Jesuit formation (Training to become a Jesuit)
Formation for Priesthood normally takes up to 14 years. Final vows are
taken several years after that.
The Spiritual Exercises
The Spiritual Exercises were a required component of the Jesuit novitiate training program. The exercises usually take place during the first year of
a two year novitiate.
After taking the First Vows, there is a choice between Scholastic Mister
(entering the path of priesthood) or a Jesuit brother.
Scholastic Mister—the usual course of studies
First Studies is the period when the scholastic begins his academic training. Depending on his prior education it will last 2–4 years. At the end of that time period, there has been a good grounding in philosophy and the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in the US. It may also introduce the study of theology or some other specialized area may have been introduced.
Master or Doctoral Degree
As Jesuits serve on the faculties of high schools and universities, and in a wide variety of other positions, the Jesuit scholastic or Jesuit priest often earns a master or doctoral degree on some area—Theology, History, English, Chemistry, Educational Administration, Law, etc. In which case, a Jesuit may spend another few years earning a graduate degree beyond the bachelor’s.
Regency is the next stage, wherein the scholastic lives and works in a typical Jesuit community (as opposed to the “formation communities” he has lived insofar). He is engaged full-time in ministry (an Apostolate), which is traditionally teaching in a secondary school, but it may be any ministry
Jesuits are engaged in. Regency lasts for 2–3 years.
Theology precedes ordination. By universal canon law, every candidate for priestly ordination must complete four years of theology studies. This will includes a Bachelor degree and usually a second (masters level) degree in a specialized area related to theology. Ordination follows…
The ordained Jesuit priest will either be chosen for profession as a “spiritual coadjutor,” taking the usual perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, or for profession as a “professed of the four vows.”
…the Fourth vow, unique to Jesuits, of special obedience to the pope in matters regarding mission, promising to undertake any mission laid out in the Formula of the Institute the pope may choose.
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 such as serving as a 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).
Jesuit formation is meant to form men who are open and ready to serve whatever is the Church’s current need. Today, all Jesuits are expected to learn English, and those who speak English as a first language are expected to learn Spanish.