The Process to Become a Sister
Formation refers to the formal process and stages of discernment in religious life. At each stage, the work of formation includes the input of the individual and the community. The initial formation period includes the following stages including canonical requirements through an individualized approach.
Inquiry and Discernment:
The discerner contacts one or more religious communities via an email, phone call, or through the website, stating an interest in religious life and their community. The discerner has an initial meeting with the vocation director, who offers information regarding: the community, discernment techniques, ways to connect with the community, etc., and answers any questions. She begins or continues to meet regularly with a spiritual director.
As she visits with various communities, she notices where she feels most at home and starts to narrow down the number of communities she is meeting with to one or two. The discerner spends time with the community at prayer, meals, ministry sites, and community events. During this process the discerner is meeting regularly with the vocation director.
Apply to become an affiliate. Application process includes written essay questions and an interview with vocation director and congregational leader.
The discern who is now called an affiliate meets monthly with a local community of sisters and the vocation director to deepen their discernment with this particular community as well as a greater understanding of religious life. The affiliate typically continues in their current job/ministry and does not live within the Presentation community at this time. However it is a time to build relationships and get to know the community.
Apply to enter the community. Application process includes more in depth evaluations, an extended written application, and an interview with the vocation director and congregational leader.
The affiliate now is called a candidate or in some communities called a “postulant” after her entrance ceremony. The candidate year is a year of firsts: first time living in a Presentation community, first time connecting ministry with Presentation mission, and first connection with candidates from other communities in the pre-novitiate process. At this point, the candidate transitions from meeting regularly with the vocation director to meeting regularly with the formation coordinator, who now accompanies her through the upcoming initial stages of membership.
Request to begin novitiate. Following a self-evaluation, local community discussion, and evaluation from the formation director, the discerner submits a letter to the congregational leader requesting entrance to novitiate which is followed by an interview.
The woman is formally received into the community as a novice and now has the title of “Sister.” Novitate is a two year process. Canonical year involves profound and intentional reflection, prayer and discernment. She focuses her time on exploring the meaning of vows, religious life as a Presentation, and the charism of hospitality, which happens through the Presentation community, an intercommunity novitiate, and possible formal studies.
In the apostolic year of novitiate, the novice engages in ministry and learns to integrate and balance community living, personal and communal prayer, ministry, maintaining relationships with family and friends as she discerns becoming a vowed member of the community.
Request temporary vows. Following a self-evaluation, local community discussion, and evaluation from the formation director, the novice submits a letter to the congregational leader requesting vows for one to three years which is followed by an interview.
At the temporary profession ceremony, the novice professes the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for one to three years. The period of temporary vows is commonly known as "first vows.” She now is known as a vowed member of the community engaging in ministry and participating in community life. This period of time can last 3 to 9 years, with the vows being renewable until the temporary professed sister and the community discerns she is ready to profess final vows.
Request final vows. The temporary professed sisters submits a letter to the congregational leader requesting perpetual profession. She enters a period of deepening discernment and intentional preparation.
At this time, a woman expresses her desire to permanently commit to living her vocation as a Presentation sister taking “final” or perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. This "final profession" is celebrated in a public ceremony with community, family and friends.