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Brothers Formation Program
of the German Speaking Provinces

1. Introduction

1.1 The vocation of religious life in the church combines the responsibility of every Christian towards our world, based on baptism and confirmation, with the charisma of a communitarian life in the direct fellowship of our brother Christ Jesus, lived out in the evangelical councils of chastity, poverty and obedience.

1.2 The charisma of the Society of the Divine Word is characterized through missionary service, rendered equally by all confreres, brothers and priests. By canon law our society is a clerical community (Co. 104). Therefore the brother finds himself in a field of tension between charismas, lay and cleric.

1.3 Formation and studies of a brother, which continue in a lifelong process of formation, must enable towards the following:

1.3.1 With the help of competent confreres he should be able in due time to decide in which occupation he might render his missionary service. In account should be taken his skills and abilities as well as the needs of our society. (Co. 515,1)

1.3.2 He shall become enabled, in the power of the Holy Spirit more and more to grow into the union with the Incarnate Divine Word and into the missionary community of confreres of many countries and cultures. (Co. 501) This shall lead him to a convincing attitude of faith, which lives the gospel and is a sign of Christ's blessings in our time. (Co. 503)

1.3.3 He shall be trained towards cooperation with others, to honor all human creativity and renounce personal wishes, in order to become more and more able to render selfless service for the healing of the world, in the church and in the own community.

In order to achieve the goal of formation the period of formation of a brother in the German provinces is divided into the following parts: postulancy, novitiate, juniorate.

2. The postulancy

2.1 Time and location of the postulancy

2.1.1 Before the admission to the novitiate a postulancy of 12 month (formerly 6) is required. The postulancy begins in September and ends in August the following year. Possible periods of vacation are hereby included. The place of the postulancy is Steyl.

2.1.2 The location may, with the permission of the provincial, in special cases be changed. In such a case is a confrere assigned to take care of goals and implementation of the postulancy.

2.2 Goal of the postulancy

The goal of the postulancy is mainly:

2.2.1 To recognize and evaluate suitability and (capable of communitarian life, free choice, etc.);

2.2.2 To make out theological knowledge and to deepen it;

2.2.3 To make the candidate familiar with the life in the SVD.

2.3 Criteria for the admission to the postulancy (Co. 511,4)

Following criteria have to be paid attention to at the admission to the postulancy and during its implementation:

2.3.1 Age-specific human maturity;

2.3.2 Psychological and physical health. Physical health has to be attested by a physician. Before the postulancy the psychological health has to be evaluated sufficiently by the vocation promoter or parish priest or other reliable persons. Above this special attention has to be paid during the postulancy towards the psychological behavior of the candidate.

2.3.3 relation to spiritual life

2.3.4 adequate school training ("Abitur" or profession)

2.3.5 community spirit

2.3.6 Readiness for missionary service.

2.4 Responsibility for the admission to the postulancy

The leader of postulancy hands the application papers over to the house council of Steyl. After the vote and recommendation of the house council of Steyl, the leader of postulancy hands the admission papers to the provincial council of the Northern German province, who then decides and pronounces the admission.

2.5 Leadership of the postulancy

2.5.1 The person in charge of the postulancy is the "postulant master". At his side stands another confrere, who represents the leader in case of absence. He is collaborating in the program of the postulancy.

2.5.2 Taking care of the postulants shall be the foremost task of the leader of postulancy. Therefore he shall be free from many other tasks, and commit himself to this assignment.

2.6 Evaluation of the candidates for the admission to the novitiate

The leader of the postulancy, his assistant as well as other confreres carry out the evaluation of a candidate

2.7 The formation community

The community of younger confreres in Steyl is entrusted with the task of introducing the postulants into the religious community.

2.8 contents of the postulancy

The content of the program of the postulancy is supposed to lead towards a religious, spiritual, intellectual and practical introduction into religious life.

2.8.1 The postulants take part in the daily order of the religious community. They are encouraged to additionally have their own prayer services.

