Initiation into the Missionary Life, Manual for the Claretian Novice

This manual presents the summary of the main topics and formation suggestions that the novices in the congregation must learn and assimilate during the novitiate.

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Chapter 18: Juridical Aspects of the Novitiate

            This chapter, containing material mainly taken from universal and our own law, is developed according to the following outline:








            The Congregation of Missionaries, Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretian Missionaries) is a clerical religious Institute of pontifical right. According to the present Canon Law, it is, along with Secular institutes, one of the institutes of consecrated life. It shares with them certain elements common to the consecrated life and brings to the Church its own structure and juridical identity.

1. General Elements Common to Institutes of Consecrated Life

1. Since the beginning of Christianity, groups of men and women have existed who, in one form or other, have tried to closely follow Jesus Christ by living celibacy or virginity, poverty and obedience, as the main characteristics manifested in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. These characteristics are known in the Church as evangelical counsels.

2. Some groups of these followers, besides joining together in fraternal life in common, have committed themselves to live these counsels by a vow, or a similar bond. The vow is a deliberate and free promise made to God and must be fulfilled as a demand of the virtue of religion.[1] For this reason associations, orders, congregations, institutes or whatever other name those societies or groups of Christians are known by, have received in the Church the name of religious life.

3. Throughout the centuries, with the recognition and approval of the Church, clusters of institutes have kept on forming, starting with common elements, already indicated, counsels, vows, fraternal life in common. These have diversified, according to the grace proper to each one, by virtue of their origin, their spirituality, their mission, etc., into contemplative and apostolic institutes, institutes with solemn and simple vows, religious institutes and secular institutes.  Various well known terms for these clusters are classifications such as monastic orders, military orders, mendicant orders, clerics regular, religious and secular congregations, secular institutes, institutes of apostolic life.

4. This variety of forms that the power of the Spirit has raised up through the Spirit’s various charisms has led the Church to establish the need to recognize them publicly and include them in its legislation. If an institute of consecrated life has been erected by the Holy See or approved by it through a formal decree, it is called of pontifical right; if it has been erected by the diocesan bishop and has not yet received the decree of approval from the Holy See, it is called of diocesan right.[2]

5. The Church’s legislation received the name of universal or common law because it affects all Christians throughout the world. On their part, the various institutes supplement and apply the universal legislation through their own norms, approved in turn by the Church, which receive the name of particular or its own law.

6. The Church’s present legislation classifies all institutes that propose to follow Jesus by living the evangelical counsels into two large blocks called: a) Institutes of consecrated life; and b) Societies of apostolic life. All institutes that embrace the evangelical counsels by public vows form part of the consecrated life; while those called societies of apostolic life are those institutions that, also embracing the following of Jesus through the evangelical counsels, do not take public vows, but only private ones. The element that distinguishes or differentiates these institutions from others is the taking of public or private vows through which they commit themselves to live according to the evangelical counsels.

7. Institutes of consecrated life are, in turn, differentiated by two other characteristics: fraternal life in common and their clerical or lay condition.

1. Institutes of consecrated life whose original inspiration involves fraternal life in common are identified with the adjective religious,–religious institutes–, while those that do not require it are known as secular institutes. These adjectives, religious, secular, in this practical classification, do not have an etymological value, but only an historical one, since both types of institutes take public vows, which they must fulfill because of the virtue of religion.

2. By its nature, the consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay.

A clerical institute is one which, by reason of the end or purpose intended by the founder or by lawful tradition, is under the governance of clerics, presupposes the exercise of sacred orders and is recognized as such by ecclesiastical authority.

A lay institute is one which is recognized as such by ecclesiastical authority because, by its nature, character and purpose, its proper role, defined by its founder or by lawful tradition, does not include the exercise of sacred orders[3].

8. Besides institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognizes the hermitic or anchoritical life, in which the faithful that undertake it dedicate their lives to the praise of God and the salvation of the world, through the strictest isolation from the world, the silence of solitude, assiduous prayer and penance. But if a hermit or anchorite publicly professes the three evangelical counsels, through a vow or other sacred bond, at the hands of the diocesan bishop, and follows his own way of life under the bishop’s direction, he is recognized by the law of the Church as being within the consecrated life. To these forms of consecrated life is added the order of virgins, to which people belong who are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, being able to live alone or associated together.[4]

9. The Code of Canon Law of 1983, as something new, admits the possibility of new forms of consecrated life being approved, groups or institutions that in their original inspiration lack some of the elements presently required in the consecrated life or require other ones. By reason of their newness, their approval is reserved to the Apostolic See.[5]

2. The Nature and Juridical Identity of the Congregation

1. Our Congregation of Missionaries is a clerical religious Institute of pontifical right. Nevertheless, our community is composed of clerics and laymen who share a single missionary project and have three stable categories of persons: brothers, permanent deacons and priests[6].

