STAGES IN FORMATION
The process of forming a man in the traditions and skills necessary to be a Carmelite priest or brother takes several years. Prayer, patience and hard work are needed to fully integrate a person into the Order. Here you will find an overview of the various stages of formation that candidates travel through on the journey to becoming a Carmelite.
There are three main stages of formation: Postulancy, Novitiate and Scholasticate.
The Postulancy is the very first phase in our stages of formation. Once candidates are accepted, they begin as postulants in one of our communities. This is usually a programme lasting about a year’s duration. Its purpose is to give candidates themselves the opportunity of gaining firsthand knowledge of our way of life and to give those responsible in the Order a chance of assessing their suitability. Importantly, the postulancy focuses on helping the candidates adjust to community living and gives them an introduction to Carmelite spirituality and prayer..
Religious life begins with the novitiate. Thus, life in the Order begins at this point. The novitiate, which lasts one year, is intended to help the Carmelite novice recognize his call from God and specifically to the Order, to give him the opportunity of experiencing the way of life of the Order and of testing his intention and suitability. The novitiate introduces him to the religious life in general and to the Carmelite tradition in particular where he may experience with us the call to conversion, simplicity, faith and love. At the completion of the novitiate year and upon approval, the novice professes temporary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Carmelite. Temporary profession is made for a time, which may not be less than three years nor more than six. When this period has elapsed, the vows are renewed or solemn profession takes place. By solemn profession, a religious definitively becomes a full member of the Order. They undertake by public vow the observance of chastity, poverty, obedience. They are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church and they are incorporated into the Order.
Having made his temporary vows, the now professed friar commences studies. He begins with the study of Philosophy and afterwards of Theology, each lasting about four years with a year between both for the Year of Renewal and Integration. The post-novitiate formation readies the student for solemn vows in the Carmelite Order and prepares him for ministry. During this time, student grows into a mature relationship with God through prayer and living God’s word in a contemplative fraternity in the midst of God’s people. He continues to become incorporated into the Order, growing in identification with it. He is prepared academically and equipped practically for ministry. As he concludes his study of Theology and if he is to be a priest, he is then ordained to the diaconate and then the priesthood; if he is to be a brother, then he prepares for non-ordained ministry, having made his solemn vows.
Year of Renewal and Integration
The Year of Renewal and Integration allows the professed Carmelite student, having completed his study of Philosophy, to experience community living in a Carmelite house other than the house of studies and, to the extent that he can, to participate in the life and ministry of that community. The student learns to integrate the initial formation experience within a different life setting; he perceives how the knowledge he has acquired, the tradition of the Church and our Carmelite charism shed light on community living and on contemporary pastoral situations; he deepens his knowledge of the Carmelite tradition while, resting somewhat from his philosophical studies, gathers momentum to plunge into the study of Theology.