In Montefalco, currently, we are four brothers:
Fr. Tonello Raphael (Italian) guardian of the convent;
Fr. Bahjat Karakach (Syrian) master of postulants;
Fr. Pelayo Agustin (Mexican) vocational animator and vice master.
Fr. Antonino Milazzo (Italian).
In October 2011, a dear member of our community left us to return to the house of the Father, is Fr. Giovanni Battistelli, that we remember with great affection.
We are seven Postulants:
- Javier Ignacio Jubal Lazo (Chile)
- George Jamal (Syria)
- Kemal Kemal (Cypros)
- Paolo Cesar José Paulista (Brazil)
- Vicente Avelino Barrios de la Lastra (Spain)
- Alfredo Enmanuel Díaz (Argentina)
- Ernesto Luis López Minoli (Argentina)
We’re in one of the oldest sanctuaries in Umbria: the church of San Fortunato of Montefalco. Here are venerated the remains of this saint, its patron, who died here in 395 A.D. The first church was later built by San Severo, a knight of the city of Martana, who had it consecrated in 402 and lived there until 445, the date of his death. In 1443 this place was acquired by the Franciscans of the Observance in order to build a monastery, the same monastery that now, after various renovations is home to the initial phase of Franciscan life.
You might ask yourself: why this place exactly? Well! Above all, here you have the privilege of beginning your path of vocational discernment right here in the “Franciscan Holy Land.” In fact, it’s in this area that Saint Francis was born, grew up and followed the Lord. Holy sites such as Assisi, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Spoleto, Gubbio, Rivotorto and other sanctuaries bring to mind the life, events and stories of the Seraphic Father. This setting provides an intimate and frequent contact with the environment in which the Order was born, with the places that saw the first and the last steps of the Poverello of Assisi. In addition, this house is found in one of the most verdant and scenic areas of Umbria. The garden and woods which surround the monastery offer a rare possibility to immerse oneself in silence and contemplation, fundamental conditions for this first phase of discernment.
During this phase, you’ll have all the possible help for verifying your decision to initiate the following of Jesus Christ according to the Franciscan way of life in the Holy Land, and to adequately prepare yourself for Novitiate. For this we will give particular attention to your growth as a person, to your ability to be a part of an international community, to confront you with its riches and its difficulties, and to listen to the voice of the Lord through your companions. To support you in this, we offer an enriching program:
In a climate of serenity and prayer, you’ll have direct contact with the Word of God: daily Eucharist, frequent confession, the liturgy of the hours, lectio divina and devotional practices, which will give you continual exposure to the Word of life. This Word will be your guide, consolation for your heart and ideal for your existence. You’ll meditate on it and share it with your brothers, and in this you’ll also listen to the marvels that God has worked in them, and you’ll praise Him because you’ll know that “His love is eternal.”
You’ll also have formative encounters that embrace different fields: the Christian vocation, biblical and Franciscan spirituality, psychology, liturgy, song, etc. You’ll have the opportunity to be together with the others and share their culture, story and experience. Not only that, thanks also to frequent encounters with the postulant director you’ll be personally accompanied in your path of vocational discernment. There’s a lot to learn and discover because, as Psalm 133 says, “there the Lord sends His blessing”, everywhere that “brothers live in unity.”
Saint Francis wanted to follow Christ poor and crucified and to embrace Him by means of the lepers of his time. Today, also, our world is full of different types of “leprosy”: you’ll have the grace of encountering Christ through contact with the disadvantaged of our society; you’ll have the gift of seeing them smile and rejoice every moment that you spend with them, working, eating and praying.
Manual work will also be an important training ground for your soul thirsting for happiness! Here, working together with the others and fulfilling the different responsibilities given to you, your sense of responsibility and belonging to a common project will grow. With humble daily fatigue you build, here and now, the Kingdom of God; working the land with simplicity you prepare, almost without realizing it, the terrain of your existence to welcome the rain of Grace and to mature the fruits of the Spirit.
What’s more, you’ll be given the opportunity to taste the joy and the fatigue of the apostolate. With the Franciscans you’ll live a unique experience: as missionaries. This is a time of grace not only for hundreds of people thirsty for an encounter with God – who thanks to your effort will be satisfied and will change their lives – but above all for you, who search for the face of God. You’ll experience firsthand what Jesus says: “The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few!” You’ll also verify better whether the Lord is calling you to give your life to bear witness to the Risen One, in the simple and joyous style of Francis of Assisi.
Your heart longs for the land where “the Word was made flesh.” The year of postulancy provides an opportunity to listen better to that voice that suggested to you the idea of serving God and humanity in the places that guard the memories of our redemption. For this, some time will be reserved to introduce you to this enchanting reality: the formation of this year will be oriented towards the knowledge – also direct – of the Holy Land, where people of diverse religions and creeds live together, where the liturgies are more alive and colorful, where millions of pilgrims come from afar to pray, where one day you too could be a drop of water in a spiritual desert…
If you feel that the Lord is calling you to this life, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re waiting to hear from you!