2. Our Institute is governed by the universal law of the Church which is structurally codified in the Code of Canon Law, but not restricted to what is in the Code, and by our own law that is contained in the Constitutions and the Directory.

3. Formation in the Congregation is governed, specifically, by the General Plan of Formation, approved by the General Government on 16 July 1994. This plan envisions formation as a five-stage process: 1) the stage of vocational ministry and acceptance; 2) the stage of preparation: postulancy; 3) the stage of initiation: novitiate; 4) the stage of development and consolidation: missionaries in formation; 5) the missionary in the ongoing process of formation. The first two stages are required only by the Congregation’s own law and are governed especially by the Claretian Vocation Directory, published in 2000, while the other three are also provided for in universal law. The novitiate is in the center, as the heart of all the formation of the Claretian missionary, and is called the stage of initiation.


1. Novitiate is a time of integral initiation directed toward incorporation into the Congregation through religious profession (cf. GPF 348). The novitiate, with which candidates begin to live the life of our Institute, has the purpose of making the novices know their divine vocation better, particularly to the Congregation, that lets them test its kind of life, that conforms them to its mind and spirit, while, at the same time, the Congregation ascertains their intention and suitability.[7]

2. This period cannot last longer than 2 years, nor less than 12 months.[8] Twelve of these months are considered canonical, which means they are necessary and obligatory for validity. The competent superior (major superior) can anticipate first profession, but by no more than 15 days,[9] which can remove the final 15 days from the 12 months of novitiate. The time of novitiate for any novice may be extended, up to 6 months more, if there are any doubts as to his suitability.[10]

3. The 12 canonical months must be considered continuous and completely lived in the novitiate house. Absence from the novitiate interrupts this continuity. If the absence lasts more than 15 days, the days of absence must be made up. If the absence is more than 3 months, the novitiate is rendered invalid.[11]

4. The novitiate, as a formation institution, of limited duration, should make it possible for the novices to attain the goals proper to the novitiate, as indicated in section II.1 and that more specifically appear in Dir 196. Thus, during the 12 canonical months, the novices cannot be involved in studies or work that does not directly contribute to the formation proper to the novitiate.[12]

5. In conformity with c. 648. 2, and according to no. 69 of our Constitutions, superiors, in order to complete formation, in keeping with the time indicated by c. 648. 1, on the 12 canonical months, can set up, outside that time, one or more periods for exercising the apostolate outside the novitiate community, always taking into account that the 12 canonical months cannot be interrupted for more than 3 months that are either continuous or discontinuous.

6. Under the direction of the government of the Major Organism, different models and forms of organization of the novitiate may be promoted that meet the needs and convenience of each territory, but respecting the basic characteristics of our Institute and the norms of universal law.[13]

7. There is only one novitiate and it is valid for all, independently of whether they have a clerical or lay vocation.  Nevertheless, before his first profession in the Congregation, each individual must manifest to the major superior, in writing, whether he presently desires to be a Claretian according to a lay, diaconal or priestly vocation.[14]

8. The formation institution of the novitiate, involves, besides a definite time limit, a plan of formation, a house specifically intended for this purpose and a formator, called the novice-master, who may be assisted by collaborators.[15]


1. General Requirements and Prerequisites

1.1 Request for Admission 

            At least a month before the conclusion of postulancy, candidates for the Congregation must present a written request for admission to the novitiate to the major superior of the Province or Delegation that they want to enter.[16]

1.2. General Requirements Demanded by Universal Law for Entrance into an Institute of Consecrated Life.[17]

            Entrance into the novitiate is the first step toward one day being incorporated into our Institute by religious profession.  Since ours is an Institute of consecrated life, in order to be admitted to the novitiate, the candidate needs to meet the following requirements demanded by universal law:

1. He must be Catholic, i.e., he must be baptized and lead a Christian life. Put negatively, no one can be validly admitted to the consecrated life who is not baptized, even if he is a catechumen, or if he is an apostate, heretic or schismatic.

