The Novitiate – What is it?
The novitiate is one year during formation where those preparing for Marist and/or priestly life focus particularly on what it is to be a Marist apostolic religious in the church. There are three main areas which are looked at during this year. They are -
1. Prayer and discernment. It is important that all religious have a committed and ongoing relationship with God in prayer. The novitiate is a time when, as our Constitutions say, a novice seeks to “taste God”. This is done by drawing close to God in a regular rhythm of prayer and spiritual direction. This is done so that they can grow more fully alive in the transforming love of God. In prayer they also become more aware of what God wants of them in their life. As such, with the help of their director, they are able to discern if they are called to religious life.
2. Marist Religious Life. In the novitiate a novice learns what it is to be both a consecrated religious and a Marist. This focuses on things such as what the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience mean, community life, and what our mission in the church is. We learn and reflect on these things in the context of our Marist charism, looking at our spirituality, history and mission in the world today.
3. Community life and mission. The novitiate is also a time when a person has an experience of what it is like to live in a community. Here they develop skills which allow them to live happily and positively in a community environment. They also experience in a limited way what Marist mission is by taking part in pastoral experiences each week.