Province Archives

March 20, 2006

A Short Cut Novitiate

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 5:08 am

The usual training period for a student entering the Priesthood, or as a Brother, is after the completion of six months postulancy, and one year's Novitiate, Vows are then taken for three years and either final vows are taken or an extended term of postulancy of up to three years may be undertaken.

In more recent times Br Walter Nicholls C.P. had a shortened Novitiate of only six months.

Walter's exemption came about because of his age and health, more commonly known as "Nick" he was a skilled craftsman in wood, and worked with his father's wood turning business. Because of his craft, his skill and his loyalty to the Passionists he devoted much of his time to restoring and building furniture, pews and panelling at St. Josephs. Because of the hours he spent in this dedicated work he was invited to live with the community at St Josephs.

He then became a Passionist Oblate (The first in Australia) and in every way he lived the full life of a Passionist. At the age of 77 with special permission of the Superior General in Rome, Nick became a full member of the Passionist Congregation after have only completed a six month Novitiate.     While this was unusual it was not the first to have such a short Novitiate, because in 1877 a Samuel Gartland was ordained as Ildephonsus Gartland in Liverpool, England.

Ildephonsus served as a Passionist Missioner and Parish Priest in England, but whether tiredness or ill-health prevailed he left both the Passionists and England. It came to pass that he sought a warmer climate and began to work as a secular Priest in Rockhampton, Queensland. While working there news came through that the Passionists were about to make a second arrival in Australia. He yearned to make contact again with the men he had worked with and applied to rejoin. He was accepted but had to once more commence a Novitiate. Due to a shortage of active Missioners, and the previous knowledge that he was a very good Missioner, a dispensation was sought for him and he also had a much reduced Novitiate. It should be noted that by so doing he actually became the very first Passionist Novice to be accepted in Australia, and the very first to be Professed as a Passionist in Australia. Ildephonsus died at the age of 43 after working faithfully and diligently to his calling.

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