Every journey in the Society of Jesus starts with the noviciate, a time for familiarizing oneself with Ignatian Spirituality and the Jesuit way of life. During this two-year period, novices engage themselves in various ‘experiments’, notably a pilgrimage and the thirty-day retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises. The person taking care of their formation and spiritual guidance is the novice master.

The European novice masters meet biennially to share their experiences and deepen some aspects of the formation and the life of the noviciate.

Traditionally, each province has a noviciate. There are 12 novitiates in Europe with more than 100 novices in total. In some parts of Europe there is a common noviciate for different provinces, as in Birmingham (Great Britain), Nürnberg (Germany), Genova (Italy), Lyon (France), Ruzomberok (Slovakia) and Gdynia (Poland).