This is an 18-month period that has as its fundamental aim your prayer life and is the same for both priest and brother candidates. The Novitiate leads to the attainment of a clear consecrated identity to God the Father for missionary service. There is no formal study done at this time. It is divided into three sections:
1. The first part is an experience of intense prayer – we call this the desert period, understood as a dimension of life that includes an environment that facilitates the encounter with God and the encounter with oneself, in recollection and solitude. It has prayer as your main activity, which includes time for reading and reflection, there is time given to some apostolic work but this is not the focus. St. Daniel Comboni believed that the missionary must be an “active contemplative.” Prayer is our strength; there is a time for adoration and a time for active work. Specific contents are also presented for personal reflection and together in community, for example; the Word of God, the founder – St. Daniel Comboni and the Rule of Life, documents of the Church (especially regarding mission).
2. The other two moments are periods of apostolic activity and of community experience – usually placed together to form one period. These periods could take place in another country for a mission experience. The objectives include; greater vocational identification, the interiorization of values such as community and personal prayer, community life, consecrated life and missionary service, the ability to integrate contemplation with action, the ability to work in a team and to depart in the service of the most poor (in one’s own country and in a different culture), the ability to live in simplicity and austerity and at times a certain discomfort.
3. The Novitiate ends with making your first temporary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. These are then renewed annually as you continue to the Scholasticate (for the priesthood) or to a Brother’s International Center – both of which are communities of young religious of different nationalities, united by the same missionary consecration and guided by a team of formation directors.