The Stages Of Jesuit Formation
Faithful to its best tradition, the Society of Jesus must persevere in taking great pains to form its members in knowledge and virtue and not be content with mediocrity.
Benedict XVI (2008)
JESUIT FORMATION IS CHALLENGING AND REWARDING. It is always untaken with the idea of mission in mind. What we do in our formation helps us to be better able to help others. When St. Ignatius, at the age of 33, went back to school, he did so in order to be able ‘to help souls’.
It is exactly the same reason that leads us today to undertake a whole range of studies and other sorts of formation. It has often been said that ‘no ministry which prepares the way for the Kingdom or which helps arouse faith in the Gospel is outside the scope of Jesuit priests and brothers.
So whilst Jesuits training for the priesthood (scholastics) undertake the study of philosophy and theology required for ordination (see the table below), and Jesuit brothers will do similar studies, both Jesuit scholastics and Brothers may also do a whole range of other sorts of formation that make them better servants of Christ’s Kingdom.
In the British Province today there are Jesuits who are trained in the following fields: spiritual direction, medicine, counselling, teaching, astronomy, Business ethics, sculpture, to name just a few. Here in the table below is an outline of a typical pattern of formation in the years after ordination.
A typical pattern of formation
|Scholastic leading to ordination|
|Novitiate for 2 years in Manresa House, Birmingham||Novitiate for 2 years in Manresa House, Birmingham|
|1st Vows||1st Vows|
|Formation for ministry with studies in philosophy and Theology and other areas of Apostolic Work||Philosophy studies for 2 years at Heythrop College London|
|Regency – apostolic work for 2 or 3 years|
|Theology studies for 4 years often abroad (Paris, Madrid, Boston)|
|Diaconate Ordination after the 3rd year of Theology followed by Priestly ordination|
|Apostolic work to ground priestly ministry|
|Tertianship: the final part of Jesuit formation. Lasts for 8 months, and includes the 30 day retreat first done in the Novitaite.||Tertianship|
|Final Vows||Final Vows|