Becoming a Jesuit brother or priest takes a long, long time. From entering the order to final vows can take nearly 12-15 years. Most of their study is undertaken in a special formation centre where they will study philosophy and theology under the guidance of predominately African experts in their respective field.
Five formation centers exist in the conference where a candidate for the priesthood or a religious brother can deepen intellectually his knowledge of his faith and develop his skills for pastoral service. These five colleges, founded in five different African countries, reflect different linguistic and cultural traditions.
The five formation houses are two Theologates and three Philosophates: Each college has successfully negotiated the initial stage of being established, and of providing academic degrees which are recognised by civil and ecclesiastical institutions.
Formation Centres under JESAM
This is a Jesuit School of Theology founded in 1984 and maintained by JESAM to provide a theological formation at university level for Jesuit students preparing for priesthood. Other properly qualified students, male and female, are also admitted to the Jesuit School of Theology.
The three year programme of theology satisfies the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Theology as set down in the Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II, Sapientia Christiana, as well as the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Theology of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).
In 2004, in line with its second aim to “offer formation for men and women seeking to take their place in the evangelizing mission of the Church, be they religious or lay people” and respond to new challenges, Hekima College celebrated its 20th anniversary by opening the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations.
The theological institute Institut de Théologie de la Compagnie de Jésus, ITCJ, offers a theological formation preparing the students for a type of ministry nourished by wisdom according to the Ignatian principle of “using all means but trusting fully the divine grace”.
It opened its portals in September 2003. Since the capacity to accept students at the first theological centre, Hekima College, was limited and there was a desire to offer a programme at the same level in French, the Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar decided to open a second centre of theological studies at Abidjan.
Arrupe College, a Jesuit School of Philosophy and Humanities, was founded in 1994 as an autonomous academic institution, owned and governed by the Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus in Africa. The initial aim of the college was to provide part of the training needed by young Jesuits on their way to effective Christian ministry, either as priests or as brothers.
Since 1996, the College has enjoyed the status of “association” with the University of Zimbabwe, and “affiliation” with the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. As a result of these relationships, the College is able to present candidates for a degree in philosophy. It aims to give an intellectual and pastoral education in the Jesuit tradition. It is open to all students who meet all requirements for admission and desire to follow one of its philosophy programmes that, in various ways, integrate philosophy with religious studies and some other subjects in the humanities. These programmes would prepare some for religious ministry or teaching, some for work on behalf of social justice or other responsibilities of citizenship. Admission is open to all qualifying applicants, irrespective of sex, race, or religion.
Formation Centres maintained by provinces (MDG and ACE)
- Institut Saint Pierre Canisius - Kimwenza, Democratic Republic of Congo
The Philosophate opened its doors in 1954 and after the creation of the Vice-province of Central Africa, young scholastics from Belgium and Spain were invited to study philosophy at Kimwenza. The institution celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2004. In 1975 a new programme of philosophy was implemented; this included, besides the fundamental courses of philosophy, a number of disciplines including human and positive sciences.
The affiliation to the Gregorian University was obtained in 1976. In 1999, the Faculty was incorporated to the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome by a decree of the Holy Congregation for Catholic Education. This incorporation concerns the two cycles and authorizes the faculty to confer the degrees of Bachelors and Licentiate of Philosophy.
In 2006, a Presidential decree granted final recognition to the ‘Faculty of Philosophy Saint Pierre Canisius’, granting it the status of a university institution with the same credentials as all the public university institutions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Philosophat Saint Paul, Antananarivo (MDG)
In accordance with a decision taken in 1972, the Society of Jesus decided to collaborate as far as possible with the Bishops Conference of Madagascar in the educational field. This was approved in 1973 by the Congregation of Education. In 1995 the Bishops Conference promoted the foundation of three faculties: Theology, Philosophy and Social Sciences. On account of this change in the Catholic University, the programme of philosophy was reduced to two years and Jesuits found it insufficient for the requirements of the Society. In 1997, with the approbation of Fr. General, the Philosophate of Tsaramasoandro was erected ad experimentum.
In 1999 the religious Major Superiors of the island asked Fr. Provincial to allow them to send religious to the Philosophate. Since the academic year 2009-2010 the name of Scolasticat Saint Paul’ has been changed into ‘Philosophat'.