After professing First Vows as members of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), our members in temporary vows move from the Novitiate at Techny to the Theologate formation house in Chicago. For the next several years, they live there in community and continue religious formation while attending classes at area institutions of higher learning, do ministry and get a taste of life as a Divine Word Missionary.
The days typically begin with morning prayer and Mass followed by breakfast before heading off to classes. Priesthood candidates attend Catholic Theological Union (CTU)—the largest Catholic school of theology in the United States, joining students from more than fifty religious communities as well as lay people—to pursue post-graduate studies. Brotherhood candidates attend other Chicago-area colleges or universities in pursuit of advanced, professional degrees. Meanwhile, each student chooses a ministry where, under supervision, they offer their time to better the lives of others.
At the Theologate, those in temporary vows divide into groups, or small communities, each of which has its own lounge, dining area and kitchen. Once per week, each student prepares a meal for his small community. Each week, they also gather to share experiences, discuss specific topics and explore their faith through Bible study; all the while challenging and supporting each other on their journeys of faith and self-realization. Periodically, the entire Theologate community gathers together for activities. Individually, each student regularly meets with a spiritual director as well as his academic advisor at CTU.
After their first year, priesthood candidates choose a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) site for a summer of more intense ministry, such as a chaplain in a hospital. After the second year, each SVD candidate takes part in the Cross-cultural Training Program (CTP). For one to three years, depending on his need for language learning, he travels to a different country or culture and under the supervision of a local Divine Word Missionary, he truly experiences missionary life.
Returning to the Theologate, and after he gets a break to spend time with his family, he completes his studies. Then, within a year or two, each student prepares to profess perpetual vows as a Divine Word Missionary; priesthood candidates will also complete their education and preparation for ordination.
Finally, after submitting three locations where he would like to serve, he awaits his first assignment to go on mission as a Divine Word Missionary.