Council Resources

Criteria and norms for Salesian Vocation Discernment 2000





(Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis et Studiorum)


Third Edition ROME 2000


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1.1              Salesian vocation and discernment

1.2              Nature and characteristics of vocational discernment

1.2.1  Nature of vocational discernment

            1.2.2  “Salesian” vocational discernment    “Salesian” discernment    Discernment attentive to the different forms of the one vocation

1.2.3  Discernment during initial formation

    Discernment: a constant attitude on the formation journey

A.    Gradual and progressive discernment

B.     Discernment attentive to the specific character of phases and occasions

C.     Discernment seen in the unity and continuity of formation    Discernment: particular occasions and admissions

1.3       Those responsible for vocational discernment

1.3.1        The responsibility of the candidate

1.3.2        Community responsibility: its different manifestations   At provincial level   At local level

1.4       Indispensable conditions

1.4.1        A vocational perspective

1.4.2        An attitude of faith

1.4.3        A pedagogical sensitivity

1.4.4        Some particular skills

1.5       Means and procedures

1.5.1        Knowledge in the daily situation

1.5.2        Other kinds of approach


2.1              Definition and types of criteria

2.2              Application of the criteria


2.3       Areas of discernment

2.3.1    The human area Physical health background

A. Positive aspects and requirements to be considered

B. Difficulties and counter-indications to be evaluated Psychological balance and ability to relate

A. Positive aspects and requirements to be considered


B. Difficulties and counter-indications to be evaluated Affective-sexual maturity

A. General suggestions for discernment

B. Difficulties and counter-indications to be evaluated


   a. Relative or absolute counter-indications on the basis of discernment   

- Different personal situations ans attitudes


- Experiences prior to beginning the formation process


- A particular problem: masturbation


   b. Absolute counter-indications   

   c. Vocational discernment and homosexuality 

2.3.2.      The spiritual area Some aspects to consider

A: Christian life and Salesian features

B. Community life

C. The evangelical councils

D. Signs of a specific vocation Motives and the right intention

2.3.3    The intellectual area

               Positive aspects and requirements to consider

A. Intelligence, reflective capacity and judgement

B. The necessary qualification Difficulties and counter-indications to consider

2.3.4    The educative-pastoral area Positive aspects and requirements to consider Difficulties and counter-indications to consider

3.         ADMISSIONS

3.1       The application. those responsible and the admission procedures

3.1.1    The application

3.1.2    Those responsible

3.1.3    The procedure


3.2       Admission to the prenovitiate


3.3       Admission to the novitiate

3.3.1    Aptitude for Salesian life

3.3.2    Conditions, impediments and juridical requirements


3.4       Admission to first profession

3.4.1    Aptitude for Salesian life

3.4.2        Juridical requirements


3.5       Admission to renewal of profession

3.5.1 Aptitude for Salesian life

3.5.2. Juridical requirements

3.6              Admissions during  specific formation of the Salesian priest

3.6.1    Admission to the ministries  

3.6.2    Admission to sacred orders: diaconate and priesthood

3.6.3    Aptitude for the Salesian exercise of the ministry. With regard to the ability to undertake  priestly duties The way of approaching Salesian priestly life

3.6.4    Juridical requirements


3.7              Admission to perpetual profession

3.7.1    Aptitude for Salesian life

3.7.2    Juridical requirements  

Church and Salesian Documents for reference



AGC               Acts of the General Council

ASC                Acts of the Superior Council

C                     Constitutions

Can.                Canon of the Code of Canon Law, 1983

CDF                Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

CEC                Congregation for Catholic Education

Cfr                  confer

DSM                           The Salesian Rector. A ministry for the animation and governing of the local community, Rome, 1986   

Form. Cel.       Orientamenti educativi per la formazione al celibato sacerdotale, CEC, 1974

FSDB             Formation of Salesians of Don Bosco, 3rd edition Rome 2000

GC                  General Chapter

ISM                            L’Ispettore Salesiano. Un ministero per l’animazione e il governo della comunità ispettoriale, Roma 1987

MuR               Mutuae Relationes. Directives for the mutual relations between bishops and religious in the Church, Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes and  Congregation for Bishops, 1978

PDV               Pastores Dabo Vobis. Apostolic post-synodal exhortation, John Paul II, 1992

PI                                Potissimum institutioni. Directives on formation in religious institutes, Congregation for Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life, 1990

R                     General Regulations

RFIS               Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, CEC, 1985

RI                   Religiosorum institutio, Sacred Congregation for religious. 1961

Sac. Coel.       Sacerdotalis Coelibatus, Encyclical Letter, Paul VI, 1967

SGC                Special General Chapter (GC20)

VC                  Vita Consecrata, Apostolic post-synodal exhortation, John Paul II, 1996



Dear Confreres,

                        Together with the third edition of the Ratio, Formation of Salesians of Don Bosco, I am presenting to you the renewed text of the booklet Criteria and Norms for Salesian vocation discernment. Admissions, which is meant to be a supplement to and a commentary on what the Ratio says with regard to vocation discernment.

                        The booklet testifies in a practical way to the love for the Salesian vocation and for those who feel themselves  called to live it in the Church. It demonstrates the sense of responsibility of the Congregation, which is committed to discovering and welcoming the gift of God and of ensuring for it a joyful and faithful fulfilment. At times, what is required can seem demanding. Our educative sensitivity helps us to be positive and trusting with people, to  recognise in them what is indispensable in order to “stay with Don Bosco” and what is capable of growth and greater maturity. But we can deceive neither ourselves nor others: the Salesian way to holiness needs to be built on solid foundations; it requires a formation of a high quality. Rather than being thought excessive, these same demands, to be responded to with educative understanding, should be seen as a mark of esteem and respect for the Salesian vocation and for the person called and as an expression of fidelity to Don Bosco founder and educator.

                        The booklet, which finds in the Ratio its foundation and its frame of reference, is meant to offer clear, concrete and well-motivated  guidelines. However, since it has to apply to the whole Congregation and hence take into account a great variety of situations, it proceeds along lines  that are  valid for all. To those who have to apply them in the context of a province is confided the task not only of making them personal, relating them to the past and present experience of each candidate, but of doing so considering the characteristics of local situations and cultures.

                        This document is addressed to all those who in different ways are involved in the area of vocations and formation, especially Provincials and Rectors and their respective  Councils; confessors, formation personnel and vocation directors; those who are called to give advice or to offer help, to express an opinion or to take decisions in the name of the Congregation. As mediators of the Lord’s action and at the service of their brothers, it is their duty to know and with responsibility and judgement to put into practice  “Criteria and Norms”. It is important that the confreres in initial formation, who have the prime responsibility for vocation discernment, know the criteria of the Congregation and face up to them.

                        The criteria and norms that I am presenting to you are aimed at a greater certainty and agreement in evaluation and in decision-making. Provincials and Formation Commissions should ensure that they are known and put into practice and that there is unity and collaboration among those who take part in the discernment process. 

                        May the Madonna, Help of the Salesian vocation, obtain for all of us the gift of discernment, that shone in a singular manner in our father Don Bosco, so that we may know how to recognize the signs of the Spirit in the lives of the confreres and become collaborators in His action in them.

Rome, 8 December 2000

                                                                                                                      Fr Juan Edmundo Vecchi


                                                                                              Rector Major





1.         The subject of this booklet, which is a supplement to the Ratio (FSDB)[1] is vocational discernment during initial formation and more particularly discernment in view of admissions: a discernment seen as a service to each candidate and to the authenticity of the charism. It is useful, by way of an introduction, to present its principal components.


2.         The Constitutions and the Ratio are two fundamental terms of reference for formation, even if of different  weight. They present Salesian life in a perspective of dialogue, of a call and response.

            The Salesian vocation “is a grace of the Father”[2] “who loved us first”,[3] but it is at the same a “choice”[4] and “option”. Vocation and choice need to be verified, motivated and helped to mature.[5]

            In the vocation dialogue, which constitutes the heart of the formation experience,[6] there come together on the one side God who calls (as He wishes, when He wishes, whoever He wishes), and on the other a particular individual (born into a culture, growing up in a family, having acquired a particular view of life), who responds to the inner call in an “existential” way that is all his own. The ways in which a vocation is heard, addressed and developed can be different.

3.         How can an individual, and with him those responsible for his vocational decision, know whether he is called “to form part of the Salesian society”[7] to live in the Church Don Bosco’s project as an apostle of the young,[8] to live it “in a special form of religious life”?[9] How does one discern the will of God,[10] “deepen the candidate’s vocational choice”[11] and the “motives for his choice”?[12] The formation process provides a partial answer to these fundamental questions through discernment, which is an indispensable condition, a permanent attitude and the specific task of formation.

4.         The Constitutions do not provide the criteria for discernment in a systematic and complete manner, but they are the fundamental term of reference for whoever is considering the Salesian vocation. In the Rule indications are given about dispositions, attitudes, motives, conditions, aspects of suitability, competence and responsibilities, which form part of and are brought into play in discernment.

            The Ratio defines the fundamental elements which shape Salesian discernment.  In chapter 2 it focuses on Salesian identity, the determining factor of discernment, and its constituent elements. In chapter 3 it describes, according to the four areas of formation – human, spiritual, intellectual and educational-apostolic – the essential elements (values and attitudes) to be considered and to be constantly cultivated so as to be able to live the Salesian way of life with joy and maturity.



1.2.1  Nature of vocational discernment


5.         By Salesian vocation discernment we mean the process of knowing (analysing and understanding) and evaluating those features, expressions and elements of an individual’s personality through which the Holy Spirit indicates that a particular candidate is called to the Salesian life. This discernment makes it possible to know whether he  has the required aptitudes and virtues, and especially the motive and right intention that is the most characteristic sign of a vocation.

            The purpose is to ascertain whether the choice of a particular vocation is possible. It is not a question of forming a moral judgment about the person or of conducting a psychological analysis, nor of simply considering the presence or absence of counter-indications. It is a question of discovering through a prudent and enlightened interpretation of the concrete situation signs of the will of God in the overall context of the individual and of his life.

1.2.2  “Salesian” vocational discernment    “SALESIAN” DISCERNMENT

6.         We are not referring here to “generic” vocational discernment, but to Salesian vocational discernment. It is a question of discerning a Salesian vocation and what that involves. It is about someone “who is thinking of becoming a Salesian”[13] and feels called to live the  “specific form of religious life”[14] embodied in the Salesian way of consecrated life. It has as its fundamental criterion Salesian identity, its constituent elements, its requirements, and the conditions to live it. It has as its term of reference the guidelines of the Congregation responsible for the Salesian vocation in the Church.

            Undertaken in the context of formation, “Salesian” vocation discernment involves comparing the vocation of the individual with the charism of the Congregation.

            The candidate needs to arrive at the conviction, based on sound motives, that he will be able to live the spirit and mission of the Congregation coherently and joyfully, and the Congregation needs to have the moral certainty, based on positive grounds, that he possesses the necessary qualities to follow the way chosen. In addition to the grace of God, this moral certainty is founded on the qualities of the individual, his experience of  life so far, and on his ability to undertake a project of life responsibly and confidently.

            It is a question of identifying signs of suitability according to a criterion which gives priority to the quality of the Salesian experience. The primary responsibility of the Congregation is in fact fidelity to the charism and vocational authenticity.  DISCERNMENT ATTENTIVE TO THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF THE ONE VOCATION

7.                              Within the one Salesian vocation discernment takes account of the distinction that depends on the lay or priestly manner of living it. The Salesian vocation is not an abstract or generic vocation but is concrete and specific. God does not call someone to be a Salesian in a general way but makes known, sometimes gradually, that the call is specifically directed to the realization of Don Bosco’s project as a lay religious or as a priest religious.[15]

As far as vocational discernment is concerned this means that:

-  the criteria for discernment are fundamentally valid for all candidates;

-  the perspective of “specific form” and therefore, the characteristic features that derive from it, need to be presented throughout the whole discernment process and not only at its beginning or during the period of specific formation;

-  it is best that the vocational choice be made clear from first profession, and in any case, before the beginning of specific formation and perpetual profession.[16]           

1.2.3    Discernment during initial formation  DISCERNMENT: A CONSTANT ATTITUDE ON THE FORMATION JOURNEY

8.         The whole formation process is a journey  of discernment and ought to be lived in a constant attitude of discernment. “To anyone who is thinking of becoming a Salesian, an environment and suitable conditions are offered to enable him to discern his own vocation and to mature as a man and as a Christian. In this way, and with the help of a spiritual guide, he is able to make a choice with greater awareness of what he is doing, and without any external or internal pressures.”[17] Learning “by experience the meaning of the Salesian vocation,”[18]  the candidate comes to a deeper understanding of himself and becomes capable of making a mature personal response.

            The whole of initial formation is pedagogically ordered to this end. For this reason, before being definitively incorporated in the society, the candidate follows different phases of formation. “These,” the Constitutions say, “are necessary for both the candidate and the community, so that they may work together to discern God’s will and correspond with it. The candidate gradually gets to know the Society, and the Society in turn can evaluate his suitability for Salesian life,”[19] in particular his motives and right intention.

9.         Discernment is carried out in every phase: it accompanies the journey of growth and verifies the reaching of specific objectives; it is seen in a pedagogical and gradual succession of evaluations and commitments (the application, judgment of suitability, admission). Whoever has the task of  discernment needs to be attentive to the unity and to the personalization of the formation process and must adopt its characteristics.

A. Gradual and progressive discernment


10.       During the formation process there are, in a certain sense, criteria for a basic evaluation and criteria to evaluate progress and growth. Once the basic suitability and the absence of absolute counter-indications have been established, there should be evident, between the beginning and perpetual profession, a growth in knowledge, the maturation of suitability, a deepening of motives. Starting from the presence of the fundamental dispositions, which are aptitudes not yet fully developed, it is a question of evaluating – in the various admissions and on other occasions of discernment - whether the growth has reached the necessary maturity for the corresponding obligations to be assumed.

B. Discernment attentive to the specific character of  phases and  occasions


11.       Each phase of formation has its own objectives, that is it sets out to emphasise different aspects and provides particular opportunities for getting to know the individual, for contact with the Salesian way of life and for an experience of the Congregation. For example, the indicators to be considered during the novitiate  are not the same as those for the period of practical training. It is a question of evaluating the type of growth that each phase fosters and the challenges that are to be faced, giving  “particular attention […] to the passage from one phase to the next”[20] and ensuring, at the conclusion of each phase of formation that the objectives required for the next stage have been achieved. Therefore, while bearing in mind that vocational values are taken on gradually, discernment will help to avoid “prolonging problematic and indecisive situations which do not hold out serious prospects for improvement.” [21]     

C. Discernment seen in the unity and continuity of formation



12.       Discernment ought to be carried out from the perspective of the unity of the person and of his experience, and of the continuity of the formation process. Even though it takes place in  different phases and in different communities, with different groups of formation personnel, and in successive occasions for assessment and admission, it cannot be limited to a single aspect of formation nor only to the present moment. Discernment implies a unified vision of formation, continuity in formation methodology and knowledge of the individual, an approach that is personalised and contextualised. This perspective is indispensable for a valid assessment of experiences and events.  DISCERNMENT: PARTICULAR OCCASIONS AND ADMISSIONS

13.  Guidance and discernment are constant features of the whole of initial formation with particular emphasis on the different phases which are a preparation for full incorporation in the Congregation: in the evaluation of basic suitability, on the occasion of the first vocational response, in the admissions which constitute focal points of synthesis.[22]

            The periods which precede the first profession, that is the preparation for the novitiate and the novitiate, have a particular significance. “A period of special preparation is required” – the Constitutions state – “prior to the novitiate to deepen the candidate’s vocational choice and verify his suitability for beginning the novitiate.”[23] During the novitiate “with the help of the director the novice examines carefully the motives for his choice, makes certain of his suitability for the Salesian calling, and prepares himself to give his all to God for the service of the young in the spirit of Don Bosco.”[24]

            Particular attention also needs to be given to discernment of the spiritual maturity required for the perpetual profession, given the importance of such a step.[25]

            It is also possible after initial formation for there to be circumstances in life which require a more profound discernment and a more carefully weighed evaluation: in the face of new situations and new challenges, in moments of doubt, loss of motivation or on occasions of vocational re- affirmation, in times of difficulty and also in gravely compromised situations.[26]  

14. There is a very close link between discernment and admissions. Admissions to various commitments on the vocational path constitute particularly important occasions for discernment; in them are brought together and expressed the interpretation and evaluation of the evidence which motivates both the application of the candidate and the judgement of those responsible regarding the particular suitability for the fulfilment of the obligation that is being assumed.[27]

            The application freely presented by the candidate is based on the discernment he has carried out, with the help of those who accompany him and of the community, and remains open to a decisive sign of the will of God, expressed through the judgement of those who are the “instruments through whom the Lord is working.”[28]

            On their part, the superiors’ judgement[29] is the result of their effort, illuminated by the criteria of the Church and of the Congregation, to come to a conclusion, which embraces the whole formation experience and is aimed at serving the personal vocation and Salesian identity.

