Were you wondering?

A religious priest or brother belongs to a particular religious order, such as the Franciscans, Jesuits, Benedictines, or Divine Word Missionaries. Each religious order is founded to fulfill a particular need in the Church through various ministries like teaching, monastic prayer and missionary service. Priests perform sacramental ministry such as celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments. A religious brother is a man committed to living the Consecrated Life in response to a call from God. Brothers are engaged in a variety of ministries in keeping with the charism of their congregation and model the person of Jesus through the relational manner in which they serve.
As explained above, a religious priest belongs to a particular religious order. Each religious order is founded to fulfill a particular need in the Catholic Church through various ministries. “Order priests” can be assigned to any location and any ministry where their religious congregation is present. A diocesan priest is one who is responsible primarily to the bishop of his particular diocese, a specific geographical region of the Church governed by the bishop. Within this region, the priest usually serves in a parish, though he may also be involved in other ministries like administration, communications, teaching and hospital or prison chaplaincy. Diocesan priests do not take any vows, but promise chastity and obedience to their bishops. Both religious and diocesan priests perform sacramental ministry.
There is no easy answer to this question, but here are five things to do to help you decide—pray, talk with others, assess your talents and skills, start spiritual direction and enter formation. Prayer helps you to listen for God’s call. God often communicates to us through other people. Do you have talents and skills consistent with the needs of the Universal Church and that of a missionary congregation? A qualified spiritual director can help you explore God’s presence in your life. If you have a general feeling that God is calling you to religious life, formation helps you to grow and understand your vocation more clearly.
In discerning your own unique response to God’s call of service, you may seek out the religious order or diocese that is the best fit for you, matching your own special gifts and talents with a congregation’s mission. Wherever there is a need in the missionary endeavors of the Church, there is a need for a Divine Word Missionary.
Most members of a religious community use initials after their name to identify the religious congregation they belong to. For example, SJ stands for the Society of Jesus and OSF reflects the Order of St. Francis. SVD is Latin for Societas Verbi Divini. Translated into English, it means Society of the Divine Word. However, in the USA, we are more commonly called the Divine Word Missionaries or the SVDs.
No. Today’s Divine Word Missionaries do not wear a distinct or specific habit here in the United States. Other Divine Word Missionaries who serve in different countries wear clothing that is acceptable within their ministries. While celebrating Mass and participating in other liturgical services, ordained priests and vowed brothers wear appropriate religious clothing. If a Divine Word Missionary is an educator or works within an institutional environment, he may wear formal or casual business clothing and priests may wear their clerical collars. As a Divine Word College student, you will wear casual student clothing and dress either formally or semi-formally for certain occasions and special liturgical celebrations.
“Charism” comes from the Greek word charis, meaning grace. Since grace is a gift that we receive from God without any merit on our part, as Catholics and Divine Word Missionaries we share this grace by using our own particular gifts for the good of others and to spread the Word of God. This grace, or charism, has continued to grow in the spirit of our founder, St. Arnold Janssen, and is reflected in our international community life and ministry. Divine Word Missionaries profess vows of consecrated chastity, evangelical poverty and apostolic obedience. We learn the language and cultures of those we serve and are open to leaving our home countries to minister in any one of our Society’s global missions.
The Society of the Divine Word has a wide range of ministries that include, but are not limited to: · Parish pastoral and sacramental ministries · Educational and religious training and teaching · Evangelization · Youth, adult and family programs and services · Lay leadership programs · Healthcare ministries · Seminary formation programs · Counseling and chaplaincy services · Economic, peace and justice ministries
Today, Divine Word Missionaries serve in over 75 countries worldwide and number more than 6,000. We preach the Gospel and share the Word of God by living, working, teaching, and sharing with others in many areas of global ministry. The society has grown to encompass four main SVD mission zones: AFRAM (Africa), ASPAC (Asia/Pacific), PANAM (the Americas), and EUROPE.
