Formation Directory

The oblate religious formation clearly begins with the novitiate. The novitiate plays an irreplaceable and privilege role as the first initiation into religious life. However it cannot achieve with this purpose unless the future novices already possess an appropriate human and Christian preparation. Thus the place of this specific preparation for the novitiate is pre-novitiate.

The name “Pre-Novitiate” is self-explanatory. It is a period of immediate preparation for the Novitiate. Its aim is to enable the candidate, the future novice, to obtain the maximum benefit from the Novitiate program that he is to follow soon. This stage of the formation of an Oblate is not of canonical status, and hence its structure, content and duration are flexible, adaptable, adjustable and vary according to the concrete situation existing is each Province or region, the stage in which the candidate is in his journey and to the quality and maturity of the candidate.

According to our Constitutions and Rules, it is an appropriate program, prior to the Novitiate, done either in community or by regular contact with Oblates, the goals being to help the candidate achieve the personal and Christian maturity necessary for a fruitful Novitiate and to assess their suitability for our way of life. In other words, the aim of the Pre-Novitiate Program is to enable the candidate to mature as a human being and a Christian, and help him to discern and decide on his vocation in view of the Novitiate. Referring simply to “an appropriate program”, our Constitution leaves plenty of latitude to Provinces for the practical organization of the Pre- Novitiate program.

What is expected of a candidate (Pre-Novice)

According to our Formation Directory what is expected of a Pre-Novice during this period is to discern his vocation, that is to come to know himself well, his temperament, his talents and qualities, his strengths and virtues, his weaknesses and short-comings, his emotions and character, and compare and evaluate what he is with what he is expected to be. He is also expected to purify the motives orienting him towards the Oblates, to increase and improve his knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith and teaching, to become familiar with the Oblate Religious life-style, its traditions, its expectation and demands, and its challenges, and to get into touch with the missionary and international character of the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

On the other hand, the formators are expected to accompany the candidates with their loving and caring presence and come to know the candidate well with a view to discern his vocation, make good what is wanting in his human and Christian preparation, discern the motivations animating his project and offer the Pre-Novice an experience of Oblate life, values and traditions in its mission to evangelize the poor. They are to take note of the genuine dispositions, capacities, values (both human and Christian), and virtues which the candidates bring from homes, from the Juniorates and other institutions where they have lived for some time and endeavour to foster them during the formation period at the Pre-Novitiate. They will be models to the candidates, bearing witness to genuine human, Christian and Oblate values and customs such as meetings, community prayers, recitation of the Breviary, days of recollection etc. They are also to provide the facilities, opportunities and the environment suitable for the candidate to grow in human and Christian maturity. For example:

  1. Some basic dispositions and capacities, such as, desire to learn, desire to work hard, spirit of openness, appreciation of cultural values (one’s own and those of other ethnic and racial groups), desire to live and work with others who may be of different caste, race or nationality.
  2. Certain basic human values or qualities, such as, respect for one’s own dignity and that of others, self-esteem, respect for others’ freedom, needs and rights, truthfulness, integrity and authenticity of life, loyalty, genuine love for the people, especially for the poor and the abandoned, ability to make good judgment, good common sense etc.
  3. Certain basic Christian virtues, such as, love for God, commitment to Jesus Christ, spirit of generosity and of forgiveness, love for the Church, love for the Word of God, desire to pray, devotion to the Blessed Mother etc.

Means and Programmes

Introductory Program

Our Pre-novitiate offers a six month (2 February – 2 August) program which embodies both informational and experiential dimensions as well as a suitable environment (physical and psycho-social) thereby empowering the candidate to achieve a human and Christian maturity in view of the Novitiate. Candidates from the South-Asia Region, namely, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Colombo and Jaffna participate in our Pre-Novitiate program. Since it is for the first time the candidates from the Delegations of Pakistan and Bangladesh and from the two Provinces of Colombo and Jaffna in Sri Lanka come together, the program initiates them to a sense of internationality within a South-Asian context by encouraging and providing opportunities and occasions to share and appreciate each other’s religious and cultural values, customs and manners. First few days of the program will be allotted for sharing of the values, attitudes, customs and traditions etc. which the candidates bring from their home, villages, parishes, schools, seminaries and countries, This exercise will enable the candidates coming from different backgrounds to learn and appreciate one another and one another’s cultural values and thereby lay a good foundation for multi-cultural outlook and also promote internationality when candidates from different countries meet at the Pre-Novitiate for the first time. This exercise will also help the candidates to learn to live and work together and thus lead to a community experience.

During this initial period, introduction to Liturgy (personal and community prayer, use of the Breviary, preparation of Eucharistic Celebration, prayer services, liturgical hymns), arranging the Time Table (organisation of life in Pre-Novitiate), assignment of office-bearers (sharing of responsibilities) and community recreations also will take place. The time-table will be similar to what is followed at the Novitiate, but more accommodative, flexible and adjustable.

