Choosing the path of a religious vocation is a joyful and important process. It is an ongoing opportunity to listen carefully and prayerfully to God’s call. The Marianist Sisters have four stages of initial formation.
- Temporary Profession
A young woman who wishes to discern a possible vocation with the Marianist Sisters on a deeper level can apply for the Contact program. A Contact makes a commitment to establish an on-going relationship with the Sisters in a particular community by sharing meals and prayer with the community and by meeting occasionally with one of the Sisters to discuss her discernment. In addition, Contacts are invited to special celebrations, Contact retreats, and other discernment opportunities.
In response to someone’s request to become a Contact, the Sisters also make a commitment to support the Contact with prayers, presence, and friendship. They also commit to including the Contact in various activities in order to allow the Contact to get to know the Sisters better.
Contacts with the Marianist Sisters do not typically live in community. Contacts are always welcome, however, to spend a weekend or 1-2 weeks in a “live-in” experience. There are no limits for how long a person can be a Contact.
When a contact, in dialogue with the Sisters, prayerfully decides that she is ready for the next phase of discernment, she begins the Pre-Novitiate. A Pre-Novice lives in community and fully participates in community life. During the Pre-Novitiate, the young woman has a Pre-Novitiate director – a Sister with whom she walks in discernment.
There is no “formal” program of study, however, in living in community and meeting with the director, the Pre-Novice begins to understand what it means to live the life of a Sister. It serves as a sort of “orientation” to the life of a Marianist Sister. Typically, the Pre-Novice also has a ministry with which she is involved. The time of Pre-Novitiate can be anywhere from six months to two years.
The Pre-Novitiate is followed by a two-year period of Novitiate. The Novitiate is considered to be the most important time of initial formation. During the first year of the Novitiate, the Novice examines closely her call to the religious life, her relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and her understanding of the Marianist charism. In order to facilitate this reflection, the Novice does not work in a ministry during the first year and has formal classes with a Novice director.
Also, it is during this first year that the Novice considers the history of the Marianist Sisters, the Sisters’ Rule of Life, and the vows. The second year of Novitiate is also a time of deepening in the charism, however, this is done in the context of ministry and preparation for professing vows.
4. Temporary Profession
Once the second year of Novitiate has come to an end, the Novice is ready to profess vows for the first time. The vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability are professed annually for a period of five to seven years. It is these vows that join the woman to the Marianist Sisters. According to the Rule of Life, “The period of temporary profession is a time of deepening in one’s vocation, integration into the life and mission of the community and of apostolic, theological, and professional formation.”
At the end of the five to seven years of temporary profession, the Sister professes perpetual vows.