            What is said of discernment in view of admissions should also be borne in mind in the case of the readmission of someone who may have legitimately left the Congregation at the end of the novitiate or after profession.[30]


15.       In discernment regarding final decisions, important choices and admissions, all those who through their roles and different responsibilities are involved in the formation process express their opinions.

            Discernment takes place in close collaboration between the candidate and the community through a dialogue of shared trust in order to understand  the will of God and recognize his signs.[31]

            The personal aspect and the community aspect of discernment come into play when, in the years of initial formation the attempt is made to determine basic suitability for the Salesian vocation or the degree of suitability required to take a further step on the journey towards definitive commitment.

16.       At the basis of formation is a fundamental premiss: the will to carry out the process of discernment together, maintaining an attitude of open communication and sincere joint responsibility, and  paying heed to the voice of the Spirit and to the concrete channels through which He speaks.[32]

            It is for the candidate himself to understand God’s intention in his life, and therefore also in this case, he “accepts responsibility for his own formation.”[33]

On the other hand the whole community also feels itself to be involved and is invited to make its own contribution.

            The Provincial and the Rector, with their respective Councils, have a specific juridical responsibility in the admissions and in the discernment that precedes them. The task of evaluation and of making a judgement, collectively and individually at a particular time in the formation process is confided to them. In a certain sense it is the official aspect of discernment. That said, however, it is not intended to relegate to a secondary place the determining role of others, such as the spiritual director and the confesssor, who have their responsibilities.

            All the confreres, especially those who are members of the formation community, have a moral responsibility. Certainly this rests above all on those who have juridical responsibility; they must ensure the conditions for things to be done according to the criteria of the Church and of the  Congregation, on the basis of adequate knowledge and in a process of discernment that needs to be gradual and continuous.

1.3.1        Responsibility of the candidate  

17.       The duty of vocation discernment, as has been said, rests in the first place on the candidate for Salesian life or on the confrere in formation. He is the one primarily concerned to know the will of God in his regard, and he has the responsibility of making a genuine response; hence he adopts a permanent attitude of discernment, cultivates a constant openness to the voice of God and to the actions of those entrusted with his formation, directs his life  according to a perspective of faith, and examines himself in the light of Salesian vocational criteria. In all sincerity he seeks to know himself, to make himself known and to accept himself; he makes use of all the means and instruments that his formation offers him, in particular, formation guidance, the friendly talk with the Rector, spiritual direction, the sacrament of Reconciliation, contacts with the community and their discernment.[34]    He maintains an open and trusting relationship with the Rector of the community, to whom is entrusted the task of formation guidance, so as to provide him with the knowledge he needs to direct, discern and decide.[35]

            Vocation guidance and spiritual direction are privileged means to arrive at a deeper knowledge of oneself and to guide one’s own life with a spiritual criterion, especially when facing delicate and difficult decisions.[36]

            Even after initial formation a Salesian retains a discerning attitude, seeing in the changing circumstances of life a challenge and a spur on his vocation journey and an invitation to a renewed commitment to his own formation.

1.3.2  Community responsibility: its different manifestations


18.       The Salesian community, in the first place the provincial community, is responsible for vocational discernment, and through it provides a service to the individual and to the charism.

-          Service to the individual, helping the candidate to understand his vocation, the inspirations that are moving him and the signs of the Spirit in relation to the vocational option.

-          Service to the Salesian charism, through the commitment undertaken in the name of the Congregation and of the Church to evaluate and to decide, on the basis of the criteria they have established, whether a person is really suited and called to live the project of consecrated Salesian life.


At world level, it is for the Rector Major with his Council to decide the criteria of vocational discernment and to make sure they are known, accepted and put into practice in the provinces especially at times of admissions.  AT PROVINCIAL LEVEL

19.       The provincial community fulfils its task in admissions through the various people who are responsible.

            The duty of admitting candidates – whether to the novitiate or to profession or to orders – according to law rests with the Provincial.[37] On the occasion of admissions it is always for him to make the decision; it is a responsibility he cannot abdicate, deferring to the opinion of others.

Assisted by his Council he is the guarantor of vocational discernment; his responsibility is not limited to the final decision.

He “makes sure that the one who is oriented to Salesian life has a suitable environment and the necessary conditions for the first discernment of his vocation; he accompanies the candidate through the delicate period of initial formation and fulfils his responsibility at the time of discernment and admission.”[38] 

            Personally or through the provincial Commission for formation the Provincial fosters the uniformity of the criteria for discernment and for admissions.[39] He promotes an adequate knowledge of the candidates both on the part of the members of the provincial Council and on the part of those responsible for the different phases, encouraging throughout the formation process an attitude of discernment and the communication of appropriate information in the most convenient way possible.[40] 

20.       The members of the provincial Council, and in an analogous way those of the local Council, are called upon to express an opinion or to come to a consensus. They therefore have the duty of arriving at a judgement about the candidate that is as personal and as complete as possible. Aware of the continuity of discernment, the provincial Councillors should compare the previous assessments with the one, which is proposed on the occasion of a new admission. When it has become more familiar with the candidates, the Council carries out its task promptly, without  postponing the appropriate decisions.            AT LOCAL LEVEL

21.       At local level, the role of the Rector is crucial. He guides the confrere in initial formation, animates and coordinates the work of the house Council, keeps in contact with the Provincial and his Council.  

            As far as the Province is concerned he is the one responsible for the personal formation process, which presupposes on his part attention to the formation journey of each one, the ability to be close, to welcome and to guide. He does this particularly through the friendly talk.

            As regards the “professional secret”[41] it should be remembered that the Rector cannot make use of what he comes to know  solely through the friendly talk,[42] even in the secret voting of the house Council. He may make use of it if the confrere freely and explicitly gives his consent.

22.       The members of the house Council make a periodic discernment by means of the termly assessments, carried out in the way determined at provincial level; they evaluate the vocational progress of the candidate and offer him suitable suggestions and recommendations.[43]

On the occasion of the admissions, on the basis of adequate personal knowledge, they formulate the opinion to be sent to the Provincial.

            It is important to ensure agreement between the local Council and the provincial Council on  the criteria for evaluation.

23.       The whole community collaborates in vocational discernment by ensuring a formation environment and through different roles and services. The community environment stimulates spiritual growth, and the effort of each one to live out the criteria for Salesian identity through good example, the practice of fraternal correction, the assessments and  giving  an opinion at the time of admission to profession, to the ministries and to sacred orders.[44]

24        Specific responsibilities for discernment are confided to some members of the community, which they carry out on a daily basis or through their particular roles.

            The formation personnel in particular, “follow each one’s progress, assessing his vocation suitability in the name of the Church and the Congregation, and offering their contributions of information and discernment that can also serve for the various admissions.”[45] They guide the confreres “in the ways of the Lord, both with their words and with the coherent witness of their consecrated life.”[46]

25.       The personal spiritual director offers assistance to those who are looking for the fullness of their Christian and religious vocation. He provides a service “of enlightenment, support and guidance in discerning God’s will in order to achieve holiness; it motivates and moves a person to act, leading him to take some serious decisions in line with the Gospel and bringing him face to face with the process of growing in his Salesian vocation.”[47]

26.       The role of the confessor can have a profound effect on vocational discernment, on guidance and on the whole formation experience. Precisely for this reason the Ratio counsels that during initial formation one should have a regular confessor “who is ordinarily a Salesian.”[48]

            To the confessor and the one who carries out the service of spiritual direction without being Rector of the community is entrusted a considerable moral responsibility with regard to vocational discernment. Even if they are not called upon to express a judgement on the vocational suitability and they do not take part in the admissions, they exercise what is often a crucial role for the clarification of motives and the acquisition of moral values. For this reason the subject must consult them and take account of their advice which in some cases can become binding in foro interno

            Confessors are always bound by the seal of confession, and spiritual directors in the strict sense are also bound to secrecy in virtue of their office. They must act only in foro interno to direct and if necessary to convince those not suitable to withdraw from the journey they have begun.

            It is their duty to know and to adopt as obligatory in their service the criteria for discernment indicated by the Church and by the Congregation.

27.       People who have a special competence in some particular areas (experts) may be called upon to make a specific contribution  “When the experts are not Salesian, it is important to ensure that their service respects the characteristics proper to our vocation and is considered within the overall framework of Salesian formation.”[49]

28.       Some non-Salesian members of the Educative Pastoral Community who are in close contact with the candidates or with confreres in initial formation, may be called upon to share in the responsibility of vocational discernment through prudent and appropriate suggestions on the invitation of the Rector of the community.


29.       Certain convictions, attitudes and conditions are indispensable  in order to fulfil the role of discernment properly and to prepare oneself suitably for this important and delicate task A vocational perspective, an attitude of faith and a pedagogical and formative sensitivity as well as some particular skills need to be cultivated.

1.4.1    A vocational perspective


30.         The life of everyone is a vocation, and should be understood, accepted and fulfilled  as such. A combination of talents and gifts to be developed, a plan to be realized is given to everyone.

            Signs of a vocation can be identified in an individual: in order to understand the call, God’s intentions, the project to which He is giving an invitation, it is therefore necessary to know the person in depth, his personality,  his history and his present situation,  to draw out from them  the signs of the “divine vocation.”

            The vocation can be recognized through the signs  of everyday. Normally, the Spirit does not follow extraordinary ways but speaks through the attitudes and the aspirations, the intentions and the motivations, which can be recognised in everyday life, in relationships with people, in dealing with reality and in the ordinary course of events.

            The Salesian vocation, as a specific form of religious life, can de identified through those characteristic signs, which demonstrate the agreement that  there is between the personal vocation and the way of life of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

1.4.2    An attitude of faith

31.       Vocational discernment is spiritual discernment. Therefore:

a) A faith perspective should be vigorously cultivated, in the conviction that it is God who is calling and that the vocation is a grace from the Father who “loves the Congregation and wants  to see it vibrant for the good of the Church and never ceases to enrich it with new apostolic energy.”[50] 

            b) One is moving on the plane where “God alone is the master (of the heart), and our efforts in everything are doomed to failure unless God teaches us how to act and provides us with the key.”[51]

            Those responsible for discernment are attentive and respectful mediators of the divine will, collaborators in and not masters of God’s plan, who are to ensure the quality of the vocation so that it is lived in fidelity to the Spirit.

            c) To understand God’s intentions, to discover and to interpret what He is saying, it is necessary to live in harmony with Him and to be docile to the Spirit.    


1.4.3        A pedagogical sensitivity

32.       Pedagogical sensitivity:

            a) Requires and fosters an atmosphere of freedom, free from impositions and pressure of any sort; a family atmosphere, of mutual acceptance and welcome, that is the style of relationships of the Preventive System; it also implies the support of the community in the more delicate moments.

            b) Encourages a real, and profound knowledge of the person and requires the commitment to acquire it through personal contact, formative guidance, spiritual direction and the other keys to the reading of experience, such as: a knowledge of the cultural and youth context and the family situation, the use of the human sciences.  

            c) Makes one attentive to the nature of the formation process, which leads one to take account of the rhythms of personal maturation, nowadays longer and more complex, and of the difficulties in making definitive choices. This requires:

            - the capacity to organize the phases of formation with a gradual pedagogy which leads to progressive commitments, accepting the moments of pause and encouraging a fresh start;

            - the commitment to ensuring the achievement of certain formation objectives without prolonging situations, which do not offer the required signs of hope;

            - the ability to combine in discernment educational confidence and the prudence that does not raise false hopes but builds on positive and verifiable elements;

            - the conviction that a vocation develops throughout the course of life and requires an educative setting  and personal effort for spiritual growth.   

1.4.4    Some particular skills

33.       To identify the presence or absence of signs of God’s call is a delicate undertaking. It requires a clear understanding of the nature of the task and some particular skills. Vocational discernment is a grace that in ordinary circumstances is undertaken through the use of the human faculties of judgement that work in synergy with the grace. The interpretation of  the vocational realities cannot be carried out in isolation; it is closely linked to the experience and to the formation of the persons who take part in it.

            For Salesian vocational  discernment a knowledge of the guidelines of the Congregation (cfr. Chapter 2), of the theological principles regarding vocation, of the contribution that the psychological and formative sciences can make is necessary. An enlightened prudence, which enables someone to identify the signs of a vocation in the concrete flow of life in each person, is indispensable.  

            The human faculty of judgement is acquired with experience; but one cannot prescind from a special preparation which provides training in understanding psychological, conscious and unconscious processes, those that are normal or pathological, relating to intellectual, affective, personal and interpersonal life. It is to be noted that in the process of discernment one presupposes two situations: that the one with responsibility for formation is capable of understanding and helping the candidate in the psychological and spiritual areas, and that the environment characterized by the style of the Preventive System encourages mutual trust, in such a way that the candidate can come to know himself and open himself so that those involved in his formation can understand and help him.

            In discernment the judgement of persons who have a certain mentality comes into play. Often mental models condition the interpretation of the facts. The discernment of those with responsibility for formation therefore should rest not only on the ability to organise familiar “data” or “knowledge” but also on an open mentality, used to making connections between different  kinds of things. Hence to ensure an adequate discernment those who are involved in it should cultivate a mentality that possesses an overall view of Salesian life and the ability to interpret the vocational “signs” in a harmonious and integrated way both as regards the individual’s human development, and in relation to the style of life proper to Salesian consecration.


34.       Once the conditions indicated are assured and the established criteria adopted it is indispensable to bring together all those elements of knowledge that are considered useful in order to form a personal and objective judgement, as  is required from those responsible for discernment and for the admissions. Certain means and procedures serve for this purpose.    

1.5.1    Knowledge in the daily situation


35.       In ordinary circumstances the normal friendly living together of Salesian life allows trained formation personnel to take note in a reliable manner of the physical health, the qualities of intellect, will and affectivity of the candidates. The following help in arriving at this knowledge: 

a)      continual formative attention to the candidate in the ordinary circumstances of daily life as it is lived in the style of relationships characteristic of the Preventive System;

b)      the systematic collection and evaluation of information about the candidate’s external circumstances in the past that may be relevant and significant;

c)      helping the candidate to grow in self-awareness, self-knowledge and in the assessment of his attitudes and progress, and in communication;

d)      different kinds of personal, familiar and formative relationships.

