It takes time to become a brother or a priest. Making the commitment to embrace the way of life of the Redemptorist Missionaries doesn’t happen overnight. You have to both test and nurture your vocation. Discerning what God’s dream is for you, and exploring what it is that gives you happiness and energy is a major challenge. The Redemptorist training programme is like a pilgrimage of discovery. It concentrates on helping a candidate grow in faith, humanity and love – and this is why we call it “formation”. Of course, gaining the skills necessary to be a Redemptorist Missionary in today’s world is also a crucial part of the formation programme.
It takes several years to become a fully pledged Redemptorist. The exact number of years depends on your life experience, age and education. In the context of a changing Ireland and a changing Church, the Redemptorists are committed to providing the best possible programme and experience that will serve your formation requirements and the needs of the People of God.
There are three key stages.
Students begin their preparation for Redemptorist life and ministry by leaving home and moving in to a Redemptorist community. It is our community life that enables and sustains our apostolic, missionary life. At this stage, a student is not a professed religious, although he is committed to the programme and lives in the spirit of the religious vows (poverty, chastity and obedience). Whether a student is preparing for brotherhood or priesthood, this stage of formation normally lasts for two years and will include appropriate study, pastoral work, spiritual formation, personal development and community responsibilities. The basic experience of students in this stage of formation is that many of them will grow into the Redemptorist way of life, while others will grow out of it. Consequently, during the first stage of formation there is great emphasis on searching. The ministry of the Formation Director is to guide and support the student through the programme, helping the student and the Congregation to discern whether or not the student should progress to the second stage of formation, the Novitiate, and whether he is called to brotherhood or priesthood.
During this special year, the student is called a ‘novice’ and the greatest emphasis is put on prayer, spiritual development and learning much more about the origins and charism of the Congregation. The rhythm of life changes in the Novitiate as it is an intense and truly privileged opportunity to deepen the process of vocation discernment. Essentially it is a spiritual year, a period for serious reflection and preparation for taking (professing) vows – the novice’s guide and formator during this year is the Novice Director. These vows (of obedience, poverty and chastity) are temporary, initially taken for three years. It is at this point of profession that the novice formally becomes a member of the Redemptorist Missionary family. The Redemptorist family is truly an international one and regularly comes together for the purposes of formation and training. For the past few years our novices have joined the Novitiate programme in North America.
Upon completion of the Novitiate and profession of vows, the novice becomes a student again. This involves a return to regular community life, study, prayer, sharing, pastoral work and the acquisition/honing of essential ministry skills and experiences. At some point during this third stage of formation, a process of discernment will begin between the student, the Formation Director and the Provincial with a view to discovering the nature and location of the student’s MICE (Missionary Immersion & Community Experience) appointment. (MICE is an integral and influential prolonged experience in community and full-time ministry, either at home or abroad. It is normally a two-year appointment.) During this third stage of formation, the appropriate studies are concluded and the student applies for ‘final profession’ of vows in the Congregation, thus becoming a fully pledged Redemptorist Missionary – dedicated to life in community and service of the most abandoned of our time and culture. If the student has been preparing for priesthood, preparations will also be made for ordination as deacon and then priest.