Become a Sister
Discernment is about listening and responding to that place within us where our deepest desires align with God’s desire. As discerning people, we sift through our impulses, motives, and options to discover which ones lead us closer to divine love and compassion for ourselves and other people and which ones lead us further away. Robert A. Jonas
Discerning one’s vocation is a sacred journey that requires trust in God and an open heart.
Pray for guidance, for openness and courage to follow your inspirations despite any doubts. Pray for the wisdom to know your gifts and talents and use them to serve God and the church.
Look at your own history and your past experiences. Gather facts. Consider the pros and cons. Share your findings and get feedback from a friend, advisor or spiritual director. Ask yourself, “Will this vocation be life-giving to you and enable you make a positive impact in the world?”
Discernment may not always be easy but there will be some confirmation in the form of God's peace. It may come clearly or you may just have a quiet sense that the choice is right. The correct choice should bring you peace and should match your gifts and personality. This does require you to risk, however it can only draw you closer to God and who you were created to be. Take the leap of faith and join us!
Ask God for wisdom, patience, openness, trust, and any other grace you seek. Reflect on the call stories told in scripture such as Mary or the disciples.
Take time for silence everyday. Set your intention to be in the presence of God. Open your heart. Slow down from your busy life and create space within you so God has room to work. Consider centering prayer, adoration, or simply sitting in silence for a set period of time.
Talk with Someone You Trust
It is helpful to talk with a few others who know you well – friends, mentors, a spiritual director. They can help you sort out your doubts and questions and walk this journey with you. What do they see in you? Meet with a vocation director to ask questions and receive guidance throughout the discernment process.
Do research to find out more about religious life and specific communities. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. What makes you feel alive? Visiting communities may be the best source of information. Spend time with sisters and notice how you feel while you are with them. Where are you drawn?
Take a Step
There will come a point, after you have done all the steps above, when you need to act. Discernment is one step at a time. Don’t expect to have your whole life planned out. What is the next small step you can take?
The process varies in length, however it can take from 6 to 12 years to complete.
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 the 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.