2.8.2 The content of classes and lectures support whatever demands are being made to the postulants in daily praxis. This takes place by example during catechesis: emphasis is put on the following topics: Introduction into the liturgy; daily prayer office, Eucharist, and other liturgical times. Instruction for the reading of the bible and bible sharing. Deepening religious instructions.
- basic knowledge of our faith.
- forms of piety (rosary, stations of the cross);
- Instruction for contemplative prayer and meditation.
- mediation of a Christian worldview;
- Introduction into church services and the topic of religious vocation.
- Leading towards a better understanding of the church, the sacraments and the praxis of sacraments. For the preparation of the program, it is recommended, to take in advice of all teaching personal.

2.8.3 The postulants get acquainted with the SVD. Arnold Janssen, his foundations, history and presence of the SVD are being focused.

2.8.4 The deepening of a contemporary mission understanding is a special part of the program. The SVD constitutions and the documents of the last general chapters must be considered.

2.8.5 Knowledge of the English language shall get deepened or improved.

2.8.6 The leadership of the postulancy takes care, that there are opportunities for pastoral activities for the postulants.

2.8.7 For the postulants there is daily manual work of four hours.

2.8.8 Times of togetherness in community as well as times of solitude shall be practiced.

3. The novitiate

3.1 Time and location of the novitiate

3.1.1 The Northern and Southern German Provinces, as well as the Austrian and Swiss provinces lead for all their candidates one common novitiate in Heilig Geist Kolleg, Berlin (formerly: St. Paul in Wittlich-Wengerohr)

3.1.2 The novitiate takes 12 month (formerly 18) It begins in September (formerly March) and ends at the 8th of September of the following year.

3.2 The goal of the novitiate

“The goal of the novitiate it the deepening and ripening as well as the evaluation of one's vocation.” (Co. 512).

3.2.1 Part of the introduction into religious missionary life is besides spirituality in theory and praxis an experience of an apostolate. Reflection and praxis lead towards a deepening of faith, the unfolding of personality, the building of community and missionary zeal in the service of the church towards the world.

3.2.2 The reflection of human and spiritual maturing leads towards an unfolding of an individual Christian life, part or this process is the reading of the holy scriptures, the liturgy of the church and personal prayer.

3.2.3 The introduction into religious life offers the foundation for life in vows and community, whereby focus is put on the special SVD charism, as is laid down in the constitutions.

3.2.4 Through practical apostolates the human ability to approach others, to be their neighbor and to pass over to their lives is being deepened. Practicing apostolic occupations has also as goal, to become more self reliant as well as to perform and grow in team work.

3.3 Criteria and responsibility for the admission into the novitiate.

See constitutions 511,4 and 512,2.

3.4 Contents for lectures and classes

3.4.1 Material for daily classes is taken from the constitution. In connection with the basic theological course, certain units are to be taken from the "Wuerzburger Fernkurs": Introduction into religious/spiritual life G 22, A 7, 8, 21:
- Beginnings of religious life.
- recognizing the traces of the Holy Spirit – prayer – meditation
- obstacles – conversion
- searching the will of God Human predispositions for religious maturing/vocation
- social context of vocations
- Steps of spiritual maturing and their importance for religious maturing/vocation The Christian vocation – call to religious life G 21 Living in the footsteps of Christ G 10:
- as Christian
- as religious
- as missionary our missionary vocation in the SVD the sacramental dimension of Christian life A 18, 23

3.4.2 weekly classes: history of religious life G 14, 15, A 15 liturgy (2 weeks) G 19, 20, A 17 missiology (2 weeks ) A 11, 12 Greek or Latin, English or Spanish

3.4.3 workshops: introduction OT introduction NT SVD-history: foundation - mission introduction in "Euthonie" and Mediation

3.4.4 In cooperation with the dioceses there are several weeklong workshops for novices related to topics of religious life.

3.4.5 Every novice takes part in a 10-day an 5-day long retreat in preparation for the vows

3.4.6 Introduction into canon law and civil law concerning religious life.

3.5 leadership of the novitiate

3.5.1 The responsible leader of the novitiate is the novice master. At his side stands an assistant, who represents the novice master in case of absence. He takes part at the planning of the novitiate.

