Tertianship & Final Vows

The Tertianship

This stage of formation comes usually several years after ordination, or in the case of brothers, after several years of apostolic work as young brothers.

The name “Tertianship” comes from the Greek word for the number three, for this stage is considered to be the third year of the novitiate.

Having gone the full cycle of studies (Novitiate, Philosophy, Regency, Theology) and then a few years of apostolic work, Tertianship gives the young Jesuit the opportunity to re-immerse himself in the spirituality of St Ignatius. 

This includes experiencing, for the second time, the thirty day retreat of the Spiritual Exercises, studying the Jesuit Constitutions and recent General Congregations.  After the retreat, Tertians then go for insertion experiences, often to live among the poor and marginalised, similar to those made in the Novitiate.

Final Vows

At the end of Tertianship, which usually lasts just under a year, the Jesuit is invited to apply for final vows, by which he will be fully and finally incorporatd  into full membership of the Society of Jesus. 

By this time, the Jesuit will have already been a member of the Society of Jesus for 12 or more years.  


Frs Chiedza Chimhanda and Anesu Manyere SJ

final vows

Arrupe College chapel, October 2011

During this time he has been living under the 'Simple' vows made at the end of the Novitiate.  The final vows he now takes are Solemn vows; the main practical difference being that Simple Vows are relatively easy to be dispensed from when a young Jesuit finds that he is not in the right place, and wishes to leave the Society of Jesus.

In addition to the solemn vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, the Jesuit priest promises 'a special care for the instruction of children'.

He also makes a special fourth vow to the Pope 'in regard to the missions'.

This is a vow to go anywhere the Pope will order, 'whether among the faithful or the infidels, without pleading an excuse, and without requesting any expenses for the journey, for the sake of matters pertaining to the worship of God and the welfare of the Christian religion' (Constitutions 1:8).

The Jesuit then makes three further promises.  He promises not to do anthing to alter the Jesuit rules on Poverty, unless to make them more strict.

^ Frs Chiedza Chimhanda and Anesu Manyere SJ making the additional promise before Zimbabwe Provincial Stephen Buckland, October 2011

However the Jesuit is always learning; so formation remains a lifelong process of continual conversion and growth in the Spirit.