October 4, 2021 — The Society of Jesus in the United States, Canada and Haiti welcomed 34 new Jesuit novices this August at novitiates in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, Quebec and Haiti. They have taken the initial step on their journey toward Jesuit priesthood or brotherhood, known as “Jesuit formation,” which can take a total of eight to 12 years.
Meet the 2021 Novices
In these first two years as novices, the men will learn what it means to live in community, adopt the rhythm of daily prayer and deepen their understanding of God’s call to the Society. They have selflessly devoted their lives to the service of the marginalized, to the church, to God and to each other.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, who co-founded the Society in 1540, first defined the elements of Jesuit formation in his Jesuit Constitutions. Jesuit novices still follow this plan today — adapted to the modern world.
The novices will complete a comprehensive program of service, ministry, study and prayer, methodically devised to help Jesuits grow in their relationships with Christ and identify how they can best serve him and all humankind. The new Jesuits attend orientation sessions, take on house jobs, share vocation stories and visit local Jesuit ministries.
Typical days at the novitiate consist of classes taught by the director and his assistant (known as the Socius), as well as daily Mass, group prayer and discussion of their spiritual journeys.
The novices will complete a series of “experiments” to explore their vocations and help them discern the specific ways they might be called to serve the church.
Novices also make St. Ignatius’ 30-day Spiritual Exercises silent retreat, which they commonly regard as the most meaningful part of the novitiate.
In the second year of their novitiate, novices are missioned to an assignment at a Jesuit-run organization, similar to an internship. Called a “long experiment,” this segment of the novitiate lasts several months.
As novices, Jesuits in the U.S. and Canada spend one of their summers at Regis University in Denver at a conference on Jesuit history, delving more intensely into St. Ignatius’ life while meeting their peers at other novitiates.
After two years, the hope is that novices will have become confident in their vocations, nurtured a more intimate relationship with God and developed a profound love for the Society of Jesus. At the end of their time as novices, they profess first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. No longer novices, they are called “scholastics” as they continue to the next stage of Jesuit formation, First Studies, for two years of graduate-level philosophy courses.
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit beajesuit.org for more information.