Posts Tagged ‘Novices’

Jesuit Novices Profess First Vows as Commitment to the Society

Jesuit novices after professing first vows.

From top: Novices in Seattle; St. Paul; DeWitt, N.Y.; and Grand Coteau, La.

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.

Novice Director Guides New Jesuits on Their Journey

Jesuit Father Tom Lamanna This month, 40 men entered the Society of Jesus in the United States as novices. Their path to priesthood — called formation — can take upwards of ten years and begins at one of four Jesuit novitiates across the country.

Oregon Province Jesuit Father Tom Lamanna has been the director of novices at Ignatius House, a novitiate in Culver City, Calif., for the past decade.

He says that one of the graces that comes with his job is “being able to walk very closely with people in their relationship with Jesus. That’s very holy ground.”

According to Fr. Lamanna, the community dynamic at the novitiate is unique because it’s the first stage of formation and the novices are asked to pull back from their previous lives.

“We give them an experience of Jesuit community and a study of the life of Ignatius and the founding documents of the Jesuits,” says Fr. Lamanna. “Then the novices and the Society can decide if it’s the right fit,” he explains.

For Fr. Lamanna, the most life-giving aspect of his job is guiding men through the Spiritual Exercises. “To watch the spirit and Jesus at work with them at a very deep level is a real privilege,” he says.

To learn more about Fr. Lamanna’s job as director of novices, view the Ignatian News Network video below.

Jesuit Novices Prepare to Pronounce First Vows

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.

Eight Enter the California and Oregon Provinces’ Novitiate for the Society of Jesus

Entrance Day into the Novitiate is a busy day, often filled with many emotions. Some Novices come by themselves, with just their luggage. Others bring their entire families to say goodbye. One thing is certain: all are welcomed with open arms. Eight new California and Oregon novices entered the joint Jesuit novitiate in Culver City, California in late August to begin their two year experience of prayer, community life, and service to God’s people in the Society of Jesus. Share their entrance day by checking out the video below.

Testing and Experimenting: Life in the Jesuit Novitiate

Jesuit novice Penn Dawson

Second-year Jesuit novice Penn Dawson in the remote village of Karasabai in Guyana.

A scientist who has an idea that he wants to test runs to his laboratory. There he applies various tests to see whether his initial idea was a sound one. Some people use the laboratory analogy to try to explain the novitiate experience, and in many ways a “lab” is an accurate analogy for this first stage in Jesuit formation.

When a man enters the novitiate, he has a good idea that God is calling him to become a Jesuit – he has discerned and spent many hours in the application process being interviewed by Jesuits, doctors and even a psychologist – but he has never lived as a Jesuit; he has not yet tested his vocation. Likewise, the Society of Jesus has a good idea that the man they have admitted is a good fit, but it needs some real life experiences with this man to know for sure. The novitiate is this time of testing and discernment.

One of the reasons a laboratory is a good analogy for the novitiate is because St. Ignatius designed the novitiate to have specific tests which are called “experiments.” No, novices are not asked to deliver electric shocks to one another, nor does the novice master ring a bell before meals and measure salivation. Instead, the various experiments, many conceived by Ignatius himself, test whether a novice can do what Jesuits do and live as Jesuits live.

The first experiment is arguably the most important – the undertaking of the full 30 day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In this powerful and moving experience, a novice moves through the retreat, seeking to know and follow Christ more closely and to more clearly hear His voice in his life. He will draw on this experiment for the rest of his Jesuit life.

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