Yes. Divine Word Missionaries are the largest international missionary congregation in the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Epworth, Iowa, Divine Word College is the only Roman Catholic college seminary in the United States with the primary mission of educating Catholic missionaries.
Traditionally, the prayer life of the Society of the Divine Word has been guided by one or a combination of three devotions especially important to St. Arnold Janssen, our founder: Devotion to Mary, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and devotion to the Holy Spirit. After Vatican II, our imitation of Christ reflects the coming forth of the Divine Word from the bosom of the Father and the embodiment of the Holy Trinity. This is our ideal in going forth into the world as missionaries. As a candidate in formation, your schedule will include both communal and personal prayer times. After private morning prayer, you will join the community in daily Mass. Special Masses celebrated in different languages are also offered on a weekly basis. Communal evening prayer includes weekly Vespers and evening Holy Hour. You will also pray with others in small formation groups.
Formation is a journey of discovery and development, helping you to grow both spiritually and personally. Formation helps prepare you for the commitment to serve God’s people and enables you to be certain that God is calling you to be a Divine Word Missionary. A candidate’s formation program at Divine Word College includes five main areas: Human, Spiritual, Intellectual, Cross-Cultural and Missionary Ministry Formation. At Divine Word College, formation includes an academic program. Most students are working toward earning a BA Degree. Along with educational classes, students will participate in retreats, apostolic activities, various liturgies, spiritual direction and peer formation groups. In addition to formation at Divine Word College, Divine Word Missionaries offer four other formation programs: Associate, Brother, Novitiate and Theologate Formation Programs.
Yes. As a seminary student or brother candidate, you will have breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas and during the spring and summer break periods. You may leave the campus during these times and also on weekends for special events and occasions. Students who have professed their temporary vows will perform summer ministries in various SVD mission locations. On a daily basis, the campus is open and you are free to leave campus for leisure activities.
Yes. Divine Word College educates men and women for missionary service as priests, brothers, sisters or laypersons. Most of the current female students at DWC are sisters from various Catholic religious missionary orders who reside in separate dormitory housing on campus. The Divine Word College community also includes many faculty and staff members who are lay women or women religious.
The first step is to contact one of our vocation directors, who will be happy to answer your questions and guide you in the process.
Guided by the Constitution of the Society of the Divine Word, when Vocation Directors and the Admissions Committee make decisions about candidates, they look for positive evidence of: Sound faith and spiritual life and active participation in the life of the Church, including involvement in local parish activities or with other service projects. A religious spirit appropriate to the applicant’s age, with a sincere interest in responding to a religious missionary calling. Concern and openness for the missionary vocation, concern for others and generosity of spirit. The necessary talent for the education required. Sound physical and mental health/emotional stability. Social skills appropriate to the applicant’s age. Ability to accept responsibility. Sense of purpose in life. The capacity for and a pattern of lived celibacy for an appropriate period of time. Willingness to live in a cross-cultural environment.
At present we do not have specific vocational retreats, but we do offer our “Come and See” visits at Divine Word College and other ministry locations. This is an opportunity to visit the campus and other ministry locations to learn more about the Society of the Divine Word. Visitors meet with the Divine Word College community as they experience a day in the life of a Divine Word College student. The schedule balances time for prayer, liturgy, class participation and personal interaction with students, faculty and staff. You will meet some of our Divine Word Missionaries and have an interview with one of our vocation directors. You will also have time to relax and have some fun, too!
All Divine Word College seminary students receive a scholarship! Qualified students sincerely interested in studying for a religious life as a Divine Word Missionary will never be turned away because of inability to pay. Some college students, if they qualify, pay part of their tuition through student loans and state and federal aid. Various other DWC scholarships are available as well. Transportation costs are included in your financial aid package.
Yes. Many of our students in formation are from different countries and return to visit their families, at their own expense, during scheduled vacation times. Students must be mindful of immigration laws and requirements. Once you become a professed Divine Word Missionary, travel to your home country is determined and paid for by Province policy.

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