Formation towards priesthood in SOLT is broken into the following stages:
“Come and See” (5 Days):
After initial inquiry and familiarization between the individual and the SOLT Vocation Servant and if discernable potential is present, the individual is invited for a “Come and see”. This visit to one of the apostolic houses of SOLT generally lasts about 5 days. During that period the visitor participates in the communal prayer life and all other aspects of communal life as much as is possible. It is an initial visit to get an on the ground “feel” for the community.
Aspirancy (1 Year):
Once the application process has been completed, the individual enters formally into formation. The first stage is aspirancy, where the person is called an aspirant. The period of aspirancy is one year, and is spent at one of the apostolic houses of the community, usually either on the Turtle Mountain Reserve in North Dakota or in Benque Viejo, Belize, Central America. The aspirant prays and serves along side the community, participating fully in the communal life and the apostolate. The time is basically an extended time of “testing the waters,” comparable to the period of courtship for a couple, when the questions are asked: “Is this for me? Could I give my life to this? Do I discern something of importance here from which I may draw life and give my life?”
Novitiate (1 Year):
Upon a favorable recommendation in aspirancy, the aspirant moves on to novitiate where he is called a novice. The novitiate is one year in length. During this novitiate the novice studies the constitutions of SOLT, learns the meaning of the evangelical promises of poverty, chastity and obedience and develops his prayer life. The novitiate is marked by much time for silence, coming to deeper self-knowledge, and growth in the contemplative life as well as sharing in communal life.
At the close of novitiate, the novice petitions to make his first promises. With this profession of temporary promises of poverty, chastity and obedience for one year, he formally becomes a religious brother. As a religious brother he is given a habit to wear which signifies his consecration. Temporary promises are renewed for a minimum period of 5 years, at which point perpetual promises are made.
Philosophy (2-4 Years):
Philosophical studies are taken at Sacred Heart Major Seminary (SHMS) in the Archdiocese of Detroit. SHMS is an excellent seminary at the forefront of the New Evangelization, garnering the admiration of bishops throughout the United States. It is affiliated with the University of St. Thomas (the Angelicum) in Rome. The SOLT brothers studying at SHMS live in community at Holy Redeemer Church in southwest Detroit at the SOLT House of Studies.
Brothers entering seminary who have not previously completed a Bachelor’s Degree enter into a 4-year program towards their Bachelor’s Degree, which includes the philosophical requirements for passing onto the study of Theology. Those brothers who have previously attained to a Bachelor’s Degree complete a 2-year course of studies called “Pre-Theology” which centers on the philosophical preparation for Theological studies.
Theology (4 Years):
Theological studies are also completed at SHMS in a 4-year course. This includes pastoral training, as well as consistent spiritual direction, meeting with formation advisors and retreats. At the completion of the third year of theology, the brother makes his perpetual promises and is ordained to the diaconate. At this point he is a transitional deacon. During the summer months he serves as a deacon, continuing in that capacity throughout his final year of theology. At the completion of the Masters of Divinity degree (4 year theological program) is the celebration of the ordination to priesthood. This takes place in the Cathedral of Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas, the principal seat of SOLT.
Each summer brothers in formation are assigned to various SOLT missions in order to deepen their lived experience of the charism, spirituality and communal life of SOLT and to broaden their exposure to the community’s apostolates. These times also increase fraternity as well as giving opportunity for development of various apostolic skills and experiences. Emphasis is put on at least one of the summer assignments in the study of Spanish.
Each summer brothers in formation are given a home visit that lasts between 2-3 weeks.