Is God calling you to be a Capuchin? Each year a small group of men set aside time to discern this question as they work together with the friars in our postulancy program. This year, the Province of St. Joseph is helping guide the faith formation of Arnaud Dadjo who is serving out his year of postulancy at St. Francis of Assisi Monastery in Milwaukee. From his humble beginnings in Cameroon, Africa over 6,000 miles away, Arnaud now works among those experiencing homelessness and poverty in the American Midwest as he discerns God’s call on his life.
Arnaud comes to us from a family of eight, growing up in Cameroon in the capital city of Yaoundé. His mother strongly encouraged him in his faith while he was young and, although his father was not a Christian at the time, he too supported Arnaud’s faith formation. Arnaud attended Catholic school, served as a lector and even sang in his choir all the while feeling a strong pull to his faith and to the priesthood. This pull would eventually lead him to live among the Holy Ghost Missionaries that ran his home parish as he sought to be even more involved with the church’s ministries as he got older.
Change of Plans
After four years of living and serving at his parish, something changed. Arnaud had broken his leg in a motorcycle accident and was forced to attend a hospital in Dubai, a Muslim state, where he had been told that there was no Catholic Church. It took him about two-to-three months to heal and Arnaud stopped attending Mass. In fact, this break caused him to move on from his desire to join the priesthood for a time and he began attending a culinary school to become a chef instead.
One day, an advertisement during a movie informed him that the Pope was coming to visit Dubai. He learned that there was in fact a Catholic church in Dubai where the Pope would be visiting. St. Mary’s Catholic Church was just 21 miles away from him, and many Capuchin priests were serving there. Arnaud was inspired to visit the church and while there, he began reconnecting with his faith. He formed a relationship with a Capuchin friar named Fr. Tanios Geagea, OFM Cap who helped Arnaud continue his process of discernment, becoming his spiritual director. “I became very invested in what the Capuchins were doing in Dubai,” said Arnaud, “and I took an interest in becoming a Capuchin.”
Traveling to the U.S.
After a time, Arnaud heard that there was a Capuchin from the United States coming to visit the parish. Br. Zoilo “Zoy” Garibay, OFM Cap. was visiting from the Province of St. Joseph to showcase St. Lawrence Seminary High School. Arnaud met Br. Zoy, and expressed interest in joining the Capuchins in the United States. He was referred to the vocations office where he spoke back and forth with the province for the next year and eventually met Br. Michael Joseph “MJ” Groark, the current vocations director. “The first time I met Br. MJ I was convinced that this was something I wanted to do,” said Arnaud. “I began following the province's channel on YouTube. I watched Br. MJ’s testimony and listened to his story and it was so inspiring... I felt a connection.”
Arnaud made the decision to visit the U.S. He did two “Come and See” retreats, visiting ministry sites both in Milwaukee and Detroit where the Capuchin friars work with those in poverty, providing basic needs like clothing, food, and shelter. “I never saw that kind of stuff back home in Cameroon,” said Arnaud. “My only experience had been the parishes.” It was then that he made the final decision to come to the United States and enter the Capuchin postulancy program.
A Year of Postulancy
As a postulant, Arnaud lives with postulants from other provinces at St. Francis of Assisi Monastery and assists with public ministry at Capuchin Community Services. His postulancy experience also includes in-house classes with Capuchin teachers learning basic catechesis, prayer and discernment and opportunities to grow in community with other friars during meals and other aspects of communal life.
“It’s been a year of discovery,” said Arnaud. “During this year we learn to know ourselves and the order to which we aspire. We learn to know who we are, what kind of person we are, and what our faith is. We learn the fundamentals of the Christian faith, the life of St. Francis, the Catholic Church, and community life and although we are not professed friars yet, the friars living with us are so willing to help us grow and understand. Living in community with the other friars has helped me to get closer to God. Praying together, eating together, growing together... it’s difficult not to get closer to God!”
This July, Arnaud will be eligible to apply for the Novitiate in California and to move on to the next level of his formation. “I’m looking forward to continuing into the next level of my formation,” he said, “but I’m aware that the decision is not all up to me. It is for me, my formator, and God to decide as well, but I’ll be open to what God has for me in the next year.” When asked if he has any advice for others interested in joining the Capuchin order, Arnaud leaves us with one final word. “There will be good and bad days, but God will be in all of those days, so do not be afraid.”
Please join us in praying for Arnaud as he continues his path of discernment and for all new vocations to religious life!