ShowWhat are the prerequisites for Candidacy?
ShowDoes the SJM accept candidates from non-European countries?
ShowDoes one have to speak German to be accepted into the SJM?
ShowIn which stages does the preparation for the priesthood take place?
"I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name."
Bl. John Henry Newman
Step 1: Mutual Acquaintance
The first step consists in a basic acquaintance with the congregation. This can happen in the context of pastoral work of the SJM in parishes, groups, schools and so on, or perhaps participation in a retreat, contact with an institution directed by the SJM or where SJM-priests work, or - this would be best - a visit of several days in our formation house in Blindenmarkt, Lower Austria. The internet might make for a good beginning, but definitely cannot replace personal contact. Should the conviction remain that one may possibly be called by God to a life in the congregation of the SJM, the postulant should request from the General Superior reception into the order. If the Superior agrees, a date for the beginning of the Candidacy will be arranged (usually in Autumn).
Step 2: Candidacy
The candidacy begins with the move into our formation house, currently the Schloss Auhof in Blindenmarkt, Lower Austria. During this first phase, the postulant is already living in the community, but still without any special obligations. He takes part in the common prayer life and attempts to settle himself step by step into the daily routine. He also receives a practical introduction to the religious life. The candidacy conduces to a deeper mutual acquaintance - on one hand the candidate experiences the congregation "from within", on the other the order gets to know the postulant better. Both are important for the decision as to whether beginning the novitiate is sensible. If both parties - candidate and order - come to a positive result, a date for the reception in the novitiate is set. The length of the candidacy is different for each individual, and can vary between 3 and 12 months.
Step 3: Novitiate
At the beginning of the novitiate, that likewise takes place similarly at the Schloss Auhof (Blindenmarkt), the candidate is clothed, i.e. he receives the cassock as an outward sign of his new status. In the novitiate, the spiritual foundations of the religious life are laid: The young religious should learn to recognise and love more deeply Christ as the centre of his calling and direct all his thoughts and actions towards Him. The rigorous daily schedule alternates between prayer, housework and study (Holy Scripture, Catechism, Latin and Greek). The spiritual climax of the novitiate is the four-week Ignatian exercises. Although the novice is in no way decisively joined to the order, all the rules apply to him during this time as if he were a permanent member. Only in this way can the novitiate be experienced as a real testing phase. After the course of one year, the novice can make the three-year vows.
Step 4: Juniorate
Philosophy and theology follow the novitiate. However, sufficient knowledge of the classical languages, Latin and Greek, are an absolute prerequisite for admission to higher education. When lacking, a time of language study is inserted - the "juniorate" - that can last one or more semesters. Only by such means can it be ensured that a candidate for the priesthood can fully focus on the systematic subjects during his philosophy and theology studies and not have to belatedly invest additional energy in language studies.
Step 5: Philosophy and Theology
The philosophical and theological formation of future priests in the SJM takes place in the study house St. Peter Canisius, once again in Auhof. Usually the study extends over 12 semesters. The goal of the studies is on the one hand a comprehensive and well-founded knowledge of the main areas of Western Philosophy and Catholic Theology, and on the other, the learning and practise of an independent and scientific way of research. Candidates for the priesthood should be able to independently evaluate and classify questions of the present day, contemporary trends in theology and the humanities, on the basis of the philosophia perennis and the received teaching of the Church. They should - as the Second Vatican Council urged - "learn to seek the solutions to human problems under the light of revelation, to apply the eternal truths of revelation to the changeable conditions of human affairs and to communicate them in a way suited to men of our day" (OT 16). Alongside their studies, most students, during their free-time on weekends and during the holidays, engage in diverse youth-groups: with scouts, confirmation candidates or altar-servers. Thus can they immediately apply and test out all those things which they have learned in a practical catechesis. Thus also is it ensured that contact with those those people to whom they ought proclaim the Gospel will not be lost during the years of formation.
Step 6: Diaconate and Priesthood
The Diaconate and Priesthood are administered to the SJM in the ordinary form. They are preceded - as a prerequisite - by the making of the perpetual vows and the assignment to the lectorate and acolytate. After ordination to the Dioconate, the candidate to the Priesthood undertakes various pastoral and liturgical duties in one of the parishes entrusted to the SJM. He assists the priest in the celebration of the liturgy (eg homily), brings Communion to the sick, holds baptism classes and more. After about a year, the priesthood is granted. This is followed usually by a chaplaincy time, in which the newly ordained can gather his first experience in all basic pastoral tasks.
Step 7: Tertianship
The formation of a priest in the SJM is not complete until the so-called tertianship. After the newly-ordained priest works in pastoral ministry for a certain time, he returns again for a rather long period (about 6 months) to the Mother House for a "second novitiate" to conclusively deepen and consolidate his spiritual life. During this time he undertakes once again the 30-day retreat of St. Ignatius. Only after this final stage is his training finally complete.