Becoming an SCJ

Who are we?

We are the Priests of the Sacred Heart, also known as “Dehonians” after our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, and as “SCJ” for the initials that appear after our names. We 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. CLICK HERE for more information or call 414-529-4255.

What to expect?

The process of formation generally follows five steps, though each man and his vocation is 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 and/or “Come and See” weekends where potential candidates spend time with one of our religious communities.

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, you can next apply for the novitiate. This is a year of intense prayer and study that covers our history, our founder and, most importantly, 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 religious 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 one’s vocation and the ministry his pursues but always includes 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 peson’s life.