Novitiate is a “year of trial.” The focus is on spiritual development as the candidate “puts together” his priesthood. The foundation is not just thinking about it but doing the spiritual practices of priesthood. For sure there was a structure of daily prayers and meetings and parish projects. But once left more to your own devices, what does one do with one’s time and energy?
In my view, everyone should have some kind of novitiate before undertaking life-long vows. It is a time to reflect, to be with oneself, and to figure out if you have what it takes to do what your vows are intending.
There were many positives of that year, but mostly, it was a year of trial indeed. A crisis of faith occurred when sensing I might not have what they wanted, and I began to make alternate plans. All was resolved by the end of year “review” of my candidacy. My first level vows were in the balance. Each candidate’s review was overseen by Maryknoll’s Mother House in Ossining, NY. The word came down, and I was asked to leave. Not on unfriendly grounds—told I was too much a “loner” and suggested that I have some time to think it over. At least two years.
And they were right.
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