Step 1: Discernment
A man interested in religious life within the Augustinian Order will meet with a vocation director, who establishes a relationship and meets with the man to listen and discuss his interest in religious life. After evaluation, the vocation director introduces the candidate to the community and recommends that the discerner spend time with members of the Augustinian community.
Step 2: Associate Program
The Associate Program provides an opportunity for an inquirer who may not be ready or able, due to other responsibilities, to enter the Pre-Novitiate Program, to have regular contact with an appointed friar and a specific Augustinian community. This will allow him to deepen his familiarity with our charism and spirituality, and to have opportunities to meet with a local community from time to time, for prayer, meals and conversation. There are various ways in which association can take place, depending on the circumstances of the inquirer, his proximity to an Augustinian community, his educational or work obligations. The options for association are discussed with the vocation director and the director of the Associate Program.
Step 3: Pre-Novitiate
In the pre-novitiate, the candidate lives in an Augustinian community and initial formation begins. The candidate is introduced to the Augustinian Rule and the Order’s Constitutions. As the Candidate continues to discern his vocation, he participates and shares in the community life; time is set aside for Mass and prayer, as well as other social events. Upon completion of the pre-novitiate requirements, the formation team evaluates the readiness of the candidate to be advanced.
Depending on which province of the Augustinians you are entering (based on your ministerial interests and geographic location; don't worry--our vocations team helps this decision), pre-novices either study at the Blessed Stephen Bellesini Friary in Ardmore, Pennsylvania (close to Villanova University) or at the Augustinian Community in San Diego, California.
Step 4: Novitiate
One's year in the Novitiate is a pivotal step in the formation process. As a novice, the candidate receives a white habit. The candidate continues developing his life of prayer and deepening his relationship with God. Formation as an Augustinian continues as he lives according to the Rule and integrates the values and mission of the Augustinians.
A key aspect of the Novitiate step is Prayer. God's Grace strengthens the joy and freedom of the consecrated life, in service to the Church and to the world in Christ's name. The emphasis on a life of prayer does not minimize other aspects of the formative process. Instead it is the source of our being and action.
In the context of our lives and the formation of our friars it is no easy task to teach and promote basic Christian prayer, which is dialogue, listening, interiority and unconditional faithfulness (set times every day), moved by faith in God. We see and recall the double foundation for prayer in conformity with Augustinian thought. We must passionately respect human beings and the Word of God, which will always be like an arrow which pierces the heart and renews the love of God in his children. The Novitiate is the next opportunity men in formation have to live in community centered on prayer.
Step 5: Simple Vows
At the end of one's Novitiate year, the candidate will profess his first vows in the Augustinian Order. These initial vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are also called simple/temporary vows. They are "temporary" because they are to be renewed annually as the candidate continues to discern his vocation, until solemn vows.
The candidate will typically study at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) for four or five years depending on his calling either to the Brotherhood or the Priesthood within the Order.
Year One Studies Begin at Catholic Theological Union
At first profession, the Novice receives the black habit and, as a newly professed religious, is now a “Brother” of the Order. He moves to St. Augustine Friary in Chicago, Illinois, where he continues theological studies at the Catholic Theological Union in preparation for ministry, while he continues to discern his vocation.
Year Two Studies Continue at Catholic Theological Union.
Year Three Pastoral Year (See Step 6.)
Year Four Studies Continue at Catholic Theological Union.
Year Five Studies Continue at Catholic Theological Union.
Step 6: Pastoral Year
Prior to the completion of his studies, in his third year at CTU, each candidate will spend a “pastoral” year, doing work in one of the ministries of his province.
Pictured is Brother Carlos (left), who is in his pastoral year, helping a student from St. Augustine High, San Diego, re-package food to distribute to food programs for the poor. Carlos accompanied Fr. Kirk Davis and 27 St. Augustine students for an alternative spring break, helping in poverty projects in Chicago, as well as visiting colleges and seeing sights in the city.
Step 7: Solemn Vows
Solemn Vows are made between the Fourth and Fifth Year in the Theologate.
If a friar is found to be suitable and has reached the age of 24, completed his pastoral year and the fourth year of theology, the friar will profess solemn vows.
If the friar is called to the brotherhood vocation instead of a priestly vocation, the formation process is complete! He is ready for active ministry!
If the friars is called to the priesthood, he proceeds to the following steps below.
Step 8: Ordination to the Diaconate
After solemn vows, a friar may then be ordained to the Diaconate. As transitional deacons, they often begin preaching the Gospel during the Mass, administering the sacrament of Baptism, and other activities to help prepare them for the ordination to the priesthood.
Step 9: Ordination to the Priesthood
The major superior, with consent of his council, will present for his reception of Holy Orders only those persons whose knowledge, conduct, and other qualities required by canon law have been established. The candidate is then ordained a Catholic priest by a bishop.
Major superiors of each province are required to provide friars with a concrete, ongoing formation in which all participate. This serves to revitalize the grace of a friar’s Augustinian vocation to religious life, and where applicable, to priestly life.
Initial Formation is a long process
Becoming a solemnly professed Augustinian priest or brother is a lifelong commitment to God, to the Church, and to the Augustinian Order. The formation process is structured to ensure that the Augustinian way of life is suitable for the candidate. It is a time to develop both the mind and the heart to better help future Augustinian friars serve God's people.
If you are interested in learning more, please subscribe to our emails for more resources, articles, and guides to understanding your vocation.