If you truly wish to, then you may find useful the discernment process given below:
The Discernment Process
Spend a few minutes each day in thoughtful conversation with the Lord. Ask the Lord, “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” Use the same prayer after Communion at Mass.
Talk to people whose opinion you respect. Read. Check out the web. If you are thinking of a religious vocation, talk to a Priest, Brother or Sister. Ask questions. Talk to a vocation director. If you want to be a Salesian Cooperator contact one of them and chat with her or him.
- Get involved
A great way to understand how you would enjoy ministry is to get involved in ministry by volunteering. The Church needs the energy of dedicated young people. This is a “learn by doing” process.
Visit religious communities, your parish, or a seminary. See how they live and work. Seminaries and religious communities are always ready to host people interested in spending a few days with the community to see firsthand the life and ministry of a Priest, Brother, or Sister.
The Church needs dedicated Priests, Brothers and Sisters to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can answer that call. After prayer, investigation, involvement and experience go with your heart. The bottom line question is, “Can I see myself as a religious, a Church minister?” If the answer is yes, it is time to act. It is time to talk to a vocation director.
Salesian Priest – Formation Program
Every religious community and every diocese has a formation program, which is divided into stages. The priests of the Salesians of Don Bosco follow the formation program described below:
The application process begins with the applicant contacting the Vocation Director who will interview him. The applicant will fill out and submit an application form. The vocation coordinator will review the application and the recommendation of the Vocation Director and decide the admission of the applicant into the Candidacy Program.
- Candidacy (Usually 1-2 years)
The Candidacy Program is a year to two years experience of living in a Salesian Community. During that time the candidate will follow a program of study, ministry, and prayer, which will give him an experience of the Salesian life. He may attend higher secondary courses at this time. Typically the candidacy program is done at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
- Pre-novitiate (1 year)
The Pre-novitiate program follows the candidacy program which last for a year. It is a time of discernment preparing the candidate for entry into Novitiate. The Pre-novitiate program takes place at Jharsuguda, Orissa.
- Novitiate (1 year)
The novitiate program for the Candidate of Good Shepherd Province of New Delhi takes place at different place such as Novitiate house at Siliguri (W. Bengal) or Padivayal (Kerala). It is a year-long intensive discernment and preparation program designed to help the individual prepare to take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Salesian. At this point the person is a full member of the Salesians of Don Bosco and is referred to as a Brother. At the end of the novitiate year, the novice takes his vows for the period of 1 to 3 years.
- Post-Novitiate (Usually 2 or 3 years)
Post-Novitiate for the professed brother takes place in different provinces. After the novitiate and first profession the Brother (Cleric), will complete his studies in philosophy and may be given an opportunity to pursue university studies in a field that will prepare him for ministry in the Salesian community.
- Practical Training (Usually 3 years)
- After university studies and before perpetual vows the Brother will be assigned to a Salesian Community and spend three years in full time ministry. We call this period Practical Training. He will be guided by the Salesians of his community in the practical application of Don Bosco’s methods of education and youth ministry.
- Perpetual Vows
The term of temporary vows will last for a period of six years. After this the Brother will make perpetual vows committing himself to lifelong service of the Lord as a Salesian.
- Theological Studies (Usually 4 years)
Theological studies are done usually at Sacred Heart College, Shillong (Meghalaya) or Kristu Jyoti College (Bangalore). Typically the entire Indian provinces send their Theology students to study at these places, giving the students an opportunity to get to know their brothers from the same region. Theology is a four year program. In the first year the student is received as lector. In the second year he is received as acolyte. In the third year Ordination to the deaconate takes place. Upon completion of the fourth year, the student is ordained to the presbyterate (priesthood).
Salesians of Don Bosco
Could God Be Calling Me?
YES! God calls each of us to life, to wholeness, and to service. The task of the young adult is to discern what path God wants him or her to follow.
The Lord calls most people to marriage and family. For the Christian young adult this is a very important decision. Choosing to marry is not just a romantic response, but also a very specific process that includes prayer, investigation, involvement, and experience.
God calls some people to religious life as a Priest, Brother or Sister. A religious vocation follows the same process. We call this the discernment process.
About Salesian Past Pupils
Don Bosco knew well that the process of education and development did not end when the young person left the youth center, moved out of the parish or graduated from the school. He wanted to keep in touch with the person. He also recognized that the young person could be a valuable asset to his work. After a time in the Salesian center, school or parish the person develops qualities of service and ministry that could be used in the care of other young people. So, Don Bosco formed another group, which he called the Salesian Past Pupils. They are also known as Salesian Alumni. These Alumni are not only graduates from Salesian Schools but can be young people who were members of a Salesian youth center or parish. These young people were prepared to give back what they learned from the Salesians to other young people. Today many of the staff members of our youth centers and teachers and administrators of our schools are Salesian Alumni who have come to serve young people.
About Salesian Cooperators
The Salesian Cooperators are Catholics who are living the gospel message in the spirit of Saint John Bosco while choosing to live in the world.
The Salesian Cooperators are the first group of youth ministers established by Don Bosco. He began his work in 1841 by gathering street kids and young workers on Sundays. Turin, Italy was an industrial city at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Child labour was common and because of the economic crisis in the agricultural areas of Italy at the time, great numbers of children and young people were leaving the farms to find work in the cities. The children worked six days a week but had Sundays off. Don Bosco gathered these street kids in vacant lots for a day of play. He brought them to Church for Mass and a catechism lesson. He called this arrangement “Oratory.” Today we call it the Youth Center.
To help him with the hundreds of boys who came to him, he enlisted the help of a few local priests. Don Bosco knew he would need the help of other committed people of good will to care for the children. He invited lay people whom he felt had the talent and the desire to minister to young people. His own mother, Margaret, came to help him.
With the help of Pope Pius IX he formed the Association of Salesian Cooperators in 1876. There were no vows. The Cooperators were lay people who lived their lives as Don Bosco himself described in the little booklet, Salesian Cooperators, or A Practical Way of Leading a Good Life and Being a Good Citizen.
The Salesian Cooperators are single or married men and women, or diocesan clergy, who dedicate themselves to the welfare of young people, and live guided by Don Bosco’s Salesian Spirit.
Generally the Salesian Cooperators are affiliated with a local Salesian school, parish and youth center. Some of the Cooperators work directly in Salesian ministries while others serve in their parishes or other ministries. Some Cooperators do not work directly with any particular ministry but bring the Salesian Spirit to their work place, profession and family.
The core of the Salesian Cooperator’s commitment is to live his or her life as a good Christian and a good Catholic. The Salesian Cooperator embraces a Gospel way of life sharing in the Church’s mission to bring Christ to society, especially the young.