Fr George Bwanali SJ Professes Final Vows


When friend and family learn that a Jesuit is about to profess his final vows, they often wonder why it takes long and wonder what final vows are for if they are already living the life of poverty, chastity, obedience already. 

On the 4th of April 2018, the Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe-Mozambique celebrated with the “fully professed” Fr George Mtaja Bwanali SJ, as he pronounced his final vows. 

He pronounced the vows in front of Christ himself (eucharist, during consecration) , the Provincial, Fr Chiedza Chimhanda SJ representing the Superior General, Fr Arturo Sosa SJ and hundreds of his Jesuit brothers and friends at Arrupe Jesuit University. 

His profession, similar to many final vows candidate, came after his journey of nineteen years since he joined the Society of Jesus. 

A final vows candidate undergoes tertianship which is usually the formation period preceding the Superior General’s call to the candidate to take his vows. The other formation stages for Jesuits include the novitiate, philosophy studies, theology studies, regency and diaconate. 

It is at the end of the novitiate where the novices take simple vows or first vows, committing to entering the society. These vows sustain them through their years of Jesuit formation and in their ministerial work

At ordination and Jesuit priests just like all other Catholic priests pronounce vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. 

The solemn profession of Final Vows is a reaffirmation of one’s commitment to God, the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus. After "solemn" vows, the "fully professed" take five "simple" vows, privately--after Mass, in a side chapel or a sacristy. 

These vows include the vow never to change anything in the Jesuit Constitutions about poverty--unless to make it "more strict,”  a vow never to "strive or ambition" for any dignity in the church, like becoming a bishop.  

The other vows are never to "strive or ambition" for any high office in the Jesuits.  The fourth and last one are that if one finds out that someone is striving for these things, one is to "communicate his name" to the Society and that one take a vow that, if one is somehow made bishop, he will still listen to the superior general.

Fr Bwanali SJ joined the Society of Jesus, in 1999 and was ordained into priesthood in 2010 and later started his tertianship in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. 

After completing any post-ordination studies and working for at least three years there is one final year of formation in which the man re-does the first year of the novitiate which include the famous Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola also known as the 30-Day Retreat. 

It is the Superior General who extends the invitation to one to pronounce his final vows.

In his homily, Fr Joe Arimoso SJ explained that ‘invitation is a key word and very important in the society with Humility as a key factor’

Fr Arimoso SJ said as much as there is always a reason to want to become a Jesuit it is very important for one to find a reason to want to stay a Jesuit which requires commitment. 

“By the grace of God one stays committed no matter the obstacles that come along the way.”

On discernment, Fr Arimoso SJ said “invitation underpins discernment.” He pointed out that discernment is being subtly “compromised in every area of life therefore is the Jesuits’ biggest fight to maintain discernment at all levels.”

“To be a Jesuit is to know that one is a sinner yet called to serve. When you commit to serve the Lord, God deals with the sinfulness.”

“All candidates for final vows must stand out as disciples of Christ according to the gospel, for this is ultimate norm for a religious life,” he said quoting from the constitutions.

We pray for and congratulate Fr George Mtaja Bwanali SJ. May our Lord strengthen him in his mission.





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