Vocations Director,

The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Redemptorist Community, Redeemer House, P.O BOX 29585, Secretariat P. O, Ibadan, Oyo State

If you feel God is calling you to join us please reach us


Co-Founders of the Vocation Office

by Fr. Godwin Abbah, CSsR Rev. Bro. Dan Hall, CSsR Rev. Fr. William Peterson, CSsR

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What is Discernment?

In simple terms we can say that discernment is the search for clarity about what God wills for us. From childhood to adulthood there are time when we hear conflicting voices about our purpose in life. It is not uncommon for Catholic boys and girls to wish to be priests or Religious Sisters while growing up. While some would change their minds after proper discernment others continue for the same reason. In childhood it is normal to hear different voices about our purpose in life. It could be the voice of one’s parents, a role model, a guardian or an idol. Whilst it is possible that God may be speaking to us through these voices, as in the case of young Samuel (1Sam 3:4-20), it is also possible for them to becloud the actual voice of God who is constantly speaking to us. But how do you know the difference? This is why Scripture admonishes us to ‘test all Spirits’ (I John 1:4).

To distinguish the voice of God from other voices we must learn to seek the Lord in silence. You would remember the story of the prophet Elijah in the 19th chapter of the first book of the Kings. He sought God’s voice in the earthquake and noise but could not hear him. He heard God’s voice only in the stillness of a ‘gentle whisper’. So it is for the one who seeks to discern properly. You must make room for silence. Speak to God heart to heart. Cultivate a genuine relationship with him. Speak to God in that intentional silence that you create. It is only in this continuous seeking and being found by God that the soul will find its true purpose and rest in doing the will of the Father.

There is no guarantee that everything of what God whispers to you in silence will always be crystal clear. Faith must mark every step of the journey. St. Alphonsus says “the soul that prays will not be lost”. Though he was speaking of the certainty of salvation for the one who prays habitually but understood in the light of discernment it could mean that the one who prays will find his or her true vocation in life.

Depending on what the Lord tells you; whether he is calling you to be a married person, a Priest (Religious or Diocesan), Religious Brother, Religious Sister or Single, the next step is very important. It is advisable to have someone journey with you. This person could be a spiritual director or someone you consult often. A stable spiritual director would be more beneficial in this context.

In other words, It would be very helpful to have someone discern with you. St. Teresa of Avila, whom St. Alphonsus admired very much, always advised that the one who seeks God should have a knowledgable person journey with them. Such a person could be your Parish Priest, Chaplain, a Religious Sister or Brother, a knowledgeable married person. By ‘knowledge’ here we mean knowledge in the things of God and of the Church. Even though at the end of the day the result of discernment has to be a decision made alone with God It is always helpful to have someone walk with you to some distance before you continue on your way with the Lord.

In summary, Christian discernment and decision-making are not possible without prayer as their foundation. Every Christian vocation calls us to the gift of prayer, that powerful and wonderful awareness of God’s love offered to us each day. Crucial for discernment and decision, especially in the life of a Redemptorist seminarian, is the realization that God will speak through inspiration, through people and through the events of daily life.

It is not always easy to be a Redemptorist priest or brother, but to all those who choose to live this life, God has promised a hundredfold reward in this present life and eternal happiness in the life of heaven. It is in this realization that Redemptorists live their lives as men who are “strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists as apostolic men and genuine disciples of St. Alphonsus, follow Christ, The Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in gospel simplicity of life and language that they may bring to people plentiful redemption”

Finally invite our lady to journey with you. She knows what is like to be called by God to do something great for him, to do something beyond yourself with the gift of your life. So ask her and she will help you.

God bless and Our Lady keep you!

Fr. Godwin Abbah, CSsR Vocations Director


The Redemptorist formation program covers the human, spiritual, community, pastoral and academic dimensions of the formandi. Each of these aspects are interwoven at every stage of formation but they receive special emphasis at each stage. The different stages are as follows;

1. Live-in Experience The first step leading to admission into the formation program of the Congregation is the live-in experience. It is a five-day experience in which aspirants who have been selected for interview are invited to live with us for that period of time. In these five days the aspirants have the opportunity to interact with our confreres in the formation house. They also get to ask questions about our life in general. The Admissions Board conducts the whole exercise. They interview the aspirants using various techniques in order to know their suitability for our way of life. At the end of the experience the admission board proposes a list of candidates to the Superior. Those admitted by the Superior will resume as the new Pre-novices at Materdomini, the Pre-novitiate house in Enugu.

