or service to the poor. Classes include Catholic doctrine, Liturgy, Prayer, and Franciscan studies. With the exception of some classes in Catholic doctrine taught outside the friary, the classes are not formally academic. There is some required reading for each class, but the focus is on discussion and reflection on the various topics.
The purpose of the Postulancy is to help the person discern if the Lord is calling him to live as a Capuchin Franciscan. If by the end of the discernment period, the Postulant discovers this to be the case, he then applies to the next level of formation, the Novitiate.
The Postulancy application process itself may take six to eight weeks. An administration board made up of friars from the Capuchin Province of St. Conrad meets in order to process the applications, and make a recommendation to the Provincial Minister. The Provincial Minister of the Province then sends a letter to welcome the Postulants into the program. The future Postulant will then receive a letter from the Postulancy Director to inform him of what is necessary to bring, the beginning date and what should be left behind for the duration of the postulancy period.
In order to enter into a deeper discernment of God’s will, persons discerning are asked to make a reasonable break their past in order to be free enough to make a prayerful choice with regard to the Lord’s call.
So, for example, the Postulant is asked to take care of any major financial debts and to resign from present employment; he is also asked to put aside financial responsibilities during his stay with us. If he is presently in studies at a university or college, he is asked to take a break from that pursuit as well. This allows the Postulant to have the time and freedom in his life to give himself to prayer, discernment, reading, and work with the poor. Then whether he decides that he is called to the Capuchin Franciscan life or not, at least he will be satisfied that he gave sufficient time and reflection to that possibility.