1.5.2        Other kinds of approach

36.       In addition to the knowledge gained in this way and to overcome uncertainty regarding assessments which even experienced formation guides may find themselves faced with, other forms of approach are to be recommended, even if necessary of a specialist  nature. While it is certain that medical or psychological methods cannot offer an absolutely guaranteed diagnosis, at the same time their application and their contribution added to the observation of the formation guides seem to be appropriate and necessary in certain cases. It would be well therefore to take them into consideration and give them sufficient weight when making the final decision.

            The following forms of approach should be considered among others:

a) the assessment of physical health, carried out with an examination  by a trusted and competent doctor who knows the requirements of Salesian life; a written report should be provided;[52]

b) the assessment regarding mental health, carried out by qualified persons as part of the vocational discernment process. This psychological approach can be used in different ways, in different contexts and at different levels; in every case it should be carried out respecting the freedom and the dignity of the individual, and professional secrecy and the necessary privacy should be maintained.

            The purpose of this assessment is not so much to carry out  an enquiry or investigation but rather to directly serve the formation aims. The psychological consultation undertaken prior to the novitiate, when the candidate’s personality is beginning to be shaped and directed towards the call, is to be put in this perspective.

c) the judgement of a specialist with regard to questions raised or deficiencies which appear at the beginning of the formation process or which arise during its unfolding and which require a more careful examination. The expert will assist in correctly evaluating whether such difficulties can be overcome and to what extent, or whether they appear to be already consolidated and so structured as a feature of the personality that they cannot be altered. “Mistakes in vocational discernment are not rare and many psychological deficiencies, more or less pathological, manifest themselves and  are noticed only after priestly ordination.”[53]    

            From the specialist is requested an expert opinion regarding the candidate’s suitability or not for a certain way of life, evaluated in accordance with standards of physical and mental health, on the basis of his own professional competence. The specialist would be going beyond his competence if he were to take a position regarding the “vocation” that the candidate demonstrates; his contribution remains on the level of a consultation.

            The superior will tactfully point out the need for and the purpose of this consultation, so that the candidate can accept and undertake it from the perspective of discernment and in the spirit of necessary cooperation with those responsible for the formation process. To this end it is important that the candidate be ready to give his consent  so that the specialist may communicate to the superior in the most opportune manner, with prudence and discretion, the conclusions he arrives at. In every case, the agreement of the one involved is indispensable.

            The specialist is bound by professional secrecy by which he cannot, except with the express and freely given agreement of the person consulting him, communicate to others what he has come to know directly or indirectly in the course of the consultation.

37.       When the assessment regarding psychological fitness, subsequent formation work or the consultation with the specialist mentioned above suggest the advantage of or the need for professional therapeutic treatment, for the purpose of improving the candidate’s fitness, the superior, in agreement with the one concerned, determines with the specialist the precise area of treatment and the purpose for its being undertaken; recourse should be had to psychotherapists known for their respect for human and religious values.   





38.       To discern means to perceive in a person’s life the signs which enable his vocation to be known:  the direction in which it is leading; the suitability for living it, the desire to live it.

            What features of a person’s life are significant from the vocational point of view? What are the signs, which point to a particular vocation?

            The criteria for discernment are points of reference to identify those factors, which allow one to recognize  the presence or the absence of a divine call and of the suitability for a response to it. One can speak of positive criteria or requirements, negative criteria or counter-indications.


39.       The positive criteria or requirements  enable one to identify the gifts (conditions, dispositions, aptitudes..), which are necessary to establish the vocational suitability proportionate to the age and commitment involved. They are the: “physical, intellectual and moral qualities, either of nature or of grace whereby a young man is rightly prepared for the worthy acceptance and performance of religious and priestly obligations”.[54]One can also speak in greater detail of: 

-          positive but non-specific criteria: these refer to those fundamental elements of a vocation which indicate a basic suitability but whose presence does not by itself provide an unambiguous sign of God’s call; they indicate that the personality and the character of the candidate could undertake the Salesian vocation but not necessarily that it exists;

-          positive and specific criteria: these refer to the most characteristic and indispensable sign, that is to the right intention; they indicate a genuine interest in and inclination for the Salesian mission, a real spiritual motive, and above all the concrete capacity to make a personal decision  for Christ in the Congregation.

40.       Negative criteria or counter-indications help to identify those situations and those attitudes which raise questions or doubts regarding the vocational suitability or rule out the possibility of the Salesian consecrated life.

-          The absolute counter-indications are linked with situations, which completely rule out vocational suitability: such are, for example, states of mental health considered chronic and irreversible and clearly psychotic.

-          The relative counter-indications are those which offer some possibility of change and recovery, for example, states of affective immaturity for which there is a more or less well founded hope that they can be overcome, though this in turn will have to be verified.

41.       In the area of counter-indications there is a whole range of situations  before which one is often left perplexed. It is therefore necessary to assess the degree of compatibility between the counter-indication and a sufficiently serene Salesian life. In some cases one finds oneself faced with situations which need to be examined and understood having recourse also to the assistance of experts and specialists.

            The criteria indicated by the Church and the Congregation are the fruit of reflection on the significance of certain features, they are drawn from doctrinal principles, from the findings of the human sciences, and they come from the centuries-old experience in the Church and from authentic Salesian tradition.

            Some requirements and counter-indications are laid down by the Code of Canon Law, or are found in the Constitutions and general Regulations, and as such must be accepted and applied; they are norms, which have a juridical nature.

            Others are not expressly codified but correspond to criteria arising from experience, science and prudence, both on the part of the competent authority (found in ecclesiastical documents of various kinds, or in the Acts of the General Council...) and on the part of whoever is called to take decisions: they are indications of a prudential nature.   


42.       The application of the criteria for discernment which are now being described needs to take into account the situation and the conditions indicated in the first chapter:

-          evaluating the different elements taken together within the individual and not as a set of separate conditions;

-          knowing how to distinguish between basic criteria and criteria of growth and of maturity, allowing for the progressive nature of the formation process;

-          considering the need for quality of vocation, without separating it from a pedagogical  understanding;

-          ensuring in a responsible manner the conditions required for a genuine and positive vocational experience without deceiving oneself or being deceived, and not forgetting that there are many different ways of realizing the one Salesian vocation depending on the persons who are called to it and the gifts they have received.

>From this point of view, one will understand the purpose of presenting the positive  aspects or requirements, which may seem excessive or idealistic. In fact, in addition to the elements relating to suitability, which could be called fundamental and characteristic and without which one could not speak about suitability or aptitude for the Salesian life,  they include other elements whose presence is not necessary and which do not in themselves constitute a requirement, but can influence the development of a person in a positive manner, assist in formation, and enrich the expression of the vocation.   

43. The Constitutions state that for “admission to the novitiate, to temporary or perpetual vows, to the ministries and to sacred orders…the superiors base their judgement on positive indications of the candidate’s suitability[55]

            The absence of counter-indications is not a sufficient criterion for admission. It is necessary to verify the presence in the candidate of the required gifts[56] and in this judgement moral certitude should be arrived at.[57]

            The formation process is primarily aimed at the development of the necessary suitability for a genuine vocation. The admissions, seen from a formation and pedagogical point of view, serve to verify and promote the maturity of that suitability. The discovery of absolute counter-indications constitutes the first step in vocational discernment in so far as it dispenses from further evaluation of positive signs.

44.       The requirements and the counter-indications should be considered in relation to the phase of formation that the candidate is in, to his age and to his level of maturity.

            Above all, it is important to know and to assess the situation of the candidate, who is normally nowadays older than before, at the beginning of the formation process, and the circumstances of his entry. 

            Particular attention should be paid to the situation of those candidates who come with a longer experience of life and often also of work, of commitments, and of vocational searching. The examination of the personality should be carried out carefully, avoiding being carried away by haste or arriving at the admission without sufficient evaluation. It would be well to enquire why the candidate has not made a stable choice of life earlier. The reply can help in understanding the dynamics with underlie a “vocational” decision.

            During the time of initial formation, while it is sufficient at the beginning of a phase to ascertain the actual possibility of the person’s vocational development, at the end of such a particular phase or at the time of vocational transition (professions, ministries, ordinations) it needs to be verified that aptitudes, sufficiently developed as to reach the degree of maturity required, are present.

            For candidates with good overall prospects, but still with some difficulties not yet resolved or passing through disturbed periods, the possibility of postponing the admission, while waiting for the anticipated growth in maturity, should be prudently examined.

45. In the discernment process the relationship there might be between the appearance and the disappearance  of certain problems and the particular circumstances of the environment should be borne in mind. Some counter-indications can temporarily disappear in the presence of situations that are unusual or in a certain way artificial or extremely positively stimulating. Problems apparently overcome tend to re-emerge when the individuals are put under pressure or experience loneliness.

            The novitiate for example  can induce an atmosphere of strong spiritual and ascetic tension,  without producing a personal and conscious response on the part of the candidate. Similar experiences can arise, although for different reasons, during the period of practical training, an occasion of deep involvement in Salesian activity, or in  the phase of  formation for the priesthood, as a result of the change to a different rhythm of life and activity, or in other formation situations. It is very probable that problems will subsequently re-emerge, in the presence of different conditions of life.[58]             

            With regard to the relationship between personal experience and the environment, it is well to remember that community life should not be seen as having a therapeutic function, as if it were the best  place to cure certain disturbances or to overcome certain states of immaturity, if within the candidate there is not a genuine suitability  and a decisive commitment. In some cases maturity needs to be achieved and be tested in other life situations.

46.       The presence of relative counter-indications should be evaluated prudently. The recognition of the presence of only one relative counter-indication cannot be in itself sufficient reason to form a negative judgement  regarding the vocation. On the other hand, if such a counter-indication is not integrated sufficiently in the personality, or if there is a convergence of different counter-indications or of some particularly serious ones, it can be concluded  that there is a lack of maturity which makes the person concerned unsuited for the Salesian vocation.

47.       In practice it is not always possible to determine precisely the personal aspects needing to be discerned in each stage of a vocation and in each phase of formation; it is however important to ascertain overall the effective growth of the candidate in the various areas of discernment.

            In any case, faced with a systematic lack of growth in some significant area, those concerned with formation should assess the actual possibility of vocational success.

            Discernment should arrive at a positive assessment of the candidate’s strengths. In the case of doubt the superiors who have to base their judgement on positive signs of the candidate’s suitability and not only on the hope of  a future suitability, should not proceed to the admission. It is their primary responsibility to serve the charism, ensuring the conditions for a genuine Salesian vocational experience.


48.       Bearing in mind the four areas of formation proposed in the Ratio, those elements are indicated which suggest the suitability of the candidate for the Salesian vocation, pointing out  the positive aspects and the requirements to consider, the difficulties and the counter-indications to evaluate; they constitute the parameters of discernment.

            Even if for practical reasons the areas of discernment are presented separately and successively, discernment takes place to the extent that whoever is carrying it out is capable of making the connections and recognizing the reciprocal influence between the different signs and the close link between the different areas. In fact the areas are interdependent. They do not make up areas separated one from the others.

            A coherent perception that considers the different aspects in an integrated manner and not separately is therefore necessary.

On the other hand, each case needs to be judged on its own merits. In fact, vocational aptitudes manifest themselves in a concrete individual  and hence are of  value only when they become psychologically integrated within his whole personality.

2.3.1    The human area  PHYSICAL HEALTH

49.       The Salesian style of life and action calls for good health and physical resistance.[59] The Salesian must be ready for sacrifice and a hard life. Good health on the other hand, fosters harmony between the various aspects of the individual.

50.       Medical absolute counter-indications of a physiological nature are linked to serious symptoms, which could prejudice community life and the obligations of the mission, such as, for example, epilepsy, chronic ailments such as diabetes, etc. considered until now as serious hereditary defects;

            - serious chronic ailments which although cured can have left considerable debilitating after effects.

            With regard to epilepsy, today the medico-psychiatric position has changed considerably compared to the past: it is no longer considered irreversible, since almost always it can be kept under control by means of medicines and it is known not to be contagious. However, it is difficult to foresee the outcome and a total cure. In practice, given the demands of our style of life and work, it is to be considered a vocational impediment.  

            Serious or total physical disabilities (blindness, deafness, dumbness…) are counter-indications, in that they hinder the normal development of Salesian  educational and pastoral activity.

            On account of the nature of the specific Salesian mission, being a carrier of the HIV (virus) or suffering from AIDS[60] is an absolute counter-indication. Hence, in accordance with local legislation, it is necessary to require an HIV test before admission to the prenovitiate. This should be carried out with the necessary prudence and with the necessary preparation of the candidate. In some cases, to provide legal protection for the Congregation, it is prudent to repeat the same test before any subsequent dismissal of a candidate or confrere.

51.       Relative counter-indications are partial physical disabilities (slight poliomyelitis, the loss of one eye etc), which need to be considered in the context of the personality of the candidate, and of the awareness of possible consequences there might be for the subject and in the surroundings in which he lives (inferiority complex, fear of the judgement of the boys, or alternatively, unaffected acceptance, serenity…) Usually when there are found to be other gifts in good measure and easily recognized also by young people, these compensate and help to overcome the danger of any possible inferiority complex.

52.       In addition, account should be taken of apparently slight disturbances, unresponsive, however, to medical treatment: persistent headaches, insomnia, constant tiredness disproportionate to the ordinary circumstances of life, and all the manifestations of hypochondria diagnosed as such. These often represent symptoms of difficult situations and of conflicts, which do not always have solutions within the pattern of consecrated life, but which, would require radical changes.

            In such cases, it is necessary to get to the root of the problem and not be content with external appearances. Before a definitive admission it is necessary to observe the consequences, the significance and the conquest of such conditions.

            The opinion of a doctor who has practical knowledge of our life should be sought.

53.       Habitual substance abuse which alters the psyche (drugs, alcohol) in the past life of a candidate can constitute a counter-indication, in so far as the dynamics  which led to these experiences are generally linked to serious personality problems, which should have been “cured” or at least pedagogically controlled. It is possible that the effects of abuse have not yet made their mark or remain hidden for a long time, but the dynamics which caused them need to have been overcome. Occasional  use of such substances needs to be evaluated  in the context of the candidate’s total personality.

54.       Before or during the prenovitiate there should be a medical checkup and a psychological examination which certifies the presence of a good general level of health and the absence of any of the physical problems mentioned among the counter-indications.[61]  FAMILY BACKGROUND

55.       The family background of the candidate needs to be carefully considered in the discernment process. The influence of the family is great and can be determining. It is therefore of vital importance to know the impact of experiences in the family on the human development of the candidate, to ascertain that it has provided the basic family models which foster the development of the ego and of a correct sexual self-identification, and that it has not deformed important aspects of the personality. Subsequent formation can be founded on these elements. It is also necessary to consider the impact of the current family situation, bearing in mind the way the family is viewed in the cultural context.[62]   

A. Positive aspects and requirements to be considered

56.       Bearing in mind the concrete situation of  families, some pointers to family situations, which help the growth in human and Christian values, can be underlined:

                        a) good communication within the family, an affectionate relationship and dialogue, which assist reflection on the meaning of life and the assimilation of values;

                        b) a style of relating which fosters in  the children contentment, independent  thought, the right use of freedom and the way of coping with differences;

                        c) a setting which teaches responsibility, honesty, the value of things, discipline and work;

                        d) openness to others, a sense of solidarity, active involvement in the local area and in social action;

                        e) concern for the religious dimension of life and for religious practice, Christian witness, good example of fidelity in married life, involvement in the local Church community.

