At many stages of life you may feel God calling you. But how do you understand and act upon God’s plan for you? We are often asked “How did you know?” Any response to this question deserves to be related to something that is on the minds of a most people: love, meaning, and being true to yourself. I can do a number of things with my life. I can ask myself “Deep down, what God may be calling you to be and to do?” Each person answers in a way that is unique to them. This process is a thoughtful and considered one. The path to become a Marist goes through various stages of discernment as a person discovers his response –getting to know the Marist community and ministry; the mutual exchange of prayer, reflection and accompaniment. This is followed by more formal studies and preparation for ministry which lasts between 7 to 10 years.
Candidacy: This stage is when a person makes initial contact with a Marist. During this period he enters into vocational discernment with the help of a director or guide and receives accompaniment – a program of prayer, spiritual direction, and pastoral activity. At the end of this period the person decides to apply formally for the next step.
The postulancy program is designed to introduce the person to Marist religious life and to prepare for the novitiate. At this point, he undertakes various assessments while living in a Marist community. This offers an opportunity to learn about Marist history and charism and to develop other skills.
Once the person has completed the postulancy program, he may ask to be accepted into the novitiate. This is a period of preparation to take the religious vows as a Marist that lasts for at least one year. The novitiate is a privileged time to concentrate on spirituality, prayer, the history and Constitutions of the Society of Mary, other studies, and the meaning of religious vows. As an international congregation, the Marist Fathers hold their novitiate in various parts of the world.
Preparation for Ministry
The scholastic, academic and professional formation (for both candidates for the priesthood and brotherhood) continues in a formation house of the Society and attending a theological or professional institute for studies. A vital part of this stage is pastoral formation – a supervised period of pastoral engagement in a work of the Society. During this period the person applies for Perpetual Profession and once studies have been completed then he can request ordination to the priesthood as appropriate.