The initial stage of formation for Passionist life and ministry is the Pre-Novitiate. It is a time of sharing life in a Passionist community, participating in all aspects of that community. Currently, the Pre-Novitiate experience is conducted in collaboration with our Passionist brothers from Holy Cross Province at Holy Name Retreat in Houston, Texas. Candidates participate in the daily prayer life of the community, engage in ministry in the local area, and take classes that will prepare them for later theological formation. They learn about Passionist life through the input of formation directors, and they continue to discern their vocation under the guidance of a spiritual director.
If a candidate has not finished college, he may pursue an undergraduate degree at the local Catholic university as part of his Pre-Novitiate experience. If he has completed his undergraduate studies, he takes further courses in philosophy and theology that are prerequisites for graduate studies in theology.
The length of the Pre-Novitiate experience is usually 1-2 years, depending on the background of the candidate.
Passionist Novitiate is a one-year experience of prayer, life in community and focused study of the Passionist charism. The Novitiate is currently located at Christ the King Retreat in Citrus Heights, California. Novices pursue in-depth study of the Passionist rule of life. This study includes reflection on the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as well as the distinctive fourth vow that Passionists make. This fourth vow commits us to keep the memory of the passion of Jesus in our hearts and to promote that memory in the hearts and minds of the people we serve.
At the beginning of the Novitiate year, candidates are clothed in the black habit of the Passionists. Upon completion of the Novitiate, if they so choose, they make temporary vows to the Passionist community and receive the Passionist sign.
Theological Studies: CTU, Chicago
Passionist students continue their initial formation at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. CTU is a graduate school of theology and ministry where candidates from many religious communities of men and women, as well as lay students, engage in formation for ministry in the Church. Candidates who wish to pursue priestly ministry are enrolled in the Master of Divinity degree program. Candidates for Passionist brotherhood also study theology and ministry, as well as taking courses in other disciplines that will enable them to contribute to the life of the community.
After three years in temporary vows, Passionist students are eligible to request perpetual vows. Candidates for the priesthood are ordained to the diaconate after they make their perpetual vows and then to the priesthood after their service as a deacon.
After final profession for brothers, and after ordination for priests, the Provincial Superior assigns them to a particular Passionist community and ministry.
These are the stages of initial formation as a Passionist. Formation for Passionist life is actually a life-long enterprise that involves integrating prayer, study, community, and ministry. Ours is a very rewarding life of communion with God, service to others, and fraternal support in a community of gifted and dedicated men.