Becoming a Claretian
Our Congregation seeks joyful, committed Catholic men who want to serve the People of God, especially those most in need. But, how do you start? (click here for a brief explanation and how we can help you discern).
Joining a religious community is not like joining a club or applying for a school, and it is much more than just praying all day. Ours is a life that requires us to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
As the Claretian Missionaries will assume the expenses for your formation, education, housing, and meals, we want to know that you have the necessary qualities to build healthy relationships in a religious community and the ability to complete higher studies in theology.
Additional qualities that we are seeking:
-Between the ages of 20-40
- have completed at least 2 years of college-level studies.
-Have received the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation.)
-be men of integrity, honesty, and responsible.
-are also active in ministry through their parish, campus ministry, or a volunteer program.
-possess good physical and mental health.
-no personal debts.*
And most of all, be open to the Claretian Process of Formation.
*(this includes credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and the like.
We can work with some college debt on a limited basis and for larger student loans
we will work with the Laboure Society)
Phases of Formation
Formation is where one grows not just academically, as sometimes is the case for those who "go to seminary", but it is also where one grows in every aspect of their person (spiritually, emotionally, physically, as well as , mentally). Read Vocation Directory...
The formation process can last from 5 years to 11 years depending on what level of education you have when you enter our Congregation.
Our formation process is not a "cookie-cutter" program where everyone goes through all the same steps. We strive to build your formation around you, your previous experiences, and the needs of the congregation.
The Formation Process encompasses three phases:
Throughout this process, members are to have a spiritual director, as an outside voice to help them grow in their call and their faith.
The Prenovitiate, typically called the Postulancy, is a time from 1-4 years where you begin your formation process, learning the elements of religious life. Postulants spend this time learning community prayer or liturgy of the hours, living in community, finishing their studies for a bachelor's degree, learning about the Claretian charism, and serving in one of our Claretian ministries.
The Novitiate, as required in Canon Law, is a one year period where the "novice" enters an intense time of prayer, ministry, community life, and formation in our Claretian history and constitutions. This is the time when you are asked to reflect if your call is to the priesthood, brotherhood, or the permanent diaconate. The Claretians are one of the few religious communities that are open to all 3 charisms of service.
If at the end of this year you feel called to follow the path of St Anthony as a Missionary Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and your superiors agree, you then make your "simple" or first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These vows are made for one year at a time until you make your perpetual vows.
After the novitiate, you will begin your Post-Novitiate period. This can run from 3-6 years and is the heart of the formation program. As our American Church expects us to know the faith regardless if we are brothers, deacons, or priests, all simply-professed begin their training in advanced theology. This is the part where formation is more tailored to you.
Brother-candidates will go on for some level of upper studies in theology and have the opportunity to also study in an area they hope to specialize in.
Permanent Deacon candidates will pursue the Masters of Divinity program and join a local formation program for permanent deacons while living in our Claretian community. Whereas diocesan permanent deacons may be married, the Claretian deacons do not marry as we takes vows of celibacy/chastity.
Priest candidates will pursue their Masters of Divinity and have the option to also pursue a Masters in Scripture, at the same time. Each year, after consultation and approval by their formators, the simply-professed renew their vows. If at the end of this formation period, you feel the desire to commit your life in service to others as a Claretian Missionary, you will make your "final" or "solemn vows." This usually comes at the beginning of the last year of studies.
For Claretian Brothers, this marks the time when they will enter into active ministry.
Deacon-candidates will typically spend 6 months to one year in ongoing formation/studies before they are ordained as a permanent deacon and then move into full-time ministry once their studies are finished.
Priest-candidates will spend from 3-6 months before receiving their ordination as a "transitional" deacon and again spend from 6 months to one year as a transitional deacon before their ordination as a priest and finally moving into full-time ministry.
The goal of the formation process is to help you discern how God is asking you to live your baptism and learn the skills necessary to serve the people of God as brother, deacon, or priest, and to grow in our Claretian identity while living in and building community.
Once one makes their final vows, this begins a time we call "ongoing" formation. We accept that vows are not a "graduation" from formation. We are called to continue to grow in our faith, in our knowledge, and in our prayer-life with God. Our Claretian family is committed to helping its members do this by monthly days for reflection, annual retreats, ongoing studies, and sabbatical programs. The whole formation program is as St Anthony said, "for the greater glory of God and salvation of souls."