60th ANNIVERSARY OF FOUNDATION
ABBEY OF OUR LADY OF THE GENESEE
1951 - 2011
Br. Anthony Weber, OCSO, Junior Director
At the end of a candidate’s novitiate formation, normally a period of two and one half years, he will make vows for a period of one year. The ceremony takes place in the abbey church during Lauds on a Sunday or special feast day. During the ceremony the junior reads aloud the vow formula, signs it and places it on the altar. He is then clothed in the black scapular and leather belt. These traditional monastic vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life (which include poverty and chastity) are normally renewed annually for a period of three years though the time can be extended for another six years if the candidate is not ready to make lifetime solemn vows.
During this time of continued monastic formation he is placed under the direction of a Junior Director and, for all intents and purposes, lives the life of a fully professed monk with the possibility of assuming some responsibilities in the community. The purpose of the juniorate is to help the junior further identify and internalize monastic values, a process that will continue throughout the rest of his life.
According to the Order’s Guidelines for Formation, it is the task of the Director of juniors to accompany those in his care as they pass from the relatively segregated regimen of the novitiate to their own distinctive mode of sharing in the life of the community. The Director reviews with them their experience of monastic living in the community, prayer, vocation, the vows, study, work and the acceptance of responsibilities. Because the juniorate is such a critical time of growth, it is important that the juniors receive understanding, acceptance and encouragement from the Director, as well as being challenged by him. (It should be mentioned that the Director gets his share of challenges from his juniors!)
Here at Genesee the Junior Director fosters the spiritual growth of those in temporary vows by meeting with each junior on a regular basis, usually once a month. Each junior is also expected to meet with the Abbot on a monthly basis. Along with personal meetings with each junior the Director regularly meets with the juniors together for some form of group discussion. For example bible sharing, shared lectio sessions or other group activities.
In addition to fostering the spiritual growth of the juniors and their integration into the community the juniorate is a time for fostering their intellectual growth. Here at Genesee we have a four year program of studies comprising twelve courses, three courses of fourteen one-hour weekly classes each year. The purposes of each course is to offer a solid introduction to a particular topic which should serve as the basis for a lifetime of fruitful monastic living. These courses are given by different members of the community with competence in various fields and are required of each junior.
At the end of his juniorate the candidate will make solemn vows for life. To help with the adjustment to his new state as a fully professed member of the community he will choose a mentor from selected members of the community who will accompany him during the next four years.
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