Jesuit formation

The original handwritten preamble of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, by Ignatius of Loyola, laying out Jesuit formation

Jesuit formation, or the training of Jesuits, seeks to prepare candidates for the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus spiritually, academically and practically for the ministries they will be called to offer the Church and world.


St. Ignatius was strongly influenced by the Renaissance and wanted Jesuits to be able to offer whatever ministries were most needed at any given moment, and especially, to be ready to respond to missions (assignments) from the Pope. Formation for priesthood normally takes between 8 and 14 years, depending on the man's background and previous education, and final vows are taken several years after that, making Jesuit formation among the longest of any of the religious orders.

At this point, the novice pronounces his First Vows (perpetual simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and a vow to persevere to final profession and ordination) and becomes either a Scholastic (entering onto the path of priesthood) or a Jesuit brother (technically known as a "temporal coadjutor", but officially styled "brother" today). The scholastics (who may be addressed by the secular title "Mister") and the Brothers (addressed by the title "Brother") of the Society of Jesus have different courses of study, although they often overlap.[1]

Course of studies

For scholastics, the usual course of studies is as follows:[2]

Jesuit brothers

The formation of Jesuit brothers has a much less structured form. Before the Second Vatican Council, Jesuit brothers worked almost exclusively within Jesuit communities as cooks, tailors, farmers, secretaries, accountants, librarians and maintenance support—they were thus technically known as "temporal coadjutors", as they assisted the professed priests by undertaking the more "worldly" jobs, freeing the professed of the four vows and the "spiritual coadjutors" to undertake the sacramental and spiritual missions of the Society.[1] Following the Second Vatican Council, which recognized the mission of all the Christian faithful, not just those who are ordained, to share in the ministries of the Church, Jesuit brothers began to engage in ministries outside of their communities. Today, the formation of a Jesuit brother may take many forms, depending on his aptitude for ministry. He may pursue a highly academic formation which mirrors that of the scholastics (there are, for instance, some Jesuit brothers who serve as university professors), or he may pursue more practical training in areas such as pastoral counseling or spiritual direction (some assist in giving retreats, for instance), or he may continue in the traditional "supporting" roles in which so many Jesuit brothers have attained notable levels of holiness (as administrative aides, for example).[4] Since Vatican II, the Society has officially adopted the term "brother", which was always the unofficial form of address for the temporal coadjutors.

Language studies

Today, all Jesuits are expected to learn English, and those who speak English as a first language are expected to learn Spanish.[5]

See also


  1. 1 2 Formulas of the Institute of Popes Paul III and Julius III from Constitutions of the Society of Jesus pp. 3-15
  2. Jesuit Formation from Jesuit Vocations UK retrieved 19 June 2013
  3. Jesuit Formation Process from Jesuit California retrieved 19 June 2013
  4. Jesuit brother vocation from retrieved 19 June 2013
  5. Constitutions of the Society of Jesus p. 159


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