Given the present socio-political context in Sri Lanka, the Sinhala and Tamil Pre-Novices from the two Provinces come together for the first time at this stage of formation and learn to live together as a community. They also make an effort to learn each other’s language, though English remains the official language of the Pre-Novitiate.

These exercises will also help the candidates to learn to live and work together and thus lead to a community experience.

Main Program

The main program of the Pre-Novitiate is divided into three phases, namely, “Self-awareness” – candidate coming to know what he is, “Vocation” – coming to know what he hopes to be, and then “discern and decide” – candidate making a decisive choice whether to take up the responsibility or not.

Phase 1: Self-awareness: This takes place during the first two months of the program. During this period psychological seminars and workshops are organized and conducted by trained and qualified personnel on topics such as group dynamics, community building, human relationship, intra and inter relationship, inner healing, personality development, leadership qualities, enneagram, etc. whereby the candidates are enabled to come to know themselves better, with their temperament, character, their compulsions and troublesome emotions (anger, hurts, fear, likes and dislikes, low self-image), weaknesses and strengths, talents and short-comings etc. and if need be, to provide assistance from competent persons who are not members of the staff. The candidates are also given opportunities for better interaction with the peers. They are also given proper psycho-sexual formation, necessary counselling and spiritual direction. Candidates are also educated in socially dignified behaviour, etiquette and manners.

Phase 2: Vocation: This takes place during the second two months of our program. During this period the candidate will come to know better and clearly what he would be in the future, an Oblate religious priest, i.e., what is expected of him by God, by the Church and by the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate as an Oblate religious priest. This will be done through input talks, practical discussions, sharing and readings. They are introduced to the seminarian’s way of reading the Gospels. Jesus is looked upon as Formator par excellence and Gospel stories as stories of Apostles in formation, bringing out what Jesus expects of his disciples – disposition, attitude, greater righteousness, values, charity, simplicity of life, life of sacrifice, complete commitment etc. The teaching of the Church on Religious life as it is found in its documents such on Church, Vita Consecrata etc. are studied. Finally life of our Founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, his Charism, Oblate way of life, traditions, Constitutions and Rules, History of the Oblates in Sri Lanka etc. are also taught.

Phase 3: Discernment and Decision Making: This takes place during the last two months of our program. The candidate, having come to know of himself as he is, and also the life style, duties and responsibilities which he will be expected to take upon himself in his new state of life, takes time to reflect and decide for himself whether he will be able to live up to it. (Luk. 14: 28- 33). “Sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it”. In prayer and reflection he examines himself and with help of his spiritual director, counsellor or formator, makes a conscious free decision for life. If they decide positively to proceed to the Novitiate, they will write to their respective Provincial about it and request him to be admitted to follow the Novitiate Program.

During this period, the candidates will be given opportunities and facilities to improve their God- given talents like music, elocution, singing, reading habit, use of electronic media, mechanism etc. They will also be given chance to visit some Oblate mission field. They will have a holiday break during the Holy Week and the Easter Week. The Colombo brothers will help at the Madhu Shrine in liturgy and singing. The Pakistani and Bangladeshis will go to Colombo to follow the Holy Week ceremonies in English and to spend a week at Maggona or Scholasticate, Amptiya.

Assessment of the candidate

  • Assess the motivation which orients the candidate to Oblate Way of Life.
  • Assesssome basic disposition and capacities in the candidate, such as, desire to learn, desire to work hard, spirit of openness, appreciation of cultural values (one’s own and those of other ethnic and racial groups), desire to live and work with others who may be of different caste, race or nationality.
  • Assess some basic human values or qualities in thecandidate,, such as, respect for one’s own dignity and that of others, self-esteem, respect for others’ freedom, needs and rights, truthfulness, integrity and authenticity of life, loyalty, genuine love for the people, especially for the poor and the abandoned, ability to make good judgment, good common sense etc.
  • Assess some basic Christian virtues in the candidate, such as, love for God, commitment to Jesus Christ, spirit of generosity and of forgiveness, love for the Church, love for the Word of God, desire to pray, devotion to the Blessed Mother etc.
  • Assess candidate capacity to live and work in a community, in an international community, to accept and respect others from different nationalities, cultures and customs etc.

Responsibilities of the Formators

The formators are expected to accompany the candidates with their loving and caring presence and come to know the candidate well with a view to discern his vocation, make good what is wanting in his human and Christian preparation, discern the motivations animating his project and offer the Pre-Novice an experience of Oblate life, values and traditions in its mission to evangelize the poor. They are to take note of the genuine dispositions, capacities, values (both human and Christian), and virtues which the candidates bring from homes, from the Juniorates and other institutions where they have lived for some time and endeavour to foster them during the formation period at the Pre-Novitiate. They will be models to the candidates, bearing witness to genuine human, Christian and Oblate values and customs such as meetings, community prayers, recitation of the Breviary, days of recollection etc. They are also to provide the facilities, opportunities and the environment suitable for the candidate to grow in human and Christian maturity