At the time of Eugene, the novitiate was the first step in becoming an Oblate missionary. It was an intense year in which the candidate concentrated fully on allowing God to “fashion him with a master’s hand.” The guiding instrument was the Oblate assigned to accompany him, known as the “novice master.”

A novitiate which is truly a novitiate, where the subjects are fashioned with a master’s hand, where care is taken to coach in them all that goes to form a true missionary, whence they will emerge full of virtue, accustomed to obedience and filled with attachment and respect for the Rules and all they prescribe.
I shall keep on saying it endlessly that we have only an imperfect mixture which gives us scarcely any hope and from which the results cannot be favorable.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 26 November 1825, EO VI n. 208

Eugene was dissatisfied with the way in which this important process was being handled. Today that concern continues and this is why there is a period of several years being spent in the formation process to prepare candidates for the novitiate year. In a similar spirit, our Oblate lay associates undergo a time of accompanied formation before making their commitment as our partners in mission.

The purpose of initial formation is to develop gradually those whom Jesus calls to total discipleship in the Congregation, until they are mature religious, capable of carrying on the Oblate mission. This requires an assimilation in faith of all the dimensions of our vocation, especially of Gospel poverty, celibate love and availability for missionary service.

CC&RR, Constitution 50


“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Why is it that some reflections can be so good, so easy to sit with and them come away from feeling strong, and sure. Sure of what God is calling us to, sure of the path we have not only been called to follow, but have then chosen to accept and walk (it is never I think just the call, it is also the response).

    I have read this over a few times now and wonder what will happen and when it will happen, if it will happen, the accompanied formation, the commitment. I feel a little like Peter after he got out of the boat to run across the water to the Lord. I started out without thinking, sure, but now I hear the doubts, the fears and the negation int he winds and feel myself sinking. This morning I think of the potter who starts to spin his wheel and mold the clay but it doesn’t come out right so he beings again and again. Is it the fault of the clay which is perhaps inferior? Is it the potter who is unsure of what will ultimately arise as the clay is formed and molded?

    I dared the other day, to ask God a question, one word. Why? All that I heard back was this whisper, strong, sure, but a whisper that said “because I love you”. It did not immediately make me feel better or stronger. A small consolation, but I hang on to it for the moment for it is the only surety that I have.

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