|The People of God » Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life » Institutes of Consecrated Life » Religious Institutes » The admission of candidates and the formation of members » The novitiate and the formation of novices
|The purpose of the novitiate, by which life in an institute begins, is to give the novices a greater understanding of their divine vocation, and of their vocation to that institute. During the novitiate the novices are to experience the manner of life of the institute and form their minds and hearts in its spirit. At the same time their resolution and suitability are to be tested.
|§1 The establishment, transfer and suppression of a novitiate house are to take place by a written decree of the supreme Moderator of the institute, given with the consent of the council.
§2 To be valid, a novitiate must take place in a house which is duly designated for this purpose. In particular cases and by way of exception and with the permission of the supreme Moderator given with the consent of the council, a candidate can make the novitiate in another house of the institute, under the direction of an approved religious who takes the place of the director of novices.
§3 A major Superior can allow a group of novices to reside, for a certain period of time, in another specified house of the institute.
|§1 For validity, the novitiate must comprise twelve months spent in the novitiate community, without prejudice to the provision of can. 647 §3.
§2 To complete the formation of the novices, the constitutions can prescribe, in addition to the time mentioned in §1, one or more periods of apostolic activity, to be performed outside the novitiate community.
§3 The novitiate is not to be extended beyond two years.
|§1 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 647 §3, and can. 648 §2, a novitiate is invalidated by an absence from the novitiate house of more than three months, continuous or broken. Any absence of more than fifteen days must be made good.
§2 With the permission of the competent major Superior, first profession may be anticipated, though not by more than fifteen days.
|§1 The object of the novitiate demands that novices be formed under the supervision of the director of novices, in a manner of formation to be defined by the institute’s own law.
§2 The governance of the novices is reserved to the director of novices alone, under the authority of the major Superiors.
|§1 The director of novices is to be a member of the institute who has taken perpetual vows and has been lawfully designated.
§2 If need be, directors of novices may be given assistants, who are subject to them in regard to the governance of the novitiate and the manner of formation.
§3 Those in charge of the formation of novices are to be members who have been carefully prepared, and who are not burdened with other tasks, so that they may discharge their office fruitfully and in a stable fashion.
|§1 It is the responsibility of the directors of novices and their assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices, and gradually to form them to lead the life of perfection which is proper to the institute.
§2 Novices are to be led to develop human and christian virtues. Through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection. They are to be instructed in contemplating the mystery of salvation, and in reading and meditating on the sacred Scriptures. Their preparation is to enable them to develop their worship of God in the sacred liturgy. They are to learn how to lead a life consecrated to God and their neighbour in Christ through the evangelical counsels. They are to learn about the character and spirit of the institute, its purpose and discipline, its history and life, and be imbued with a love for the Church and its sacred Pastors.
§3 Novices, conscious of their own responsibility, are to cooperate actively with the director of novices, so that they may faithfully respond to the grace of their divine vocation.
§4 By the example of their lives and by prayer, the members of the institute are to ensure that they do their part in assisting the work of formation of the novices.
§5 The period of novitiate mentioned in can. 648 §1, is to be set aside exclusively for the work of formation. The novices are therefore not to be engaged in studies or duties which do not directly serve this formation.
|§1 A novice may freely leave the institute. The competent authority of the institute may also dismiss a novice.
§2 On the completion of the novitiate, a novice, if judged suitable, is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise the novice is to be dismissed. If a doubt exists concerning suitability, the time of probation may be prolonged by the major Superior, in accordance with the institute’s own law, but for a period not exceeding six months.
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