Stages of Formation
After continued prayer, authentic discernment with a spiritual director, and acceptance into the community, a young woman who feels the call to be Christ's bride as a Missionary of the Word will begin a period of six months of aspirancy with the community. During this time the young woman will live within the cloister, live the daily horarrium of the community, and open her heart to learn more deeply what religious life is. The young woman is introduced to the apostolate and spirituality of the community.
An aspirant who freely discerns, with the blessing of her superiors, to continue formation will enter upon a year long postulancy. Postulancy is the time for a sister to grow more deeply in self-knowledge and to encounter the Lord who loves her completely and calls her to Himself. Intentional focus is given to human formation which will lay the foundation for the intellectual, apostolic, and spiritual formation to come.
Novitiate is a critical time in a sister's formation. Upon acceptance into novitiate the young woman will receive her religious name and the habit of the community. The two years of novitiate will be divided into an active/contemplative year and a canonical year. In her canonical year, she will no longer engage in the ministry at all, but will fully give herself to growth in self knowledge and prayer. This is the time where a sister seeks to be rooted deeply in Jesus Christ. A religious vocation is not a call to be a social worker. First and foremost we are called to "BE" with Christ, to remain in Him, to abide with Him, to belong to Him. Hence, during novitiate a sister seeks to encounter the living Lord ever more deeply and to give herself to Him unreservedly, growing daily in spousal love for the Divine Bridegroom. It is a time of learning to pray and being formed in the charism and spirituality of the community to which Jesus has called her. During these two years a sister prepares with her whole heart to to take vows.
After three and a half years of formation, a sister who knows her heart to be irresistibly drawn by Christ may freely choose to request permission to take first vows. Within the context of a public Mass, a sister will profess the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to Jesus Christ. She will be His spouse and, understanding the gravity for the gift, will seek to respond unreservedly to Him in Love, imitating our Lady who always said "YES" to Jesus. Sisters will profess these vows for a year and will renew them for up to five years. During this time a sister be given greater responsibilities within the community and the apostolate.
After a sister has had first vows for at least three years, she may request to take final vows. Having decisively discerned that she is called by Jesus to give her life to Him as a Missionary of the Word until death, a sister may request permission from the community to take final vows. With the blessing of her superiors she will vow poverty, chastity, and obedience for life. At this time a sister will finish the initial formation process within the community and assume full responsibility within the apostolate. Formation of a religious, however, is never fully completed and she will continue to have ongoing formation throughout her life to be renewed and to deepen her relationship with her Divine Spouse.