Stages of Marist Formation
The stages of Marist initial formation enable young men to more fully discern whether they are in fact called to the life of a Religious Brother. Each stage offers the candidate with an invitation to come to know himself and test if he has the qualities and dispositions to become a Brother.
STAGE 1: Contact
The Contact Program is designed to help you explore and discern your own calling to be a Brother and to help determine if Marist is the “best fit” for you. Considering becoming a Marist Brother is based on the following criteria:
Young Men who ask to join the Contact Program do so because they want to know more about our Marist way of living Brotherhood. The Contact Program is flexible and can last anywhere from 1-3 years while a person is completing a degree or continuing in his current employment.
The Contact Program provides discerners with a variety of opportunities to explore what living a Brother's way of life looks like. These include:
attending discernment retreats and weekends
participating in solidarity experiences
taking part in Community immersion experiences
monthly accompaniment with a Brother
STAGE 2: Aspirancy
Aspirancy is a six-month to two-year experience but may vary according to individual circumstances. This initial step takes place in response to a request by an individual who has already been in contact with the Brothers and “aspires” to explore seriously the question of becoming a Marist Brother.
This request is processed through the Director of Vocations. A formal interview is arranged to ascertain the suitability and readiness of the person for the Aspirancy stage.
An Aspirant participates the following:
regular accompaniment with a Brother
development and integration of personal and faith life
involvement in service experiences
assessment of readiness for Postulancy
STAGE 3: Postulancy
The transition from Aspirancy to Postulancy begins after a period of regular accompaniment when the Aspirant expresses a desire to take the discernment process further by living in a Marist Brothers’ community and by entering into the different elements of the Postulancy program. These include:
developing a closer relationship with Jesus
showing evidence of openness and generosity
being attracted to the charism (spirit) of Marcellin Champagnat
developing certain Marial attitudes and values
showing an aptitude for living in community and engaging in Marist ministries
The Postulancy is normally a six to twelve-month formation experience, offering the Postulant the opportunity for prayer, ministry, study, community living and ongoing discussions about his Marist faith journey. After appropriate discernment, the Postulant may then apply to enter the Novitiate.
STAGE 4: Novitiate
The Novitiate is an 18-24 month program or “apprenticeship” where the young man formally enters the Institute of the Marist Brothers and learns to begin living as a Brother. Novices for the Province of Australia undertake their formation in an international English-speaking Novitiate with other young men.
The aim of the Novitiate is to help the Novice:
deepen his relationship with God and the Marist Brothers through prayer, meditation and study of Marist life and consecration
discover the stable, inner core of his identity as a person and Marist Brother, while remaining open, flexible and creative in the ways he will be called to live this out
appreciate the full meaning of Brotherhood, assisting him to live this in community and in ministry with those to whom he is missioned as a Brother
The Novitiate is completed with the Profession of First Vows.
Temporary Professed Brother
Following the Novitiate, the initial phase in the life of the temporary professed Brother is directed towards formation for mission and the gaining of appropriate professional qualifications in a field of expertise.
This is a time of integrating tertiary studies (generally in the areas of theology, education and youth ministry) with some form of apostolic work, together with the life of prayer and community life. These years of “scholastic formation” enable the young Brother to experience how his religious consecration can truly become a reality for him. Temporary professed brothers normally live in a formation community close to their centre of study.
In the second phase, the temporary professed Brother is placed in full-time Marist apostolic ministry, giving himself whole-heartedly to being Brother for young people, working alongside other Brothers (e.g. Youth Minister in a Marist School). He does this while living in a regular community of Brothers. This experience of full-time ministry provides the Brother with the opportunity to bring his professional training to bear on his ministry while working alongside Brothers and Lay Marists