 2. He must have the right intention. Right intention affects both the way the candidate lives his Christian life as well as the motivations or intentions he has for entering our Institute. Right intention must be current, i.e., it must exist at the time the request is made; it must be clear, i.e., it must not leave room for doubt, and specific, i.e., it must apply not only to entering the consecrated life in general, but our Congregation in particular. Rightness is presupposed if, during postulancy, the candidate has been making progress in fulfilling the commitments of religious life and of the activities of the institute, which allows him to be considered suitable.[18]

3. He must have to appropriate qualities. This involves the qualities demanded by universal law and the Congregation’s own law, according to the clerical or lay vocation to which the candidate aspires. The demands of universal law are established in cc. 642-645 and are listed in section III 2.2.

4. He must be free of impediments. Impediments are conditions, foreseen in the law, which renders a juridical act or action made by a person affected by the condition or circumstance invalid or illicit. Canonical impediments to admission to the novitiate are listed in c. 643. 1, and explained below, in section III 2.3.

5. He must have adequate preparation.[19] The minimal preparation required is to have the qualities indicated in universal law and our own law, indicated in no. 3, and be free of the impediments indicated in no. 4, to which must be added that human, spiritual and religious preparation required by religious life in general and the life of our Congregation in particular.[20]

1.3. The Right to Admit

1. The right to admit belongs to major superior, after listening to his council, of the organism into which the candidate wants to enter.[21] It is a faculty that the major superior may delegate in particular cases, not as a rule, to another major superior or another person.[22]

2. The major superior or his delegate is the one who determines when the novitiate begins. For this act it is appropriate to celebrate the rite of initiation into religious life proper to the Congregation.[23]

1.4. Circumstances and Requirements for Beginning Novitiate

1. Before requesting entrance into the novitiate, the candidate, as required by our law, must go through a period of postulancy, pursuing, under the guidance of an experienced missionary, discernment of the vocation that has moved him to enter.[24]

2. Before beginning novitiate, he must go through at least 5 whole days of spiritual exercises[25].

3. Before entering the novitiate, the candidate, if he has not done so earlier, must present, in writing, signed by himself and two witnesses, a declaration in accordance with the laws of the country, in which he must state:

• That his entrance into the Congregation and the tasks he carries out in it are not of the nature of a work contract.  Thus, if he later leaves the Institute, he may demand no compensation for his work, nor for damages sustained, during his stay in the Congregation.[26]

• that he does not appear to have any impediment to entering the Congregation.[27]

2. Specific Requirements for, and Impediments to, Admission to the Novitiate

            The requisites, as opposed to the impediments defined in section III 1.2.4, are those requirements, qualities, testimonies, certificates, reports, etc. that universal law or our own law orders covered or completed in order to be admitted to the novitiate. Normally the requisites are needed only for licit, while the existence of an impediment renders the action invalid.

2.1. Basic Requisites

            Every candidate for the Congregation must know that superiors will not admit to the novitiate anyone who has not reached the required age, or who does not possess the necessary health, the appropriate disposition or character and sufficient maturity to embrace the life proper to our Institute. The existence of these qualities must be proved, if necessary with the help of experts.[28] Of all these requirements, only the required age is necessary for validity.

a) Age. To be younger than 17 is an impediment to entering the novitiate. So this disappears once one reaches the age of 17. In the event that someone younger than 17 comes to the novitiate, even though he is integrated into its life, the canonical time of his novitiate does not begin until he reaches age 17. Proof of age is required. This proof can be presented through a baptismal certificate. If this is insufficient since it does not show the date of birth, it would necessary to obtain a birth certificate.

b) Health. This must be understood as one’s health in general—physical and psychological balance, social and family wellbeing. There must be every effort to avoid the situation that the candidate, after his profession, might be denied renewal or perpetual profession due to lack of “physical or psychological” health, as indicated in c. 689. 2.[29] Health must be proved at the time of entrance. A certificate from the family doctor is sufficient. If he comes from the minor seminary or postulate, from the doctor of the center. His past illnesses are of no importance if it is affirmed that they are cured and have no aftereffects. It would not be an obstacle if, at the time of entrance, he was suffering from a curable illness.

c) Disposition. This should be understood as a combination of character, temperament and personality. The candidate should possess a religious disposition, sensible and stable, in conformity with our Plan of Formation. Proof cannot be ascertained with complete accuracy in a one-time examination. In normal and usual cases, the observation of the formator or formators is sufficient, without the need to subject the candidate to special testing. For more difficult or special cases, the help of experts may be called upon, always safeguarding what is prescribed in c. 220.

e) Maturity. The law requires sufficient characteristics of maturity related to one’s age and to entering and living in our Institute. This maturity must be understood as the ability to exist in one’s specific world, history and milieu is a dynamic and constructive way, adapted to the good that concerns one and that one assimilates, as well as to the evil from which one positively defends oneself.[30] To prove this, a single examination is not enough. It requires a prolonged period of observation and living with the person. Here the judgment of the formator or formators can be sufficient.

