Stage One: The Associate Program
The fundamental goal of the Associate or Pre-Novitiate Program is discernment. Through baptism, all of us are called to serve the Church and the world. The way in which we live out this call is our vocation. As a result, the Associate Program is designed to bring out the richness within each individual. At the same time, the program offers each Associate the opportunity to experience the Redemptorist way of life in order that he may learn the demands and joys of living as a Religious in the Church today. In the course of the program, associates may discern a call to enter religious life as a Redemptorist priest or brother, or, he may find that his calling may be to the lay apostolate.
Formation Houses in Toronto, Canada and The Bronx, NY (USA) are comprised of five essential elements.
Human-Christian Formation: Through a process of directed discussions with the Formation Director and others on topics relating to self-acceptance, self-understanding, personal growth and psycho-sexual development, friendship, the meaning of prayer, the liturgy and spiritual readings, it is hoped that each student will begin to see his strength and weaknesses.
Prayer: An important aspect when discerning one’s vocation is time devoted to prayer. At St. Alphonsus’ there are daily communal prayer celebrations as well as opportunities for private prayer.
Studies: Depending on the candidate, the Associate Program follows a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree program at St. John’s University in Queens, NY, which includes, preferably, a major, or at least, a minor in Philosophy. In Toronto, students attend St. Augustine’s Seminary and the University of Toronto where they are taking courses in undergrad and grad Philosophy and Theology. Supplementary courses in Eastern Rite spirituality, Ukrainian language, and culture at Sheptytsky Institute are also encouraged.
Apostolate: Each student is encouraged to participate in an apostolic project, or regular out-reach and service in the local community. This might include parish activities, volunteer work in hospitals, nursing homes or any social service agency that is ministering to those in need who are the poor and most abandoned.
Community Life: The atmosphere of the Formation Houses is intended to provide an atmosphere of Christian community where seminarians seek to help and learn from one another through time spent in praying, working and recreating together.