Thank you for visiting our website and vocations page. It is wonderful to know that you are discerning if Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has filled your heart with His call of love to serve others through and within His Church. I hope that our website is helpful in your discernment as you take a look at our community — the Order of the BVM of Mercy: Mercedarian Friars, founded in 1218 by Saint Peter Nolasco.
I ask that you prayerfully read the materials we have placed on our site, especially the information about our formation program. I strongly encourage you to think about being a Mercedarian Friar yourself! You are invited to arrange a visit with us anytime here in Philadelphia. By visiting us, you will observe and share in our community life first hand. A visit will also allow you to speak with our friars — you can learn from them not only why they choose to follow Our Lord, but why as Mercedarians. Let me know first so I can make proper arrangements.
You are facing many choices and decisions that are not easy. Remember this, that you have personally been called by Jesus, Our Redeemer, just as the first twelve Apostles were. Trust him at all times. He will give you the necessary grace to not only say “yes” but guide you in the direction you should go. Ask for Our Lady’s prayers and guidance also in your daily prayers — she will never let you down. Keep in mind the words of the late Pope John Paul II from his Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata “a filial relationship to Mary is the royal road to fidelity to one’s vocation (VC, 28)!”
Find if you have a vocation as a Mercedarian Friar
Please fill out the General Information Form and return it to me as soon as possible so that I may be of greater assistance. That is what I am here to do — assist you in discerning what it is that Jesus is asking of you. You will be in our daily community prayers. I look forward to hearing from you. You may contact me be e-mail or phone. Remember, I am here to be of service to you. If you never try, you will never know.
In Saint Peter Nolasco:
Fr. Joseph Eddy, O. de M.
Director of Vocations
If I can be of further assistance to you please don’t hesitate to email me, or call me at 215-879-0594.
DISCERNMENT: During this period those interested in religious life, and in particular the Mercedarian Order, are in contact with the community’s vocation director. The director helps the individual understand what Mercedarian life and spirit is and how it differs from other communities. They explore the individual’s call from Christ and the possibility that he may be called to Mercedarian religious life. Applications to the Order are not given out until the interested candidate visits the local community in Philadelphia, PA (6398 Drexel Road) for a minimum three day visit. As many visits as possible are encouraged. The community will consider any Roman Catholic man, in good health and moral standing, between eighteen and forty years of age, who at least has earned a high school diploma, and knows that the greatest love one can give is the gift of his own life completely in exchange for the life and freedom of Christians in danger of losing their faith.
When accepted, the candidate usually begins his postulancy on August 22nd, the feast of the Queenship of Mary. The period of postulancy extends until the novitiate. During this time the postulant lives with the religious community in Philadelphia, PA, and fully takes part in the spiritual and communal life of the friars: prayer, meditation, Holy Mass, recreation, and apostolate.
This time is a period of transition to allow the postulant to adjust to living religious life so he becomes comfortable with the life and the community. At the same time this allows the Order to evaluate if the postulant is called to be a Mercedarian religious. The postulant takes part in conferences, with the Director of Postulants and other formators, that explore an introduction to prayer, meditation, Holy Mass, Our Blessed Mother, fundamentals of religious life, the vows, Saint Peter Nolasco, and the Mercedarian Order.
In addition to weekly classes on the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, the postulant, in most cases, attends seminary courses. Each postulant also meets personally with the Director of Postulants to discuss his personal and religious growth as a Mercedarian Postulant. There are monthly days of recollection, a weekly holy hour, and other spiritual programs. The postulant is encouraged to choose a spiritual director in the area from those recommended by the community. The postulant takes part in some apostolic work besides visiting the other Mercedarian houses and religious in the United States with their Postulant director. There is an opportunity for a vacation during the Christmas season while other holidays are spent with the community.
The novitiate is a one year period from July 8th to July 9th of the following year. Following a spiritual retreat, the novice begins this time with the investiture of the habit of the Order and a reception ceremony held with the friars gathered from the United States. During this year, the novice will deepen and intensify his love for Jesus and the Mercedarian religious life through study, prayer, and meditation.
Under the direction of the Master of Novices, the novice will study the history of religious life, the vows, the Rule of Saint Augustine, the documents of the Church concerning religious life, the Mercedarian Order, and its saints. During this time the novice will also become more aware of the customs and traditions of the Order, in particular, those associated with Our Blessed Mother who is honored as the foundress of the Order. Monthly days of recollection are held and the novice continues in his spiritual direction. The novitiate ends with the profession of simple vows: Chastity, Poverty, Obedience, and Redemption.
This is a period lasting three to six years in which the professed will renew vows annually. This period primarily aims at completing the friar’s initial formation to the Mercedarian religious life that he freely and consciously chose through his simple profession, in view of his solemn profession.
Here, the friar is to build upon and complete the novitiate formation from a spiritual, biblical, dogmatic, liturgical, and pastoral point of view especially by experiencing, in both theory and practice, the consecrated life, the charism, and spirituality of the Order. During this time the simply professed friar formally attends a nearby Catholic university or the local seminary to prepare himself for the work he will do within community.
While one’s formal education is at a Catholic university or seminary, the spiritual development of the simply professed friar continues within community under the direction of the Master of Students. A friar candidate for priesthood will complete philosophy and theology courses at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. A friar who is a brother, will also begin his formal studies in an area that he is talented in and that can be used within the Order’s apostolic work, for example: education, social work, prison or hospital ministries.
During the summer months, a simply professed for either priesthood or brotherhood may pursue specialized studies or apostolic experiences that will enhance his work and service to the Church and Order. All simply professed friars receive the same spiritual and temporal benefits of the Order as the friars in Solemn Vows.