2.2. Impediments

            These can be understood as requisites, requirements that affect the validity of the novitiate. Universal law indicates the following regarding entrance into the novitiate:

1. Not being 17 years of age at the beginning of the novitiate;

2. Being involved in the bond of matrimony, i.e., being married. (It is not an impediment to have been married, if one is presently a widower, or if one has obtained the dissolution of the bond or a declaration of nullity);

3. To be bound, by a sacred bond, to some institute of consecrated life, religious or secular institute, or incorporated into a society of apostolic life, i.e., to belong to one of these institutions.

4. To enter the institute through violence, grave fear or deceit, and to be admitted by the superior under the same influences, i.e., to enter or be admitted without freedom, against one’s will.

5. To conceal having been incorporated into an institute of consecrated life, a religious or secular institute, or a society of apostolic life, i.e., not saying clearly and explicitly that one has previously belonged such an institution. This even applies to one who has belonged only for a short time or who has been out of the institution for a long time. It does not pertain, however, to those who were aspirants, postulants or novices.[31]

2.3. Limitations on Superiors’ Right to Admit

            In this regard the candidate for our Congregation should know that:

1. Superiors may not admit a secular cleric, priest or deacon, without consulting his own ordinary either orally or in writing.[32] His permission or consent is not needed.  The obligation, although serious, is only to make the consultation.

2. Superiors may not admit as a novice one who is burdened with debts he cannot pay.[33] In this case the admission would be valid, but illicit.

2.4. Other Requirements, Certificates or Reports Necessary for Admission

1. Prior to admission to the novitiate, candidates must present proof of baptism and confirmation, and of their free status.[34]

2. In the case of receiving clerics or those who had been admitted to another institute of consecrated life, to a society of apostolic life or to a seminary, also required is a report from, respectively, the local ordinary, or the major superior of the institute or society, or the rector of the seminary.[35]  

3. The request for admission from the postulant to the major superior, at least a month in advance, as indicated above.[36]


1.         General Aspects and Formation Criteria

1.1. The Purpose of Novitiate

            Just as has been described in section II 1., the law requires the novices to be formed under the direction of a novice-master, according to the plan of formation specific to the Congregation.[37] The purpose of the novitiate cannot be considered attained if, in the judgment of the novice-master and his possible collaborators, the objectives of the novitiate indicated in Dir 196 and in the General Plan of Formation have not been achieved. This involves having acquired an intellectual knowledge and understanding of the nature of religious life as the following of Jesus in chastity, poverty and obedience, as well as the theological and juridical requirements of the vows, the specifics of our fraternal life in common and the mission of the Congregation. In turn, a level of behavior of assimilation into one’s life must be positively proven, with a certain assurance, that shows they are capable of fulfilling the demands of their vocation. Achieving these objectives requires a step-by-step formation process.

1.2. Formation in the Constitutive Elements of the Consecrated Life in General

1. Life consecrated through profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living, in which the faithful (members) follow Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit and are totally dedicated to God, who is supremely loved so that, by a new and special title, for the glory of God, the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world they pursue the perfection of charity in the service of God’s Kingdom and, as a splendid sign in the Church, they foretell the heavenly glory.[38]

2. Novices should know that, not only must they observe the evangelical counsels faithfully and completely, but also direct their lives according to the institute’s own law, and so strive for the perfection of their state.[39]

3. In the Congregation, religious profession is effected by consecration to God, through the taking of vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and by a public act of dedication to the Heart of Mary in order to achieve the aim of the Congregation according to the Constitutions.[40] “First profession and temporary professions include the will to make perpetual profession and are a preparation for it.”[41]

4. Profession, in turn, involves the willingness to faithfully observe the intention and proposals of our Holy Fr. Founder regarding the nature, purpose, spirit and character of the Congregation, as well as its sound traditions, all of which make up its patrimony.[42] Therefore the novices must make every effort to know and understand the Constitutions, in the position they occupy in the project of our missionary life, and to adapt their lives according to their orientations. Gradually they will come to know the rest of our particular law, necessarily requiring the novices to progressively fulfill all the norms and directives that apply to them.

