Each formation year of the 2nd Cycle consists of two semesters. The duration of this cycle is normally three years. Students embark on a study of theology and Scripture. A high quality programme of studies is offered to the students consisting of a wide range of courses and a flexible curriculum. Emphasis is placed on dialogue and learning together, which is promoted by small group work and in other suitable ways. Balance, integration and continuity between the different academic courses are promoted at all times. Apart from academic formation, personal formation of the students is also of prime importance. With a formator to accompany him through this period of formation, the student is affirmed, encouraged and challenged through the various stages of growth in personal development. A spiritual director is available to guide and accompany the students in their desire to open themselves to the Spirit who forms them. Formation in, through and for community is an integral part of the overall formation programme. All students are expected to attend and participate in and to prepare the community prayers and liturgy and to engage in all the various aspects of community living. Through the missionary/pastoral experience, the students learn to relate to a variety of people and to be with them in the pains and tragedies of their lives, as well as in their joys and successes. Students are helped to root their experiences of ministry in prayer and to reflect theologically on the meaning of their experiences. Special attention is given to the preparation of students to become effective ministers of the Word and the Eucharist and faithful servants of the People of God. This preparation reaches its climax in the admission of the students to the ministries of lector, acolyte and, in the case of priest candidates, the ministries of deacon and priest.
At the appropriate stage, a member in temporary oath will present himself to the General Superior and his Council for acceptance as a perpetual member. After the usual procedure for acceptance (C29), the General Superior, with the consent of his Council, will make a decision about his acceptance. If the decision is positive, the candidate will be invited to take the Perpetual Oath. By the taking of this Oath, the candidate is granted permanent membership in the Society. This will be followed by ordination to the Diaconate in the case of candidates for priesthood. The new member will then receive his first missionary appointment from the General Council.
Some time after taking the perpetual oath, students for the priesthood are ordained deacons. Deacons who have completed their academic studies now work full-time in diaconate ministry/others complete their studies during the week and exercise their ministry at weekends. The setting for the exercise of the diaconate is normally the local parish within the vicinity of the house of formation. In the case of full-time placement, the deacon normally lives in the local area and returns once a week to the house of formation for meetings with the pastoral director and other members of the formation staff. Deacons are offered the opportunity to become familiar with the wide variety of aspects that go to make up parish ministry: the pastoral care of individuals in need, social concerns, liturgical ministries etc. On completion of the formation programme, students are ordained to the priesthood, usually by the local bishop in the home parish.