When someone wanted to join the Oblates, the first step was a time of postulancy followed by a time of intense formation, called a novitiate. It was the crucial period of the formation process of the future Oblate.

We have a very strict novitiate. If men are judged unfit for religious virtues, they are simply sent away. Thus it is an established fact that the small number who persevere are really called.

Letter to Bishop Miollis of Digne, 10 March 1828, EO XIII n 65

The aim of the novitiate was to help the person to be transformed into a true missionary.

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, from which they will emerge full of virtue, accustomed to obedience and filled with attachment and respect for the Rules and all they prescribe.

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


Today our Rule of Life continues to stress its importance: “The novitiate is the candidate’s time of initiation into Oblate religious life and leads to his public commitment in the Congregation.… Under the guidance of the Novice Master, the novice comes to grasp the meaning of religious consecration. He can thus discern the Lord’s call and, in prayer, make himself ready to respond.” CCRR, Constitution 55

A novitiate,. in the broader sense of the word, applies to all of us in an ongoing way. To be disciples is not a static state of life, but a dynamic following of Jesus. All of us need to constantly discern the Lord’s call and, in prayer, make ourselves ready to respond on a daily basis.



“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.”   Og Mandino

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of what formation has looked like in my life, pretty informal, some of it self-driven, intense. Like so many others, our novitiate of life as been at times intense and then at other times more relaxed. There have been periods of being directed by others, and then periods of inner direction. But always it has been a journey without end, going deeper and deeper. Eugene himself who invited me to share in a way of life forms me through his writings and his very spirit. In coming to know him I come to know myself – awesome! The Oblates, missionaries with so many different faces have become in many ways my formators, as they teach, guide and share with me their stories and who they are. This place here is a place of formation, crucial and vital to who I am and who I am becoming – for I am not yet a finished product. Here I learn and discover, hunger to know more and go deeper. A living novitiate program, not limited by time but every bit as intense as I allow it to be within me.

    God calls and then gives to us the very means to say ‘yes’ and to continue deeper. Imagine if it was a ‘one time limited’ offer! But here we have the opportunity of intermingling novitiates, growing out from that. I have the image of the potter who is never quite done, nor are we.

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