The newly professed with Provincial David Gaa
Each Rite of Profession is unique, but the July 2 ceremony at the novitiate in Santa Barbara, Calif., was especially profound for the US-6 novices making their first vows. Before the familiar liturgy, with its familiar readings and rituals, Br. Joshua Richter of St. John the Baptist Province thought back to last year. “As I prepared for the Profession to start,” he said, “I remembered the start of the novitiate at the Chapter of Mats in Denver in front of 400 friars, and now at the end of the year with only minimum guests as a result of the coronavirus.”
The size of the group didn’t matter, as Joshua and eight of his brothers, masked for the sake of safety, professed their first vows in the Friars Lounge, a site chosen to afford appropriate distancing.
“I remember looking around the room and seeing my classmates from the past two years and remembering how far we have come together,” he said, “and looking at our formators and remembering all the work they had done for us over the past year to help make the novitiate program.”
In his homily, Provincial Minister David Gaa of St. Barbara Province spoke about the mission of the friars to heal the sick and bring back those who have lost their way – a mission needed more than ever at this moment in history. He reminded the novices that they would likely be the first to make profession in the new Franciscan province.
For Joshua, “It was very surreal kneeling in front of the provincial, placing my hands in his and professing the vows with a mask on. It reminded me of a question posed to us at the beginning of the pandemic: ‘How do we live out our Franciscan life and minister to others in this world separated by quarantine?’”
After prayers and blessings, wearing cords given by their mentors, the newly professed gathered in the courtyard for a photo of this transitional moment. “Our world, our Order, and our way of life is constantly changing,” Joshua said. “We see that with the R+R and again with the pandemic. I am just starting on this path and I am excited to see where God will lead me.”
(Thanks to Michael Blastic, OFM, for sharing his notes from the Profession.)
The newly professed friars by province:
Holy Name: Edgar Alberto, Michael Specht, and Carlos Wagnert.
Sacred Heart: Neil Pavao
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Zachary Zeman
St. John the Baptist: Joshua Richter
Our Lady of Guadalupe: Jose Maria de Jesus and Osornio Rodriguez
Santa Barbara: Adolfo Mercado and Nathaniel Bruce Tran