The Formation Program for Maryknoll Priests & Brothers

FOR PRIESTHOOD CANDIDATES

Your path into Maryknoll's Initial Formation program, located in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, will depend on your academic background prior to admission. 

It will also require you to successfully complete a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree at Catholic Theological Union (CTU), located just three blocks from our Maryknoll Initial Formation House. Founded in 1968, CTU is the largest Roman Catholic graduate school of theology and ministry in the United States. Students, seminarians and Brother candidates from 32 different congregations and religious societies receive their formal education and training for ministry and mission at this school.

Beginning with our Spirituality Year (similar to a novitiate), seminarians can expect to reach final oath, ordination and mission sending in approximately seven years. This will vary from seminarian to seminarian based upon academic progress, spiritual and personal growth, and individual circumstances. Each year, your progress will be reviewed by formators as well as by Advancement Board mentors who will recommend to the Superior General your next steps toward becoming a Maryknoll priest.

College Undergraduate
If you are currently an undergraduate student and open to transferring your studies to Chicago, you may be invited to join our College Program. You would then complete your undergraduate degree at a specific Chicago-area college or university with which Maryknoll has a formal relationship. While you would be welcome to choose your program of studies, you would also be required to complete 30 semester hours of philosophy and 12 semester hours of theology coursework required for admission into CTU's MDiv program. As a result, almost all Maryknoll College Program students decide to major in philosophy -- the recommendation of our Initial Formation Program. Upon graduation and successful completion of all philosophy and theology prerequisites, you will advance into Maryknoll's Spirituality Year.

College Graduate but Lacking in Required Philosophy or Theology Prerequisites
If you already have a bachelor's or advanced degree but lack the required 30 semester hours of philosophy or 12 semester hours of theology coursework required for admission into CTU's MDiv program, you will be invited to enroll into a special CTU program that enables seminarians to complete these requirements before beginning their MDiv program. Upon successful completion of all philosophy and theology prerequisites, you will advance into Maryknoll's Spirituality Year.

College Graduate having Completed ALL Philosophy and Theology Prerequisites
If you already possess at least a bachelor's degree and have completed the 30 semester hours of philosophy and 12 semester hours of theology coursework required for admission into CTU's MDiv program, you will be invited to begin your initial formation with Maryknoll by entering our Spirituality Year.

Spirituality Year (First Year)
Maryknoll's Spirituality Year is similar to a novitiate. It is a year of formation common to almost all religious communities preparing men for lifelong commitment as priests or brothers. It is the foundational year of your formation journey and eventual membership in Maryknoll. During this important year, you will:
     •  Meet Maryknollers -- our best witnesses of living the Good News among the peoples of our world
     •  Encounter Christ and others through daily celebrations of Eucharist, diverse experiences of prayer (personal and communal) and varied liturgical celebrations
     •  Grow through life in community with your formators and fellow candidates
     •  Learn Maryknoll's story -- our rich history of mission and inspiring examples of our forebears
     •  Broaden your familiarity with the literature of spirituality and Scripture
     •  Experience the joys and challenges of serving in pastoral ministry
     •  Deepen your sense of self and call in consultation with a trained spiritual director
     •  Join other novices in the Chicago area in weekly programs that unfold dimensions of religious life and ministry through reflection and discussion.

Upon successful completion of the Spirituality Year, you will make your first temporary oath as a member of Maryknoll and prepare for the next phase of your formation journey — our Overseas Training Program (OTP).

Overseas Training Program (Second & Third Years)
This transformative two-year experience is required of all Maryknoll seminarians and brother candidates. You will travel to Cochabamba, Bolivia, where, at the outset, you will spend your first several months learning Spanish through Maryknoll's world-renown Language Program, an important component of our Centro Misionero Maryknoll en America Latina (CMMAL). More than just language learning, our total immersion program offers you opportunities to serve, engage with local people, and experience Bolivian and Latin American culture and socio-political realities while building your Spanish-language skills. If you are already a fluent or capable speaker of Spanish, you will be offered other language program options commensurate with your fluency.

Upon completion of the language program you will be placed in a parish or other setting where you will live and work together with other Maryknollers. You will be accompanied by Maryknollers prepared to guide you in a deeper understanding of your missionary call as a Maryknoll priest. OTP can be challenging. It is meant to be. And yet it is this phase of Maryknoll's formation program that is remembered most fondly by those who go on to become Maryknollers.

Seminary Studies (Fourth & Fifth Years)
After OTP, you will return to Maryknoll's Formation community in Chicago. You will return to the regular prayer, pastoral ministry and community life common to all Maryknoll candidates in Chicago. Now, however, you will focus more intently upon the academic study needed to become an effective missionary priest. Your MDiv coursework at CTU will include subjects such as:
     •  Scripture, biblical literature and exegesis
     •  Catholic history and doctrine
     •  Ethics and morality
     •  Intercultural studies and ministry
     •  Pastoral ministry
     •  Global mission
     •  Spirituality
     •  Word and Worship
As before, you will be accompanied in your progress by your formators, Advancement Board mentors and fellow community members. And you will continue to petition annually for temporary oath to Maryknoll.

