Formation is the process by which a seminarian becomes an Oblate of the Virgin Mary. Prayer, work, study, and recreation each play a part in this journey of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth. Good health and sufficient intelligence are starting points for those who wish to enter our formation program. Preference will be given to those who have completed at least two years of college studies, but some exceptions may be considered. It is expected that candidates will be able to meet some of the expenses of the first stage of formation, although tuition, room, and board will be shouldered by the Oblates. The three stages of formation are postulancy, novitiate and theologate.
The first stage of formation is dedicated to human and religious formation while pursuing philosophy studies as part of a college program. Combined with a life of prayer, especially the Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, the postulant undergoes his initial preparation for more advanced studies in theology. Personal spiritual direction, an annual retreat, in-house classes in catechism, music and English, and some apostolic experience also contribute to formation of the postulant. Group outings and regular periods of recreation round out the schedule.
The second stage of formation is a one-year period of intense spiritual preparation and discernment. All academic studies are suspended during this twelve-month period. Instead, the novice is instructed in the rule, spirit, and way of life of the Oblates. He is also taught the fundamentals of the spiritual life and makes the Spiritual Exercises in its full thirty-day form. The novitiate year concludes with religious profession as the novice makes temporary vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and receives the Oblate religious habit.
For those who are continuing to priesthood, the next years involve theological studies and pastoral training and experience. This four-year program includes classes in Scripture, the Sacraments, spirituality, moral theology, preaching, and pastoral counseling. In their formation Oblates are inspired by the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas and by those authors who are in full communion with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Apostolic works during summer break give the student valuable experience that prepares him for priestly ministry. The Oblate receives the ministries of lector and acolyte in preparation for final vows and ordination to the diaconate and priesthood.
For those who wish to follow Christ as religious brothers, the training varies according to the talents and interests of the individual and the needs of the community.