On 28 and 29 March, the Our Lady of Grace Novitiate in Lima brought together the major superiors (provincials and vicars) of the nine circumscriptions that form part of this international project to review both the formation plan and the novitiate statutes.
The Assistant General for Latin America, Fr. Alex Lam, together with the Assistant General for Southern Europe, Fr. Javier Barba, took part in this work, which was carried out, as Fr. Lam said, in a fraternal and cordial discussion.
To find out more about what was discussed there and the singularities of this inter-circumscriptional novitiate, we spoke with the novice master, Fr Jesús Madrid OSA.
What did the superiors talk about?
We are dealing with all the formative aspects that make up the life of the novitiate, seeking the integral formation of the novices, which includes the human-affective, intellectual, spiritual and vocational dimensions. It seems very important to us to foster the interior life through prayer, helping the novices to have a religious experience in conformity with our spirituality and charism, giving special importance to community life, without forgetting the intellectual formation, which in this novitiate year focuses mainly on the knowledge of the Rule, the Constitutions and the History of the Order.
What is day-to-day life like in a novitiate?
The life of the novitiate, in accordance with the Formation Plan and the Statutes, consists in preparing the novices for simple profession, which they will make one year after the beginning of the novitiate. During this year we help them in their human and spiritual formation, giving special attention to prayer life and community life, deepening their knowledge of religious life in general and of the Augustinian charism in particular.
"We also encourage the community life that is so characteristic of our charism". Fr. Jesús Madrid
In the daily life of the novitiate we try to cover all the human and spiritual aspects that we consider important for their formation as future religious. Every morning is dedicated to classes and in the afternoon there is time for study, sports and socialising. The spiritual life consists of daily mass, recitation of the liturgy of the hours, rosary and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (once a week), with special attention to the celebration of the feasts of the saints of the Order.
How many novices do you have today and what are their countries of origin?
This year we have eleven novices, of whom five are from the Federation of Augustinian religious of Peru, five from the Provinces of Brazil and one from the Province of Peru.
What are the main formative challenges for the boys at the moment?
It seems to us that one of the most important challenges is to help them to deepen their prayer life and interiority. Another challenge is to work on their human-affective maturity through courses and personal accompaniment. We also encourage the community life that is so characteristic of our charism. And finally, we try to help them to understand theoretically and experientially what it means to be a religious in today's world.
About the inter-circumscriptional novitiate in Lima
It is an international project, in which nine circumscriptions participate: four from Peru, two from Brazil, and the vicariates of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. There is a formation team, composed of the prior, the master of novices and the pedagogue-treasurer, which is renewed every four years. This team is responsible for carrying out the formation plan entrusted by the Major Superiors of the nine circumscriptions.