Posts Tagged ‘First vows’
A Jesuit novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in his profession of First Vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. This August, 22 Jesuit novices in the United States professed these vows at Masses around the country, signifying their commitment before God to enter the Society of Jesus to serve the church.
Five novices professed their vows at Holy Cross Church in DeWitt, N.Y.; nine novices at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Grand Coteau, La.; two novices at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minn.; and six novices at St. Joseph Church in Seattle.
During each Mass, the Jesuit novices professed their vows just before Communion. “Each one comes up and kneels before the Body and Blood of Christ and makes that profession — just as St. Ignatius and his companions did,” said Jesuit Father Fred Pellegrini, a vocation promoter for the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces.
The First Vows are significant in a Jesuit’s life. As Fr. Pellegrini explained, “It’s a public commitment to the Lord and to the Society of Jesus. And the Society is accepting that, and the commitment is there on both sides.”
For the past two years leading up to First Vows, the Jesuit novices have taken classes, participated in local ministries and lived in Jesuit communities. They have also embarked on pilgrimages, performed community service and completed the Spiritual Exercises — a 30-day silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius.
“Completing the Spiritual Exercises is the most important and significant experience for the novices,” Fr. Pellegrini said. “Everything afterward flows from that experience of the Spiritual Exercises — the offering of yourself to the Lord and confirming that in different ways. From working in a hospital to teaching children, it all comes out of the experience of the Spiritual Exercises and the relationship with Jesus.”
For Jesuit novice Tucker Redding, the community service experiments revealed a breadth of Jesuit ministries that will inspire his studies.
“With each new experience, I have found that instead of being drawn to a particular field or ministry, my interests have only grown wider and deeper,” Redding said. “I look forward to spending my life in the Jesuits, discovering new interests and talents and using them for the greater glory of God.”
Following the profession of First Vows, Jesuits usually begin two years of graduate-level philosophy studies, followed by one year of graduate-level theology study.
After two years of Jesuit formation, which includes living in community and making the Spiritual Exercises in a 30-day retreat, this month second-year U.S. Jesuit novices pronounce their first vows—perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
On August 18, New York Province Jesuits Doug Ray and Jason Downer and New England Province Jesuit Timothy Casey will pronounce their first vows in Syracuse, N.Y. In advance of the vow ceremony, the novices reflected on the significance of this event.
Doug Ray said, “Part of me thinks I should be nervous about this … but really what I’m feeling is a great deal of peace … I’m recognizing this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.”
Jason Downer expressed his excitement. “This idea of giving my life to Christ and to God and these vows is something that has grown deeper and deeper inside of me over the past two years. I can’t wait, and I’m humbled to be called a Jesuit, men that I’ve looked up to for 15 years of my life.”
Tim Casey felt at peace with vows on the horizon. “Walking with him [Jesus] is our ultimate purpose; it’s why we’re here. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s what drives our work.”
For more of Ray, Downer and Casey’s thoughts on first vows, watch the video below.