February 21, 2014 — In 2013, 22 men were called to final vows in the Society of Jesus in the United States, the final step in their formation as Jesuits.
As novices, they pronounced simple and perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, which have sustained them through their years of Jesuit formation and in their ministerial work. Now, in final vows, these Jesuits have renewed the vows made as novices and have been received into full membership in the Society of Jesus.
“Final vows are a great time for celebration,” said Jesuit Father Gerard Stockhausen, executive secretary of the Jesuit Conference. “After many years of formation and active ministry, the Society of Jesus affirms each of these Jesuits and invites them into an even deeper commitment of their lives to God and to the people of God.”
Jesuits make their final vows after completing the five distinct stages of Jesuit formation: novitiate, first studies, regency, theology and tertianship.
As Jesuit Father Flavio I. Bravo explained, the entirety of his formation experience moved him closer toward accepting the vows and deepening his relationship with Christ. “The journey to final vows opened me to greater availability and has given me multiple opportunities where grace after grace unfolds and reveals God’s presence in my life,” he wrote.
Following the two-year novitiate phase, Jesuits complete philosophy and theology training in first studies, work in active ministry or religious outreach during regency and continue their studies during theology, which leads to ordination for priestly candidates.
Then, Jesuits undertake further graduate studies or full-time ministry for three to five more years before entering tertianship, a final phase that lasts from six months to one year. This stage asks Jesuits to carefully review their formation and consists of intense spiritual reflection, ministry among the poor and close study of foundational Jesuit documents. They examine thoroughly why they became Jesuits and what Christ is calling them to do.
Once a Jesuit has reached a deeper level of discernment and is ready to place himself at the complete service of the Church, he is called by the Superior General of the Jesuits in Rome to final vows.
“My vows are a concrete expression of gratitude to God — a grateful loving response to the love of God,” wrote Jesuit Father Arturo Araujo. “To take the vows is to be vulnerable like Jesus our Master and the very people we are called to minister to.”
“These men give witness to the power of love in this world — that human beings can indeed surrender their lives totally to God and that God can indeed be trusted with this total gift of themselves,” said Fr. Stockhausen.
Read about the graces that each of the Jesuits who professed final vows in 2013 have discovered along their vocational journeys. They have been journeys of surrender, gratitude, availability, surprise, joy, love and many blessings.