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If you would like to ask the Vocations Director a question, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page. Otherwise see some of the questions already answered below.
As a novice, or in the first vows, will the candidate be able to take a vacation/be able to visit family?
This is a good question particularly because sometimes people assume that entering the Jesuit Novitiate is like the early years of joining a diocesan seminary. The rhythm of seminary terms allows seminarians to have some holidays at home, at least in the early years of training. A Jesuit novice by contrast, in entering the novitiate, is very much leaving home and friends to establish a new life within the Society of Jesus. Novices can visit families for a few days after Christmas, and there are weekends in the summer when families are invited to visit the novitiate, but the holiday that the novices get in the summer they spend together. After vows, it is true, things are less proscribed, and Jesuits might look to have some days with their families at some point in the year. Having said this, I need to add the typical Jesuit proviso that such matters are rarely set in stone and choices about visits to family, and attendance at family events will be talked through with the Novice Master or local superiors and decisions reached that are for the greater good - even such relatively mundane things are matter for discernment!
Can a Church of England Priest become a member of the Society of Jesus?
Anyone who wants to be a Jesuit has to be male and a Catholic (Roman or Eastern Rite etc.). That said, there are many others, including Church of England clergy, who are drawn to the spirituality of St Ignatius Loyola and are trained in the giving of Spiritual Exercises and/or draw on the Exercises for their own life of ministry.
You mention a minimum age I wondered how the society feels about older man applying to be brothers?
It is true that the required formation of Brothers in the Society of Jesus is generally shorter than for a Jesuit who is going to be a priest. So if someone in his 40s expresses an interest in being a Jesuit brother, I will be a little less concerned about age than I would be if someone in his 40s says he desires to be a Jesuit priest. No candidate can be accepted into the novitiate when 50 or above without a special dispensation from Rome, and that is only granted in special circumstances. I realise that to many people this seems odd, if not indeed unfair, given that people are living longer these days.
During the two year noviciate, do you guys ever just watch a football match and have a beer?
Whether the two go on together, I am not sure! Certainly beers are on offer at community drinks, and there’s time in the evening and weekends to watch a bit of telly – so football no doubt is part of what’s watched. One friend of mine visiting a Jesuit community, expecting meal time conversation to be high theology was somewhat disappointed to discover the relative merits of two football teams under discussion! So such enthusiasms can be carried into Jesuit life.
Can you ask for or you chosen for the fourth vow-obedience to the Pope?
Chosen, is the answer. The fourth vow is a vow of obedience to the Pope in respect to mission. St. Ignatius wanted to have men who were open to be sent anywhere in the world, and at short notice. But he also wanted men who had the perseverance and gifts to keep institutions running. Fundamentally, he believed that each Jesuit had particular gifts/graces which disposed him to be best deployed either as professed of four vows (available to be sent anywhere in the world) or of three (more likely to be in a particular ministry over a length of time). So the question of a Jesuit’s ‘grade’ (the traditional word used) in the Society is to be seen not as a matter of higher or lower, better or worse, but as more or less suited to the individual and his gifts.
Can women join the Jesuit order?
No, a woman cannot become a Jesuit, but there are a number of groups (congregations) of women religious (sisters) who share the same spirituality, as the Jesuits, that of St. Ignatius Loyola and in some instances have the same constitutions (foundational documents) as the Jesuits. Amongst these are the CJs (Congregation of Jesus), the FCJs (the Faithful Companions of Jesus), and the Loreto Sisters. Women have been very closely associated with the work of the Jesuits down the centuries. In 16th Century England a number of women were key to keeping alive the Jesuit mission to the persecuted Catholic population. In 21st Century England a number of women are the directors of Jesuit works
How long is Jesuit training for a high school leaver?
For someone entering the novitiate to become a Jesuit priest the normal length of training is ten years (two years novitiate, two years Philosophy, two years’ work experience – Regency – and four years theology). If the Jesuit comes to us from High School, directly after his A levels or after a gap year, then he may well be given the chance to do another degree in an area of personal interest, in addition to the studies required for ordination. So in such a case the training leading up to ordination could be around 13 years.
I'm an orthodox christian, and I'm interested in Jesuit life.What should be the next step for the novitiate?
As you will realise, Jesuits are all Roman Catholic in the sense of being in union with the Bishop of Rome but not all Jesuits are Latin rite. So there are Jesuits who are members of Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. For someone to become a Jesuit they have to be Catholic in the sense described above. And before they can enter the novitiate (if accepted for the novitiate) they need to have been a Catholic for three years. So in answer to your question, for an Orthodox Christian to become a Jesuit, they would have to be received into the Catholic Church and over a period of three years grow in understanding of the Catholic Church and become familiar with the Jesuits, and of course go through the discernment and application process that precedes acceptance into the novitiate.
Can I join the UK Jesuits even though I am from another country?
As a general rule, when men are interested in joining the Jesuits, we encourage them to approach the Jesuits in the country where they are currently living and to begin the discernment process with them. That sometimes means that the vocations director for a given Province is meeting with men from other countries. And sometimes those meetings lead to the individual applying to the Province where he is living rather than the Province where he grew up. This is likely to happen more and more as the countries becomes more and more internationalised. What we discourage is men applying to a Province which is neither their current home nor the place they grew up. What needs to be to the forefront is the desire to be a Jesuit, more than the desire to be in a particular country. Judgements about where a man might best serve the Lord can be made later on during or after a man’s formation.
What is the life and pastoral work of a Jesuit like? How can a young person begin Jesuit training and discernment?
The discernment can start by simply contacting the Jesuit Vocations Director. Just the very act of writing an email or picking up the phone is a way of engaging in a process that will bit by bit through light on the question, ‘what is Lord calling me to in the depth of my being?’ Every step you take will provoke interior responses that can be examined and spoken about with a vocations director and a spiritual director, and all that you discover about Jesuit life will help you to sense whether it is a life to which you are suited.
