The founding generation looked to the future in its vision-document:
Those who present themselves for admission into the Society will be tested in a novitiate until they finish their studies or are judged fit for the work of the missions.
The Missionaries will be accepted into the Society definitively only after two years of probation.
Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, O.W. XIII n.2
The future Missionaries needed a period of training and formation in order to enter fully into the spirit of the group. They had to BECOME in order to DO, as preachers of the Gospel. “Becoming” involved human growth, spiritual formation, and intellectual training to evangelise. The model was that of Jesus forming his apostles: “So they came to him and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message” (Gospel of Mark 3,13).
Eugene wrote about this model in the Preface:
What did Our Lord Jesus Christ do? He chose a certain number of apostles and disciples whom He formed in piety and filled with His spirit; and after having trained them in his school and the practice of all virtues, He sent them forth to conquer the world which they soon brought under the rule of his holy laws.
This was to remain his model of formation and community life for always.