|Initial Formation Program|
In summoning disciples to share fellowship and mission in His company, Jesus invited them to "come and see!" The Church has entrusted to the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament the important mission of advancing love for the Eucharist through an ever-deepening awareness of the life that flows from the Sacrament. In order that others may share in this privileged Eucharistic mission, the Congregation continually welcomes new members into its midst. Formation progressively and gradually introduces the individual to our life of fraternity and service.
The Servant of God John Paul II in his document on the Consecrated Life wrote, "The primary objective of the formation process is to prepare people for the total consecration of themselves to God in the following of Christ, at the service of the Church's mission.... Since the very purpose of consecrated life is conformity to the Lord Jesus in his total self-giving, this must also be the principal objective of formation. Formation is a path of gradual identification with the attitude of Christ towards the Father," (Vita Consecrata, no. 65). Our formation [education] program is divided into Three Stages leading to full incorporation into the community.
Focus: The discovery of Jesus Christ and
CANDIDACY is a time of vocational discernment within the context of an established relationship with a given local community. It is a non-residential period of time and the Candidate continues his regular job or studies.
This period is meant to deepen the level of dialogue and sharing between the Congregation and the Candidate. There are several interviews with the Vocation Director.
The candidate requests to apply for entry into the Congregation. This leads to postulancy.
POSTULANCY provides the opportunity for a more profound understanding of Christ, His Church, and a first initiation into the Congregation's spirituality. Postulancy is a residential program of formal study and ministry.
This program awakens within the Postulant a desire to follow Christ. "Since the very purpose of consecrated life is conformity to the Lord Jesus in His total self-giving, this must also be the principal objective of formation. Formation is a path of gradual identification with the attitude of Christ towards the Father," (Vita Consecrata, no. 65)
Focus: The discovery of the Eucharistic vocation of the Congregation and vowed life within the Church.
NOVITIATE has often been compared to the "desert" experience. It is a time apart from the usual pattern of one's life and involvements so that discipleship might be deepened and the dimensions of the Eucharistic vocation and mission be explored and integrated.
Through prayer, study, reflection, community life and limited work in the Congregation's apostolates, the Novice better understands himself, his call, the religious vows, and the challenges of the Eucharistic vocation and mission today.
The Code of Canon Law says that "The novitiate, through which life in an institute is begun, is arranged so that the novices better understand their divine vocation, and indeed one which is proper to the institute, experience the manner of living of the institute, and form their mind and heart in its spirit, and so that their intention and suitability are tested," (can. 646).
"Sufficient time should be reserved for initial formation, understood as a process of development which passes through every stage of personal maturity - from the psychological and spiritual to the theological and pastoral," (Vita Consecrata, no. 65).
"Particular attention must be given to a cultural formation in line with the times and in dialogue with the research of the meaning of human life today. This calls for a greater preparation in the philosophical, theological and psychological fields and a more profound orientation to the spiritual life," (Starting Afresh, no. 18).
The novitiate is held in New York City with the Saint Jean Baptiste Community.
Focus: The discovery of the Eucharistic Mission
SCHOLASTICATE is a time of opening to, and preparation for, the Eucharistic mission as a Blessed Sacrament Priest or Brother.
Our Rule says that the scholastic cleric (seminarian) continues his formation for diaconate and priesthood according to the requirements of Canon Law and the program of studies. Depending on his talents, he will learn a specialized ministry.
The scholastic brother equally prepares himself to carry out the various tasks in the service of our communities, to take on a pastoral ministry or to exercise a particular profession.
Our Scholastics study at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago preparing for a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree. The M.Div. degree has two tracks: Track I is designed to meet the needs of those individuals who will not be ordained. Track II is designed for candidates for the priesthood, and follows the specifications for academic and ministerial formation as required by The Program of Priestly Formation of the U.S. Bishops. During this time, the scholastics renew their vows three times which they first professed at the completion of novitiate and they receive the Ministries of Lector and Acolyte in preparation for diaconate and priesthood. Final vow profession also takes place during the Scholasticate period of initial formation.
"Centuries of tradition bear witness to the difference between formation for religious life and formation of candidates for the priesthood. Formation for religious life must always take into account the charism, history, and mission of the particular institute or society, while recognizing the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral requirements incumbent upon all who are called to the ministerial priesthood" (US Bishops' PPF, n. 30).
"These qualities are needed for [future priests] to be balanced people, strong and free, capable of bearing the weight of pastoral responsibilities. They need to be educated to love the truth, to be loyal, to respect every person, to have a sense of justice, to be true to their word, to be genuinely compassionate, to be men of integrity and, especially, to be balanced in judgment and behavior " (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 42, 43).
The scholasticate extends at least until the profession of perpetual vows. For the religious who intends to be ordained a priest, the scholasticate lasts until completion of the formation prescribed for the priesthood.