The AIHM Formation Program
A Candidate is one who has expressed interest in learning more about our community and our way of life. This is an informal period of getting to know one another via email, telephone and personal visits under the supervision of the vocation director. During this period, a Candidate is invited to share in community events without any obligation to advance in the formation program. Should the candidate desire to go forward, an application to the Postulancy is submitted to the Order.
The Postulancy is generally a six-month period of preparation for formal application to the Order. A regular telephone meeting is conducted at a mutually convenient time, and the postulant begins to enter more deeply into the life of the Augustinians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary supervised by the formation director. Visitation with the community is strongly encouraged during this time. At least one visitation must be made before admission to the Novitiate.
When a postulant desires to advance to the Novitiate, a formal petition is submitted with sacramental records and letters of recommendation. Before admission as a Novice, all applicants complete the necessary background checks and formal evaluation. An fee of $25 covers the cost of application.
The Novitiate lasts for one canonical year beginning at the Annual Chapter each August. Each novice is clothed with the novice habit (alb and cincture) at the beginning of the year, and continues to deepen his or her relationship with the Order through prayer, study, and participation in the life of the community.
During this year, the novice is more fully introduced to the Rule, the vows, and the Constitutions of the AIHM Order. This is accomplished through study and discussion of several texts including Community and Growth by Jean Vanier, The Rule of St. Augustine with Introduction and Commentary by Tarcisius van Bavel, OSA, St. Augustine: Man, Pastor, Mystic by Agostino Trape, OSA, and Augustine on Prayer by Thomas Hand, OSA. The cost of the books, approximately $40, is borne by the novice.
Toward the end of the year, each novice is asked to formulate a plan to live the vows within his or her current state of life.
Because we are a self-supporting Order, each novice contributes in tithing (1% of a friar's take home salary) to the community, as do all professed, as a witness to corporate poverty. This covers the cost of participating in the yearly Retreat, which includes lodging and all meals, and the cost of the Order's formal habit given at profession.
At the Annual Chapter, the Prior General receives the vows of those who have successfully completed the novitiate. Vows are professed for a period of one year, newly professed are clothed with the traditional habit and every member of the Order renews vows. The first year of profession is considered the Juniorate. During this time the newly professed maintains monthly contact with the Prior General to help transition to living the vows while scripture is studied more closely through resources such as Peter Gomes' The Good Book . After five years, a member may vow for life or continue annual profession.
Professed members of the community are strongly encouraged to continue formal and informal education in the Augustinian spirit of study so that they may become ever more proficient in serving the People of God. Members also maintain formal contact with the Prior General through an annual report on one's life and ministry in the Order.
For those who feel called to ordained ministry, arrangements are made with the bishop to begin studies during the Juniorate.