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).

Every two years are getting together the formators of the Jesuit novices for a one week meeting to exchange experiences about introducing the religious life to the new members of the order and this year the meeting was from 24 to 30 June in Prague, Czech Republic. Today’s times need more than ever permanent reflection of the process of formation. We need to reflect not only the formation of beginners, but the general process of formation. However the beginning is always essential. We have actually in the Europe ten novitiates, including the novitiate of the Middle East province. Usually there are novices from a several countries in each of the novitiates. The novitiate of the PRO in Cairo (Egypt) has novices from northern Africa, Syria and Lebanon, in Birmingham (England) there are the novices from England, Scotland, Ireland and northern Belgium. The novitiate in Nürnberg (Germany) includes German, Austrian, Swiss, Hungarian and Lithuanian novices. The novitiate in Ruzomberok (Slovakia) is common for Czech and Slovak novices, the novitiate in Lyon (France) is for France and southern Belgium. The novitiate in Genova (Italy) has novices from Italy, Malta and Slovenia. Polish novitiate in Gdynia is for novices from Poland, Russia and Ukraine. The novitiate in Split (Croatia) is for novices from Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Serbia. At the meeting took part the novice masters Fr. Jan Adamík SJ (BOH), Fr. Stipo Balatinac SJ (CRO), Fr. Thomas Hollweck SJ (GER), Fr. Piotr Szymański SJ (PMA), Fr. Abel Toraño SJ (ESP), Fr. Miguel Ferreira SJ (POR), Fr. Thierry Anne SJ (GAL), Fr. Mourad Abou Seif SJ (PRO) and the socius Fr. Ray Pace SJ (ITA) and Fr. Simon Bishop SJ (BRI). At the meeting took also part Fr. Franck Janin SJ, present provincial of southern Belgium and Luxembourg who was recently appointed by the general superior Fr. Arturo Sosa SJ to the President of the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials. Next guest was ex-novice master of Hungarian novitiate Fr. János Lukács SJ who was leading the conferences about our Constitutions, focusing on the parts speaking about the formation of new members.