Stages of Oblate Formation

BaptismJoeI was attracted to priesthood as a religious because I wanted to live with other priests and brothers in community, work with them in a common apostolate and support them and be supported by them in my prayer life.” – Fr. Joe Newman, OSFS

The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales are priests and brothers, dedicated to spreading the spirit of St. Francis de Sales. We commit ourselves to following Christ through lives devoted to prayer, community and ministry.

We believe that the Gospel message and teachings of the Catholic Church hold meaning and hope for all men and women. We want to ensure that the light of Christ is not kept in the dark and seek to enkindle his spirit in the hearts of others.

In order to reach this goal, we have a unique Salesian Formation Program. The ultimate goal and essential purpose of this Formation Program is to help the future Oblate grow in his love for God and for his neighbor so that, as an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, he may serve the Kingdom of God on earth. Our Formation Program aims at the integration and development of the whole person. Below is a brief outline of our Formation Program.

Associate Program

The Associate Program is designed to help young men discern a possible call to religious life and priesthood during their college years. Oblate Associates attend the college of their choice and follow their preferred major and career path while leading a Christian life that includes appropriate personal relationships.  Oblates and Associates maintain regular interaction through visits and social media, discernment and Salesian retreats, optional summer employment at Camp De Sales, and Oblate events such as ordinations and professions.  The Associate Program ends when an Associate feels he is either called to religious life or called to another vocation.  Those moved toward an Oblate vocation would continue their discernment as Postulants.

Postulancy

A new member of the Oblate community is a postulant. Postulants live for a specified period of time, usually one year, within an Oblate community. This time is set aside for the postulant to make a smooth transition from his present lifestyle to the new reality of Oblate community living. During this time, postulants fully participate in the life of the community and may continue formal and informal education or be engaged in an Oblate or Oblate related ministry.

Novitiate

NovitiateWinterA one-year Novitiate Program is required by the church for all religious. During this year, the Novice begins to study and appreciate Salesian roots as he grows in his awareness of Oblate life and Salesian Spirituality. This year of quiet reflection prepares the Novice to take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience which will make the him a professed Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Following the Novitiate Program, vows are then taken annually for at least three years before perpetual vows.

The Oblate Novitiate is based in Brooklyn, Michigan, although some time during the Novitiate year is spent in Washington, DC, and at other Oblate communities and apostolates throughout the United States.

Ministerial Internship

Normally, the ministerial internship takes place after the novitiate. During this internship the scholastic works in an Oblate school, parish, or other approved ministry while living in an Oblate community.

Preparation for Ministry/Theology

ProstrationBrothers generally continue their professional education and training as well as their theological education as part of their preparation for final vows.  A program of study is designed for each brother to allow him to unite his unique gifts and talents with the needs of the ministry and the needs of the Oblate community.

Oblate scholastics (candidates for ordination) complete a four year program of academic, professional and pastoral education at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC designed to prepare them for sacramental ministry as a deacon and priest. This program of study ends with conferral of a master’s level degree (M.A. or M.Div.), profession of final vows, ordination to the diaconate, diaconate internship, and ordination to priesthood. After theological studies, some Oblates pursue postgraduate degrees in other subject areas.

A basic tenet of Salesian Spirituality is that growth is a lifelong process which needs ongoing reflection, education, challenges and opportunities. The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales believe that formation continues throughout life. Our prayer is that we all continue to grow, both individually and communally, as we strive to “Live Jesus” in the world.