2. Pre-novitiate Phase 1
This is the first stage of entrance into the Congregation. The Pre-novice experiences this period of initiation into the Redemptorist way of life for a period of 9 months. During this time, he learns the basics of Redemptorist life and also acquires academic skills in preparation for studies in the Seminary.

3. Philosophy (Pre-novitiate Phase 2)
The Pre-novice, upon approval by the competent authority, moves from the first phase of the Pre-novitiate to the second. While the first lasts for 9 months the second would be for a period of four years. During this time the student focuses on intense academic formation while learning how to live in charity with his brothers in community. This period also involves some basic training and emphasis in other aspects of Redemptorist life that he would not have been exposed to at the earlier stages.

4. Novitiate Year Upon successful completion of his study of Philosophy and with the approval of the competent Superior the Pre-novice is admitted to the novitiate. Canon law requires that the novitiate must not be less than 12 months and not longer than 2 years (Canon 648)). In discerning the suitability of a candidate for the novitiate there is heavy emphasis on age, health and maturity of the candidate. This period of his life is very crucial as this is where the discernment of the suitability of the Pre-novice for the Redemptorist way of life becomes stronger than at any other time in his initial formation (Const 86). This one-year period is dedicated to silence, prayer, reflection and learning of the spiritual life under the direction of a competent Novice Director. This may be done with Redemptorist students from other units in the Conference of the Redemptorists of Africa and Madagascar (COREAM). Most Professed Redemptorists owe the foundations of their Redemptorist lives to their novitiate experience.

5. Profession of First Vows
At the end of the novitiate, if approved by the competent Superior, the novice will make his first profession of vows. The making of vows is the proper initiation into the Redemptorist life. At this point he becomes recognized as a legal member of the Institute. Because it is simple vows, the confrere makes his vow for one year and he ought to renew these vows every year (or the period so determined by the unit to which he belongs).

6. Pastoral Year
The process of discernment that leads to the approval of the novice for first vows would also take into account his suitability to be sent on a one-year pastoral experience. The newly professed confrere would spend one year acquiring pastoral experience in a Redemptorist apostolate. This period is significant in his formation as he learns by observing and participation what it means to be a shepherd of God’s holy people. His assigned pastoral year director mentors him on the different aspects of this one-year experience. He is exposed at this time to the practical aspect of pastoral ministry which would aid his academic reflection in his study of theology at the end of this experience.

7. Theology
The study of Theology exposes the student confrere to the foundations of centuries of Christian reflection on divine revelation given to the church by God through Jesus, the Word made flesh. In this time, he not only learns the thought pattern of Christian thinkers but he also learns how to reflect on his faith journey and also how to assist others on the path to salvation. With the training in critical thinking learnt in his studies of Philosophy he would learn clarity of thought not as a purely academic exercise but as a spiritual attitude in which he learns how to listen to the voice of God and transmit it clearly in word and example. In Nigeria, depending on the Institute the study of theology may last between 3- 4 years.

8. Perpetual Vows
The requirement for making perpetual vows is that the confrere would have renewed his vows for at least 3 years in the Congregation. After this period, he undergoes a period of 30 days called ‘the spiritual month’ and nine days of of retreat. This period is sometimes called the ‘second novitiate’. On the day of his profession the confrere makes for life the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience together with the vow and oath of Perseverance. For us Redemptorists this is the high point of our consecration. This is the most celebrated event in the formative journey of the Redemptorist life. This is the end of initial formation and full entry into the life of the institute. This definitive moment marks the end of a phase of formation for confreres who are called to the Redemptorist Brotherhood. The Brother may move on from this phase to specialize in a particular field in which he and the Superior discern would help him further the message of plentiful redemption. The particular apostolate they embark upon may change over time, depending on the Apostolic priorities of the unit. For the confreres in formation for the priesthood the journey continues.

9. Diaconate Ordination
The Diaconate is the next significant stage for the confrere who is in formation for the ministerial priesthood. In some units the diaconate ordination happens immediately after the profession of perpetual vows. At the point of his diaconate ordination the confrere would have come to the end of his initial formation.

10. Priestly Ordination
As would have been evident by now each stage of formation requires the discernment of formators, Superiors and the formandi before he can proceed to the next stage. When that discernment is complete the deacon is approved for priestly ordination. His ordination introduces him into the fraternity of the priesthood of Jesus Christ instituted by Christ himself 2000 years ago. He would now live his life in this unmerited identity of a priest of Jesus Christ in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He would strive daily through prayer, study and love of the people of God to make himself ready and useful for whatever task the Lord calls him to do through the discernment of his legitimate Superiors

11. How Long is Initial Formation?
The ordination to the priesthood marks the end of the period of initial formation. The whole period of initial formation can be said to be a period of 10-11years. These figures are tentative. They may be more or less depending on different variables such as place of study, the unpredictable nature of discernment etc.

