Stepping out of a world of concern about grades at a University or from a world of driven professional practice, new members of the Sisters of Life are often surprised to find that the time of preparation for vows is quite different from anything else they have experienced previously. Formation is an education in the ways of religious life and in our charism; above all, it is an education in love that unveils the unique Image of God in each Sister while directing her to perfection in the life of this community.
Postulancy allows women a transition into religious life without the radical external changes of the habit or a change in name. Postulants live and pray with the Sisters, take classes, assist in the apostolates and work with a postulant director in continuing to discern God’s will.
After nine months, postulants enter the novitiate, receive the habit and begin to be called “Sister.” Two years in length, the novitiate consists of both a canonical and an apostolic year. Canonical year is a time of further separation from the world for the sake of deeper prayer and greater integration of religious identity. Apostolic year provides for extern periods at professed houses. Through the whole of novitiate, Sisters take classes and meet with a novice director in preparation for the vowed life and apostolate.
In all stages of formation, Eucharistic prayer fuels our efforts to grow in virtue and love. Living with others dedicated to the Lord and to the sacredness of human life brings joy and encouragement to our hearts as we place ourselves into the hands of the Divine Potter that He may empty us of what is not of Him, shape us into the vessel He has created us to be, and fill us with His Holy Spirit.
At first profession, Sisters receive the blue band and the medal of the Madonna of the Streets along with their first apostolic mission. The white veil, however, remains to remind us that transformation in Christ is the work of a lifetime. Perpetual profession is made after at least five years in vows. At this time, Sisters receive a simple silver ring as a sign of their permanent commitment to Christ, their one true Spouse.
“The process of formation and development in the religious life has to be the process of the clay in the hands of the potter, the Divine Potter, Who shapes us uniquely to be filled with His Son, and yet each of us in a different way… If God wanted every religious to be exactly alike, then God would have created every human being exactly alike.”
– John Cardinal O’Connor