Becoming a Paulist
To answer the call to the priesthood is to begin a lifelong journey. It is a process that happens on many levels: responding to God's grace, acquiring a habit of prayer and reflection, and learning theology and other skills required to become an effective priest in a complex world.
How does someone prepare for Paulist life? The following brief description of the Paulist formation program can answer part of that question. No program can guarantee a vocation, but the Paulist formation program is designed to help men discern the mystery of God's grace and calling revealed through dialogue, growth, responsibilities, and service.
A one-year novitiate on the campus of St. Paul's College in Washington, DC, beginning in August of each year, serves as initiation into the life of the Paulists. There the novice learns about spirituality, history and ministry of the community. He prays, reflects, writes, reads and does service as he discerns his call to the Paulist way. At the end of the year, he makes first promises as a Paulist.
During a four-year program of theological studies, the young Paulist becomes integrated into the Catholic tradition of scripture and church teachings. He has the choice of study at either The Catholic University of America or the Washington Theological Union. The Eucharist, the center of his spiritual life, the community's regular rhythm of morning and night prayer, combined with its retreats and conferences, strengthen his spirit and vocation.
Between his second and third years of theology, the young Paulist takes a year off from his studies to do pastoral work. Stationed at a Paulist parish, campus, or information center, he has the opportunity to experience firsthand the life of ministry.
At the beginning of his final year of theology, he makes a lifelong commitment to the Paulist community by making his final promise. Shortly after his commitment, he is ordained a deacon. After one more year, he is eligible to be ordained a priest. With the support of his Paulist Community and the personal resources he has acquired in the period of formation, and by the indispensable grace of Christ, the new priest reaches out to this world, contributing to the reality of Father Hecker's dream—a bright and glorious future for the Church.