B. Difficulties and counter-indications to be evaluated


57.       A difficulty or counter-indication does not arise from the fact that the candidate comes from a certain family, but from the effect that the family situation has had and can still have on his personality. From this perspective certain situations need to be evaluated and one should be cautious in admitting a candidate who:

            a) has lived in a family atmosphere that has affected him in an irreparably negative way during his early years, and may still have a negative impact on his personality. In some serious cases only after a careful examination, which could exclude any possibility of a lack of balance, should admission be permitted. The seriousness of this counter-indication should be assessed very carefully;

            b) belongs to a family in which there are serious hereditary defects,  physical or psychological such as alcoholism, clear and manifest epilepsy, mental disorders, or serious cases of psychotic behaviour confirmed as such  by specialist diagnosis;

            c) is an illegitimate son (born out of wedlock): while bearing in mind that in the Code of Canon Law this is not considered an irregularity,[63] the situation needs to be evaluated in relation to the qualities and balance of the candidate, and considering to what extent it could constitute an impediment to the normal development of religious life or to the exercise of the priestly ministry;

            d) has parents who are divorced or separated, especially if this occurred at a tender age;  

            e) belongs to a family of bigamous or polygamous spouses. This could constitute a background that is highly negative in its impact on the personality. In contexts where polygamous families form part of a traditional culture,  in the case of a candidate the son of a non-Christian family, it is necessary above all to consider the stability of the family and the kind of rapport among its members, in keeping with acceptable models in the local culture;

            f) belongs to a family notorious in its own locality and which has had a negative impact on the psychological and moral development of the candidate;

            g) belongs to a non-Catholic family, which not only does not agree with his choice of vocation but has shown a deep-rooted and active opposition to it;

            h) belongs to a family, which is in a socio-economic and cultural situation, which is so “poor” as to be able to undermine the choice of vocation with deep-seated motives, which  are unconscious, of simply human and social promotion. This sort of situation needs to be evaluated case by case.

58.       Attention must also be paid to the admission in the following cases or situations which, while being objectively less serious than the previous ones, nonetheless can have left negative traces in the personality:

            a) a family situation of serious disunion, tension, or with little affection, where the aggression manifested by the parents  has influenced the son in a negative manner, making him an insecure, disorganized person, unstable affectively and in his interpersonal relationships;

            b) the affective immaturity of the parents, evident for example in reactions which are anxious, despairing, or exaggeratedly euphoric, or in hyper-protective or exploitive attitudes which may have provoked serious character disturbances, and by creating strong dependencies can condition freedom and responsibility.

            c) coming from social backgrounds with widespread militancy in groups antagonistic to the Church; or from particularly corrupt districts, when it cannot be decided with moral certainty that serious damage  has not been caused;

            d) practising or non- practising Catholic parents strongly opposed to their son’s vocation, taking account of the age and maturity of the candidate. PSYCHOLOGICAL BALANCE AND ABILITY TO RELATE

A. Positive aspects and requirements to be considered


59.            Psychological balance and the ability to relate are conditions necessary for the Salesian vocation which can be considered to be present when the person gives proof of: emotional equilibrium, ability to chose freely, openness to others, capacity for true personal love.


            - Emotional equilibrium: is reflected in various ways, among them a increasingly open attitude towards one’s own interior and exterior experience without distortion or denial, the serene control of one’s own emotions when faced with both success and failure, a living of daily life free from rigidity or disproportionately extreme reactions, with a calm disposition. Someone who has acquired this equilibrium shows himself to be always more flexible, creative and optimistic, and maintains a fundamental self control.

60.       - Ability to make a free choice in the light of true and authentic motives. This presupposes:

            a) sufficient interior and exterior psychological autonomy which makes the person independent of outside pressure and interiorly free, so as to be able to place his talents at the service of his project of life:

            b) the ability to take initiatives, which are thought out and coherent, making good use of freedom and accepting the consequent responsibilities. This presupposes an active, creative and persevering attitude, that is not blocked when faced by difficulties;

            c) a correct perception of one’s own worth, one’s limits, one’s emotions, impulses and tendencies, and at the same time a healthy self-confidence;

            d) an ability to make sacrifices even great ones when one’s own responsibilities, the needs of others, or of educative and pastoral service are at stake, without on this account giving way to negative frustration;

            e) interior freedom regarding one’s own family, so as not to limit the universal character of the Salesian vocation. 

61.       - Openness to others. This requirement sums up a whole series of attitudes which have as their common denominator the ability to relate to others on an adult level, free from infantile dependency or rebellion. This implies:

            a) communication: the art of conversation; openness to other people; capacity for sympathy, establishing and maintaining a relationship; the considered judgement  of the opinions of others; a capacity to overcome prejudices and emotional pressure;

            b) the capacity to open oneself: knowing how to express oneself and state one’s position, overcoming excessive reserve, knowing how to accept formation guidance;

            c) a sense of belonging: through which the person sees himself as an active member of a community and makes it and its mission his own;

            d) collaboration: this implies knowing how to work with everyone through a profound conviction and sense of duty, in a spirit of sharing and acceptance of authority;

            e) working in a team: the ability to know how to work  “with” and “for “ others, within a common project. Someone who develops in this area accepts being challenged, respects the opinion of others, shows loyalty in carrying out common decisions even when they are contrary to his own point of view.

62.       - Capacity for real personal love which is expressed through:

            a) familiarity, respect, concern, friendliness towards those with whom one lives;

            b) unconditional acceptance and esteem for everyone, overcoming rigid and defensive attitudes, genuinely giving of oneself, showing special concern for those most in need;

            c) mature affectivity, which unifies and directs the person’s energies in practical and significant ways; unselfish and creative service in the community and in the educational and pastoral mission, openness towards others in every situation;

            d) the ability to form and cultivate friendships;

            e) knowing how to take the first step towards others, the ability to forgive;

            f) knowing how to accept genuine expressions of affection, the ability to “make oneself loved” according to the style of Don Bosco’s Preventive System; knowing how to show affection freely in the context of the community and educative mission.

B. Difficulties and counter-indications to be evaluated


63.       Psychological and relational counter-indications need to be identified and followed up with particular care. Those should be considered the subject of absolute counter-indications  who from the close observation of the specially trained formation personnel, carried out in the everyday circumstances of life, and on the basis of an appropriate psychological diagnosis, manifest personality disorders  which reach  the level of serious psychopathology.[64] A careful and professional evaluation is essential to decide whether the personality traits present in an accentuated  form constitute personality disorders, permanent expressions of interior experience and behaviour, which make someone unsuited for Salesian life. 

64.       In the area of relationships there are some signs of immaturity, which make it very doubtful that the candidate has the necessary gifts to be a Salesian. The following attitudes or habits can be considered absolute or relative counter-indications depending on the way in which they are found in the personality and how deep seated they are:[65]

            a) an idealized view of oneself and a lack of self-criticism; excessive care for oneself and one’s physical appearance; or else an exaggerated lack of self confidence; excessive seeking for attention, or else, on the contrary, a fear of attracting attention to oneself on account of an evasive attitude in the face of changing situations;

            b) being habitually closed towards others, lacking in contact with and understanding of others; insensitivity to one’s own surroundings, to society and to the Church;

            c) lack of sincerity and openness, in keeping one’s word, inconsistency between words and deeds;

            d) lack of docility, a habit of non-conformity, a constant attitude of confrontation “contradictory spirit” excessive tendency to independence; or else, an excessive dependence on the surroundings, on the family, on the group, on other people;

            e) notable difficulty in relating to the group or to the wider world of young people, the inability to forge an educative relationship;

            f) inability to work in a team and to collaborate with loyalty in common projects; inability to take on responsibility and to bring projects to a conclusion; individualism in reflection and in activity; lack of a sense of friendship;

            g) constant fluctuations, lack of self-control; lack of balance and exaggerations, the characteristics of persons who are excessively mortified with a purely external virtue which does not come from a love of goodness and leads to the suspicion of an interior constraint deriving from fear, anxiety, inferiority, the need to demonstrate something  to oneself or to others;

            h) a possessive attitude towards people and things; envy, jealousy; an abnormal attitude towards material possessions, excessive need for them and a lack of understanding of their use as means to an end. AFFECTIVE-SEXUAL MATURITY

A. General suggestions for discernment

65.       The area of affective-sexual maturity has a profound influence on the development of religious life in general and on the practice of celibacy in particular. To judge the affective-sexual maturity of  a person and the consequent suitability for the Salesian religious life and the practice of celibacy requires a complex discernment process which considers at some depth three aspects: the personality structure and the whole life experience, the comparison between the personal characteristics and the charism of the Congregation, the setting in which the Salesian mission to youth is carried out.

66.       First of all, the discernment regarding affective-sexual maturity considers the overall personality structure  and the whole life experience. Taken into account should be the temperament, the affective atmosphere in the family, the childhood history, the strength of will, the motives, the control of guilt feelings, sincere piety, the results achieved.

            The serenity and the equilibrium of the candidate augurs well for a positive judgement. On the other hand, psychological disorders, moral weakness over a period of time, actual light-headed behaviour with other people (men, women, young people) possible anxiety or scruples, raise serious questions about the real possibility of a successful outcome.

            Often in people with failures in the area of chastity it is not that there is a “sexual problem” but a much wider personality problem. In fact, affective-sexual disorders can be the tip of the iceberg of  more deep personal disturbances. On the other hand, many personal disorders, such as certain possessive attitudes, a certain harshness in judgements or the taking of extreme positions, and also certain unusual forms of spirituality,  quite frequently are only the external manifestations of affective-sexual repression or defects.

            Therefore, in this area, it is necessary to identify the motives behind a person’s actions, for example selfishness, a closing in on oneself, a habit of day dreaming, avoiding the everyday tasks, looking for immediate satisfaction, isolation instead of making contacts, fear which prevents the implementation of a plan.

            The work of formation will concentrate on the fundamental motives for manifestations of immaturity in order to provide the person with the right and successful guidance.

67.       In the second place,  discernment compares the personality structure and life experience with the project of life of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Salesian identity is the fundamental formation criterion for someone who wishes to enter the Congregation.

            It is necessary to discover in the candidates the appropriate sexual identification and the presence of the required affective-sexual fitness in order to adopt the Salesian vocation with serenity and coherence. It is a question of an absolutely basic requirement for someone who is called to live a chaste life in the educative mission and to express it in the style of the Preventive System, which consists in loving kindness and openness.

            Weaknesses in past life in fact can prevent the personal adoption of Salesian vocational values; hence, they need to be the object of special attention. Only with difficulty, at the time of their request to enter, are these same individuals aware of the real significance of their previous experience for the successful outcome of their vocation.

            On the other hand, as the Constitutions point out, “the educational and pastoral demands of our mission and the fact that the observance of perfect continence touches some of the deepest drives of human nature require of the Salesian psychological balance and affective maturity. Don Bosco used to warn: Whoever has not a well-grounded hope of being able, with divine help, to preserve the virtue of chastity in word, in deed and in thought, should not make profession in this Society, for he would often find himself in danger.”[66]      

68.       In the third place, discernment takes account of  the setting in which the Salesian has to carry out his mission. In fact, the context of youth education and pastoral relationships present special requirements in the area of affective-sexual maturity. It is important to be sure about  the ability to live in social situations “open” to the feminine world and to “co-education” - already commonplace in Salesian pastoral practice. At the same time it is necessary to bear in mind that a Salesian’s experience is centred in male communities and that boys and youths are those to whom the mission of the Congregation is principally directed.

B. Difficulties and counter-indications to be evaluated


69.       In the area of affective-sexual maturity, discernment needs to ascertain in the personality and in the previous experience of the subject the existence or otherwise of situations or factors that could raise problems from the point of view of formation, or could be considered counter-indications from the vocational standpoint.

            While not constituting an absolute counter-indication in the judgement of the Church, some situations  need to be  evaluated in themselves and also in relation to future commitments, since they may reveal an inability to live Salesian life fully.

            It will be the task of discernment, with the help where necessary of specialist assistance, to clarify whether such situations or conditions can be changed by the formation experience or by psychotherapeutic measures, so as to make possible a response to the requirements of the Salesian vocation, and the integration of sexuality with regard to chastity.

            In any case, those responsible for formation will give the necessary weight  to these aspects, they will devote the time and seek the appropriate means to understand and evaluate them.

a. Relative or absolute counter-indications on the basis of discernment   

Different personal situations and attitudes


70.       In the area of affective-sexual maturity, the following situations should be considered relative or absolute counter-indications depending on whether or not they can be overcome:

            a) certain closed and apparently insensitive temperaments, very self-controlled and extremely harsh in their judgements of others, who in reality are fundamentally repressed;

            b) habitual over-sensitivity, constantly in need of giving and receiving signs of affection, as also excessive affective attachments;

            c) heightened sensuality, in whatever form it shows itself, also as laziness, greed; excessive sexual interest, even though there are no formal failures, unhealthy  introspection[67]  

            d) in the immediate area of sexuality: contempt for all its forms, fear of the feminine world or misogynist tendencies, or else more frequently, the idealization of marriage and excessive heterosexual attraction;

            e) heterosexual tendencies not controlled and the inclination to accept, or worse, to create imprudent and risky situations with women or girls and consequently of scandal.

Experiences prior to beginning the formation process


71.       Full sexual experience that took place before the beginning of the Salesian formation process requires careful discernment. Formation guidance will need to throw light on the effect that such an experience has had on the candidate and to evaluate his ability to integrate it sincerely and responsibly in the context of consecrated chastity. This presupposes:

            1) an analysis of the person’s overall background, of the strengths he has and of the influence of such events on his current experience;

            2) the recognition of the openness and frankness shown towards his own spiritual director and those responsible for vocational discernment,  of the spirit of faith demonstrated in personal and community prayer, in the capacity for personal sacrifice and mortification, in the authenticity of his motives. If these conditions do not exist, there does not seem to be any purpose in continuing the discernment process with the candidate;

            3) the “timing” of the experience deserves special attention: the period in life in which the relationships occurred (in infancy – being a victim of violence - , adolescence or as an adult); the length of time and frequency with which they took place; the time passed since they last occurred;

            4) to have any hope of integration it is necessary to ascertain over a long period of time  a complete commitment and firmness of purpose. Evident signs of self indulgence are never positive: in people with this background they can become serious counter-indications and it is not worthwhile prolonging the discernment;

            5) in the case of converts it is important to ascertain whether the sexual relations took place before or after baptism.

A particular problem: masturbation

72.       In the affective-sexual area a particular problem to be dealt with according to serious criteria and with uptodate methods is that of masturbation.

In the face of this phenomenon, the latest Church documents insist on the necessity of considering it not as a fact in itself, but rather as a phenomenon that is symptomatic and to be considered within the  context of the whole personality, of its history and of the stage of development in which each one finds himself; considering the situation of the subject in its totality, not only using the criteria of timing and objectivity, but concentrating on the causes which provoke it and on the circumstances in which it is practised. In spite of the objective gravity of masturbation, great prudence is required in order to establish a person’s subjective responsibility.[68]  From this it follows that careful and serious evaluation is needed, while at the same time it is difficult to provide objective norms that are universally applicable.

73.       In practice, the problem is to be judged on the basis of the following elements of evaluation:   

            1) the person’s human qualities and strengths, affective–sexual maturity as shown in other ways, personal equilibrium or a tendency to a general sense of frustration;

            2) the quality of spiritual life, openness to formation guidance, responsibility in practising the traditional methods of spiritual growth (spiritual direction, prayer, the sacraments, asceticism; the decision to avoid the “proximate occasions”;

            3) the causes, which provoke the phenomenon, which may be related to an aggressive nature, a self-image or dependence on others, or to the nature of relationships in the community;[69]

            4) the situations which accompany the act, which provide different personal explanations  for masturbation such as: relief from anxiety and tension, filling in an emptiness in life or simply a relief, that is often not directly willed, from unprovoked physiological tensions;

            5) the intensity or frequency of the phenomenon, perseverance in the effort to overcome it, and the time of actual success in doing so.

