At what point can a ‘discerner’ become a
After a period of inquiry and discernment, and in consultation with
his spiritual director and the formation director, the discerner
and Vocation Director move forward by beginning the application
What is actually involved in making
application as a candidate?
It is the candidate’s responsibility to complete the various parts
of the application process. They include a written biography and
personal faith statement, sacramental documentation, a complete
physical examination, submission of academic transcripts, and three
letters of recommendation attesting to his suitability as a
candidate. The applicant also agrees to undergo standard
psychological testing, a criminal background check, and agrees to
adhere to provincial policies for protection of children and
Where exactly are these formation
Presently, there are three Vincentian houses of formation in the
USA: Oyster Bay, NY (Long Island); Chicago, IL; and Oxnard, CA.
Each formation house is located near a Vincentian University as
well as a seminary they attend. Vincentians who are Formation
Directors also serve as faculty members and administrators at these
universities and seminaries.
Once accepted as a candidate, what ‘form’
does initial formation take?
While each Vincentian province has different places where formation
takes place, there is a common approach. Candidates for initial
formation live in community and have Vincentian priests serving as
their formation directors. Candidates attend a nearby college or
seminary (depending on their educational needs), engage in weekly
ministries for the poor, and share a communal life of prayer, house
chores, and enjoying life together.
Do formation candidates interact much with
other Vincentian houses?
Yes. Most of our formation houses are located in close proximity to
other Vincentian communities, so candidates spend time with
Vincentian priests and brothers in active ministry. Candidates are
also asked to have a Vincentian for spiritual direction. In the
summer, candidates live and work alongside Vincentian priests and
brothers to see first hand what it means to be a Vincentian.
What is a novitiate, and when does it
occur in formation?
The novitiate is a year of prayer, reflection, and immersion in the
Vincentian charism and its history. All five Vincentian provinces
share a common novitiate based in Philadelphia. The novice deepens
his prayer life and learns of various schools of Catholic
spirituality. There is also ministerial activity built into the
novitiate. Entrance into novitiate is usually made after the
completion of a second year of theology. Brother candidates can be
admitted to novitiate after two years of living with a formation
Does formation ‘end’ when one is ordained
a priest or takes vows as a brother?
No - after vows and ordination, formal training is finished, but
every ordained Vincentian and vowed brother is committed to being a
life-long learner. Thus, a newly ordained priest or vowed brother
is given a mentor to work with him for the first several years of
ministry. This mentor assists by providing support and sharing his
own insights about ministry and our life together. Also,
Vincentians are encouraged to take part in programs, institutes,
and retreats that promote personal and spiritual growth and
competence in pastoral ministry. Formation is ongoing and lifelong
as one learns and grows in ministry and community.