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Code of Canon Law
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Art. 2. The Novitiate and Formation of Novices
Can.646 The novitiate, through which life in an institute is begun, is arranged so that the novices better understand
their divine vocation, and indeed one which is proper to the institute, experience the manner of living of the
institute, and form their mind and heart in its spirit, and so that their intention and suitability are tested.
Can.647 §1. The erection, transfer, and suppression of a novitiate house are to be done through written decree of
the supreme moderator of the institute with the consent of the council.
§2. To be valid, a novitiate must be made in a house properly designated for this purpose. In particular cases
and as an exception, by grant of the supreme moderator with the consent of the council, a candidate can make the
novitiate in another house of the institute under the direction of some approved religious who acts in the place of
the director of novices.
§3. A major superior can permit a group of novices to reside for a certain period of time in another house of
the institute designated by the superior.
Can.648 §1. To be valid, a novitiate must include twelve months spent in the community itself of the novitiate,
without prejudice to the prescript of can. 647, §3.
§2. To complete the formation of novices, in addition to the period mentioned in §1, the constitutions can
establish one or more periods of apostolic exercises to be spent outside the community of the novitiate.
§3. The novitiate is not to last longer than two years.
Can.649 §1. Without prejudice to the prescripts of can. 647, §3 and can. 648, §2, an absence from the novitiate
house which lasts more than three months, either continuous or interrupted, renders the novitiate invalid. An
absence which lasts more than fifteen days must be made up.
§2. With the permission of the competent major superior, first profession can be anticipated, but not by more
than fifteen days.
Can.650 §1. The scope of the novitiate demands that novices be formed under the guidance of a director according
to the program of formation defined in proper law.
§2. Governance of the novices is reserved to one director under the authority of the major superiors.
Can.651 §1. The director of novices is to be a member of the institute who has professed perpetual vows and has
been legitimately designated.
§2. If necessary, the director can be given assistants who are subject to the director in regard to the supervision
of the novices and the program of formation.
§3. Members who are carefully prepared and who, not impeded by other duties, can carry out this function
fruitfully and in a stable manner are to be placed in charge of the formation of novices.
Can.652 §1. It is for the director and assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices and to form them
gradually to lead correctly the life of perfection proper to the institute.
§2. Novices are to be led to cultivate human and Christian virtues; through prayer and self-denial they are
to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection; they are to be taught to contemplate the mystery of salvation and to
read and meditate on the sacred scriptures; they are to be prepared to cultivate the worship of God in the sacred
liturgy; they are to learn a manner of leading a life consecrated to God and humanity in Christ through the
evangelical counsels; they are to be instructed regarding the character and spirit, the purpose and discipline, the
history and life of the institute; and they are to be imbued with love for the Church and its sacred pastors.
§3. Conscious of their own responsibility, the novices are to collaborate actively with their director in such a
way that they faithfully respond to the grace of a divine vocation.
§4. Members of the institute are to take care that they cooperate for their part in the work of formation of the
novices through example of life and prayer.
§5. The time of the novitiate mentioned in can. 648, §1 is to be devoted solely to the task of formation and
consequently novices are not to be occupied with studies and functions which do not directly serve this formation.
Can.653 §1. A novice can freely leave an institute; moreover, the competent authority of the institute can dismiss
§2. At the end of the novitiate, if judged suitable, a novice is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise
the novice is to be dismissed. If there is doubt about the suitability of a novice, the major superior can extend the
time of probation according to the norm of proper law, but not beyond six months.