Perpetual profession makes one a permanent member of the congregation, legally speaking. I wonder whether these young men are aware and convinced of the implication of such a solemn and public oath before God and community, spiritually speaking. I remember some 14 years ago, when seven of us pronounced the final vows. I was preoccupied with visitors and food; it was my first experience of being at the center of public attention. Nonetheless, when finally I came to the line that said, "to live for life," it brought me chills. Such "chilling effect" is still felt whenever I witness perpetual professions of vows.
It's also interesting to see how the celebration of perpetual vows is refined through the years. There is always something new every year. This time, tarpaulin banners are much bigger (biggest) and seminarians begin to wear I.D's.
Although the rite of perpetual vows seems to be the culmination of around 10 years of seminary formation, it is also the start of the different rites of passage to become a full-pledged SVD missionary, usually lasting a year or two. In a matter of days, the five will receive their mission assignments. After few weeks, they will be ordained deacons and will be assigned temporarily to help in the parishes especially in SVD parishes nearby.This December or February next year, depending on the circumstances, they will be ordained priests. The next rite is graduation from Theology which signals the beginning of the preparation to the mission assignments. For those assigned as missionaries abroad, this includes securing a passport and visa, the first experience of an international flight, learning the language of the country---and finally, a missionary.
Sometimes, the experience is so overwhelming and fast-phase that some young missionaries within just a few weeks abroad decide to come home. This abbreviated mission assignment occupied my mind as I prayed for the newest full-pledged members of the Society of the Divine Word.