QUEZON City, April 3, 2014—In keeping with its mission of doing things “for the greater glory of God”, the Philippine province of the Society of Jesus (SJ) has recently picked five young professionals from all over the Philippines for the congregation’s two-year novitiate program.
These new Jesuit novices are Jan Brian R. Ano-os, 24, a BS Economics graduate from Iligan City; Melvin Paulme, 30, a Meralco technical engineer from Imus, Cavite; Ateneo de Naga alumni relations staffer Herold E. Pelonio, 26, from Calabanga, Camarines Sur; computer science graduate Alejo S. San Buenaventura, 32, from Brgy. Manggahan, Pasig City; and June Vasquez, 27, a GMA Network senior videographics artist for from Brgy. Barangka Ibaba, Mandaluyong City.
They are set to enter the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City on May 30.
As new Jesuit “formands”, they will have to undergo rigorous training designed to “bring about an initial understanding of their personality and determine their motivation for entering the Jesuit religious life”.
The two years of Jesuit novitiate adopt a psycho-spiritual approach and is often compared to a sculptor “carving out bold chiseling strokes”.
A focus will be given to the “Spiritual Exercises”, the book written by Society of Jesus founder St. Ignatius of Loyola between 1522 and 1524.
This set of Christian meditations, prayers, and mental exercises divided into four thematic ‘weeks’ of variable length forms the cornerstone of what later came to be known as “Ignatian spirituality”.
Drawing from the Spiritual Exercises, the new Jesuits will have to participate in a 30-day retreat, which seeks to give them a deeper insight into the basic paradigm of Jesuit life.
The novices will also have to take part in different month-long “trials” in apostolic life that will challenge them to “integrate their own religious ideals with real life experience”.
These include exposures in a Jesuit mission, at a hospital, among the urban poor, and at a factory.
At the end of this two-year period, they will have to be evaluated as to whether they are fit for the Jesuit lifestyle.
Only those of them who have been adjudged “ready and fit” will be qualified to take their first Jesuit vows. (Raymond A. Sebastián)