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Each one of us is on a life-long journey to discover how we can become the person that God created us to be, this is God’s dream for each of us. As religious sisters we use a process of formation to help us in this search. The following will give you an idea of the process a young woman can undertake that could help her discover the dream God has for her. Below the ‘Process of Formation’ are a list of ‘Questions’ we have been asked about our life.
At each stage of your journey you will be accompanied by a sister who will help you to discern if you are ready for the next stage of formation.
This is the initial stage when you make contact with the Vocation Ministry Co- ordinator and begin to meet regularly to explore where God is calling you to at this stage in your life. These meetings usually take place once a month for a period of one to two years. If at the end of this you want to know more about the life of the Religious Sisters of Charity then you can apply to become a Postulant.
This next stage is a gradual introduction to the way we live our lives. This period lasts from six to twelve months and during this time you will live with one or two of our communities and become familiar with, and participate in, some of the different ministries that we are involved in. You will also continue to reflect on and discern God’s call in your life.
If at the end of the Postulancy you feel that God is calling you to continue your journey with the Religious Sisters of Charity, then you can apply to become a Novice. The Noviciate lasts for two years. During the first year you will learn more about the life and spirituality of our foundress Mary Aikenhead, what it means to live a vowed life and about the charism and mission of our congregation. The second year will focus on an experience of ministry and community life outside the novitiate.
TEMPORARY PROFESSION –
On completion of the novitiate, and after prayerful consideration, you make your First Profession. Here vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service of the poor are made for a period of three years and can then be renewed for a further three years. During this time you will live in community and continue to discern God’s call in your life.
FINAL PROFESSION –
After a period of six years in temporary vows and following a period of preparation and prayerful discernment you can apply to make your Final Vows to the Religious Sisters of Charity. This decision is made in consultation with the General Leadership Team of the Congregation.
How long do you pray for each day?
Each day we attend Mass in the parish and generally have Evening Prayer of the Church/Office together in the evening. Individually we meditate/contemplate usually on a Scripture passage for an hour in the morning and have short times for prayer, reading a spiritual book and reflection throughout the day.
Why don’t you wear a habit or religious dress?
We wear a gold ring and a crucifix. A habit is not relevant for the ministries we do today.
Can living in Community be difficult?
In modern day society the emphasis is very much based on individualism, so living in Community provides a real opportunity of learning to live together. This is never static but demands a renewed response daily. Our aim is to live a balanced life of Mission and Community, sharing time for prayer and celebrations.
Do you have to be a virgin to become a sister?
No, but you do need to be growing in self-awareness and be ready to live a celibate life.
Do you have time to be with your family and friends?
As with any other vocation/way of life, it is important to nurture loving relationships. Usually we have breaks with friends or family during the year.
Why dont you get married?
We choose to be celibate so that we can devote our time to God and to serving the needs of others.
Do you miss not being married and having a family?
Yes, at times. Like any other choice in life, sometimes you may wonder what life would have been like if you choose another path. But most of the time we are at peace with the way of life we have chosen.
Do you have your own money?
Yes, we have money to buy personal things, like clothes, toiletries etc.
What do you mean when you talk about poverty?
Poverty is having an attitude of respect for creation, using the goods of the world to help others. For us it means, not having personal ownership of what we might earn, it is used for the good of all.
What do you mean when you talk about chastity?
We talk about celibacy, it means a willingness to live for others, without having an exclusive sexual relationship.
What do you mean when you talk about obedience?
Obedience for us means to listen to God, to the needs around us, and to our sisters appointed or elected to leadership, so that together we can try to serve where the greatest needs are.