The Provincial Ministers and Provincial Vicars of the North American-Pacific Capuchin Conference met for its semiannual meeting from October 17 to October 19 at the Franciscan Retreat Centre in Mono Mills, Ontario, Canada. The hospitality of the Friars Minor who manage the centre, combined with the serenity and beauty of the Ontario countryside contributed to making the meeting both productive and enjoyable.
It has become normal for the Conferences two interprovincial formation programs—the novitiate and the two-month Interprovincial Postulancy Program—to occupy a large part of the agenda, and this time was no exception. It was very clear from the discussions that the provincial councils of all the Conference's jurisdictions take their responsibility for the formation of their friars very seriously.
Here are a few of the items I found most interesting.
- There is a new website under development that will be a central repository for documents that could be of use to all the Conference's formation directors. Since many potential vocation contacts happen upon this site as well, the home page will contain vocational material and contact information for all the Conference's jurisdictions.
- We discussed ways to increase the Capuchin "footprint" in North America through projects of international fraternal collaboration. A committee was formed to develop this further.
- The Conference's directors of formation held a conversation about ways to promote the Franciscan intellectual tradition through courses on Franciscan philosophers and theologians. Given the limited number of students that take advantage of such specialized courses, it has become difficult to maintain Franciscan institutes of higher learning in the Anglophone world. Offering these courses online, however, could be a viable solution.
- There was a substantial discussion around the Interprovincial Postulancy Program (IPP). While some question whether the two months used by the IPP couldn't be more profitably spent in the regular postulancy programs, others strongly support the program. Based on the experience of the NAPCC, in fact, other parts of the world that have a common novitiate for several provinces are considering the institution of an IPP.