During Novitiate the student discerns his vocation within the Society, which will lead him to making a public commitment to live according to the apostolic counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, according to the Constitutions of the Society of the Divine Word. For the next 5-7 years, at the beginning of the academic year, (usually on March 25,) every SVD seminarian or brother in formation makes a commitment to live religious life according to the SVD Constitutions for one year. With the intention to commit oneself for life, assisted by professional formation personnel, his community and personal reflection and prayer, the student makes a choice to live religious life for one year. The temporary character of living religious life gives the student the freedom "to choose again," until he is ready to say his "Yes" for life, at the end of his initial religious formation.
Although the focus of post-novitiate formation may appear to be on academic pursuits, in fact it is very much in the line with the SVD Constitution 503: "Our formation is total and integral: it seeks to bring about human maturity, professional competence, and committed faith." The SVD Australian Province Formation Program makes it even clearer: "As a single thread, running through our whole formation, missionary service and religious life form a unity in our vocation. The missionary mandate determines the form of our religious life and the spirit of the evangelical counsels permeates our whole missionary work." In the spirit of dialogue and focused on our missionary call, our formation program promotes a balanced and wholistic approach, rooted in one's culture, community forming, directed towards apostolic service and open to the needs of the world.
While the number of Australian and New Zealand born vocations has decreased significantly, other students from overseas have brought new riches and challenges. In recent years we have had seminarians from countries of birth including Angola, Australia, China, Tonga, Vietnam, Fiji, Korea and Papua New Guinea pursuing their missionary formation at Dorish Maru College in Melbourne.
The formation community in Melbourne gives witness to international and multicultural living. Drawing upon our scholars from around the world, we have also been able to make an innovative academic contribution to the Yarra Theological Union, particularly in the field of missiology.