1.3. Formation in the Constitutive Elements of Consecrated Life in Particular

1. Chastity. The evangelical counsel of chastity, embraced for the sake of the Kingdom, which is a sign of the world to come and a source of greater fruitfulness in an undivided heart, involves the obligation of perfect continence observed in celibacy.[43] This means that the profession of chastity, besides precluding marriage, demands fulfillment of the 6th and 9th commandments of the law of God, i.e., leading a life that is chaste in thought, word and deed.[44] The novices will be advised that the Congregation will not take the responsibility for the moral and legal consequences of possible acts against consecrated chastity. Before first profession, they should declare in writing that they know and accept the mind of the Congregation in this regard.[45]

2. Poverty. The evangelical counsel of poverty in imitation of Christ, who for our sake was made poor when he was rich, besides entailing a life that is poor in reality and in spirit, sober and industrious and a stranger to earthly riches, involves dependence and limitation in the use and disposition of goods, in accordance with the norms of our own law.[46] The profession of poverty in the Congregation involves:

• Turning over the administration, as well as renunciation of the use and usufruct, of the goods that the candidate possesses or that may come into his possession to whomever else he chooses, prior to making his profession.[47] This means that, although he may retain the basic title to these goods he may make no use of them, nor may he make a profit off them, although interest may accrue on capital.

• Everything that one receives in one’s own name or by reason of one’s work, pension or ministry, is acquired by the Congregation.

• Nothing is held in one’s own name.

• Nothing may be disposed of without the permission of the respective superiors.

            Before perpetual profession, one should make a valid civil will, regarding both goods one holds basic title to at the moment, as well as those which may come to one later. According to what is said in PC 13, it is recognized that superiors have the faculty to allow perpetually professed who wish to renounce inherited goods, in order to foster poverty.[48]        

            In order to learn and practice Claretian poverty, the novices, upon entering the novitiate, should declare or hand over to the novice-master whatever they bring with them to the novitiate, even things like money, committing themselves not to make use of what belongs to them without the novice-master’s permission—even though profession will not require them to do this.

3. Obedience. The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in the spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ, who was obedient even unto death, obliges submission of one’s will to lawful superiors, who act in the place of God when they give commands that are in accordance with our Constitutions.[49] We are obliged by the vow to obey the order of our lawful superior in those matters that pertain directly or indirectly to the life of the Institute, i.e., to the attainment of our mission and to the observance of the vows and the Constitutions.[50] Out of love for Jesus Christ, we should obey in everything, even in matters that are non-obligatory and difficult, obeying not only our superiors, but also their delegates in their respective orders and offices, even when they are not expressly imposing a precept, but only giving a simple insinuation of their will.[51]

4. Fraternal Life. In the Congregation, fraternal life, by which all of us members are united in Christ into a special family, made up of priests, deacons, brothers and students,[52] is called to live a communion that creatively integrates the different charisms. Communion is a prophetic characteristic that will make our missionary service of the Word more credible, especially when, rooted in charity, it is an example of universal reconciliation in Christ.[53] All members should be enrolled in a house or residence,[54] in which they have to reside, living life in common, and from which they may not be absent without the superior’s permission.[55] The community character of the Claretian charism does not allow our members to habitually live alone.[56] The Claretian missionary achieves his fulfillment in community through an effective fraternal life, a common direction and authority in the perfect exercise of charity according to the evangelical counsels, a complete sharing of goods and a community organization of life—all for the purpose of exercising a more perfect, witness-bearing, and fruitful apostolic ministry.[57]    

1.4. Active and Responsible Cooperation

            The novices, conscious of their own responsibility, must actively cooperate with novice-master, and accept his decisions in faith and love, so that they may respond faithfully to the grace of their divine call.[58] They should approach their superiors with trust and be able to open their heart freely and spontaneously to them[59], without prejudice to what is established in c. 650. 2.

