Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It is worth keeping in mind that the Catholic Church, though gathered by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, is also a human organization, as are its many religious institutes. As such, it aims to follow the best practices of organizations as it manages its mission. Among these practices are those that assess the gifts and talents, skills, behavior and attitude, and performance of its members.

It is fitting and appropriate for the Capuchins as a religious organization to assess the progress its brothers are making as they discern their call into religious life and grow as friars. Therefore, there are formal moments of evaluation during initial formation.

There are two formal moments of evaluation in postulancy. The first is in December, near the midpoint of the program, and again in April as postulants decide whether to continue on to novitiate. These times of evaluation are designed to help the postulant and fraternity discern together. As the postulant reflects on his growth in community life, spiritual life, and personal life, the fraternity offers its impressions on how the postulant has developed and provides feedback.

According to the province, "The evaluation process is to be a tool for growth. It should recognize and reinforce those ways the postulant has successfully integrated and lived out the values of the Capuchin life. It should clarify any questions that the postulant has about this form of life or the fraternity has about the behavior of the postulant. It should identify the edges of growth where conscious, ongoing effort will be needed to more fully live the Capuchin life. The evaluation will serve as a reference point for the formation process as it progresses."

The evaluation process itself moves in three steps. First, there is peer evaluation. The postulants will prepare short written evaluations about each of their fellow postulants concerning development in community life, personal life, and spiritual life. The postulants receive a series of questions to guide the preparation of these evaluations. These will be submitted to each postulant and the postulancy co-directors. These brief reports are meant to be affirming and challenging evaluations that create an environment of openness and transparency within the fraternity. Second, there is the self-evaluation. Drawing on the peer evaluations, as well as the series of stimulus questions, each postulant will write a self-report. The self-evaluations are submitted to the postulancy co-directors. Finally, the postulancy co-directors prepare their own evaluations drawing on the peer evaluations, self-evaluations, and feedback from ministry site supervisors and others who have observed the postulant in discernment. Each postulant will meet in a conference with the co-directors to discuss their evaluation, which will become part of his formation file.

I look forward to an affirming, challenging, and enlightening evaluation process. May the Spirit of holy wisdom guide our reflections and touch them with compassion.

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