What is the Novitiate?

Words plain and simple from Fr. James Sullivan OP, the Master of Novices for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph:

“In the Province of St. Joseph, novitiate is the normal beginning to a man’s formation as a Dominican friar. To think of it as a year-long retreat would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to think of it as a year-long boot camp. Novices learn how to pray, study, and share their lives together. They also need to learn how to walk (especially in the habit), eat in public, and live without e-mail and the internet. By its very nature the novitiate is testing out the Order and the Order is testing out the novice. Each is asking of the other: ‘Does all of this really fit together?’

The greatest way to conceive of the novitiate and therefore to come to know its ultimate purpose is to understand it in terms of holiness of life. The goal of the novitiate is to provide the novice everything needed for him to be converted more profoundly to Christ by living the Dominican life. If this doesn’t happen in the novitiate, why would anyone want to stay in the Order? If this does happen in the novitiate, how could anyone ever leave?”

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