1.5. Relationships with Members of the Institute

            Regarding relationships between the novices and professed members, the special character and aims of the novitiate require a balance to be struck between the closeness needed to gain knowledge and love of the Congregation and the appropriate separation that safeguards their condition as novices. The government of the Major Organism will determine the general guidelines for these relationships.[60]

2. The Novitiate House

            The novitiate house is an important factor, not only as a formation institution but also in the context of formation itself; thus there are strict requirements concerning it, even affecting the validity of the novitiate, such as the following:

1. The novitiate, in order to be valid, must take place in a house duly designated for that purpose. In particular cases, and by way of exception, the superior general, with the consent of his council, may allow a candidate to make his novitiate in another house of the institute.[61]

2. The major superior may permit a group of novices, i.e., the entire group along with the novice-master, to reside, for a certain period of time, in another house of the institute that he designates;[62] likewise, he may establish formation periods for exercising the apostolate outside the novitiate house in accordance with c. 648. 2 and CC 69, contained in section II 5.

3. The establishment, transfer and suppression of the novitiate house must be done by written decree of the superior general of the institute, with the consent of his council.[63]

3.         The Novice-master and His Collaborators

1. The existence of the novice-master is required by the very object of the novitiate, which requires the novices to be formed under the supervision of a director.[64] The direction of the novitiate is exclusively reserved to the novice-master, under the authority of the major superiors, both in what pertains to animation and spiritual direction, as well as discipline, without restricting the freedom the novices should enjoy regarding the sacrament of penance.[65]

2. The novice-master must be a member of the institute, perpetually professed and lawfully appointed by the major superior with the consent of his council.[66]

3. If necessary, the novice-master may request assistants, who are subject to him in what pertains to the direction of the novitiate and the plan of formation. He will periodically inform the major superior about the progress of the novitiate and of each of the novices.[67]

4. Those in charge of the formation of novices must be members who have been carefully prepared and who are not burdened with other tasks so that may discharge their office fruitfully and in a stable fashion.[68]

5. Those in charge of formation, the novice-master and major superior, must take care that the novices have suitable confessors available, to whom they can confess frequently. Neither the major or local superior, nor the novice-master or his assistants, may hear the novices’ confessions, unless a novice spontaneously requests it is a given instance. Superiors are forbidden in any way to induce the novices to manifest their consciences to them.[69]

6. It is the responsibility of the novice-master and his assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices, and gradually to form them to lead the life of perfection that is proper to the institute. The novice-master and his assistants should lead the novices to live the human and Christian virtues; they should introduce them to a fuller way of perfection through prayer and self-denial; they should instruct them in contemplating the mystery of salvation and in reading and meditating on sacred Scripture; they should prepare them to celebrate the worship of God in the sacred liturgy; they should form them to lead a life consecrated to God and people in Christ through the evangelical counsels; they should instruct them about the character, spirit, purpose, discipline, history and life of the institute; and they should imbue them with a love for the Church and its sacred Pastors.[70]

7. By the example of their lives and by prayer, the members of the institute must collaborate in the formation of the novices.[71]


            Novitiate may end in the following ways:

1. Leaving Voluntarily

            Novices may freely leave the Congregation at any time either during the novitiate or at its conclusion.[72] Voluntarily leaving during the novitiate, by the very act, interrupts the novitiate. If, after 3 months or more, they want to reenter, they may be readmitted but must begin the novitiate again.  However, those who have completed novitiate and lawfully leave the Congregation may be readmitted by the superior general with the consent of his council without having to repeat the novitiate and fulfilling certain conditions.[73]

2. Dismissal

            A novice may be dismissed at any time during the novitiate, for any “just cause” by the major superior.[74] The novitiate is interrupted by the dismissal.

3. Death 

            If a novice becomes seriously ill and is in danger of death, he can be allowed by the major superior or even the superior of the house to make his profession “in articulo mortis” according to the norms and effects determined by the Apostolic See.[75]

4. Profession

            Making profession after completing the canonical time of novitiate is the ordinary way of ending or concluding novitiate.[76] Nevertheless, since the Congregation allows various ways and means of organizing the novitiate,[77] the canonical year may end without the novices making their profession immediately, superiors being allowed to postpone profession for formation reasons. But profession must be made within 2 years from the start of the novitiate.