3.5.2 The leadership shall be composed of a priest and a brother.

3.5.3 The composition of the community of the novitiate must provide the novices with the experiences according to our missionary ideal.


4. The Juniorate

4.1 Goal of the juniorate

4.1.1 The years of temporal vows serve the further development of spiritual live. The confreres are asked to deepen their availability towards the call of God through the evangelical vows. During these years every confrere should get a certain security that he finds fulfillment in the call towards religious missionary life. Independence and life balance, ability to live and work in community, living faith and missionary availability must grow during this time (co. 513).

4.1.2 The theological basic course, the OTP, social practices and further professional training serve the same goal.

4.1.3 Specified activities are part of formation and group process. Due to further professional training there might be the necessity to live in an other formation community or to pursue an OTP. A confrere who lives because further professional training outside the community, is always part of a community. He is being asked to stay in good contact with his assigned community. The prefect is asked to visit regularly the confrere, to offer him assistance in many ways and strengthen him in his vocation.

4.2 time and location of the juniorate

4.2.1 During the first two years after the first vows, all confreres are obliged to go through the theological basic course.

4.2.2 After the theological basic course there is normally an OTP. This takes together with the language studies about three years.

4.2.3 After the OTP there is time for further professional training in St. Wendel's or Steyl. Responsible for the assignment to further professional training is the provincial after listening to the recommendations of the formation director.

4.2.4 The last six months before the final vows are dedicated towards the preparation for the final vows (co. 514).

4.3 The formation team

4.3.1 The formation director is responsible for organization and implementation of a suitable program. The confrere in formation gives the formation director information about his wishes and ideals for eventual assignments. The formation director supervises ability and inclination of the confrere, and to which degree personal wishes are compatible with the needs of the society. He takes over the formation programs with every confrere and makes decisions with the approval of the provincial.

4.3.2 The prefect is responsible for the regular direction of the confreres in temporal vows.

4.3.3 The provincial assigns a spiritual director, who cares for the spiritual development of the formandi.

4.3.4 The dean of studies organizes the lectures, cares for the coordination of teachers and is responsible for the preparation of exams.

4.3.5 Formation director, dean of studies, prefect and spiritual director collaborate with one another.

4.4 the basic theological course

4.4.1 goal of the basic theological course: deepening of own theological knowledge and faith The development of an attitude, which enables and promotes individual studies in Christian spirituality. To succeed in the "missio canonica" as precondition for pastoral catechetical service. The basic theological course is obligatory for everyone and ends with an exam. The necessary demands are composed by the dean of studies and the formation director, and are approved by the provincial. Only in exceptions may a dispense for the exam for the "missio canonica" be given.

4.4.2 contents of classes : The content bases on the lessons of the Wuerzburger Fern - "Kurs zur Glaubensvertiefung". Additional topics are: (by example: missiology, human science, present topics of theological discussions, as well as JPIC) Part of the basic theological course is a catechetical practice period in a school. Besides there is the task to study foreign languages, English or Spanish.

4.5 Overseas Training Program

4.5.1 "A prolonged period of apostolic service with supervision is part of the formation program for confreres in temporal vows (Co. 516,4). This experience has proven to be an effective tool in the field of pastoral work and for the contact with other cultures. (13th General chapter 1988).

4.5.2 Those who take responsibility, like prefects and confreres in formation must consider values and goals of the program, see the difficulties and help finding criteria for making a good decision.

4.5.3 Confreres must be sent only to provinces which have an OTP program.

4.6 practical training

4.6.1 In every phase of the formation, confreres dedicate part of their time to social and apostolic practical trainings (see constitution 515,3, guidelines for directing confreres in temporal vows).
Practical training offers the opportunity, to get to know the reality of the peoples whom we want to serve, by meeting the poor and marginalized in solidarity. Practical trainings offer also an opportunity to practice self reliance in different situations and to test one's own ability to adjust and get along with various circumstances.

Published by the Provincials of the
Northern and Southern German Provinces SVD

March 1991

NB: This program was sent to Rome on 10 August 2004, by Br. Roland Scheid (GEN).