12. What Next? The next phase is called on-going formation. For a Redemptorist, formation never ends. A Redemptorist priest or Brother must continually empty himself and be shaped and re-shaped by the Holy Spirit for a fruitful ministry.


So who is a Redemptorist Brother? Sometime in 2019 I conducted the retreat of five Redemptorist confreres in our Vice Province who were preparing for their final vows. After the final vows ceremony I uploaded some pictures of the confreres at the final vows ceremony to our Facebook page @Redemptorist Vocations Nigeria. One of the comments on the picture was from one of our followers on the page. He had asked why the Redemptorist brothers making their final vows in the pictures I uploaded to the page were not wearing Chasubles (the outer regalia that a priest wears while celebrating holy Mass). Though I have modified it to some extent but what follows was my answer to him and I wanted to share that with the rest of you who would have come to this page to find information about vocation in general.

“Thanks for your question. It is a good question that will help me explain an aspect of church life that does not receive enough attention. A religious Profession of vows is not an ordination. Religious Profession is the entry into a life of consecration in which the Religious vows to live in the image of Christ who is poor, obedient and chaste. So, the Religious makes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. For a Religious Brother or Sister, perpetual vows is the high point of their vocation in the same way that ordination to the priesthood is the highpoint of the vocation of the diocesan priest.

It is important to make a distinction between two types of brotherhood in order to avoid confusion. a) there is a transitional brotherhood and b) there is a permanent Brotherhood. The transitional brother is the seminarian who is studying for the priesthood. His official title in the church is ‘seminarian’ or ‘clerical student’ but we loosely refer to them as brothers.

On the other hand there is the permanent Brotherhood. This type of Brotherhood is the one we speak of in this article as a vocation. A person who is called to this vocation is not in preparation to become a priest. He is called to a life of consecration through prayer and an active life of service to God and his people without feeling the desire to perform the duties of a priest. This vocation is not to be compared with the ministerial priesthood. Both vocations are different and each is beautiful in its own right. However, a person who is called to the vocation of the Religious Brotherhood cannot celebrate the sacraments (Holy Mass, Confession etc) as an ordained priest can. Neither does he desire to perform these sacred functions. The person is completely content and finds deep joy living his life as a consecrated person. It is a full and complete vocation in itself.

This understanding has been in the church since antiquity. As you would know, a lot of monks are not priests. Most of them are brothers. They are fulfilled in their daily striving for holiness and praying for the sanctification of the world. So are religious brothers and sisters! They are content just being either a Redemptorist Brother, a De La Salle Brother, a Dominican or a Franciscan friar, Jesuit or Salesian brother! There are religious Congregations for men that are for both Priests and brothers (e.g Redemptorists, Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians etc). While there are also Congregations that are completely for the Brotherhood; De LaSaale Brothers, Presentation Brothers, Little Brothers of St. Francis, Albertine Brothers, Brothers of Mercy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help etc.

The vocation to Brotherhood has suffered a steep decline in recent times. This came as a surprise post Vatican II experience. I say that because Vatican II launched a church for the laity. And since brothers are not on the hierarchical strata of the church it was expected that post Vatican II was going to be the era of the brothers. However several misconceptions about the brother such as seeing the brother as a ‘half priest’ and other factors has made this beautiful vocation suffer decline. It is important to keep in mind that these misconceptions do not change the inherit beauty of this precious vocation. In my little experience as a Redemptorist I have lived with brothers whose experience as Redemptorist brothers are just as fulfilling as their priest confreres. They add more flavor to community life.

Most Brothers specialize in professions that contribute to the growth of the mission of the Congregation in unique ways. For instance brothers have taken up professions like Architecture, Religious art (Iconography),Writing, Library Science, Nursing, Farming, Music etc. They bring the same zeal and fervor expected of every Redemptorist to whatever profession they take up. All is done with the intention of bringing plentiful redemption to as many as they can reach! Yes, they have challenges just like any other confrere but they soldier on in the spirit of the Redeemer! It is indeed for those who are called to it a vocation filled with immense joy and fulfillment!

One of the most popular Redemptorist Saints of all times is St. Gerard Majella (you can find his story on the saints section of this website). He is more known throughout the world as the ‘Mother’s Saint’. He lived a full, joyful and beautiful Redemptorist life. The Lord used him in so many ways to bring plentiful Redemption to many. Though he lived many years ago we are still drinking from his wealth of spiritual treasuries. St. Gerard is a shining example of the beauty of the life of a Religious Brother but more specifically, A Redemptorist Brother!