74.       An overall view will allow for an objective evaluation of the possible future significance that certain features in the sexual area may have, either at the level of the act or at the level of the instinctive urge and an obsessive imagination. For a prudent judgement in this regard, it is necessary to bear in mind some factors which help to put the significance of the act of masturbation into the context of the person’s life experience: its precocious appearance in a young person’s life, its continuation and persistence beyond adolescence, its repetitive nature, its late disappearance, its obsessive character, the fantasies  which accompany it  etc. but also the total absence of such phenomena. A complete absence of the tendency  during adolescence and afterwards cannot be considered in itself a sure sign of normality.

            These are all circumstances which suggest great prudence on the part of those who have to give advice, assess whether the candidate offers a firm hope of success within a reasonable time, express a judgement or make a forecast regarding a life of consecrated celibacy lived with fidelity, freedom and serenity.  In this area it not only a question of asking oneself whether the person one is forming shows good will. It is necessary to look for the signs of God’s will in the person’s nature and psychology and in his past experience, in view of the obligations and the form of his future life.

b. Absolute counter-indications   

75.       Some situations, events or habits which of their very nature constitute a serious and absolute counter-indication for the Salesian vocation need to be highlighted from the very beginning of discernment, especially when it is a question of adult candidates:

            a) The fact of having been the active partner in a situation of pederasty or pedophilia, or of having assisted in any way in the sexual exploitation of children, adolescents or young people of either sex. In addition, independently of the actual conduct, the occurrence of such activities (that in many countries following accusations are open to criminal proceedings, without any time limit) constitutes a serious danger to the good of young people, to the practice of our style of consecrated chastity and to the good name of the Congregation.

            In accordance with the legislation of different countries, when it is considered necessary,  a request for a “declaration of innocence”  should be made of the candidate with regard to this kind of behaviour.

            The possibly isolated instance of an act committed during adolescence with other minors is not being taken into consideration here.

            b) Acts of sexual perversion: acts of incest; violent or sexual abuse committed against others; work or involvement in the field of pornography or immoral spectacles; the exercise or exploitation of prostitution…

c) More or less protracted cohabitation implying sexual activity; separation or divorce (even only in the civil court).

76.       d) The “peccato grave cum alio/a” after admission to the Salesian formation process is an absolute counter-indication.

            Into this category fall those serious acts, which are sought or willed with evil intent, even more so if they are deliberately repeated. Such acts create an interior moral divide marked by the  co-existence of parallel contradictory ways of acting (the “double life”) and therefore it is necessary to act strictly according to the norm. If it is a question of a prenovice, a novice or someone temporarily professed he should be sent away or dismissed. If it is a deacon he should seriously consider presenting a request for a dispensation.

                A different approach is required for cases of isolated acts, in themselves grave which have not provoked scandal and which, being isolated and especially if the result of ingenuousness, inexperience or of being deceived, are accompanied by an acknowledgement and the will to change in the one concerned. A serious and careful assessment can lead to the recognition of the possibility of a genuine recovery.

c. Vocational discernment and homosexuality 

77.       Following on from this we spell out the criteria, which guide Salesian vocation discernment with regard to homosexuality, both the tendency or condition, and homosexual acts. These situations are not being considered here from the moral or educational and pastoral point of view but specifically from the perspective of discernment of suitability for the Salesian vocation, bearing in mind the intrinsic dignity of every person[70] and the special needs of the consecrated project of life and of the Salesian mission.

            The complex phenomenon of homosexuality includes people “who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex.”[71]

            The Church distinguishes between the homosexual tendency or condition and its practice[72]; defends homosexual people, “called to fulfil God’s will in their lives” from “every sign of unjust discrimination,”[73] while condemning homosexual acts.[74] In spite of this, the Church insists that “there are situations in which taking account of sexual orientation is not unjust discrimination”[75] and invites religious institutes to adopt and to explain “the reasons which justify the fact of turning away from religious life those who do not succeed in controlling their homosexual tendencies.”[76]


            For us the evaluation needs to be referred specifically to the vocation to Salesian consecrated life, which requires a particular capacity of maturity, equilibrium and self denial in the affective-sexual area, also from those who have normal heterosexual tendencies. However, on account of its particular characteristics this vocation implies special requirements with regard to homosexuality. It is a question in fact of a vocation- mission that is lived in male communities, that leads to constant contact with poor youth, preferentially male, in need of attention and affection, in a family style and an educational method, which is expressed through loving kindness, the ability to make oneself loved and to show love. 

            In its community aspect and in its educative and pastoral expression, Salesian experience teaches us how difficult it is for a person with a homosexual tendency or condition to respond with equilibrium, serenity and coherence  to the requirements of the project of life of the Salesian Congregation.  Therefore in the discernment regarding homosexuality a serious and searching evaluation is essential on behalf of the Congregation which has to safeguard its genuine testimony, and on behalf of the candidate to whom one provides a real service in freeing him from having to adopt a way of life that would require from him an extraordinary effort of control and equilibrium.   

78.       In particular, in the question of homosexuality, the following constitute an absolute counter-indication for the Salesian life:

            a) Homosexual habits and homosexual acts which take place after the beginning of the Salesian formation process. For this second case, the criteria mentioned above apply.[77]

            Not to be included in these cases are those occasional expressions of homosexuality, attachments, short-term signs of immaturity etc. that are considered capable of being overcome in the normal formation process. As regards admissions, there should be careful consideration of the time passed, the successful integration of the incidents, the equilibrium and control achieved   (in understanding and criteria, in religious motives, maturity in relationships etc )

79.       b) The homosexual tendency or condition which with professional help is identified  as forming part of the structure of the personality. One is dealing with the tendency alone, without homosexual acts or habits.

            In itself, it can be controlled with training,[78]    and it does not necessarily lead to homosexual activity or to attitudes, which undermine the sexual identity. However, such a tendency often makes it very difficult for an individual to establish and maintain a Salesian educational and pastoral approach  toward male youth. Often the homosexual condition leads to a loss of equilibrium in educational relationships and can lead to a psychological wearing down of the person.

            In the Salesian educational and pastoral setting the homosexual style of life finds occasions of hyperstimulation and situations that can lead to close and immature ties with the risk of a certain unhealthy attitude in relating to young people. These things can easily become public and therefore threaten the image of the Congregation and the effectiveness of its witness.

            We are not considering in these cases the fear of homosexuality that in places marked by the absence of girls can afflict youngsters who are in particularly insecure situations: rather, such a fear can indicate a general fragility or a weak identity, or point to times of definition or transition. The work of formation in these cases will concentrate on the real motives of the phenomenon.

2.3.2        The spiritual area             SOME ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

80.       We mention some attitudes, conditions, situations that allow for the assessment of the spiritual suitability of candidates for Salesian religious life. Their development depends  on the action of the Spirit and on a constant commitment to formation.

            We group them around the following central points: Christian life and Salesian features, community life, the evangelical councils, signs of a specific vocation.

A: Christian life and  Salesian features


81.       With regard to a relationship with Christ, the decision for Him and for following Him to build the Kingdom, in accordance with Don Bosco’s charism, the following aspects should be assessed and cultivated:

            a) a faith-filled attitude, characterized by the listening to the Word taken as the criterion of life;

            b) a rapport of friendship and intimacy with the Lord, expressed in the central place given to the Eucharist, in celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation, in faithful attendance at community prayer, in fidelity to times of personal prayer and to the devotional practices proper to the Salesian vocation;

            c) identification with  da mihi animas cetera tolle, put into practice with apostolic zeal for the young, with a readiness to respond to the challenges of the apostolate, with a  spirit of sacrifice;

            d) openness to formation guidance, constancy in the practice of spiritual direction and collaboration in the work of discernment;

            e) a conscious choice and a decision to build one’s own life around the values of Salesian consecration, witnessed to in coherent action;

            f) growth in human and Christian virtues and in the pedagogical and pastoral approaches proper to the Preventive System;

            g) an adequate knowledge of Don Bosco and a positive experience of Salesian life;

            h) a sense of the Church, which is seen in pastoral communion, in following the magisterium, in involvement in the local Church, according to personal capabilities and the charism of the Congregation.

B. Community life


82.       With regard to “Salesian community life” besides the elements indicated in the areas of capacity for relationships, the following pointers should be assessed:

            a) a clear reference to the brotherly style wished by Don Bosco in daily living and in working practice; relating to one’s own community and to the Province when making decisions and plans; a sense of belonging to the Congregation and to the Salesian Family;

            b) an attitude of acceptance and cordiality in relationships, according to the family spirit; the ability to share one’s vocational experience and to attend to the processes and dynamics of living in community;

            c) the ability to live and work together with confreres and to take up a community project with loyalty and generosity;

            d) showing personal responsibility in carrying out the tasks assigned without the need for a continual push, using one’s own gifts and accepting one’s own limitations;

e) exercising co-responsibility in the educative and pastoral community, appreciating other peoples’ contributions and respecting their roles.

C. The evangelical councils


83.       With regard to the “evangelical councils” the following can be considered as indicating suitability for the Salesian life:

            a) a positive attitude in the area of interpersonal relationships; adopting the community project and working with a vision and mentality of collaboration;

            b) a free and serene acceptance of authority in a positive openness  to obedience, free from either a passive dependence or systematic opposition;

            c) a spirit of initiative and a capacity for work; taking care of the goods of the community and of the work; an ability to share talents and skills, gifts and means; a social understanding of goods and services;

            d) a right understanding of the Salesian approach to an austerity in personal and community life and the provision of quality equipment and means for an efficient service;

            e) an effective dependence on the community and the superior, ability to share goods received, sobriety in the style of life and in the use of personal things; a sense of responsibility and care of material things;

            f) the ability to love the people with whom one is living in a genuine way, with a preferential love for the young people towards whom the mission is directed, to live a life of friendship  in a serene, mature manner that is consistent with the vocation;

            g) an attitude of esteem, respect and prudence towards women with a straightforward attitude of self-control and emotional equilibrium; natural spontaneity in showing affection in keeping with one’s choice of consecrated life.

D. Signs of a specific vocation


84.       The criteria for discernment so far spelled out are valid for all Salesians. However, since the whole life of a confrere is marked  by a specific vocation, his lay or clerical state constitutes a permanent perspective for vocational discernment.  It is therefore opportune to indicate some of the particular signs, in the knowledge that one is dealing with some that are specific but not exclusive.

85.       Signs, which lead to identify the vocation of  a Salesian brother 

            On account of his lay consecrated state, the Salesian brother is at one and the same time a sign of the secular dimension of the Church and of the values of consecration; for the Salesian community, the Educative Pastoral Community and the Church, he is a living pointer to the values of the secular dimension of the world and of history.

            The lay state must not be considered as something negative – not wanting or not being able to become a Salesian priest or deacon – nor should it be reduced to a service or simple role.[79]In the first place it does not refer to what the brother wants to do or can do, but to how he ought to be in what he does. His way of living  the Salesian vocation, his approach to the mission, his role in the Salesian community[80] and in the educative community, require certain attitudes and some specific characteristics:

86.       a) to feel called to live all the Salesian values as a consecrated lay person, which implies:

            - responding to the will of God, placing himself at His service and achieving his own sanctification as a lay religious: a response expressed in the witness of the “good Christian” lived in the consecrated life;

            - accepting this specific vocation as an “original” way of being himself, with its riches and the diversity of its roles, which fulfils not limits his own aspirations, and appreciating what this means on the spiritual, community and pastoral levels;

            - being aware of and taking up the commitment of living in the Congregation with Salesian priests “as brothers who complement each other in living out the same vocation”[81] and open to creative collaboration in the mission.[82]

            b) preparing himself to be able of carry out the mission of educator and pastor of the young in a lay spirit, cultivating the gifts and acquiring the skills necessary in order to provide services  and dedicate himself in the professional, social and cultural fields which are more in tune with the identity of the Salesian brother;

c) educating himself to a style of  initiative and practicality cultivating:

- his closeness to the world and concern for human problems, interest in the world of work and sensitivity to the local area, readiness to offer his services;

- a professional approach, aware that every job is necessary, a serious approach to planning, the ability to collaborate;

- an esteem and a liking for manual and technical work, but also an appreciation for intellectual work and a readiness to profit from it;

- sharing the spirit and the mission of other members of the Educative and Pastoral Community and of the Salesian Family, according to his own identity as a Salesian brother.

87        Signs that lead to discerning the vocation of the Salesian priest[83]

            The following features which should characterize the Salesian directed towards the priesthood and beginning to model himself on Christ the Priest after the example of Don Bosco need to be particularly evident:

            a) feeling himself to be called to a spiritual experience of union with Christ, characterized by a personal identification with the ministry and work of Don Bosco the priest, the father and teacher of youth;

            b) making his own the Salesian style of the priestly ministry in the mission to youth; a ministry lived in an educational perspective, according to a community project, realized in different activities and carried out in the fulfilment of complementary roles;

            c) living and cultivating those forms of the priestly ministry to be exercised with Salesian criteria, methods and spirit, the radical nature of da mihi animas and the style of the Preventive System on behalf of those we serve;

            d) living the life and mission in communion and collaboration with brother confreres, and with the ability to animate, exercising the ministry in the context of the Educative and Pastoral Community and the Salesian Family;

            e) bearing witness, according to the Salesian charism, to love for the Church, in pastoral communion, in docility to the Pope and the Bishops, participating in the life of the diocese and being available for the wider mission. MOTIVES AND THE RIGHT INTENTION

88.       Some one who feels called to the Salesian vocation and asks to be admitted,  hopes to choose a style of life and a set of values that he considers to be in tune with himself and his aspirations.

            The first step in vocational discernment  consists in verifying the presence of the appropriate  requirements  and the absence of counter-indications. All the same, even if these are important and necessary signs in discovering a genuine call from God, they are not enough.

89.       It is necessary to go further, to identify and to assess the source of this inclination, of this orientation. It is necessary to understand what is the foundation of this choice and  what gives it consistency:  what are the needs, the desires or interests, what are the positive or negative dynamics, internal or external to be found there. In a word, it is necessary to identify the deepest motives for the vocational choice. The formation process will contribute to making it adequate, true and genuine so as to arrive at the fundamental positive sign, the right intention.

90.       The right intention is the clear and decisive desire to offer oneself entirely to the Lord, to belong to Him and to serve Him in one’s neighbour according to the Salesian vocation. It is the sincere, well-motivated will that is expressed and shown through an authentic way of living and total openness to formation. The right intention is very different from a simple natural attraction or a generous desire for service, from other aspects of the Salesian vocation, also important, such as  for example a liking for being with young people, educational work, a social role. The supernatural intention is the commitment of the whole person illuminated by faith. It is the offering of oneself for a mission perceived as being from the hand of God, through the  Church, and accepted as such. 

            An interest and an inclination that are genuine and directed towards the Salesian mission and a true supernatural motive are the essential components of a right intention. It is the most characteristic and indispensable sign of a vocation that provides a solid foundation for the other elements of suitability.

91.       The discernment of motives is a determining factor of the formation process. Motives are complex and to a large extent unconscious  just as a person is complex in the way the physiological, the psychological (conscious and unconscious), the spiritual and grace all form a whole.

            For the discernment and evaluation of motives it is well to distinguish different kinds and levels. One can speak of motives being:

            - conscious and unconscious: those which the subject manifests in his words and believes he has, and those for which he acts and lives, while not being aware of them;

            - dominant or simply present: those which in fact direct a person towards certain choices, and those which accompany the choices without being decisìve;

            - convergent and divergent: those which are consistent with the vocational inclination, as for example, a personal desire to work for young people, and the desire to give oneself totally to God in building the Kingdom; or on the other hand, divergent motives which produce in inner inconsistency, such as the desire to become a religious and the plan to climb up the social ladder;

            - genuine or apparent, adequate or inadequate, valid or invalid: those which have been  interiorized or those which are only apparently adopted by the subject; those which lead the subject towards other people and their well-being, and which  direct the whole person towards God, His kingdom, His plan, or else those which centre on the subject, on satisfying his needs or his desires.

