Q. 1. What is a Novice and what is the purpose of a Noviciate?
A. 1. A Novitiate is the place where a novice lives. A Novice is a person who has entered a religious Order (Congregation) but who has not yet taken his final vows.
The Novitiate involves a time of study before a candidate is formally admitted to the religious Life. It is usually of a one or two-year duration. The Novitiate is also a time of discernment for the novice and for the community to determine the novice's readiness for the religious life. A Novice is free to quit the novitiate at any time, and the Superior is free to dismiss him/her with or without cause. During the Novitiate, the novice is often clothed in special clothing which, while distinct from secular dress is not the full habit worn by professed members of the community. The novice's day normally encompasses participation in the full canonical hours, manual labor, and special classes designed to instruct the novices on the religious life they are preparing to embrace. Spiritual exercises and tests of humility are a common feature of the novitiate. Many communities encourage frequent confession and reception of Holy Communion by their novices.