On September 8, 2022, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, seven friars from Poland, two from Bulgaria and one from Belarus were vested in the Franciscan habit and began their novitiate year in Smardzewice, Poland.
They will be joined by another candidate from Kazakhstan (Russian General Custody of St. Francis of Assisi) in mid-September. Before joining the novitiate, all of the candidates completed their postulancy year in Gniezno, Poland.
Those attending the rite of vesting included the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow), Friar Marian GOŁĄB; the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Poland (Gdańsk), Friar Wojciech KULIG; the Vicar Provincial of the Province of the Immaculate Mother of God in Poland (Warsaw), Friar Mirosław BARTOS; and the Delegate of the Minister Provincial in Belarus, Friar Paweł ROMAŃCZUK.
As each friar received the habit from his Major Superior, he was told, “May the Lord clothe you with the new man, who according to God is created in righteousness and holiness. May the Lord gird you with the cincture of obedience and purity, that you may faithfully follow the path of the Franciscan vocation. May the Lord place on your head the capuche of salvation to defeat the snares of the devil.”
In his homily, Friar Wojciech KULIG exhorted the confreres: “By wearing the habit, you will not immediately become saints, even though that is how people will want to see you. The path to holiness is long. Temptations will continue to torment you, perhaps even more than before, but every time you wear the religious habit, it will remind you who you belong to, who you are and the purpose of your journey.” He added, “The habit will also remind you that the Franciscan life is one of penance, a life which St. Francis strongly encourages us to lead. The habit has the shape of a cross, and the cross will become an integral part of your life…Do not refuse it. By accepting it, you will obtain salvation.” Friar Wojciech concluded by encouraging the friars to pray, to get to know the Franciscan charism and to build unity in the community.
The Novice Master, Friar Michał BRZEZICHA, expressed his joy at the fact that, after forty years, the novices of Poland are again undertaking their year of probation as one group. In fact, this year, all three of the Provinces of Poland decided that the formation of their novices would take place in a single novitiate house, in Smardzewice (Province of Warsaw).
Friar Jan M. SZEWEK