Our Formation Stages
A woman discerning our congregation must be between 18-35 years of age, have a high school diploma, have good physical, mental and emotional health, along with a pastor’s or spiritual director’s letter of recommendation.
This first formation period lasts anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 year, depending on the individual discernment and subjective needs of the candidate. During aspirancy, candidates begin to gradually participate in the life of the community by attending times of prayers as well as helping with external works, and even the apostolate. Candidates will continue to dress in lay clothing.
The purpose of aspirancy is to allow the candidate to discern and pray about whether or not she has a calling to religious life, and particularly to our congregation. If the candidate comes to the discernment that indeed this is the Lord’s will for her, she enters into postulancy.
Postulancy is the time of transition from lay life into religious life. In postulancy, a candidate progressively abandons the way of life characteristic of a lay person and assumes a consecrated lifestyle proper to our Dominican charism. During postulancy, the candidate comes to learn more about the congregation as the congregation comes to know more about her. Her religious education is deepened as she begins her formation classes which involves theology, Scripture, salvation history, congregation history, customs, and more.
During this time, the postulant grows in her spiritual maturity and deepens her life with God. Postulancy lasts from 6 to 12 months.
In this stage, the novices are vested with the Dominican habit. They are now visibly incorporated into the Order. During this critical time of formation, the novices deepen their union with God even more so as they prepare for their first profession of vows. They spend this year in prayer and study. Their formation is focused on learning the theology of consecrated life, particularly the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. They continue to study the history and spirituality of the Dominican Order, as well as the Constitutions, history, and spirituality of our Congregation especially passed down by our Foundress, Mother Kolumba Białecka.
This canonical stage last at least a year but no longer than two.
Juniorate begins after the profession of the first vows. This stage lasts 6 years, although it may be extraordinarily shortened to 3 years and extended up to 9. This period focuses on the intense deepening of the Sisters’ consecrated life as they mature in their gift of vocation in which God is seeking them. They are called to nourish their interior life with God through prayer and through fidelity of their vows. They slowly take over the responsibility of their own spiritual growth as they actively participate in the apostolate. This time serves to help the young religious grow in their religious maturation. During this time, the Sisters may also pursue professional education for the good of the apostolate.
The last year of juniorate before perpetual profession is called “final juniorate”. It serves as a second novitiate in preparation for the final profession they are about to make to the Lord. During this year, they spend more time in prayer, meditation, study, and community formation.
After perpetual vows, the Sisters now continuously strive for perfection by living more fully the realization of their vows. As the Church and our Constitutions indicate, religious formation is an ongoing process that occurs throughout time and lasts an entire life. Therefore, the Sisters continue to work out their salvation even after the years of initial formation. We hold formation sessions, days of recollection, retreats, etc. to aid this process.