Jesuit Formation: The Novitiate
The ordinary course of formation will take ten to eleven years for most scholastics, and seven to eight years for most brothers, entering the Society in the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces. As the Church and as the world around us change, the fundamental thrust of our formation is to prepare priests and brothers who are well educated, trained in the Spiritual Exercises, with skills to minister in a diverse and ever changing environment.
The first two years of a Jesuit's life are spent in the novitiate program. The four fundamental goals during this time are verification of one's vocation, a more intimate relationship with the Lord, growth in authentic self knowledge and an increasing love for the Society of Jesus.
For the first-year novices, the first two weeks in the Novitiate are a time for reading, discussion, and reflection in order to affirm the man's desire to be incorporated into the Jesuit Novitiate. During their first semester, they participate in three classes: conferences on Jesuit Life, its History and its Customs; an introduction to the person of Jesus in Scripture; and basic or intermediate-level Spanish. They also participate in a local ministry.
In January, the novices make the Spiritual Exercises, a thirty-day, silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius Loyola. Following the long retreat, they make a pilgrimage to either Guadalajara, Mexico; Kingston, Jamaica; or Pine Ridge, SD; where they live, work, and pray alongside Jesuits in another culture.
The first-year novices reunite in late spring to work at Calvary Hospital, located in the Bronx. At Calvary, novices work together with hospital caregivers to meet the basic, physical needs of terminal cancer patients. Early June brings each novice to his respective province for Ordinations and Province Days. Finally, he returns to Syracuse for a period of reflection and rest, and later the opportunity to visit his family.
The second-year novices also live in Syracuse during the first semester and participate in two classes plus selected seminars. In addition, they engage in local ministry. From January through May, each novice works full-time at a Jesuit apostolate. In June, they return to Syracuse for a an 8-day vow retreat in preparation for their profession of perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Society of Jesus.