5. Petition for Profession

            Three months prior to the date assigned for finishing his novitiate, the novice should submit a written petition to the major superior asking for religious profession in the Congregation, at the same time expressing his willingness to persevere and his disposition to fulfill the Constitutions and the other norms of our Congregation.[78]

            In the Congregation, superiors do not have the right to admit to profession those have not mentioned certain impediments that would exclude them or have concealed some serious defect or who do not have the will to remain in the Congregation. In such cases their profession would actually be invalid.[79]

6. Disposing of Goods 

            Before first profession, when they have been approved, novices must freely cede administration of goods and also freely dispose of their use and usufruct.[80] At the same time they may make a will, valid in civil law. But they may postpone this until right before perpetual profession.[81]

7. For the Validity of Profession

            For profession to be valid, in addition to what has been said, the following is required:[82]

1 One must be at least 18 years old.

2 One has made a valid novitiate.

3 One has been validly admitted by the competent major superior with the vote of his council and in accordance with the norms of law.

4 That the profession be explicit and made without force, fear or deceit, i.e., freely.

5 That the profession be received by the lawful superior, personally or through another, and also freely.


1. Absence from the Community and Separation from the Congregation

1. Novices may freely and at any time leave the Congregation or be dismissed by the major superior for any just cause.[83]

2. Those in temporary vows, at the conclusion of the time of profession, may freely leave the Congregation; likewise, the major superior, for just and reasonable causes, having listened to his council, may exclude them from renewal.[84]

3. Even though contracted after profession, a physical or psychological infirmity, which, in the judgment of experts, renders the temporarily professed unsuited to lead a life in the Congregation, prevents superiors from accepting him for renewal or for making perpetual profession, even if the infirmity was contracted due to the institute’s negligence or because of work performed for the institute.[85]

4. A professed religious who becomes insane during temporary vows, even though he may be incapable of making a new profession, still cannot be dismissed from the institute.[86]

5. Those in temporary vows may nor freely leave the institute during the time for which they have committed themselves.  Nevertheless, they may request an indult to leave from the superior general, who, with the consent of his council, can grant it.[87]

6. The major superior, with the consent of his council, and for just cause, may permit a member in temporary vows under his jurisdiction to live outside the houses of the institute but for no more than 1 year. If the professed is also a cleric, he also needs ministerial permissions granted by the local ordinary. A leave of absence does not separate the religious from the Congregation; it only grants him the faculty to remain outside the religious house for the time indicated in the concession.  He must fully observe the religious obligations compatible with his situation.[88]

7. If a member is unlawfully absent from the religious house and persists in his attitude despite the diligence of his superiors to make him return to the house, they may proceed to expel him, in conformity with c. 696. 2.[89]

8. In the case of grave external scandal or of extremely grave and imminent harm to the institute, a member can be expelled immediately from the religious house, without this involving his expulsion from religious life, by the major superior, or, if there danger in delaying it, by the local superior with the consent of his council.[90]

9. Those who lawfully leave the Congregation or have been expelled from it cannot claim anything from the institute for any work done in it.[91]

2. Impediments or Irregularities For Candidates to Orders

            The impediments that affect the reception of orders, if they are perpetual, are called irregularities; otherwise, they are called simple. Those affected by any impediment, either perpetual or simple, are barred from receiving orders.  Ignorance of irregularities or impediments does not exempt them.[92]

            The following are irregular for receiving orders:[93]

1. One who suffers from any type of insanity or other psychological infirmity that, in the judgment of experts, makes him incapable of correctly carrying out the ministry.

2. One who has committed the crime of apostasy, heresy or schism.

3. One who has attempted marriage, even civilly, either while himself prevented from entering marriage whether by an existing marriage bond or by a sacred order or by a public and perpetual vow of chastity, or with a woman who is validly married or is obliged by the same vow.

4. One who has committed willful homicide or has actually procured an abortion and all who have positively cooperated;

5. One who has gravely and maliciously mutilated himself or another, or who has attempted suicide;

6. One who has carried out an act of order which is reserved to those in the order of the episcopate or priesthood, while himself not possessing that order or being barred from its exercise by same canonical penalty, declared or imposed.

            The following are simply impeded from receiving orders:[94]

1. A man who has a wife, unless he is lawfully destined for the permanent deaconate;

2. One who exercises an office or administration forbidden to clerics in accordance with c. 285 y 286, of which he must render an account, until such time as, having relinquished the office and administration and rendered the account, he has been freed;

3. A neophyte, unless, in the judgment of the ordinary, he has been sufficiently tested.

[1] Cf. c. 1191. 1.

[2] Cf. c. 589.

[3] Cf. c. 588. 2.

[4] Cf. c. 603. 2; c. 604. 1-2.

[5] Cf. c. 605.

[6] Cf. CC 7; Dir 252 a and b.

[7] Cf. c. 646; cf. also GPF 348 and Dir 195.

