“The Novitiate serves to mature and clarify a vocation…a novice should come to understand himself more clearly and know our Society better so that he may make a mature and responsible decision about his vocation.”

(SVD Constitutions)

Your Novitiate year may become one of the most profoundly personal experiences of your life. It begins in early August at our Novitiate at Techny, Ill, and is dedicated to your discernment of religious life as a member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Your time will be spent in prayer, meditation, deep personal reflection, ministry and study. You will also learn about the history and spirituality of the SVD and what it means to be a Divine Word Missionary.

Your days begin with prayer, Mass and breakfast, followed by silence, meditation and study under the guidance of the Novice Director. After lunch, you may do tasks for the SVD community or have personal time to exercise, read or develop a hobby or talent that you have wanted to pursue. After our evening meal, there is Bible sharing, Holy Hour and group sharing as well as apostolic ministry in local parishes.

Frequently on Tuesdays, we will take part in the Inter-Community Novitiate (ICN) where you meet with novices from other religious communities of men and women. There you have the opportunity to share experiences and listen to speakers who address a range of issues related to your personal journey and discernment of religious life. On weekends, we encourage you to get out and explore the many cultural opportunities in the Chicago area.

Highlight of the year

Much of what you experience in the first few months at Techny helps to prepare you for the high point of your Novitiate Year, the 30-Day Silent Retreat, in early January.

Based on the traditional Ignatian Exercises, the experience fosters deep, personal reflection so you can more clearly know yourself and develop a deep personal relationship with our Lord. You regularly meet with your retreat director and attend Mass, spending the rest of your time in silent reflection, mediation and prayer. Many feel that 30 days of silence would be too much, yet year after year, our novices say that the 30-Day Silent Retreat was a truly life-changing event.

Man in prayer at sunset

In May, you will decide if you would like to continue with the SVD. Should you apply to the Provincial and his council, and you are accepted, you will profess First Vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a member of the SVD in a special ceremony attended by family, friends and members of the Society. Then it is off to further studies and preparation as you continue your path to be a Divine Word Missionary priest or brother.

Ultimately, the Novitiate year is about you and your decision whether or not to follow in the path of our Lord Jesus as a Divine Word Missionary. By combining deep personal reflection and understanding with greater knowledge of religious life and the SVD, we believe that you can more clearly hear God’s call in your life.

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