A Jesuit’s formation begins in the novitiate, where he spends two years learning how to pray, how to live in community and about the Society of Jesus.

Novices also do apostolic work and make the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society. Essentially, in the novitiate, a man learns how to be a Jesuit. At the end of the two years, he pronounces perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.


At the novitiate, he settles into the rhythm of daily prayer and develops a more intimate relationship with God.

The Examen

The Examen invites us to find the movement of God in all the people and events of our day.

St. Ignatius believed that he received the Examen as a gift from God to enrich his own life and share with others. It is a "method," to seek and find God in all things and to gain the freedom to let God's will be done on earth. Jesuits pray The Examen daily, usually before bed.


Community life is an integral and fundamental part of the novitiate — and one of the blessings of being a Jesuit. During the novitiate, a novice learns to contribute to and enjoy a community of brothers. In a unique way, the Jesuit community becomes family for him.



The heart of each day at the novitiate is the Eucharist, when novices gather to celebrate Mass as part of their community and prayer life. It is there that each novice discovers and deepens a relationship with God. Ultimately, it is what guides him in life within and outside of the novitiate.


In some Jesuit provinces, a novice embarks on a pilgrimage, where he is sent out with a one-way bus ticket, little or no money and the clothes on his back and returns within a few weeks to a month. On pilgrimage, he learns to trust in the providence of God and becomes comfortable with uncertainty.

Spiritual Exercises

At the heart of the novitiate experience is the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, a monthlong, silent retreat. Known as the Long Retreat, the novice prays in silence for 30 days, letting the Lord work on him. For many Jesuits, it is one of the most powerful experiences of formation.

First Vows

At the end of the two years at the novitiate, a novice pronounces first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Each novice pronounces vows as either a brother or a scholastic (a man who is preparing for priesthood). Near the end of the vow Mass, each Jesuit is given a vow cross, a sign of his commitment.

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