The first stage of the formation process in our community is Postulancy which lasts between six months and one year. It begins with the simple entrance ceremony during which the postulant consecrates herself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and receives the Tau Cross as a sign of her desire to strive for conversion and to learn our community’s way of life.
During this period, the postulant participates in the daily life of the Sisters, is introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours, attends classes taught by the Director of Postulants, and participates in the community’s apostolate. She wears a simple black dress.
As the postulant feels more confident of her vocation to religious life and our community, she petitions for admittance into the novitiate. This period of formation lasts between one and two years. The entrance into the novitiate is a simple rite at which the postulant receives the religious habit and a white veil. She also receives a new name by which she will be known from this time on. Novitiate is a time during which she deepens her relationship with Christ through prayer, study and community life. The novice studies the Rule and Life of the Third Order of St. Francis and our Statutes, is initiated to the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience and is formed to lead the life of perfection in the spirit of our association.
After the time of novitiate, if both the novice and the community discern that she has been called to religious life, she requests to profess the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for one year. Mother Superior receives her vows during the ceremony within the Mass. The newly professed sister is given the black veil, the medal of our community and our Statutes. The sister renews her vows annually for two more years before she makes the profession of vows for the rest of her life. During this time, she becomes fully engaged in the community’s apostolate or professional studies.
After three years of temporary vows the Sister seals her resolution to belong completely to Christ for the rest of her life by perpetual profession. At the profession ceremony which takes place during Mass, she receives a plain gold wedding ring as the sign of her spousal union with Christ.
Formation in religious life does not end with perpetual vows. We are formed in the responsibility to learn throughout life, open to be taught by any fragment of truth and beauty found around us, by everyday life, by our own community, by our brothers and sisters, by prayer and by apostolic fatigue, in joy and in suffering, until the moment of death. But above all we are formed through the voice of Christ that comes to us in his Bride and our Mother – the Church.