Postulancy is the first stage of Franciscan formation. In Postulancy a person is asking to learn more about the Franciscan way of life within the context of the Order. Postulancy can last from six months upto two years. This is a great period of learning for the Postulant. This is a time to learn about the ministerial and fraternal lives of the Order. As well as learning about the Founders, Saint Francis and Saint Clare. While postulants are not official members of the Order, their presence and contribution has a great place within the community.
After completing Postulancy period, the Postulant then moves onto Novitiate. The word novice means beginner. The start of Novitiate, means the beginning of the Novice's formal beginning as an official member of the Order. The Novitiate period focuses on a more intense life within the community and is a continued period of study and discernement. As a member of the Order, the Novice recieves part of the Habit, which includes a Tunic, Plain Cord, and Capuche.
After the one year Novitiate, the Novice is then invited to profess Simple Vows. This period of Simple Profesison lasts for a minimum of three years. During this time there is still a great focus on learning and discernement. For those seeking ordained ministry, their philosophical and theological studys may begin. This is also a time to focus on the apostolate that the member would like to be a part of or offer to the people. When Simple Profession is made, the Newly Professed receives the remainder of the habit, which includes a Scapular, and Cord with three knots. The knots in the cord represent the Three Evangelical Counsels or Vows, which are Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.
Once the time of Simple Profesion has passed and the petitions to their superiors have been recieved, they make vows of Poverty, Chastity, and obedience, for the rest of their lives