" The Blessed Mother has appeared to me and told me to become a missionary. "
Bl Francis Xavier Seelos C.Ss.R
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The Noviciate Day...

A report from our novices making their noviciate in Toronto, Canada and a photo of them with some confreres and our Fr. General, Fr. Michael Brehl C.Ss.R.

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The day starts for most of us at 7.30am for Morning Prayer. It takes half an hour, as a period of silent meditation is observed before the “Benedictus” (also known as the “Canticle of Zechariah”) is recited. On some days, Mass follows immediately afterwards, on others, there is a break until 9 or 9.30am. That time can be used to get breakfast, exercise, read and so forth.

 

The rest of the morning will be spent in two classes with a break in between for either reading and/or reflection. All learning in the novitiate is non-academic. There is no pressure of written assignments or exams. Classes can cover diverse subjects: from theology to history of religious life; lives and writings of saints to prayer techniques; exploring emotional maturity to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.

 

Following lunch, the afternoon is generally free. The time can be used for reading the assigned readings of the month, catching up with family or friends, doing various chores for the house or for personal care appointments.

 

Once a week you will have an interview with one of the formators. This usually lasts about an hour. During the interviews, you may discuss how things are going on at the time, bring up any personal struggles you are working through, share where you may be in the discernment process. Sometimes the conversation may be guided along various issues concerning your personal identity. This could be your family history, medical history (it's amazing what kind of memories and feelings can be evoked while discussing various medical problems), or sexual history. These interviews can be a great help in gaining a better depth of self-knowledge, which is essential for helping one to make a good decision about whether one's calling is to religious life.

 

If Mass has not already been celebrated earlier, it is celebrated at 4.30pm (with Evening Prayer combined with it). Otherwise Evening Prayer would begin at 5pm.

 

After dinner there is some time spare for whatever is necessary. On some evenings there may be a video shown at 7pm. On Thursday evenings a holy hour is held instead, which will sometimes be prepared and led by one of the novices. On a Friday evening, there is the option to gather to play games – either cards or boardgames. There has recently been some fierce competition between the Monopoly players! Peter has also gained some notoriety for his attempts to pass off nonsense words in Scrabble. It may seem quaint to some that we spend our recreation time doing this but there is a good lesson to be learned regarding how contemporary society has become less and less social in its recreational pursuits.

 

After Mass (with Morning Prayer combined) at 9am, Saturday is free. Some may stay in and get their laundry done, catch up with reading or simply enjoy the quiet. Others may take a trip into town to get the necessaries or catch up with friends. We have sometimes taken a trip to the cinema or the park.

 

Sundays can either be a community morning, where we will gather for morning prayer and prayerfully reflect on the gospel and other readings of the day (what they call 'faith-sharing'). These can be rather precious moments where new insights can arise from the group on different aspects of the scripture passages and our recent experiences.

 

Each month a 'Desert Day' is scheduled. It begins after the Holy Hour on the Thursday and ends after Mass on the Friday evening. This day is spent in silence, with the exception of a conference on the Friday morning. They are like mini-retreats within the sometimes busy-ness of the program and a healthy reminder to slow down, to stop and spend time refocusing on what is important.

 

There are various pastoral opportunities available to the novices. There are various possibilities for helping out at one-off events with the Redemptorist parish in town or as part of the youth ministry team. A handful of the novices in the second half of the novitiate year have regularly spent a day giving a retreat to high-school students at St. Patrick's Church, raising their awareness of social justice issues.

 

The community has hosted various guests at different occasions. They can be visiting Redemptorists, family members and friends of the novitiate community. Being set in the home city of the Superior General, the novitiate has had the privilege of being visited by Fr. Michael Brehl on a number of occasions.

 

In all, the novitiate has been a very enriching experience. We have grown quite a lot since arriving here and have learned a lot about ourselves, our beliefs and the Redemptorists. The community that has formed since our arrival has been very strong, close-knit and nurturing which is evident in healthy mutual care and concern for each member within the group.

 

In spite of these very positive experiences of novitiate, we look forward to being back on home turf in the summer to catch up with family and friends before embarking on the next step of our journey.