The Formation Process of a Redemptorist Brother
From the Pre-novitiate to the Novitiate the Redemptorist Brother receives the same formation with his confreres preparing for the Priesthood. This is so because we are fundamentally Redemptorists before anything else. This shared identity is first imprinted in all confreres at this foundational level before the specialization that comes later. Like his clerical counterparts the Brother confrere spends 8-9 months in the first Phase of the Pre-novitiate. He then proceeds to study Philosophy for four years whilst deepening his knowledge of his vocation and learning how to live in community.

This four-year period also doubles as Phase 2 of the Pre-novitiate. After graduation from Philosophy and with the approval of the competent Superior he would be admitted into the Novitiate. The Novitiate is a one-year period of silence, prayer, reflection and learning about the Redemptorist life under the guidance of a competent novice Director. More than any other time in his formation this period is the time when his suitability for the Redemptorist life is most intensely discerned. There is a deeper focus at this stage on the mystery of his calling to consecrate himself to God in this special way and future ministry as a Brother. After this period of discernment if he wishes to commit himself to this way of life and the Congregation discerns that he is well suited for this life he would make his first profession of vows as a Redemptorist. The making of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience is the first most significant commitment that the formandi makes in his journey into the Redemptorist way of life. At this point he becomes a legal member of the institute.

This ushers him into the one-year period for pastoral experience in a Redemptorist community and apostolate. He would be sent to work in a Redemptorist community where he would be mentored by his pastoral year Director; an older confrere who would journey with him during this time. When this period is over he would enter a prayerful dialogue with this his Superior about his ministry as a Redemptorist Brother. They would discern together the most suitable apostolate that the Brother could embark on. The chosen apostolate would be discerned within the context of the Apostolic priorities of his unit. Once decided, he would be engaged in this activity for at least three years whilst renewing his vows every year. When he completes these years of experiencing the vows and discernment he would apply to be fully admitted into the Congregation by making Perpetual vows.

Perpetual vows for a Redemptorist is the crowning of his years of initial formation and the centre of his consecration. He would make for life the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience together with the vow and oath of perseverance. This ceremony makes the Brother a full member of the Redemptorist Congregation. This, indeed is the most celebrated event in the life of a Redemptorist.

If you are reading this post and you feel God is calling you to a life of consecration but you don’t feel a compelling desire to be ordained for ministerial priesthood then explore it deeper with us. Contact us on this page or send an email to us in the information contained on this page and let us discern together!

If you are reading this but are not discerning a vocation but you have a brother in your parish please appreciate him more. Make him know that you appreciate his calling. Pray for him and encourage him as much as you pray for and encourage your priests. If you have questions feel free to ask in the comment section below

May St. Gérard Majella pray for the vocation to the brotherhood and may his intercession guide all young people who wish to discern their vocation on this path radical simplicity and joy! Amen.

For an exhaustive list of Religious Orders click on:


1. Aspirants must be at least 18 years of age.
2. Aspirants must possess Senior Secondary Certificate or its equivalent (WAEC OR NECO) with 5 credits including English language, Mathematics, Christian Religious Studies and two other subjects of choice.
3. Subject combination for University of Ibadan UTME (JAMB) qualification include English language, Christian Religious Studies and two other subjects of choice (consult the UTME brochure).
4. Aspirants must possess the original copy of their baptismal card.
5. Aspirants must have received all the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) before applying.
6. Aspirants between ages 18 -20 must possess at least SSCE or its equivalent (WAEC OR NECO). Aspirants who have attained a qualification from a tertiary institution must be 24 years or below.
7. Aspirants must come with the understanding that we are a missionary Congregation and therefore should be open to the learning of new languages. French is MANDATORY as part of the academic formation will be in French.
8. Aspirants will be expected to possess both typing and driving skills. Though these will be taught during the first stages of formation however an aspirant who already possesses these skills might stand a better chance.

In addition to the above it is important to highlight the fact that as a Congregation Parish ministry is NOT our primary focus. We are first and foremost missionaries. Our communities exist for the sake of the mission.
This ‘’mission attitude’’ is necessary for anyone who wishes to join our way of life. It also means that the aspirant must not be attached to any ideas of where they are to function as members of the Congregation but must possess a generosity of spirit and an openness to be sent wherever and whenever the Congregation needs them.
The Structure of our Congregation in Africa and Madagascar requires that a Redemptorist be ready to work in varied ministries in any part of Africa that our Apostolic life demands of us.God bless you!

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