As to our life and our pastoral work, I hope that the information on the vocations website will give you sense of this. There is also a lot video material now on You Tube.
Hi there, I am giving consideration to joining the Jesuits as a brother. I live in Ireland but would prefer to train in the UK.
British, Irish, Flemish and Dutch Jesuits all have a common novitiate. It’s in Birmingham at the moment (2015) but is to move to Dublin in the autumn of 2017. In recent years, after the novitiate in Birmingham, men have gone on to Heythrop in London, to Regis College in Toronto in Canada, to Salamanca in Spain. So formation takes place in different Provinces and not necessarily in the Province a Jesuit belongs to. A recent young Irish Jesuit did his novitiate in Birmingham, his philosophy in London and is only now back in Ireland. A recent British Jesuit did his novitiate in Birmingham and then three years philosophy in Spain.
Hi, I'm finishing off a PhD in Engineering. Is 44 too old to start the process?
Often the question is not so such the exact age of a person thinking about becoming a Jesuit, but more, being the age there are, are they suited to our way of life. It is true things are more restrictive for someone who has reached 50. At that point permission is needed form the Superior General for the man to enter the novitiate and that permission is only rarely given. But before that what matters is whether the person shows the capacity to become a good Jesuit. From our side we would be asking, can he be sufficiently flexible to thrive as a Jesuit, has he got an affinity for our spirituality and for our way of doing things and the gifts to be fruitful in the service of Christ , and if he wishes to be a priest, has he the capacity and the perseverance to undertake the studies at this later stage in life.
Is there a "streamlined" novitiate that an older, experienced priest can pursue to enter the Society?
The answer to this question is,'no', but 'no' specifically in relation to the novitiate as opposed to the rest of Jesuit training. Anyone who joins the Society will have to do the whole of the novitiate because it is in the novitiate that the call to the Society is tested out properly for the first time. So a diocesan priest entering the novitiate would be expected to do go through the same rhythm of placements and retreats and study, prayer and reflection as all the other novices. Clearly the novice master would take into account what the man has done before when deciding on what placements (experiments) to send him on. Where things would become streamlined would be after the novitiate.
You do not mention anything about permanent deacons in your literature. In principle can they join?
That's a very interesting question. My understanding is that when the permanent diaconate was restored in the Church the Jesuits decided not to adopt it for its members in order to preserve the historical reality of the Society as an order of priests and brothers. I do know that there is a permanent deacon in the French Province, but I am not aware of how that exception came about. What I don't know is whether a permanent deacon can be accepted into the Society, so I shall ask and post again later.
Do the Jesuits follow the Roman rite?
Yes, we do follow the Roman rite, but there are also Jesuits who are members of Eastern rite churches and they are able to celebrate liturgies in those rites too. An examples would be the maronite rite
What is the minimum age for starting Jesuit training ?
For the Society world-wide 17 is the stipulated minimum age at which you can begin Jesuit training, but practices will vary from Province to Province. Here in the British Province we are certainly willing to consider an 18 year old school leaver. One of our present novices first contacted us in the sixth form and he joined after completing a gap year. One of the present Irish Novices did the same. Our judgement is that it is quite possible for a man to have sufficient maturity to set out on his Jesuit training at a young age.
What difference, if any, is there in the nature and duration of training to become a brother or a priest?
Perhaps to start with the aspects of the training that are common to all Jesuits. Whether a man is going to be a brother or a priest, he will have a two year novitiate at the beginning of his formation, and a seven or eight month 'tertianship' at the end. So that's what all Jesuits have in common. What they also have in common is that the formation that they go through between the novitiate and the tertianship will be determined by the mission that they will be asked to fulfill as Jesuits. In the case of those becoming priests, they will do the two years of philosophy and four years of theology that is required for priestly ordination, with normally a two year period of work experience (regency) between the two sets of studies. Now some Jesuit priests will do further studies because of the mission that is to be entrusted to them. Jesuit Brothers, of course, do not have to do the studies required for ordination but will certainly be doing some studies in order to equip them for their mission and for some those studies could be extensive and lengthy, if they are going to be teachers for example or involved in academic research.
My friend just told me this weekend that he is pursuing the Jesuit order. What happens to all his stuff? Can he not take some of the essentials like bed sheets and towels etc. with him into the community?
Jesuits go into their novitiate with very little personal stuff. All the basics are normally provided for by the Novitiate community – sheets, towels etc.
So normally the man entering brings with him his clothes and maybe a very few books, and not a lot more. In the months before a man enters, the Novice Master will send him a list of what to bring and not to bring.
Each province will have its own policy and that will be determined by the kind of society people are living in. But all will, on the whole, be saying, ‘bring very little’. 5.3.11
I know that must sound very stark, but there is a great freedom in leaving stuff behind, and the other side of it is that in most Provinces Jesuits are not going to be short of the essentials, which for a lot of people in life will never be true.
Do the Jesuits have a Third Order that offers lay people the opportunity to to become more deeply attached to them?
The lay organisation most closely associated with the Jesuits is CLC, Christian Life Communities. From the time of St. Ignatius the Jesuits sought to involve lay people in active support of Jesuit ministries but also in ministries that became lay-led. These groups known as sodalities had both a devotional dimension and an active service dimension, and both these dimension continue today in CLC. There are CLC groups around the UK and to find out more about them please go to their website www.clcew.org.uk
I am finishing my bachelors this year and have quite a large amount of school debt. What are the financial requirements to enter the Jesuits?
What does one have to do to become a Jesuit do you have to be from a religious background or can any Christian person turn up?