92.       Discernment ought to be able to distinguish the quality of the motives:

            a) A genuine, adequate valid motive is based on essentially religious values, on the love of God and one’s neighbour, and succeeds in directing the energies of the subject towards these ends. It can be recognized by the consistency between the values expressed and the life lived, by the serenity and the joy with which the candidate lives his daily life.

            It is the specific motive that coincides with the “right intention”: it is the fundamental motive which touches the essence of the vocation. Such a motive is capable of  purifying, unifying  and consolidating other conscious and unconscious motives.

            To identify a vocation successfully, discernment and the formation process need to ascertain whether the candidate has  a genuine motive, or whether he is capable of acquiring one through the normal formation process.

            b) An inadequate motive is based on sound values which are appropriate in a vocation but are not fundamental and are, to a certain extent, marginal or peripheral, such as the pleasure at the success achieved in teaching, the enjoyment of youth work,  the satisfaction in using one’s abilities in a significant way, helping the poor, a taste for social work, a passion for study, the pleasure of a life of friendship.

            When these motives, valid in themselves, are seen to be dominant, without the presence of purifying or integrating supernatural ones, they are not sufficient as the basis of a consecrated life nor of fidelity to it. They will fade away if they are not solidly and firmly rooted  in a sense of being called to bear witness to the primacy of God and accepting the central place of Christ in the planning of ones own life.[84] With the help of formation they can be purified and integrated with genuine religious motives.

            c) An invalid motive,  even though it may appear externally religious, in reality  is based on a multiplicity of subjective needs and interests, such as the need for security, self affirmation, a seeking for affection, and is incapable of providing the necessary support for a vocational choice, the formation process or perseverance.

93.           Establishing a genuine motive is always a delicate task. Motives are never in a pure state. Once the sincerity of the candidate has been established and  any false conscience excluded one cannot presume the existence of the right intention. One may find a whole variety of  motives that clearly belong to the sphere of the unconscious.

            By means of discernment, therefore, one should discover the conscious, and in so far as is possible, the unconscious motives too, making use of  the help that the human sciences offer, especially when the person has not reached a good level of integration. It is a question of understanding the person’s fundamental attitude, his values, needs, weaknesses and those aspects which though positive in themselves can, however, hide defensive mechanisms.

            It is equally necessary to determine which are the dominant motives and which are merely present, and to what extent they converge, and above all whether they are genuine  or not.

            Hence what is required is the commitment of the candidate and the profound personal experience of the direction and the spiritual guidance  of someone who has sensitivity and a capacity for discernment.

            Understanding and evaluation of the motives is in a special way the task of the spiritual director and the confrere himself, even though the members of the Council cannot lose sight of this element of capital importance.

94.       As regards formation activity one should be aware that motives  lend themselves to growth in maturity and a gradual and continuous purification. Often the candidate begins showing as the dominant motive one which is inadequate, but which the formation process helps to transform, pointing it in a more authentic direction. A process which emphasises the commitment of the subject in vocational  response and growth helps in this. Those responsible for formation at this level rather than  by any direct intervention can be influential in creating an atmosphere which fosters self-knowledge and the appreciation of personal motives, and so encourage vocational authenticity.

            In this way formation leads the candidate gradually towards understanding, with greater clarity and depth, that it is the Lord who “calls,” and “motivates the choice” of service to young people in the Congregation.



A. Intelligence, reflective capacity and judgement


95.       Intellectual ability is not an isolated aspect of the personality. It is found within a context (temperament, mental outlook, environmental factors) and needs to be evaluated in that context.

            On the one hand, one needs to discover whether the candidate’s intellectual capacity is adequate and is integrated with the rest of his personality, whether it leads him to recognize his own limitations, to remedy the gaps through study and preparation.  One needs to find out whether he knows how to reason in order to examine himself and to acquire new ideas and succeed in making decisions correctly. It is necessary to discover whether one is dealing with an intelligence capable of  formulating ideas and of seeing connections.

On the other hand, it is important that the intelligence is proportionate and relative to the type of commitment that one lives in a Congregation called to an educative and pastoral mission, which is translated in a variety of ways and is carried out collaboratively through a variety of different roles and functions. It is not a question therefore of an ability to accumulate knowledge but rather of a sound capacity to think and discern and of skills to carry out the mission.

96.       It must be borne in mind that the inability to learn from life and also a mental closure and a lack of honesty in facing the truth are signs that can indicate psychological problem areas: fears, anxieties, and other various kinds of defensive mechanisms which prevent openness to others  and therefore make the person incapable of living the Salesian vocation.

            For this reason in discernment it is not sufficient to direct one’s attention solely to academic results. It is necessary to consider the practical intellectual capacity to understand and face up to everyday problems, and that sense of realism that leads one to avoid ingenuous idealizations.

            Someone who has not had great success in his studies may be quite capable of solving in a satisfactory manner practical problems, those concerned with people, and the prudent assessment of situations, demonstrating a good practical intelligence.

Someone who has been very successful in studies, on the other hand, can be an individual who is a trouble maker, who has difficulty in accepting a community plan, in being docile to the most simple but important requests and can become a systematic critic.

97.       It is a question of an aptitude that needs to be continually developed. It needs a constant will and an ability to concentrate, the presence of genuine cultural interests, a commitment to maintain the essence of the Salesian vocation as the criterion for directing one’s efforts and making choices in order  to update oneself and develop intellectually in those areas  of life that are emerging in youth culture.

98.          In brief, the intellectual capacity of the Salesian should be sufficient to complete the studies which correspond to future tasks (both for Salesian brothers and for those called to the priestly ministry) and to have a good knowledge of the nature of the vocation and of its requirements.[85]  It ought to include the  ability to reflect and to judge, such as is required by someone who is an educator and pastor, that is necessary to foster a cultural, formative and pastoral sensitivity, which enables him to live attentive to the signs of the times, to discern the voice of the Spirit and to acquire the ability to learn from life.[86]  

B. The necessary qualification


99.       Everyone ought to reach a level of studies that puts him in a position to fulfil a useful role in the community and carry out the Salesian educative and pastoral mission. For someone who is  beginning, the ability to acquire at least a professional qualification  should be ensured. During the formation process the Salesian should obtain the study qualifications laid down in the Provincial Formation Plan. According to the circumstances in which he was called and of his initial formation, the paper qualifications obtained can be different.

In order to be able to live and share Salesian values today and to carry out the Preventive System, it is necessary to have an adequate knowledge of Don Bosco and of his history, of the experience, reflections and guidelines of the Congregation and of the different groups of the Salesian Family.

In any case, it is essential to take advantage of the daily process of gaining experience through community dialogue, planning and carrying out the mission, guided and supported by personal and shared reflection, and an attitude of discernment. DIFFICULTIES AND COUNTER-INDICATIONS TO CONSIDER

100.     Some signs which can show the absence of suitability for Salesian life are:

            a) a lack of success in the studies necessary for our mission, as they are prescribed in the norms of the Church and the Salesian guidelines;

            b) a lack of commitment in preparing oneself in the way necessary for the role of animation and of responsibility which one should carry out;

            c) showing little interest in one’s own cultural and professional updating and a minimal dedication to study, attitudes which could lead to a sense of being sidelined and of inferiority and to superficiality in working;

            d) an activist and superficial style of life, that shows no interest in the quality of the experience and of the work, which does not know how to spend time on reflection, nor appreciate the opportunities for sharing and reflecting on the situation.

2.3.4    The educative-pastoral area             POSITIVE ASPECTS AND REQUIREMENTS TO CONSIDER

101.     The qualities appropriate to a Salesian educator and pastor are signs of suitability to be assessed and cultivated during formation. In particular the following should be noted:

            a) a special concern for poor and abandoned youth and for working class areas;  solidarity, the capacity to keep in touch with the youth scene and to “incarnate oneself” in unfamiliar settings;

            b) an aptitude for accepting and appreciating the values of one’s own time; the capacity for a critical understanding of the languages of social communication, for contact with cultural situations, and for openness to new ideas;

            c) the ability to undertake the Salesian mission for serious reasons of faith, as a true spiritual experience, integrating spirituality and pastoral activity, education and evangelization, translating pastoral zeal into initiatives, generosity and sacrifice;

            d) possessing an adequate pastoral sense, and accepting the Preventive System as a method and a spirituality; the ability to bear witness through a set of values in harmony with the Salesian educative and pastoral project;

            e) educative and pastoral competence which involves considerable detailed knowledge, in particular about Salesian youth ministry, the acquisition of practical skills, and the pursuit of qualifications. The best expression of this research is the constant attention to educational problems, to different forms of communication and to new ways of proclaiming the Word to young people;

            f) the capacity to animate and to guide individuals and groups, promoting a human and Christian programme of  high quality;

            g) a community sense of the provincial and local mission, demonstrated through participation in the planning (SEPP), through respect for the common programme and reference to those responsible, collaborating in its execution, in a positive relationship with laypeople and members of the Salesian Family;

            h) the habit of reflection on praxis, on the basis of the teaching and directives of the Church, of the criteria of pastoral theory and of the guidelines of Salesian Pastoral Ministry;

            i) living the mission as a formation journey.            DIFFICULTIES AND COUNTER-INDICATIONS TO CONSIDER

102.     The counter-indications can be identified in the lack of or the non-harmonious development of the elements mentioned above:    

            a) little sensitivity for or interest in those to whom our mission is particularly directed, and slight attention to local culture and one’s own locality;

            b) superficiality in educative and pastoral practice; purely material execution of educational and pastoral activities, without constant reflection and analysis; little attention given to the pastoral guidelines of the Church and of the Congregation;

            c) difficulty in incarnating the Preventive System as the permanent criterion of life and action; a secularized view of educational and pastoral activity, based on working practices without the vitality of da mihi animas; or a view which does not integrate the educative dimension;

            d) individualism in the apostolate, the lack of communication with other workers and those responsible for the common mission, a weak presence in the educative and pastoral community;

e)      lack of commitment to becoming qualified for the mission.



103.     The significance and the importance of the admissions in the long and delicate process of vocational discernment have already been highlighted. They are times of synthesis and of special responsibility in decision-making, and offer a valid pedagogical help in the guidance of the candidate towards a response that is more convinced and mature. For this reason, the admissions ought to be seen in the perspective  of a process in which it is necessary to distinguish clearly between the process of growing in maturity  and being  unsuited to Salesian religious life,[87] between the basic criteria and the criteria for growth.

            The consequences for the candidate and for the community that the admissions have, demand that the decisions are based on positive elements, as the Constitutions explicitly state.[88]  It is the primary responsibility of the one who admits to ensure that the conditions necessary for a genuine vocational experience are in place; when there is doubt regarding suitability, prudence and experience counsel against proceeding with the admission.[89]

            In the admissions, as in the process of discernment, one needs to keep in mind the two expressions of the single Salesian vocation, that of the Salesian brother and that of the Salesian priest.


104.     We do not repeat here what was said regarding the nature, the conditions and the criteria of discernment. We direct out attention specifically to the admissions and to the judgement regarding the vocational suitability of confreres in initial formation.

3.1.1    The application


            Admission follows the application freely made by the candidate.[90] The admission is not a step that is taken automatically, as the conclusion of a period of formation or at a fixed date in the calendar. What is said in the Constitutions about perpetual profession analogously applies to every stage of formation: the candidate makes his application “when he has reached the level of  Salesian maturity commensurate with the importance of such a step.”[91]

            An application is required for admission to the novitiate, to temporary or perpetual profession, to the ministries, to the diaconate and to the priesthood. The Ratio also mentions other types of applications such as those for the prenovitiate, for the specific formation of candidates to the priesthood, and for preparation for perpetual profession  which are of a different kind.[92]

105.     While respecting its personal nature, the application addressed to the Provincial and given to the Rector, should contain the following elements:

- the name and surname of the applicant and the date on which it is made;

- reference to talking with the Rector and to his agreement with its being made;

- reference to the discernment undertaken and to seeking the opinion of the spiritual director and of the confessor;

- the purpose of the application, clearly expressed, that is: entrance to the novitiate, the first temporary profession or its renewal, perpetual profession, the ministries or the orders;

- a declaration of awareness of the public nature of the act that one intends to perform and of the freedom to  perform it, together with the fundamental motive.

3.1.2    Those responsible

106.     Those responsible for the admissions, at different levels, are the Provincial with his Council and the Rector with his Council. The Constitutions state: “Admission to the novitiate, to temporary or perpetual profession, to the ministries and to sacred orders, is made by the Provincial with the consent of his Council, after hearing the opinion of the Rector of the community with his Council.”[93] 

            Juridical responsibility for the admissions belongs therefore to the Provincial, to the Rector and to their Councils, to each according to their proper consultative or deliberative competence. Through discernment and the admissions they accept the juridical and moral responsibility connected with their role. It is essential that they ensure that there are opportunities for dialogue to foster a sharing of criteria and to avoid differences or disagreements in their evaluations and decisions. 

107.     The application is considered at two levels: by the Council of the house to which he belongs, and the provincial Council on which the community depends.

            At local level, the Rector and the members of his Council, who ordinarily have the closest contact with the candidate and direct knowledge of his vocational situation, are called upon to give their own opinion and their consultative vote. The Rector also takes part in the vote, and the majority is to be calculated on the basis of the number of those present.

108.     At provincial level, the Constitutions state: “The Provincial must have the consent of his Council in the following cases: admissions to the novitiate, to profession, to ministries and to sacred ordinations”[94]

The members of the provincial Council cannot simply defer to the judgement of the Council of the community. They must form a personal opinion of the candidates, if possible direct; they seek to know them and follow their preparation, making use of those forms of contact and  acquaintance which will enable them to give a judgement that is motivated and  based on knowledge. In this task, a careful consideration of the judgement of the Council of the local community and comparison with the observations made at previous admissions will be decisive, in order to assess the progress made and the maturity attained. In the face of possible doubts, they should strive to arrive at a better understanding of the situation through dialogue and the addition of further information. It would not be prudent to limit oneself to simply voting as the Council of the community voted.

109.     The admission strictly so called is the formal act of the Provincial.[95]    As regards the vote for admission, the relationship between the Provincial and the Council follows these norms:

            - if the consent of the Council is necessary (as is the case for admission to the novitiate, to profession, to the ministries and to orders) the obligation of the superior to follow the vote expressed means that he may not admit a candidate for whom the Council voted negatively. However, he is not obliged to admit a candidate for whom the Council voted positively. He may refuse admission  in a case in which there is a grave cause of which he is aware;

            - if the opinion of the Council is asked for, for validity the Provincial must hear the opinion of all the Councillors. Then, whether they are favourable or not, he may act with complete autonomy according to his own conscience. However, he should not discount their opinion, especially if it be unanimous, without a grave motive.

110.     In the vote of the Council the majority is calculated based on the number present (not the number of valid votes) remembering that the Provincial does not vote. If the votes are equal the Provincial may not proceed.[96]

            No member of the local or provincial Council should give way to force or pressure of any kind or coming from any source when it is a question of giving one’s own vote about the suitability of a candidate.

            In all these matters, the obligation of secrecy must be kept in mind.

3.1.3    The procedure

111.     In the pattern for admission the following tried and tested stages should be followed allowing for different situations.

