Dominican Vocations - Novitiate
The novitiate is the first stage of formation as a Dominican. It is preceded by a retreat of a few days, often with the previous year’s novices. At the beginning of the Novitiate, which in the Irish Dominican Province occurs on the province’s feast day, the feast of the Triumph of the Cross (14th September), it is traditional to receive the habit of the Order. No distinctions are made between habits worn by different members of the Order; any differences that might exist are entirely accidental. From the beginning, then, the young novices are dressed like every other Dominican friar. There is no obligation on the novice to remain in the novitiate if he finds that Dominican life does not suit him, and there is no obligation on the Order to keep a novice for a fixed period of time if he is not made for the Dominican way of life. The novitiate, which lasts one calendar year and one day, is a time of introduction to Dominican life, community living, liturgical prayer and personal prayer. The daily timetable is not particularly demanding. There are no particularly early rises for prayer, no break in the night’s sleep, no difficult fasting. However, the change from a secular lifestyle to a religious one lived in community may well be the most challenging aspect to being in the novitiate.
The novitiate group integrates gradually into the community charged with the formation of novices. The Master of novices guides the novices, prepares the programme of studies, helps them adapt to celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours several times a day, and may include a little apostolic work in their timetable.
Towards the end of the novitiate year, the novices may decide to apply to be admitted to temporary profession (we call this “simple profession”) which is a temporary commitment to living as a Dominican. This can be taken for one or three years. The results of interviews of each applicant and a vote by the chapter and council of the novitiate community are forwarded to the prior provincial who decides whether or not to admit those with positive votes to simple profession. First profession is traditionally made on 15th September in our province, one year and one day after the beginning of the novitiate year.