[8] Cf. c. 648. 2; CC 69.

[9] Cf. c. 649. 2.

[10] Cf. c. 653. 2.

[11] Cf. c. 648. 1 and CC 69.

[12] Cf. c. 652. 5; Dir 197.

[13] Cf. Dir 205.

[14] Cf. Dir 206.

[15] Cf. c. 651. 2 and  Dir 212.

[16] Cf. Dir 201; Appendix 11, Formulary 1.

[17] Cf. c. 597.

[18]  Cf. Dir 199.

[19] Cf. c. 597. 2.

[20] Cf. Dir 199; 188; 182.

[21] Cf. CC 69; cf. also c. 641 y Dir 602.

[22] Cf. c. 137; cf. In regard to the Congregation Dir 229.

[23] Cf. CC 69; Dir 204.

[24] Cf. CC. 59.

[25] Cf. Dir 203.

[26] Cf. CC 59; Dir 190; c. 702. 1.

[27] Cf. c. 597, 643; Dir 190; cf. Also Appendix 11, Formulary 1.

[28] Cf. c. 642; cf. also Dir 199.

[29] Cf. Dir 199.

[30] Cf. Appendix 4.

[31] Cf. c. 643.

[32] Cf. c. 644.

[33] Cf. c. 644.

[34] Cf. c. 645. 1; cf. also Dir 200.

[35] Cf. c. 645. 2 and Dir 200.

[36] Cf. Dir 201 and Appendix 11, Formulary 1

[37] Cf. c. 650. 1.

[38] Cf. c. 573. 1.

[39] Cf. c. 598. 2.

[40] Cf. CC. 159

[41] Dir 215.

[42] Cf. c. 578.

[43] Cf. c. 599.

[44]  An explanation of the demands of the 6th and 9th commandments, cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1992, nos. 2331-2359; 2514-2533.

[45] Cf. Dir 219; cf. Also Appendix 11, Formulary 3.

[46] Cf. c. 600.

[47] Cf. Appendix 11, Formulary 5.

[48] On these matters cf. CC 26; Dir 72-73 and 220.

[49] Cf. c. 601.

[50] Cf. CC 28.

[51] Cf. Dir 75.

[52] Cf. CC 7.

[53] Cf. c. 602 and Dir 36.

[54] Cf. Dir 316.

[55] Cf. c. 665. 1.

[56] Cf. Dir 38.

[57] Cf. PE 109 and Dir 40.

               [58] Cf. c. 652. 3; cf. CC 65.

[59]  Cf. c. 630.5

[60] Cf. Dir 207.

[61] Cf. c. 647. 2 and Dir 205.

[62] Cf. c. 647. 3.

[63] Cf. c. 647. 1.

[64] Cf. c. 650. 1 and CC 68.

[65] Cf. cc. 630. 1; 650. 2 and Dir 212.

[66] Cf. c. 651. 1; CC 68; Dir 210.

[67] Cf. c. 651. 2; Dir 212-213.

[68] Cf. c. 651. 3.

[69] Cf. c. 630 2. 4. 5; 630. 5; c. 985.

[70] Cf. c. 652. 1. 2.

[71] Cf. c. 652. 4.

[72] Cf. c. 653. 1; Dir 271; 216.

[73] Cf. c. 690. 1 and Dir 216.

[74] Cf. c. 653 Dir 202. 271.

[75] Cf. Dir 209.

[76] Cf. cc. 653. 2, 654; CC 70 and Dir 314.

[77] Cf. Dir 205.

[78] Cf. Dir 217; Cf. Also Appendix 11, Formulary 3.

[79] Cf. c. 643.

[80] Cf. can 668. 1 and CC. 27, observing if possible the civil formalities that regulate these acts, cf. Appendix 11, Formulary 5.

[81] Cf. c. 688. 1 and Dir 220.

[82] Cf. c. 656.

[83] Cf. c. 653. 1; Dir 202.

[84] Cf. c. 688. 1; 689. 1.

[85] Cf. c. 689. 2 and Dir 272.

[86] Cf. c. 689. 3; Dir 272.

[87] Cf. c. 688. 2 and Dir 273.

[88] Cf. Dir 274.

[89] Cf. Dir 275.

[90] Cf. c. 703.

[91] Cf. c. 702. 1; Dir. 190 a.

[92] Cf. c. 1040 and 1045.

[93] Cf. c. 1041.

[94] Cf. c. 1042.