August 22, 2023 — Twenty-four Jesuit novices in the United States, Canada and Haiti pronounced first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience this month. A novice spends two years at the novitiate for the first stage of Jesuit formation, culminating in the profession of first vows in the Society of Jesus.
Vow Day Masses were held at Sacred Heart Chapel at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota; the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, New York; St. Charles Borromeo Church in Grand Coteau, Louisiana; Church of the Gesù in Montreal; and the chapel of the Missionary Sisters of Christ the King in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
At the Mass, each Jesuit novice makes the profession of vows individually in front of the Eucharist, just as St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and some of his first companions did. They also receive a vow cross that they will keep for the rest of their lives.
During their two years in the novitiate, the novices prepared to become vowed members of the order by learning about the Society, participating in local ministries and living in Jesuit communities. They also embarked on pilgrimages, performed community service and completed the Spiritual Exercises — a 30-day silent retreat developed by St. Ignatius.
Novices also experience life as a Jesuit, including living in community and ministering in different settings — from hospitals and third world countries to soup kitchens and Jesuit high schools.
By the time a novice kneels at the altar to pronounce vows, he is prepared and ready to speak the words of the vow formula to God, which concludes: “And as you have freely given me the desire to make offering, so also may you give me the abundant grace to fulfill it.”
Following first vows, Jesuits preparing to be priests usually begin three years of studies: two years of philosophy studies, combined with one year of graduate-level theology courses. Those men who take vows as a Jesuit brother will usually take several theology courses. Click here to read more about the steps of Jesuit formation at beajesuit.org.