On September 5, 2023, after completing their year of religious formation as postulants, in Gniezno, Poland, seven candidates began their novitiate year in the village of Smardzewice, near the city of Tomaszów Mazowiecki in Poland. Six of the candidates were from Poland and one was from Slovakia. They were all vested in the Franciscan habit by their Superiors, who came from the Provinces of Warsaw, Cracow, and Gdańsk, as well as the Custody of Slovakia.

Friar Mirosław BARTOS, the Vicar Provincial of the Province of the Immaculate Mother of God in Poland (Warsaw), presided over the ceremony. Friar Marian GOŁĄB, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow), gave the homily.
Friar Marian pointed out that St. Francis of Assisi, miserable and poor, wore a habit made of rough, coarse cloth as a sign of mortification and poverty. He also wore it as a means of living out his chosen spiritual path by crucifying his body with its vices and sins. “The habit is the spiritual armor that protects the friar minor from the attacks of the evil spirit,” explained Friar Marian. “The Franciscan Crown [rosary] is the sword with which he fights for God’s sovereignty in the world. The cord recalls Franciscan penance and the vows. It helps the friar defend against concupiscence through the purity of God’s grace and power.”
Friar Wojciech KULIG, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Poland (Gdańsk), spoke on behalf of the four Major Superiors and exhorted the friars to cling to the Lord God during this blessed year: “The deeper your relationship with God is, the easier your path in religious life will be,” he said.
Friar Martin M. KOLLÁR, the Custos of the Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. in Slovakia, thanked the friars of Poland for offering formation to his novice in a land that preserves the legacy of St. Maximilian; a land sanctified by so many blesseds and saints.
The incoming novices and the outgoing novices, who had just completed their novitiate year, participated in a five-day retreat together. The Secretary General, Friar Tomasz SZYMCZAK, led the meditations.

Friar Jan Maria SZEWEK