            - a talk with the Rector (confessor and spiritual director) and the  submission of the application;

            - the opinion of the community;[97]

            - the opinion of the Provincial of origin and his Council (for someone outside his own province);[98]

            - the opinion and vote of the Rector of the community and his Council;

            - the deliberative vote of the competent provincial Council and the admission by the Provincial.[99]



112 In the admission to the novitiate, careful consideration should be given to the variety of situations from which the candidates come and the personal experiences they bring with them, such as their age, studies, life experience, family situation, their Christian life and knowledge of Salesian life etc.

            In applying the criteria proposed which regard attitudes and dispositions, motives and counter-indications, consideration should be given to the objectives of this phase of formation and hence the suitability and maturity this requires. As far a suitability is concerned, it is important that “In collaboration with the candidate himself, that information and those documents must be collected that serve to reveal the signs of a true Salesian vocation and its possible counter-indications.[100] The medical checks prescribed in the Ratio and the Provincial Directory  should be carried out.[101]

            Some of the requirements judged necessary for admission to the novitiate should also be borne in mind for admission to this phase (cfr e.g. situations which would make admission to the novitiate invalid).[102]

            “Only when the candidate has made his option for the Salesian life (initial option, naturally) has he begun his immediate preparation for the novitiate.”[103]



3.3.1    Aptitude for Salesian life

113      Admission to the novitiate means that the candidate is judged to be suitable to begin the Salesian religious experience.[104] According to the Regulations he “must be free from the impediments listed in canon law (CIC can. 643-645 § 1), show the aptitudes and maturity necessary for entering upon the Salesian life, and his health must be such as to enable him to observe all the Constitutions of the Society.”[105]

            The importance and hence the seriousness regarding admission to the novitiate is made clear from an observation made about religious life according to which “most of the difficulties encountered today in the formation of novices are usually due to the fact that when they were  admitted they did not have the required maturity.”[106] 

            With the novitiate  Salesian religious experience begins; the candidate takes it up because he believes that it corresponds to his personal call. Therefore the admission can only take place after the presence of such an intention which indicates a true option and a genuine attitude to formation, has been verified. It is necessary to establish the existence of a motive that is sufficiently genuine, adequate and valid.

            If this decision or this motive is deficient, the novitiate could become merely an artificial, external experience, almost an imprudent undertaking on the part of the candidate, given the demands that will be made of him, with an influence on the formation environment that is anything but positive.

3.3.2    Conditions, impediments and juridical requirements

114.     Canon 642 states: “Superiors are to be vigilant about admitting only those who, besides the required age, have health, suitable character and sufficient qualities of maturity to embrace the particular life of the institute; this health, character and maturity are to be attested to, if necessary using experts, with due regard for the prescription of can. 220.”

115.     The impediments referred to in the general Regulations in art. 90 are presented as follows in cann. 643-644: “One is invalidly admitted to the novitiate:

-          who has not yet completed the seventeenth year of age;

-          who is a spouse, during a marriage;

-          who is presently held by a sacred bond with any institute of consecrated life or who is incorporated in any society of apostolic life, with due regard for the prescription of can. 684;

-          who enters the institute as a result of force, grave fear or fraud, or whom the superior receives induced in the same way;

-          who has concealed his or her incorporation in any institute of consecrated life or society of apostolic life.”[107]   

“Superiors are not to admit to the novitiate secular clerics if their local ordinary has not been consulted or those who, burdened by debts, cannot repay them.”[108]

Regarding the admission of illegitimate children or children whose parents are divorced, the provisions found above (n. 57) should be followed.

116.     The juridical requirements for admission to the novitiate are that the candidate:

-          is free from the impediments mentioned above;

-          is admitted by the legitimate superior;

-          provides the documents prescribed:

- the application;

- certificates of baptism and confirmation;

- letter of freedom;

- for someone who has been incorporated in a religious institute or a society of apostolic life, the testimony of the major superior of the institute or society;

- for secular clerics evidence of the last ministry or ordination and the testimonial letters of the local ordinaries of the dioceses in which, after the conferral of the ministry or ordination,  they have been for more than a year.

Those who receive this information have the strict obligation to preserve confidentiality regarding the information and the persons providing it. Local legislation regarding privacy should also be observed when seeking the advice of experts.



3.4.1    Aptitude for Salesian life

117.     During the novitiate, with the help of the Director of Novices, the candidate: “examines carefully the motives for his choice, makes certain of his suitability for the Salesian calling, and prepares himself to give his all to God for the service of the young in the spirit of Don Bosco.”[109] The superiors should base their judgement for admission to the first profession on positive elements confirming that the objectives proper to the novitiate have been achieved.

            The criteria for admission, which have been mentioned, assist the identification of the elements that establish the aptitude of the novice for the Salesian life; among these:  

- sufficiently good health and an adequate preparation;

- a normal development in the capacity for human relationships;

- a sound and well-balanced affectivity;

- a deep Christian experience and  a motivation of faith;

- an adequate knowledge and assimilation of the Salesian spirit, and identification with the mission of the Congregation, characterized by pastoral charity and a special love for young people that is lived in the style of the “Preventive System”.   

118.     Life and experience in community require especially:

            - the ability to become part of a community overcoming any tendency to isolation and individualism, learning from different points of view and fostering unity, even at the cost of personal sacrifice;

            - an affective capacity that leads to communication, to sharing in prayer and experiences, and to fraternal correction;

            - a sense of belonging, shown in availability, in dedication, and in feeling responsible for the community mission;

            - an attitude of openness and welcome towards people who have contact with the community.

119.     Experience of life according to the evangelical councils implies that some attitudes are sufficiently interiorized:

            - regarding obedience: accepting positively and responsibly both direction and criticism, being open with those responsible for formation, showing a capacity for collaboration and initiative; 

            - regarding poverty: committed to adopting a sober and austere style of life; being easily satisfied and flexible with regard to one’s own needs and tastes in the matter of food, clothes or whatever; having a love for work, and generously offering one’s services as required; able to share one’s own things with others; being concerned about situations of poverty and injustice, and the conditions of those to whom the Salesian mission is directed;

            - regarding chastity:  being aware of the sexual dimension of one’s own life; adopting a correct and serene view of celibacy as a specific value in one’s own life; making one’s self sufficiently known to the spiritual director; being able to give and receive signs of brotherly affection and live a life of friendship; developing the practice of  self denial in daily life.

3.4.2    Juridical requirements   


120.     Having satisfied the necessary requirements for admission to the novitiate, can 656 stipulates that for the validity of temporary profession:

- the candidate shall have completed at least the eighteenth year of age;

- the novitiate has been validly completed;

- admission has been freely given by the competent superior with the vote of the Council in accord with the norm of law;

- the profession be expressed and made without force, grave fear or fraud;

- the profession be received by the legitimate superior personally or through a delegate.

121.     As regards the length of the novitiate, what is said in art. 111 of the Constitutions should be recalled: “In accordance with canon law, the novitiate lasts twelve months; it begins when the candidate, after being admitted by the Provincial, enters the canonically erected novitiate house and places himself under the guidance of the director of novices. The novitiate is invalidated by an absence of more than three months, continuous or broken. An absence of more than fifteen days must be made good.”

            By absence is meant actually leaving the house of the novitiate for a time with or without a justifiable motive, with or without permission. When as a group together the novices go to live in another house of the institute designated ad hoc by the Provincial according to can 647 §3, this is not an absence.[110]

            As regards pastoral experience or periods of apostolic formation, which can. 648 § 2 speaks about, since our own law does not establish particular norms about it,  the same criteria mentioned above should be applied. In this case too, therefore, one cannot speak about absence, if what is prescribed in can. 647 §3 is followed; if not, these periods would need to be counted as absences.

122.     Bearing in mind what is prescribed in can. 655, our Constitutions state: “During the first three years of this period, profession may be either triennial or annual; in the next three years it will ordinarily be triennial.”[111] The Ratio adds: “There is nothing to prevent its being biennial. To choose from among the various possibilities one must have motives of formation in mind, and must consider the progressive and serious nature of the commitment. The decision will depend on the application made by the novice or the temporarily professed member and by the Provincial who admits him.”[112]

            The period of temporary profession normally lasts six years; if he considers it opportune, the Provincial can prolong it, but not beyond nine years.[113] Canon 658 states that temporary profession should last at least three years, with due regard for the prescription of can. 657 § 3.

123.     “Readmission to the Congregation of one who lawfully left the Society after completing the novitiate or after profession belongs to the Provincial with his Council. The one who is readmitted must repeat the novitiate and complete the period of temporary vows.

            According to can. 690, the Rector Major with the consent of his Council can dispense from the duty of repeating the novitiate, and at the same time give the Provincial with his Council the faculty to readmit.

            It belongs to the Rector Major to determine – in these cases – an appropriate probation prior to temporary profession, and the length of time in vows before the perpetual profession is made.[114]

            After evaluating with his Council the motives of the request for readmission, the Provincial will present the request to the Rector Major together with a detailed report of the case (the complete curriculum of the one making the request, the reasons why he did not make his profession or decided to leave after profession, the reasons why he now asks to be accepted, etc.).”[115]



3.5.1 Aptitude for Salesian life


124.     “The first profession marks the beginning of consecrated life. In this period the confrere, …completes his maturing process with perpetual profession in view, and develops the different aspects of his vocation as a lay Salesian or as a candidate for the priesthood.”[116]

            The criterion of judgement for admission to the renewal of profession consists in the progressive attainment of this objective, both in the immediate post-novitiate period[117] and during that of practical training.[118]

125.     In more concrete terms, after ascertaining his suitability for the Salesian life and after deepening the motives for his vocational choice, two objectives of the novitiate which continue throughout the formation process, the professed member lives successively the phases of the immediate post-novitiate and practical training, which have as their objectives according to the Constitutions:

            - the immediate post-novitiate, to “dispose the young confrere to a progressive integration of faith, culture and life” through a “deepening of the life of faith and of the spirit of Don Bosco together with an adequate philosophical, pedagogical and catechetical preparation that interacts with the prevailing culture”[119];

            - practical training, to help the confrere “to integrate his activity and the fundamental values of his vocation” in a “deeper living experience of Salesian educative and pastoral action.” He does this by getting “practice in the preventive system, particularly in Salesian assistance.”[120]

3.5.2. Juridical requirements

126      As regards the time of renewal, it must be remembered that at the expiry of the period for which the profession was made  it must be renewed without delay.[121]

            Renewal is obligatory also in the case when only a short period may intervene before perpetual profession, which for reasonable motives one might wish to postpone briefly until a particular occasion. In this case temporary profession will be renewed for the period of time that separates it from perpetual profession. Nevertheless an interval due to oversight or negligence does not invalidate or render unlawful the subsequent profession.

            The renewal must be public, that is received by the competent superior.


127.     Admissions to the ministries and to sacred orders are times of discernment, option and decision, which occur in the process of formation of the Salesian priest. The criteria for discernment and the requisites for acceptance should be seen in the overall perspective of the identity of the Salesian priest, described in the Ratio and recalled here in some of its main elements.

128.     What needs to be especially considered is that for someone directed towards the priesthood the perspective of priestly formation is present throughout the formation process and not only during the period of specific formation.

            In fact, while Salesian formation ordinarily follows a single model with the same phases and with similar objectives and contents, there are some particular differences based on the specific vocation of each one. For this reason the whole of initial formation  offers the Salesian candidate for the priesthood the opportunity to develop the various aspects of his vocation as “a candidate for the priesthood”[122]           

129.     The specific formation of the candidate for the priesthood, which is carried out either in part or totally after perpetual profession, completes initial formation. For the candidate for the priestly ministry specific formation follows the norms and guidelines laid down by the Church and the Congregation and aims at preparing a priest who will be a genuinely Salesian pastor and educator.[123]

130.     The progressive shaping of the future priest to Christ the shepherd is the fruit of the initiative of God who calls, enables and sends, and, in response, of a generous commitment to formation. It is expressed through a gradual process, above all in those events which even outwardly manifest and signify the call and response, the conferring of grace and the mandate for service.

            The conferring of the ministries of lector and acolyte and the ordination to the diaconate, which lead up to the priesthood, are decisive moments. The exercise of these ministries and of the diaconate, although each of them has its own content and objectives, has a prevalently pedagogical purpose (spiritual, ascetical, liturgical) in view of priestly ordination.

131.     Admissions to the ministries and to orders have as their fundamental criterion the identity of the Salesian priest. In fact, it is on this basis that the growth of the candidate in suitability and maturity  is judged. For this reason, in speaking of the ministries of lector and acolyte we shall not delay over explicit references to the positive criteria of suitability; one should refer to what is said for the diaconate and priesthood.

3.6.1.   Admission to the ministries 

132.     “The ministries of lector and acolyte, which are prescribed for clerics for pedagogical reasons, are to be conferred during the specific formation of the Salesian priest.”[124]

            For admission to the ministries the following are required:

-          the application freely presented by the candidate to the Provincial, through the Rector of the community;

-          the presence of those requirements indicated by the Church and those necessary for a Salesian expression of the ministry, and the degree of vocational maturity called for by the formative experience being lived;[125]

-          respect for the interstices prescribed by the Holy See and the episcopal conferences.

This holds for admission to the ministry of acolyte and to the diaconate: “the conferring of the ministries of lector and acolyte without there being between them an interval of at least some months, is unlawful and irregular; it undermines the pedagogical meaning of those ministries. The same may be said of too short an interval between the ministry of acolyte and the diaconate.”[126]


3.6.2    Admission to sacred orders: diaconate and priesthood

133.     The criteria for deciding on the fitness of a Salesian candidate  for the diaconate and the priesthood are based on the identity of the priest in the Church, bearing in mind that the specific Salesian vocation imprints particular characteristics on the ministry.

            In fact, the model of Don Bosco the priest inspires and guides the vocation and the formation process of the Salesian priest. The Salesian charism marks him as a priest who is an educator and pastor, in a specific form of consecrated life, and distinguishes him from the spiritual and pastoral point of view.

            The criteria for assessing his maturity and development in the area of the fundamental roles of the ordained ministry should also be seen in this perspective. They are valid criteria in an analogous way for admission to the diaconate and the priesthood.

            In addition to providing an opportunity to deepen and synthesize some facets of formation, the experience as a deacon offers the possibility of a particular preparation in the areas of priestly spirituality,  proclaiming the Word, animation of the liturgy, catechesis and youth ministry, and the pastoral celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation.

            Admission to the priesthood should take account of the results of the diaconal experience. 

3.6.3        Aptitude for the Salesian exercise of the ministry.

134.     Without repeating the fundamental criteria for discernment[127] we now mention the factors that indicate the suitability of the candidate for the ministry and confirm the appropriateness of his motives.            WITH REGARD TO THE ABILITY TO UNDERTAKE  PRIESTLY DUTIES

135.     In the service of the Word, the candidate should demonstrate:

            - a lively adult faith based on a serious personal interior conviction of the Christian message;

-          a capacity for right judgement, theoretical and practical, of spiritual and pastoral discernment;

-          a docile spirit in harmony with the teaching of the Church in the exercise of the ministry;[128]

-          the ability to listen, to communicate and to adapt to different situations;

-          a systematic knowledge of theology sound enough to serve as the basis for his duty to pass on the Gospel message and its inculturation, and for constant personal updating.

136.     In the sanctifying role, the future deacon or priest should show proof of:

            - a Salesian and priestly understanding of  religious consecration: experience of God and of vocation, lived as the motivating force at the centre of life; the positive acceptance of religious chastity and priestly celibacy as a gift and way of life;

            - a faith experience fostered and supported by a practical and constant spiritual pedagogy, expressed in personal prayer, in sharing one’s own experience and in the fulfilment of one’s own obligations regarding the liturgical prayer of the Church;

            - the ability to provide guidance in the spiritual life especially for the young, and to prepare them for the sacraments especially the Eucharist and Penance.

