Stage Two: The Novitiate Program
The next stage in formation for associates is the Novitiate program. In short, novitiate is an entire year filled with prayer, reflection, solitude, community life and activities. The Novitiate lays the foundation for one’s religious life as a Redemptorist.
The Yorkton Province Novitiate program takes place in Toronto, Ontario, and is “Inter-Provincial”, in that it includes novices from a number of Redemptorist Provinces from across North America and the Caribbean. Each year, novices reflect a wide variety of ethnic origin, age, educational background and life experience.
The program is based on the Ratio Notiatus established by the major superiors of the participating (Vice-) Provinces and approved by the Redemptorist General Council. Much of the formational task described in the Ratio is carried out by daily conferences given the novices by the director or associate director or by other Redemptorists who are invited to discuss areas in which they have special experience. The areas which receive the greatest amount of attention in these conferences are:
- the religious vows
- St. Alphonsus and his writings
- the origins of the Congregation
- Redemptorist history, especially in North America
- the sancti or beati of the Congregation
- the Constitutions and Statutes
- recent General Chapters
- circular letters of the Redemptorist Superior General and the General Council
- history of Christian Spirituality and selected classics of the Christian tradition (east & west)
- and, above all, Scripture as a font of personal prayer and missionary spirituality
In addition to the “at-home” presentations on these topics, the directors and novices take part in the formation program of the Inter-Community Novitiate (ICN). The ICN has an all-day session every Tuesday from September to May, and longer workshops four times a year. Topics covered in these sessions include transitions to novitiate; spirituality of the vows; charisms; commitment; variety of prayer forms; addictions; sexuality and spirituality; family systems; Myers-Briggs; and conflict management.
An implicit theme throughout all of novitiate is collaboration. The Ratio expects that novices will have “an experience of collaboration”, not only in regard to the apostolic work they do together, but also in regard to daily household tasks and all aspects of community living. In all these ways, the novices have a formative influence on each other.