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When a man is accepted to join the Society of Jesus, he spends two years as a novice. A novice spends much time in prayer as well as in a variety of apostolic experiences as he tries to be sure that he has a vocation as a Jesuit. The Society of Jesus also studies the novice to be sure that he can be allowed to take vows of religious life at the end of the novitiate.

The community of novices, with a novice master as its superior, lives in the novitiate. The term also refers to the two-year period that ends with a novice taking first vows. The full 30-day retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are a key component of the novitiate experience.

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