137.     In the service of charity, through animation for communion and educational and pastoral service to the young, the candidate should demonstrate:

            - the human maturity required of a Salesian priest in his educational and pastoral mission especially:     

            . stability and strength of character, acceptance of the personal and community discipline needed for the priestly life;[129]

            . a good judgement, based on prudence, with the ability to assess situations objectively;

            . a personality that is affectively mature, with a good self-image, capable of establishing positive pastoral relationships with both men and women, of showing real interest in them, and keeping a appropriate balance while being closely involved (a capacity for affection and detachment);

            . Salesian sensitivity in being open to personal problems, those of the environment and of one’s own times;

138.     - an adequate appreciation of the particular role of the Salesian priest:

            . in the modern world and among today’s young people;

            . with a sense of belonging to the Congregation and identifying with her particular mission;

            . in appreciating the Salesian brother and the complementary roles of each;

            . in the Salesian community and the Educative Pastoral Community, and in spiritual direction of the Salesian Family and of lay people;

139.     - the ability to animate the educative pastoral community expressed through particular skills:

            . creating and directing a Christian community, and showing initiative in organizing it;

            . providing priestly support for individuals and groups through spiritual direction and pastoral sharing;

            . the management of different kinds of Salesian works and pastoral opportunities;

            . communicating the Salesian spirit and sharing educative pastoral work with lay people.             THE WAY OF APPROACHING  SALESIAN PRIESTLY LIFE

140.     The following aspects need underlining:

            - an attitude of  ongoing formation and an approach to life which  reserves a special place for one’s own spiritual life and cultivating a relationship with God;

            - overcoming the simple response to one’s own needs, growth in interior freedom and in a consistent way of life, consolidating one’s sense of vocation and of supernatural motives so as to assist in serenely facing the inevitable trials of Salesian life;

            - appreciation for fraternal sharing, for a relationship with the superior, spiritual guidance, and pastoral discernment;

141.     - a lively sense of the Church, its presence and present day mission, of which some of the indications are:

            .  apostolic zeal, concern for the needs of the Kingdom, total openness;

            . a convinced acceptance of the identity of the priest and of his ministry as they are presented by the Church and acceptance of the directives of the Pope and Bishops;

            . an awareness of the place of the priest in regard to communion with the other members of the church community;

. a specific way of locating himself as a religious priest in the local Church;[130] 

142      - the ability to live “in a priestly way” in the different works through which the Salesian mission is realized and in the different roles that are required (spiritual director, administrator, parish priest, in formation, educator of street children, involved in social communication ..);

            - living the priestly ministry as a spiritual experience which fills and gives meaning to life, and not as merely a functional role in a given structure.

3.6.4    Juridical requirements


143.     The following juridical requirements are needed in one who, having completed the three years of specific formation in the case of the diaconate and the four in the case of the priesthood, asks to be admitted to ordination:[131]

            - to have received the ministries of lector and acolyte, having observed the period of time prescribed: a suitable period, at least of several months, between that of lector and that of acolyte, at least six months between the ministry of acolyte and the diaconate (cfr can. 1035 § 2) and  between the diaconate and the priesthood (cfr can. 1031 § 1); it should be recalled that: “ordination to the diaconate may take place ordinarily only after the third year of theological studies has been concluded.[132]

            - the application to be freely written and signed (cfr can. 1036);

            - to have taken perpetual vows (cfr can. 1037);

            - to be free from the irregularities and impediments mentioned in canons 1040-1049;

            - to have presented the required documents: 1st)  certification of studies duly completed, according to can. 1032 (third year of theological studies for the deacon, four years for the priest); 2nd) if referring to ordination to the priesthood, certification of having received the diaconate; 3rd) if referring to ordination to the diaconate, certification of baptism and of confirmation and of having received the ministries mentioned in can. 1035; at the same time the signed declaration mentioned in can. 1036;[133]

            - to have been the subject of the scrutiny regarding the qualities required  as mentioned in can. 1051: correct doctrine, genuine piety, good morals, suitability for exercising the ministry, a document regarding the state of his physical and psychological health.

            When the admission to the diaconate or to the priesthood has taken place according to the procedure set out in the Constitutions,[134]  the Provincial issues the dimissorial letters mentioned in can. 1019 § 1, in view of the ordination.



144.     The aim of the period of temporary profession is to complete the “maturing process with perpetual profession in view.”[135] Therefore, the admission to perpetual profession constitutes the point of arrival of the process of Salesian vocation discernment; it is in continuity with it and at the same time it has its own unique importance. The value it has requires an appropriate period of proximate preparation and a particular effort in applying the criteria so far described.

            The Ratio emphasises the importance of the process of preparation for perpetual profession  which “comprises the period of verification and discernment in view of the application, the process of admission and the preparation for celebrating the act of profession; it is not limited to preparing for the ceremony, after the admission has taken place.”[136]

            “About a year before the expiry of the period of his profession, the temporarily professed member should explicitly make known to his Provincial, in a way that is considered most appropriate, his desire to begin preparing for his perpetual profession.[137]


3.7.      Aptitude for Salesian life

145.     Admission to perpetual profession implies that the member has reached “the level of Salesian maturity commensurate with the importance of such a step,”[138] which becomes “the yardstick for every subsequent choice,”[139] and particularly that he shows the appropriate motives.

            The aptitudes for Salesian life already mentioned ought to be considered from an overall point of view, in their totality and harmony.

146.     More particularly, and above all on the basis of the experience of practical training it is necessary to verify:

            with regard to apostolic life, whether in his educative and pastoral relationships the candidate has shown sufficient human maturity, the basis of every other maturity, proportionate to his age; whether the practical training experience has been lived with zeal, as a commitment and vocational response, or merely as an activity or an opportunity for self-expression, with a balanced attitude serene in both successes and difficulties, ready to adapt to places, circumstances and different apostolic tasks; whether in this he has shown a special love for young people, particularly the poor; whether he has practised the preventive system with energy and fidelity; whether he has lived the mission in a community spirit;

            with regard to community life, what had been his attitude in living with other confreres including those of a different age and way of thinking, whether one of openness, of collaboration, of willing and active involvement in shared initiatives;

            with regard to living the evangelical councils, whether there had been an attitude of discernment and availability, a capacity for initiative and co-responsibility; a witness to poverty in the style and criteria of life, in carrying out the mission  and a commitment to work; sufficient balance and maturity in interpersonal relationships, in contact with young people and with lay people; an ability to communicate and make friends, prudence and self denial;

            with regard to a personal experience of prayer, of spiritual direction and sharing, of ongoing formation: whether the confrere has acted with commitment and constancy; whether he has demonstrated an active attitude towards formation and has made good use of spiritual guidance; whether he has shown an openness to culture and updating.

3.7.2 Juridical requirements  

147.     Besides taking account of the requirements and the prudential counter-indications already mentioned for the first profession, the following are required for perpetual profession:

- for validity:

 . a period of trial, after the first profession, which, according to the norms of the Code of Canon Law should not be less than three years not more than nine.[140] According to our Constitutions,[141]the time of trial for us is normally six years. In special cases and for a just cause recognized as such by the Provincial and his Council, perpetual profession can be anticipated up to three months. To anticipate perpetual profession in exceptional cases by a period beyond three months, before the expiry of the six years of temporary profession, the request should be addressed to the Rector Major:

. having completed the twenty first year of age;[142]

. being free from military service, either because of having completed it or because of being declared unfit or exempt for life;[143]

-for lawfulness: the observance of the rite prescribed. 


Each one of us is called by God to form part of the Salesian Society. Because of this God gives him personal gifts, and by faithful correspondence he finds his way to complete fulfilment in Christ.

The Society recognizes his vocation and helps him to develop it; and he, as a responsible member, puts himself and his gifts at the service of the community and of its common tasks.

Every call is an indication that the Lord loves the Congregation, wants to see it vibrant for the good of the Church and never ceases to enrich it with new apostolic energy. (C 22)




Church and Salesian Documents for reference


Note: Here are indicated some recent Church and Salesian documents which may be of particular interest for Salesian vocation discernment and admissions. Other documents are mentioned in the Ratio 


* John Paul II

- Apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, 1992

- Apostolic exhortation Vita consecrata, 1996

* Congregation for Catholic Education (CEC)

- Guidelines for formation to priestly celibacy, 1974

- Circular letter on spiritual formation in seminaries, 1980

- Guidelines on human love, 1983

- Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, 1985

- Admission to the seminary of candidates coming from other seminaries or religious families, 1986

- Directives on the preparation of educators in seminaries, 1993

* Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

- Potissimum Institutioni. Directives on Formation in religious institutes, 1990

- Fraternal Life in Community, 1994

* Congregation for Divine Worship

- Letter Scrutinies on the suitability of candidates for orders, 1997 

* Pontifical Council for the Family


- The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 1995



-          The Project of Life of the Salesians of Don Bosco. A guide to the Salesian Constitutions (1986)

-          The Salesian Rector. A ministry for the animation and governing of the local community Rome 1986

-          L’Ispettore Salesiano. Un ministero per l’animazione e il governo della comunità Ispettoriale, 1987; it contains an appendix “Elementi giuridici e prassi amministrativa”, cf below.

-          Elementi giuridici e prassi amministrativa nel governo dell’Ispettoria, 1987


[1] The Constitutions and the Ratio offer copious elements for discernment. The Ratio refers to this booklet for the further explanation of some particular practical points.

[2] C 3

[3] C 195

[4] C 109

[5] cfr C 23. 110. 117

[6] cfr C 105

[7] C 22

[8] cfr C 96

[9] C 2

[10] cfr C 107

[11] C 109

[12] C 110

[13] C 109

[14] C 2

[15] cfr GC21 173

[16] cfr FSDB 310. 323

[17] C 109

[18] C 98

[19] C 107

[20] FSDB 321

[21] ibid

[22] cfr FSDB 268-276

[23] C 109

[24] C 110

[25] cfr C 117

[26] cfr FSDB 276; ISM 390-395

[27] cfr C 108

[28] C 104

[29] cfr C 108

[30] cfr FSDB 394

[31] cfr FSDB 269

[32] ibid

[33] C 99

[34] cfr FSDB 270

[35] cfr FSDB 292

[36] cfr FSDB 276

[37] cfr can. 641

[38] FSDB 246

[39] cfr FSDB 247.281

[40] cfr FSDB 298

[41] In juridical terms it is sometimes called “confidential secret” or of conscience, in that it is confided to the conscience of someone in view of the office held or exercised. 

[42] cfr DSM 264

[43] cfr FSDB 296

[44] cfr R 81

[45] FSDB 237

[46] FSDB 236

[47] FSDB 262

[48] FSDB 117

[49] FSDB 243

[50] C 22

[51] Epistolario di Don Bosco, ed. D. Eugenio Ceria, Torino,  vol. IV pag 209

[52] can. 642

[53] Form. Cel. 38

[54] RI 15; cfr can. 642

[55] C 108

[56] cfr can. 1029; RI 15; Sac. Coel. 63

[57] cfr RI 16; RFIS 39. 41

[58] cfr Form. Cel. 38

[59] cfr FSDB 59-60

[60] HIV = Human Immmunedeficiency Virus, AIDS = Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

[61] cfr FSDB 352

[62] For example there are cultures in which the first born has total responsibility for his brothers and sisters; hence after the death of his parents he has to assume this obligation which is hardly compatible with the commitments of religious life.

[63] can. 1040-1042.1139-1140

[64] From a classic manual we take a list of personality disorders and a brief description by way of information and reference:

Paranoid Personality Disorder is a pattern of distrust and suspiciousness such that other’s motives are interpreted as malevolent.

Schizoid Personality Disorder is a pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of emotional expression.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is a pattern of acute discomfort in close relationships, cognitive or perceptual distortions, and eccentricities of behavior.

Antisocial Personal Disorder is a pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others.

Borderline Personality Disorder is a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity.

Histrionic Personality Disorder is a pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.

Avoidant Personality Disorder is a pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.

Dependent Personality Disorder is a pattern of submissive and clinging behavior related to an excessive need to be taken care of.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is a pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control.

(DSM-IV Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC, 1994, p. 629).

These personality disorders can occur on their own or combined with others and they often involve physiological changes (psychosomatic disorders).  

[65] cfr RFIS 39

[66] C 82

[67] cfr RI 30 § 5

[68] cfr CDF, Persona Humana, Declaration on some questions of sexual ethics, n. 9 1975; CEC, Guidelines on human love, 1983

[69] Form. Cel. 5. 36. 63

[70] CDF, Letter Homosexualitatis problema 1 October 1986, 6

[71] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357

[72] cfr CDF Persona Humana Declaration on some questions of sexual ethics, 1975

[73] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358; cfr 2359

[74] Catechism of the Catholìc Church, 2396

[75] CDF Alcune  considerazioni concernenti la risposta a proposte di legge sulla non-discriminazione delle persone omosessuali, in:  L’ Osservatore Romano 24 July 1992, 11

[76] PI 39

[77] cfr number 76, the second part

[78] cfr Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2359

[79] cfr CG21 178

[80] cfr ASC 298 (1980) p. 16-17

[81] C 4

[82] cfr ASC 298 (1980) p. 20. 23

[83] cfr Third Part, 127-143; PI 108-109

[84] cfr VECCHI J. Talk of the Rector Major at the end of the GC24, in GC24 240; AGC 365 (October-December 1998) 79, p. 10

[85] cfr VC 98; PDV 51

[86] cfr C 19. 119

[87] cfr SGC 697

[88] cfr C 108

[89] cfr FSDB 321; cfr above n. 47

[90] cfr C 108

[91] C 117

[92] cfr FSDB 351, 482, 515

[93] C 108

[94] C 165

[95] cfr can. 127

[96] cfr can. 127 and the official interpretation given by the Commission for the interpretation of the CIC in AAS 1985, p. 771; cfr Elementi giuridici e prassi amministrativa nel governo dell’Ispettoria, Roma 1987, n. 18

[97] cfr R 81

[98] cfr FSDB 301

[99] cfr C 108

[100] FSDB 351

[101] cfr above n. 54

[102] cfr can. 643-645 § 1

[103] CG21 267

[104] cfr C 109

[105] R 90

[106] CRIS, Renovationis causam. Instruction on formation for the religious life 1969, n. 4 (quoted in PI 42)

[107] can. 643

[108] can. 644

[109] C 110

[110] In can. 647 § 3 one reads: “A major superior can permit a group of novices to live for a stated period of time in another house of the institute, designated by the same superior.”

[111] C 113

[112] FSDB 390

[113] cfr C 117

[114] cfr can. 690 § 1.

[115] FSDB 394

[116] C 113

[117] cfr C 114

[118] cfr C 115

[119] C 114

[120] C 115

[121] cfr can. 657 § 1

[122] cfr C 113

[123] cfr C 116

[124] FSDB 491

[125] cfr can. 230 § 1

[126] ASC 293 (1979) p. 28; cfr can. 1035

[127] cfr chapter two

[128] cfr MuR 33

[129] cfr Sac Coel 66

[130] cfr MuR, especially 30, 33

[131] cfr FSDB 494-495

[132] FSDB 494, cfr 495, cfr Elementi giuridici 76. 78

[133] This deals with the candidate’s declaration testifying that he is about to receive the order of his own accord and freely and that he will devote himself perpetually to the ministry; for the documents required cfr can. 1050

[134] cfr 108; R 81

[135] C 113

[136] FSDB 512

[137] FSDB 515

[138] C 117

[139] ASC 295 (1980) p. 19

[140] cfr can. 658, 2°; 657 §2

[141] cfr C 117

[142] cfr can. 658, 1°

[143] cfr SCR Decree Militare Servitium (de religiosis servitio militari adstrictis), 30 July 1957, AAS 49; Elementi giuridici e prassi amministrativa nel governo dell’Ispettoria, n 53. 73