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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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The process of formation

The aim of Redemptorist formation is to lead candidates and members of the community

to such a degree of human and Christian maturity that, with the help of God’s grace, they will be able to dedicate themselves intelligently, willingly, and wholeheartedly to the service of the missionary Church in Redemptorist community life, in order to preach the Gospel to the poor. They should learn progressively what the following of Christ demands of them, required as it is by baptismal consecration and confirmed by religious profession, and thus become true missionaries.
Redemptorist Constitutions and Statutes, No. 78

Read below to learn about the stages of Redemptorist formation.

Candidacy

After a period of inquiry and discernment during which they are accompanied by a vocation director, inquirers into the Redemptorist way of life may be invited to apply for formal entrance into the Redemptorist formation program. If they are accepted as candidates, these men move into the Redemptorist house of formation in the Bronx, N.Y. Candidates spend at least two years there, living community in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

During their time as candidates, the men learn the basic rhythms of Redemptorist prayer, life, and ministry. They participate in programs designed to assist them in their human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral formation. Ordinarily their academic programs are located at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.

Novitiate

Candidates who are deemed ready by their formators are invited to apply for acceptance into the novitiate. Those who are accepted become novices and spend the next year in Toronto at the North American Novitiate. The aim of the novitiate year “is to have the candidates consider more thoroughly whether they are really called by God to follow Christ by making religious profession in the apostolic life of the Congregation” (C&S, No. 86.2).

Novices experience the Redemptorist way of life, get to know the history of the Congregation, have their minds and hearts imbued with its spirit, and have their determination and suitability put to the test. At the end of the novitiate, the novices can petition their superiors for acceptance into temporary vows.

Temporary vows

The first time a Redemptorist professes his religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience within the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he does so temporarily. If he is to continue as a member of the Congregation, he must ask for permission to renew his vows on an annual basis. This annual process of renewal goes on for a minimum of three years, during which the Redemptorist continues his process of initial formation in the human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral dimensions of his life.

Men preparing for the priesthood pursue studies in line with the Redemptorists’ apostolic priorities and the bishops’ program for priestly formation, while men who are called to remain brothers have a wide range of academic and professional studies open to them in all areas that might contribute to the Redemptorist mission. All men in temporary vows live for at least three years in a formation community. Our men in temporary vows ordinarily live in our formation community in San Antonio, Texas, where they attend the Oblate School of Theology.

Pastoral experience

As their academic programs come to an end, all Redemptorists in temporary vows are required to participate in a pastoral experience for a minimum of six months (usually a year). Often taking place in an international setting outside of a brother’s home province or vice-province, the pastoral experience gives each young Redemptorist a chance to encounter a broader range of the Congregation’s life and ministry and to begin a deeper integration of what he has learned in initial formation.

Preparation for perpetual vows

The last stage of initial formation for a Redemptorist is the period of preparation for perpetual vows. This stage is entered only by those who have lived for at least three years in temporary vows, completed their pastoral experience, and petitioned their superiors successfully for acceptance into final vows. This period lasts for at least a month, during which the brother participates in an intensive program of spiritual preparation, crowned by a final eight-day retreat to get him ready to enter a lifetime of commitment with the Redemptorists.

When a Redemptorist at last kneels to profess his perpetual vows, he makes a lifetime commitment to poverty, chastity, and obedience according to the spirit and laws of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and he also adds a fourth vow and oath of perseverance. The vow and oath of perseverance date back to the days of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists.

Transition to ministry

With perpetual profession and his major programs of study behind him, a Redemptorist is ready to leave initial formation and enter into the regular life and mission of the Congregation. Redemptorists who have prepared for the priesthood are ordained as deacons and then priests. All Redemptorists, priests, deacons, and brothers, receive their assignments from their superiors and set out into the everyday life and mission of the community.

For the first five years after initial formation, young Redemptorists participate in a “Transition to Ministry” program. They come together with their peers and a few mentors twice a year to check in about their new experiences and to help one another negotiate successfully the change from life in initial formation to life in full-time ministry.

Continuing formation

Even after Redemptorists have made a successful transition from initial formation to the regular life of the Congregation, their formation is expected to continue. Redemptorists are called to continuing conversion, and it is the responsibility of every Redemptorist to stay engaged in developing himself. To help in this process, all Redemptorists are expected to take advantage of conferences, retreats, and publications provided by their Congregation as well as to seek out on their own resources for further enrichment so that they can continue to grow and develop in service of their mission.