September 14, 2018 — Ever wondered how Jesuits become
Jesuits? While a man is considered to be a Jesuit from his first day of
novitiate, the total journey toward Jesuit priesthood or formed brotherhood can
take from eight to 13 years.
When a man answers God’s call to join the Society of Jesus, he begins the process
known as Jesuit formation, an almost
500-year-old tradition adapted to today’s needs. St. Ignatius of
Loyola, who founded the Society along with the First Companions in 1540,
detailed the process of Jesuit formation in the Jesuit Constitutions.
Below, the Society of Jesus debuts new videos narrated by Fr. Chris
CalderÃ³n, SJ, on each step of Jesuit formation: novitiate, studies,
regency, theology and tertianship.
A Jesuit’s formation begins in the novitiate, where he
spends two years learning how to pray (especially with St. Ignatius’
daily Examen), how to live in community and about the Society of Jesus. In
some Jesuit provinces, a novice embarks on a pilgrimage, where he is sent out
to learn to trust in the providence of God and become comfortable with
uncertainty, returning within a few weeks to a month.
Meet the novices of 2017 (2018 novices coming soon!)
Novices also do apostolic work and make the 30-day
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. Essentially, in the novitiate,
a man learns how to be a Jesuit. At the end of the two years, he pronounces
First Vows: perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Each novice
pronounces vows as either a brother or a scholastic (a man who is preparing for
After professing First Vows, a Jesuit moves into academic
work as a brother or a scholastic (a man who is preparing for priesthood). He
studies philosophy at a Jesuit university, usually for three years. Additional
ministerial work further deepens his Jesuit identity. Some scholastics and
brothers are missioned to finish work on their bachelor’s degrees, while others
work on advanced degrees in philosophy or other subjects.
For the first time during formation, a Jesuit brother or
scholastic works full-time in a Jesuit
ministry, living in an apostolic community of Jesuits, usually for three
years. Often teaching at a Jesuit high school or university, the regent learns
to balance full-time apostolic work with a life of prayer and community living.
After completing regency, Jesuit scholastics (men preparing
for priestly ordination) study theology at the graduate level, usually for three
years. During theology studies, a scholastic is ordained as a deacon and after
completing theology studies, he is ordained to the priesthood, marking the end
of about a decade of study and preparation and making him available for his
first assignment as a Jesuit priest.
A Jesuit brother might study theology for a shorter time as
a way to enhance his effectiveness for ministry. After a Jesuit brother finishes
theology studies he enters ministry — or he might go on to earn another
advanced degree. Jesuit brothers are missioned to work across all apostolic
ministries of the Society.
Tertianship is a time of renewal. Jesuits must have been
ordained as priests, or in the case of brothers, have completed their studies.
They then work in assigned ministries for several years before beginning
tertianship. A Jesuit revisits the foundational documents and history of the
Society of Jesus and makes the 30-day
Spiritual Exercises again — in a sense, reaffirming his vocation. The
tertian participates in an approximately nine-month program that also includes
spiritual training and apostolic experiment.
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.beajesuit.org for more information.