The Novitiate provides a special time and environment for the nurturing of a growing vocation. The Novitiate builds upon what is already underway in a person’s life. It serves to mature and clarify a vocation in accordance with the religious lifestyle and the special charism of the SVD.
During this time, the confreres in formation must deepen his understanding of and commitment to his own vocation. This is a time of serious personal and community discernment, the aim of which is to allow the confreres in formation to make a mature and free decision whereby he publicly commits himself to the religious missionary life of the Society as a student for the priesthood or for brotherhood in the SVD.
The Novitiate experience is designed to strengthen the confreres in formation’s commitment to the Christian way of life. This entails a personal relationship with God through a discipline of prayer, a desire to place one’s gifts and talents at the disposal of others through ministry, and active involvement in the Church.
The Novitiate Program is also designed explicitly to develop the confreres in formation's understanding and living of religious life within the particular charism of the Society. The emphasis here is on the heritage, vows and way of life of the community. This lies at the heart of the Novitiate formation.
The Novitiate experience is finally designed to support and enhance the confreres in formation’s growth as a human person. This includes the continued development of the personal qualities and capabilities necessary for living and working with others.
The confreres in formation is expected to attend daily community prayer and Eucharist as well as periods of private prayer. He involves himself in regular household duties.
Regular input from the Novice Director and other capable persons as well as attendance at the Kairos Inter-Novitiate Program in Sydney are also part of this commitment. Some pastoral activity, especially toward the end of the Novitiate, is recommended. Private meetings between the confreres in formation and his Director are a feature of this time. The confreres in formation is introduced to the keeping of a personal and spiritual journal.
Days off for the confreres in formation during the year are opportunities when the students can move away temporarily from the regular routine. A thirty-day retreat is usually undertaken half way through the program. A second, shorter retreat is done as preparation for taking first vows.