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Reflections of Jesuits in Formation


Once accepted into the Jesuit novitiate, the ordinary course of formation will take ten to eleven years for scholastics (those who will be ordained), and seven to eight years for most brothers. Jesuit formation prepares priests and brothers who are well educated, trained in the Spiritual Exercises, and skilled to minister in diverse and ever changing environments.

The Novitiate

During the two-year novitiate, a novice begins to live the life of the vows in community, and learns the traditions of the Society of Jesus. During this time he makes the Spiritual Exercises in a thirty-day retreat and engages in a variety of "experiments" some of which involve service to the very poor and needy.

Through these experiments, the novice grows in a more intimate relationship with God, an increasing love for the Society, and a more authentic self-knowledge. At the end of the two-year novitiate, the novice pronounces perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Society of Jesus.

Meeting Saints in South America reflections by Thomas Simisky, SJ
My Pilgrimage at Campion and  Georgetown University as a campus minister, teaching assistant  reflections by Keith Maczkiewicz, SJ

First Studies

Thomas (Todd) Kenny, SJ, during Regency in BrazilAfter pronouncing vows, a Jesuit moves on to a three year period of graduate level studies in philosophy and theology. If a man enters without a Bachelor's Degree, then he will complete his BA degree during this time, usually majoring in philosophy. Men in First Studies are full-time graduate students who also give six to eight hours a week to apostolic work in the surrounding neighborhood. Courses in "social analysis" help to integrate study, reflection and action. The ordinary course work for scholastics includes 36 graduate hours of philosophy, 24 graduate hours of theology, and 12 graduate hours of electives. Brothers usually follow a similar schedule of philosophy studies or studies in some other field.

The Women at the Well, reflections by Tom Olson, SJ

Discerning the Heavens, reflections by Bro. Jonathan Stott, SJ

Seeking and Finding God in All Things, reflections by Eric Studt, SJ

Witnessing my faith and vocation, reflections by Brent Otto, SJ


The three years of Regency are a time for Jesuits to be fully involved in the apostolic work and community life of their province. During regency, a Jesuit scholastic or brother might be missioned to full time ministry in any of the Society's apostolates, including high school or college teaching, campus ministry, or social and pastoral ministries.

Recency in Brazil by Todd Kenny, SJ

Regency at Cheverus by George Collins, SJ

Theology Studies

NE Jesuit Ordination 2007Since the Church requires four years of theology study for priesthood, the scholastic (having completed a year of theology during First Studies), will engage in a three year period of theology studies leading to the Master of Divinity degree. Brothers will often complete a one or two year degree program in theology or religious education at this time. In addition to their studies, each man will give six to eight hours each week to pastoral ministries under the guidance of the field education supervisor. Ordination to the diaconate ordinarily occurs in the fall semester of the last year of Theology Studies. Ordination to the priesthood occurs in June of the last year of studies.



The Provincial usually invites men to begin tertianship after the completion of theology studies and three to five years of full time ministry. As they did in novitiate, Tertians once again study the foundational documents of the Society of Jesus, make the 30-day retreat, study the Spiritual Exercises, and participate in an apostolic experiment, usually working with the poor or in a third world setting. After the tertianship period, the Jesuit is called to final vows in the Society of Jesus.

Brother Chris Derby, SJ, reflects on Tertianship

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