The whole community rejoices when a new brother is ready to make the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. His aim should be towards life commitment, even though at first he is allowed to bind himself by the vows for a period of three years only. This initial period gives time for the community and the brother to make certain that God is calling him to the life of our Society.
Through his discussions with the brother at the end of the period of commitment in initial vows, the Superior may conclude that it is wise to extend it for a further year. Three such extensions are permitted.
The years of initial profession are dedicated to further formation in the religious life. This is a time to begin discerning the gifts a brother may have for ministry, and providing opportunities for developing these gifts through training and practice. His studies should not be directed to these ministries alone, but should aim at a further consolidation of his knowledge of scripture and the classics of Christian theology and wisdom. During these years the brother develops a firmer grasp of his identity as a religious and seeks to intensify his self-offering to God in daily life and work.
The newly professed brother takes his place in Chapter and begins to take a full part in the community’s decision making. He becomes eligible for new responsibilities and tasks.
An important goal of these initial years in vows is the development of personal responsibility for one’s own growth in the religious life and a strong sense of accountability. To promote this development, each brother in initial vows will meet regularly to discuss his own progress with an experienced brother, or group of brothers, appointed by the Superior to provide him with support and advice. In addition, every nine months or so, the Superior and one or two of these appointed brothers will gather for a day of assessment with the brother in initial vows. In this assessment he gives a full account of his experience of life under this Rule, discusses goals to aim for in the coming months, and receives counsel.
We pray that when the moment of decision comes, our brother will find that Christ has given him the freedom and courage to choose life-long commitment. The foundation of this courage is a profound gratitude for salvation. “How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things he has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” Before accepting his application to be admitted to life profession, the Superior must consult with each member of Chapter to gather evidence that we share the conviction that God is calling him. The final decision rests with the Superior. The brother prepares for life profession in a retreat of at least two weeks.