Frequently Asked Questions About Vocations


1. How many are in your community/Order?

2. How many are in formation?

3. What are the steps in the formation process?

4. How long does it take to become a professed member/priest?

5. What is your charism?

6. What does the daily prayer life of the Community consist of?

7. What are your ministries and locations? 

8. Do you wear a habit?  (If so how often?)

9. Where do you study Theology?

10. Is communication with family & friends; home visits; vacations allowed, if so how often?


1. How many are in your community/Order?

There are 12 professed members (all priests) of our North American Province.  In the world there are 390 Barnabites (February 2011).

2. How many are in formation?

In our Province we currently have one Brother Candidate who is a postulant.  Internationally there are approximately 100 professed religious in formation plus postulants.


3. What are the steps in the formation process?

a. The stages for a priest candidate are:

i.  Postulancy
ii.  Novitiate
iii.  Simple Profession
iv.  Preparation for Solemn Profession
v.  Solemn Profession
vi.  Diaconate Ordination
vii.  Ordination to the Priesthood

i. Postulancy

During the period of postulancy one lives with the community and is in a stage of discernment.  Its aim is mutual acquaintance, an initial assessment of the candidate's aptitudes and dispositions and to prepare him to enter the novitiate with full awareness and sufficient maturity (cf.  Constitutions, 133).  The official postulancy period lasts, as a rule, one to 2 years or a length of time determined by the Provincial Superior (cf.  Constitutions, 136).  During postulancy, students begin the study of Italian, the language in which the founding documents of our Order were written.

ii. Novitiate

The novitiate is the period of initiation of aspirants into the knowledge and practice of religious and apostolic life as lived in the Congregation (Constitutions, 138).  The first priority of the novitiate is the spiritual formation of the novice (Constitutions, 139). The novitiate has a duration of twelve months (Constitutions, 147) under the direction of the Novice Master and those designated to assist him. This is a period of prayer, work and study; though no university academic courses may be taken.  The novices study, the Barnabite Constitutions, the Life and Writings of the Founder, St. Anthony M. Zaccaria, prayer, the theology of religious life and the Life and Letters of St. Paul.



iii. First and Simple Profession

At the end of the novitiate, the novice is admitted to the first profession.  The profession of vows is a public and official act of religion by which the novice commits himself to live his own baptismal consecration through the practice of the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience according to the Barnabite Constitutions at the service of the Church (cf.  Constitutions, 149).  Through the first profession the novice becomes an official member of the Congregation (Constitutions, 151).  During this period the religious professes his vows annually.  After at least three years of temporary vows the religious may ask to make solemn profession.  Generally at this time Barnabites make their solemn profession at the conclusion of theological studies.

The aim of the period following the novitiate is to develop, strengthen, and complete the formation of the religious in its spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral aspects in order to achieve full Christian and human maturity.  It constitutes the period of initial experience of fidelity to the commitments undertaken, and a verification of one's personal dedication to God and the Church in the Congregation (Constitutions, 157).


iv. Preparation for Solemn Profession

The period of preparation for Solemn Profession lasts approximately one year divided broadly into two phases.  In the first phase all of those who are to make solemn profession in a given year go to the Barnabite Studentato Romano on Mt. Gianicolo in Rome Italy.  Under the guidance of the Father Master and the formation community the religious “students” reexamine the fundamental aspects of religious life and make final preparations to take their place as full members of our religious family.  The students spend about 1-3 months perfecting their knowledge of Italian and getting acclimated to each other and the culture.  The Preparation itself lasts 3 months.