Final Years (Sixth & Seventh Years)
During your sixth and seventh years of formation, you will continue in your MDiv studies but with increased awareness in taking on the identity and role of an ordained minister and lifelong celibate community member. During this time, a set of important milestones are reached in your journey:
     •  You will make Permanent (lifetime) Oath to Maryknoll.
     •  You will celebrate your diaconate ordination and begin your ministry as transitional deacon typically in a parish where you will minister, preach and assist in leading the faith community.
     •  You will complete the MDiv studies at CTU.
     •  You will be ordained a Maryknoll priest.
     •  You will be sent to Africa, Asia or Latin America on your first overseas assignment as a missionary priest.

FOR BROTHER CANDIDATES

As a brother candidate, you will attend the Formation Program at the Maryknoll Formation house in Chicago, Illinois. Because Maryknoll Brothers bring a wide range of talents to mission work, you will follow a more flexible course of education than seminarians.

Maryknoll requires a minimum of 24 semester credits in religion or theology for all brother candidates. You will also have the option of completing a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree. These academic paths are typically undertaken at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) located three blocks from our Maryknoll Formation house. Founded in 1968, CTU is the largest Roman Catholic graduate school of theology and ministry in the United States. Students, seminarians and brother candidates from 32 different congregations and religious societies receive their formal education and training for ministry and mission at this school.

Your training as a brother candidate is designed to help you to develop your interests, talents and language skills so that you will thrive in the challenging overseas mission settings in which you will later serve. Your classroom studies are integrated with active ministry. You will serve as a pastoral minister in settings like hospitals and homeless shelters among other possibilities. With Maryknoll accompaniment, you will learn to listen, to assess spiritual needs, and to offer a healing presence among lives broken by poverty, violence and indifference. The foundation for all aspects of your formation journey and your life as a brother is growth in personal intimacy with Christ. This intimacy is nurtured and sustained within a community of Maryknollers who live and journey in faith together.

You can expect that your formation will take about six years before you make your Final Oath and are assigned overseas as a Maryknoll Brother. 

Spirituality Year (First Year)
Maryknoll's Spirituality Year is similar to a novitiate - a year of formation common to almost all religious communities preparing men for lifelong commitment as priests or brothers. It is the foundational year of your formation journey and eventual membership in Maryknoll. During this important year, you will:
     •  Meet Maryknollers -- our best witnesses of living the Good News among the peoples of our world
     •  Encounter Christ and others through daily celebrations of Eucharist, diverse experiences of prayer (personal and communal) and varied liturgical celebrations
     •  Grow through life in community with your formators and fellow candidates
     •  Learn Maryknoll's story - our rich history of mission and inspiring examples of our forebears
     •  Broaden your familiarity with the literature of spirituality and Scripture
     •  Experience the joys and challenges of serving in pastoral ministry
     •  Deepen your sense of self and call in consultation with a trained spiritual director
     •  Join other novices in the Chicago area in weekly programs that unfold dimensions of religious life and ministry through reflection and discussion.

Upon successful completion of your Spirituality Year, you will make your first temporary oath as a member of Maryknoll and prepare for the next phase of your formation journey -- our Overseas Training Program (OTP).

Overseas Training Program (Second & Third Years)
This transformative two-year experience is required of all Maryknoll seminarians and brother candidates. You will travel to Cochabamba, Bolivia, where, at the outset, you will spend your first several months learning Spanish through Maryknoll's world-renown Language Program, an important component of our Centro Misionero Maryknoll en America Latina (CMMAL). More than just language learning, our total immersion program offers you opportunities to serve, engage with local people, and experience Bolivian and Latin American culture and socio-political realities while building your Spanish-language skills. If you are already a fluent or capable speaker of Spanish, you will be offered other language program options commensurate with your fluency.

Upon completion of your language program you will be placed in a parish or other setting where you will live and work together with other Maryknollers. You will be accompanied by Maryknollers prepared to guide you in a deeper understanding of your missionary call as a Maryknoll Brother. OTP can be challenging. It is meant to be. And yet it is this phase of Maryknoll's formation program that is remembered most fondly by those who go on to become Maryknollers.

Return to Chicago (Fourth & Fifth Years)
After OTP, you will return to Maryknoll's formation community in Chicago. You will return to the regular prayer, pastoral ministry and community life common to all Maryknoll candidates in Chicago. Now, however, you will focus more intently upon the academic study needed to become an effective missionary brother. In addition to the theology courses at CTU brother candidates pursue the education at other institutes/universities that suit their interest and aptitudes for contributing to mission work. As such you may earn a degree in agriculture, engineering, social work, pastoral counselling or some other field of interest.

As before, you will be accompanied in your progress by your formators, Advancement Board mentors and fellow community members. And you will continue to petition annually in temporary oath to Maryknoll.

Final Year (Sixth Year)
During your sixth year of formation, you may continue in studies but with increased awareness in taking on the identity and role of a missionary brother and lifelong celibate community member. During this time, a few important milestones are reached in the journey:
     •  You will complete your academic studies and perhaps give consideration to later training or studies for a specific ministry.
     •  You will make Permanent (lifetime) Oath as a Maryknoll Brother.
     •  You will be sent to Africa, Asia or Latin America on your first overseas assignment as a missionary brother.