What is the formation process at Daylesford Abbey?

Discerning a vocation to the Catholic priesthood or a vocation to religious life features several fulfilling steps. God’s call comes to each person in a different way. His call is as unique as the individual He is calling. And each person responds to God’s call in their own way.

Daylesford Abbey seeks qualified candidates (ages 20 to 45) who desire to serve the Church as Catholic priests or brothers. The process of discernment requires formation in our life. The goal of formation is to help individuals discern their vocation and, ultimately, enjoy full incorporation into the Daylesford Abbey community.

The formation process at Daylesford Abbey is broken into five steps:

1. Affiliate Program

The Affiliate stage of Formation is a time for the candidate to gain a clearer understanding of the fundamental ideals of religious life in general and the Norbertine Order in particular.

 It is also a time in which the community becomes better acquainted with the candidate.

Entrance into the Affiliate program involves several visits to the Abbey and a formal application. The Affiliate normally lives at Daylesford Abbey and continues to retain his current employment or schooling. He is expected to join the community for daily common prayer and meals.

During this period of affiliation, which can last from a few months to two years, the individual begins to get a sense of whether he is being called to our way of life and to the next step, which is the Novitiate.

2. Novitiate

The Novitiate is a period in which the Novice begins the process of assimilating a basic foundation and understanding of religious life and specifically Norbertine life.

The Novitiate stage is a two-year program. The first (or canonical) year is a time that is more enclosed, focused and involves a curtailment of most outside contacts.

Although more experiential than academic, the goals of the program center around the development of a personal spiritual life, an appreciation for liturgical prayer, an understanding of the tradition of the Norbertine Order —  gaining a sense of ministry by simple acts of service as well as continued human and psychosexual growth and development.

During the second year, the candidate continues to build on the values and goals of the first year and resumes full-time academic studies, needed to fulfill the requirements for theological studies.

The Novitiate is also a time for spiritual growth and personal development that ideally leads the individual to be at home in living the Norbertine religious life and making temporary profession of vows.

3. Temporary Profession

At the beginning of this period, the candidate will make a profession of the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience for three years.

This period of temporary profession focuses upon continued growth and development on the part of the candidate as he gradually advances toward full incorporation.

The major focus of the candidate’s work, during these post-novitiate years, will be spent on his own education by completing the requirements for theological studies leading to ordination or, for a brother candidate, his ministerial focus.

4. Solemn Profession

After the passage of at least three years in temporary vows, the candidate and the Community discern if he is to proceed to solemn vows.

 These vows are made for life. By solemn profession a man is incorporated as a permanent and full member of the Norbertine community. Following solemn profession he will complete any further educational requirements that he might need for priesthood. For brother candidates, this will continue to be a time to fulfill whatever requirements may be necessary for his ministry.

5. Ordination

Ordination to the diaconate is the final step prior to priesthood.

The candidate must demonstrate zeal for ordained ministry along with loyalty to Christ and the Church. The candidate will function as a deacon for a number of months before proceeding to the priesthood. With ordination to the priesthood, he assumes his full role of service to Christ and the Church.