FAQ: About the SVDs

The SVD Philippines Logo


What does “SVD” stand for?

Most members of a religious community use initials after their name to identify the religious congregation they belong to. For example, SJ stands for the Society of Jesus and OSF reflects the Order of St. Francis. SVD is Latin for Societas Verbi Divini. Translated into English, it means Society of the Divine Word. However, in the USA, we are more commonly called the Divine Word Missionaries or the SVDs.

SVDs of Ipil Mission District

Do your members wear a habit?

No. Today’s Divine Word Missionaries do not wear a distinct or specific habit here in the United States. Other Divine Word Missionaries who serve in different countries wear clothing that is acceptable within their ministries. While celebrating Mass and participating in other liturgical services, ordained priests and vowed brothers wear appropriate religious clothing. If a Divine Word Missionary is an educator or works within an institutional environment, he may wear formal or casual business clothing and priests may wear their clerical collars. As a Divine Word College student, you will wear casual student clothing and dress either formally or semi-formally for certain occasions and special liturgical celebrations.

Brother Paulino Bongcaras, SVD together with our mission partner in dialogue (Photo Credit: Brother Paul Bongcaras, SVD)


What is your charism?

“Charism” comes from the Greek word charis, meaning grace. Since grace is a gift that we receive from God without any merit on our part, as Catholics and Divine Word Missionaries we share this grace by using our own particular gifts for the good of others and to spread the Word of God. This grace, or charism, has continued to grow in the spirit of our founder, St. Arnold Janssen, and is reflected in our international community life and ministry. Divine Word Missionaries profess vows of consecrated chastity, evangelical poverty and apostolic obedience. We learn the language and cultures of those we serve and are open to leaving our home countries to minister in any one of our Society’s global missions.


The SVD kindergarten in San Vicente Ferrer Parish of Sabang, Surigao City (Photo Credit: Fr. John Dua, SVD)

What are the ministries that the Divine Word Missionaries are involved in?

The Society of the Divine Word has a wide range of ministries that include, but are not limited to:

· Parish pastoral and sacramental ministries

· Educational and religious training and teaching

· Evangelization

· Youth, adult and family programs and services

· Lay leadership programs

· Healthcare ministries

· Seminary formation programs

· Counseling and chaplaincy services

· Economic, peace and justice ministries

Yes, we are international! (Photo Credit: Fr. Ariel Tampus, SVD)

How many countries do you work in?

Today, Divine Word Missionaries serve in over 75 countries worldwide and number more than 6,000. We preach the Gospel and share the Word of God by living, working, teaching, and sharing with others in many areas of global ministry. The society has grown to encompass four main SVD mission zones: AFRAM (Africa), ASPAC (Asia/Pacific), PANAM (the Americas), and EUROPE.


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