How do I become an SCJ?

The Priests of the Sacred Heart (also known as “SCJ” or “Dehonians”) are priests and brothers inspired by God’s love “to live together simply, to pray together and to be, especially among the poor, prophets of love and servants of reconciliation.” [From the Mission Statement of the U.S. Province]

Do you feel called to a life of community and ministry based in the Eucharist? We welcome your questions about religious life and the priesthood. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Or you can call 800-609-5559.

What to expect

The process of inquiry and formation generally follows five steps, though each man and his vocation are treated individually.

1. Inquiry

Call or e-mail our vocation staff, then meet with one of our members. Depending on where you are in your discernment, this process can move quickly or take several months. Explore life with the Priests of the Sacred Heart through weekend and summer ministry experiences. “Come and See” weekends usually take place in Chicago at our formation house. Summer experiences run about two weeks and are generally held in locations where we minister, such as Mississippi.

2. Candidacy

Following your initial discernment during the inquiry process, you may be invited to apply to the Admissions Board for candidacy. Once accepted, you’ll live and study with the SCJs as we further help you discern your vocation. Candidacy generally lasts two to four years.

3. Novitiate

After two to four years as a candidate, a man can next apply for the novitiate. This year of intense prayer and study covers our history, our founder and, most important, our community’s spirituality. The novitiate is the final step before a man applies to take vows with the Priests of the Sacred Heart.

4. Temporary vows

These are the first vows a man takes, renewed each year until he applies for final vows. Temporary vows usually continue for at least three years, including a pastoral year – a year of full-time ministry.

During these initial years of formation, a man discerns whether he will pursue his SCJ vocation as a religious brother or as a priest. Academic studies depend on the vocation and ministry one pursues but always include theological studies. An SCJ preparing for the priesthood generally earns a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s of divinity. Advanced studies may be needed for both brother and priesthood candidates preparing for specialized ministry.

5. Final vows

When a man has discerned his commitment to the Priests of the Sacred Heart, he can apply to take final or perpetual vows. In conjunction with final vows, the SCJ continues to prepare for full-time ministry. Cleric candidates pursue ordination as a deacon and later, a priest.

Of course, just as education never ends, neither does formation. Although SCJs pass from candidacy through initial formation and final vows, the formative process of who one is as an SCJ in community and ministry continues throughout a man’s life.