At the conclusion of this first phase each religious is sent to a Barnabite Province different from his own for a period of 6 months.  The purpose of this second phase is to broaden the experience of the life of the Congregation and familiarization with yet another language of the Congregation.  Solemn Profession itself may occur between these two phases or at the end of the second phase.

v. Solemn Profession

Solemn profession is the final and public act of consecration of the religious to God and the Church in our Congregation (Constitutions, 162).  Ordinarily the solemnly professed enjoy active and passive voice (Constitutions, 163).  Solemn profession must be preceded by a three-year period of temporary vows (Constitutions, 165).  On the occasion of solemn profession, the religious must renounce ownership of all his temporal goods, disposing of them with complete freedom (Constitutions, 168).  The solemnly professed religious may be admitted to deaconate and priestly ordinations.



vi. Preparation for Ministry Studies

Studies for ministry parallel the religious formation.  During the postulancy period priestly candidates must complete a Bachelor’s degree and within this program must complete 24 credit hours of philosophy and 12 credit hours of undergraduate theology.  If a candidate has already completed a Bachelor’s Degree a Pre-Theology program molded too satisfy remaining philosophy and undergraduate theology requirements is undertaken.

The professed candidate to the priesthood enters a theological seminary selected by the Provincial Superior.  The theology program ordinarily lasts four years.  Many candidates will also continue their studies in a specialized area of theology or other area for a period of 2-3 years in order to be more qualified for a given area of ministry.

During his study of theology the candidate will receive the ministries of lector and acolyte.  The diaconate is the next step toward priestly ordination.  A deacon is an ordained minister of the Church.  He can administer the sacrament of baptism, officiate at weddings and funerals, proclaim the gospel and preach at Mass and other assemblies.  The Barnabite diaconate normally lasts for one year.  Finally, the Barnabite cleric is ordained to the priesthood.  He can now preside at the Eucharist, anoint the sick, and reconcile people with God in the sacrament of penance.


b. Brothers

The religious formation of the brothers (postulancy, novitiate, profession and solemn profession) follows the exact same path as those preparing to be priests.  Their ministerial formation is personalized to their abilities and aptitudes.

4. How long does it take to become a professed member/priest?

If a candidate comes right out of high school it would take approximately ten years to become solemn professed a little more to be ordained a priest.  For those who have some university credits or a full Bachelor’s degree the time can be shorter by up to two years.


5. What is your charism?

The Barnabite Charism, given to us by our Founder, St. Anthony M. Zaccaria, is the renewal of Christian fervor in the spirit of St. Paul while living in communities centered on the Eucharist and Christ Crucified


6. What does the daily prayer life of the Community consist of? 

Each day our communities gather for 30 minutes of meditation in the morning and in the evening followed by Lauds or Vespers.  Priests are obliged by Canon Law to complete the Liturgy of the Hours o their own on a daily basis.  We have a monthly concelebration for deceased confreres, family and friends and a monthly Holy Hour together.  The “little visit” to the Blessed Sacrament is done individually.


7. What are your ministries and locations?

Barnabites are engaged in any ministry that promotes the renewal of Christian fervor.  Specifically our communities in North America have the National Shrine t Our Lady of Fatima in Lewiston NY, the Barnabite Spiritual Center in Bethlehem, PA.  We take care of three diocesan parishes:  Our Lady of the Rosary in San Diego, CA, St. James in Oakville, ON, Canada and Holy Family on the Tuscarora Reservation.  The Fathers also have individual ministries of preaching and evangelization.


8. Do you wear a habit?  (If so how often?)

For ministry Barnabites wear clerical shirts or our habit which is a plain black cassock closed not by buttons but by a sash.  The habit was developed from a Milanese diocesan cassock of the 1500’s when we were founded.  The decision to wear the habit or clerical shirt is the discretion of the individual but generally the habit is utilized for more solemn occasions and often on Sundays.


9. Where do you study Theology?

Our students study at Christ the King Seminary – the Buffalo Diocesan seminary.  For specialization students could study in Rome, Italy.


10.  Is communication with family & friends; home visits; vacations allowed, if so how often?

Students are usually given a couple of weeks each summer to have for vacation.  Other moments of vacation to visit family or friends are programmed at the discretion of the superior and depend also on the level of formation.  For example in the postulancy years more flexibility is usually granted.  During the novitiate year no separate vacation is allowed though the novice master may move the entire novitiate to a different house for a brief period of vacation together.  Mail, email and phone calls are generally permitted though prudence and moderation are to be cultivated.  Once one is ordained vacations are coordinated with the superior of the House always keeping the vow of poverty in mind.