This year, three young men were invited by us to spend a year in our community in Trois Rivières as postulants. Postulancy is the first step into our way of life, the year prior to novitiate, and it is chance for them to get to know us. We asked them to introduce themselves and share their experience with you! Here are their responses.
Aldin Francis Canobas
I am Aldin Francis Canobas, 32 years old, from Calgary, Alberta, and originally from the Philippines. I am the eldest of three children of Felix and Florida and I have two sisters, Angeli and Ara. I grew up in a migrant’s family. For about 20 years, my mom worked in Saudi Arabia as a Registered Nurse, but about 10 years ago, we were all able to live together as a family here in Canada.
I remember high school when one of the Religious Sisters who are in-charge of our school spoke to me and encouraged me to join the seminary. I was active in the choir, youth ministry and I was a student volunteer catechist. Sister told me that she can see a potential of me becoming a good priest. Being young with all my dreams and ideals, I politely said no and afterwards did not really think about my vocation for a long time.
I studied Nursing at University of Santo Tomas. Then our family migrated to Canada in 2010. I continued my pursuit of career and success, did the bridging program with Mount Royal University and was able to practice as a Registered Nurse for 5 years in Hemodialysis and Psychiatry & Mental Health. I also worked as a deli clerk, care aide in homecare and hospital, and support worker in a homeless shelter before working as a nurse.
While in this pursuit, I encountered Christ even more deeply through the young adult ministry CFC Singles for Christ. I journeyed with them as a member, became a servant leader and eventually worked for a year as a Missionary/Pastoral Worker before deciding to join the postulancy program of the Franciscans.
In the Gospel of Luke (14:16-18) we hear: “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses.” That was me, too, for several years since I knew I heard God’s call to follow him. I could have entered the diocesan seminary or joined the Franciscans already in 2013, but I kept making excuses: pursuit of success, desire to give my parents a good life, dreams for my very own family, fear of uncertainties, and the list goes on.
It was during my missionary year with Singles for Christ that I was able to look back and really reflect on my life and saw how all the excuses I had can not be used as an excuse anymore as God had already taken care of them. I saw how faithful and unrelenting God is in his pursuit of me. Just like the servants in the gospel, the Franciscans through Brothers Carlos Ona, Dan Gurnick, and Joachim Yoon never tired of inviting me and accompanying me. Now here, I am embarking on the exciting journey of responding to God’s pursuit and discovering even more deeply my vocation.
If someone had told me two years ago that I would become a Franciscan postulant, I would not have believed them. I had my future planned out (so I thought). I was going to become a university professor, get married, and have a nice, big Catholic family.
My outlook changed last November, when I attended a party hosted by Franciscan Sisters in Hamilton, Ontario. I was curious about their lifestyle, since I had not met many religious, and had thought that all orders were cloistered. They did a lot of ministry work for families and the homeless, but also rooted themselves in contemplative prayer and daily Eucharistic Adoration. This way of life really intrigued me, and I started researching other Franciscan orders and wondering if maybe I could have a call to be a friar.
After Christmas, I attended the Rise Up Youth Conference run by Catholic Christian Outreach, seeing it as a great opportunity to explore some more and maybe even meet some friars. During one of the talks, I found myself gazing at the onstage crucifix, filled with an understanding that I belong in totality to Christ. Though I realize that in some sense that is true of any person, I saw it as an invitation to surrender myself to him—to make an offering of myself by whole-heartedly accepting the possibility of a religious vocation. I took this to heart and made sure to visit the booth the Franciscans of Canada were running. There I met Brothers Dan Gurnick and Gerry Clyne from Cochrane. I told them I was considering the Franciscan life, we chatted for a few hours, and they invited me to come to their Come-and-See in Edmonton in February. I waited eagerly for my visit to the friary, and started asking Our Lady, Star of the Sea for guidance in the discernment process.
February came, and I made my trip. I felt at home during my stay, like I had found a place where I belonged. The most memorable event for me was Taizé night. We were singing by candlelight in the chapel, each holding a candle that had been lit from the candle on the altar, and we were invited to place our lights in front of the altar if we felt moved to do so. This brought into my mind again the idea of my life belonging to Christ, my flame having come from his own on the altar, and being invited to offer it back to Him.
By the end of the weekend, I had come to the conclusion that I should take the next step and apply to the postulancy. There is no way to make a decision to enter religious life while sitting in one’s room at home—I knew I needed to continue my discernment living alongside the friars and sharing in their daily life. It is a move I am happy to have made, and I pray that the Lord will lead all three of us postulants toward the vocation he has prepared for us.
My name is Hawkins Choi and I was born in Hong Kong on December 10, 1985 and I was baptized 1987. I am a carpenter. I like to read, listen to classical music, but I enjoy Eucharistic Adoration the most. I like to spend time with God without thinking or doing anything, and simply be in the presence of the Eucharist. On the other hand, I can also be a very active person and I enjoy group events. I enjoy sports, as I used to play
Badminton with a group of friends. I also enjoy nature, where I can just marvel at God’s work. I actually love to pray for people and walking around the street praying for people. Finding God in each of them is something I enjoy.
I was a committee member of our parish’s youth group, Youth of St. Agnes Church. One of its activities is an important annual retreat for about 50 youth, hosted on the long weekend of Victoria Day. In 2014, our speaker was Fr. Conrad, a Franciscan of Immaculate Conception Province. It was at this retreat when I began to learn a little about the Franciscans and St. Francis of Assisi. I went to my first “Come and See” in 2015. After two years of discernment, when I was about to take action on God’s calling, I found something different at another “Come and See”. I felt like home. It was not just that house that felt like home, but all the houses I went to later on felt this way, and all the friars I met gave me the sense of family. Then I entered the postulancy program with Immaculate Conception Province. I was with them for two years. I grew closer to St. Francis and I want to follow his steps and walk my path in the Franciscan spirit.
Unfortunately, their novitiate and house of studies are both in Italy. However, my personal medical needs do not permit moving there. At the time, I thought that was the end of my Franciscan vocation. But remember, sometimes God closes the door because he wants you to move, too. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I contacted and successfully transferred to Holy Spirit Province. Now, I am in Trois Rivières to continue my formation. I am very grateful to be here with the other seven brothers in the house and I have learned a lot from them. I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the future. Thank you for all your prayers and support and I will pray for all of you. God bless.