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Life of a Religious

The Essentials > Life of a Religious


Religious Life for Women  |  Religious Life for Men


Religious Life for Women

If you are wondering if the life of a religious sister might be for you, you will find an almost bewildering variety of ways to live out that vocation. Some sisters have one special work or ministry; others minister wherever there are needs. Some sisters live in convents and large buildings; others live in small houses or apartments. Some wear a recognizable religious habit; others dress as the people they serve.

Some sisters are visible in parishes and human service agencies; others live a more secluded life with longer periods of prayer.

If you are wondering about the life of a sister, you will want to talk with some sisters, gather information about religious communities, visit some sisters’ motherhouses or other residences, and certainly join with other searchers and discerners.

The next sections will help you. Welcome!

Becoming a sister

What happens? How long does it take? Most religious communities have several stages by which one becomes a member:

Inquirer: A woman contacts a community vocation director, asks lots of questions, eventually finds that God is calling her to this specific community. She then moves through the application process, involving interviews, an autobiographical essay, physical and psychological screening, letters of recommendation, transcripts of study, and other steps.

Candidate or Postulant: The woman begins her formal journey by spending one or two years “as though” she were a member of the community. She continues her ministry or study, lives with the community, and experiences community life “from the inside.” She meets regularly with a director and frequently takes advantage of special workshops or opportunities to grow in the spirituality of the community.

Novice: The most sacred part of the journey. Here the woman, now known formally as a Sister, spends two years in intense prayer, reflection, study of the spirit and history of the community, and coming to know herself as God’s Beloved. Central to the novitiate is the study of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as the novice prepares for her first profession. Often novices are given the opportunity to experience some of the ministry of the community. The novitiate experience is the heart of formation as a Sister.

Profession of Vows: After her novitiate and an extended retreat, a novice professes her first vows and becomes a member of the community. These vows are ordinarily for three to five years, allowing the new Sister to continue her formation, study, and reflection. At the end of the period of temporary vows, the Sister makes final profession in the congregation.

Throughout her time of formation, the Sister is supported by members of the community and by regular retreats, recollection days, spiritual direction and spiritual reading, and a host of other opportunities to deepen her interior life.

 

Finding a Community

How do I know which community God is calling me to? One step would be to look at a number of websites to read about the spirit or “charism” of different communities. Be attentive to the inner attraction that you may have while reading. Email the vocation director or contact person from that community to find out more. You may want to even visit a community which interests you to meet them first-hand. Finding a community can be as simple as being attracted to those sisters who taught you or worked with you. It may take a bit longer if you have not had that kind of an experience. The RCDA Vocation Office is available to help you in your search. (Fr. Anthony Ligato 453-6690)

Visit our list of some of the communities that serve the Diocese of Albany

Take our Religious Life Survey if you are interested in learning more about your gifts and want to talk to someone about them.

Take our Quick Vocation Test

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Religious Life for Men

If you are wondering whether you might be called to a religious community of men, you will find a great array of ways to live out that call. Some religious priests (or “order” priests, as they are sometimes called) are pastors in parishes; other priests and brothers minister in parishes in any way helpful. Some are found on college or university campuses; some are teachers in secondary schools. Some brothers and priests wear a recognizable religious habit; others dress as the people they serve.

There are religious communities composed totally of priests and communities of brothers. There are also communities whose members may be either priests or brothers.

If you are wondering about the life of a brother or a religious priest, you will want to talk with various communities, visit some residences and ministries, enter into dialogue with a vocation minister, and certainly join other searchers and discerners. The search can be long but God will tug at your heart as you continue to explore options.

The next sections will help you. Welcome!

Becoming a Religious brother or priest

What happens? How long does it take? Most religious communities have several stages by which one becomes a member:

Inquirer: A man contacts a community vocation director, asks lots of questions, eventually finds that God is calling him to this particular community. He then moves through the application process, involving interviews, an autobiographical essay, physical and psychological screening, letters of recommendation, transcripts of stud, and other steps.

Pre-Novitiate or Postulancy: The man begins his formal journey by spending a specified period of time “as though” he were a member. He experiences community life “from the inside,” meets regularly with a director, and takes advantage of special opportunities to grow in the spirituality of the community.

Novice: The heart of the journey. Here the man spends one or two years in intense prayer, reflection, study of the spirit and history of the community, and becoming grounded in his vocation. Central to the novitiate is the study of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, as the novice prepares for first profession. Frequently novices are given the opportunity to experience some of the ministry of the community.

Profession of vows: After his novitiate and an extended retreat, a novice professes first vows and becomes a member of the community. These vows are ordinarily for three to five years, allowing the new member to continue his formation, study, and reflection. At the end of this period the man makes final profession in the congregation.

Formation for Ordination: If the man and the community discern that his call is to the ordained priesthood, the man also pursues the lengthy course of study prescribed by the Church.

Finding a Community

How do I know which community God is calling me to? One step would be to look at a number of websites to read about the spirit or “charism” of different communities. Be attentive to the inner attraction that you may have while reading. Email the vocation director or contact person from that community to find out more. You may want to even visit a community which interests you to meet them first-hand. Finding a community can be as simple as being attracted to those brothers who taught you or worked with you. It may take a bit longer if you have not had that kind of an experience. The RCDA Vocation Office is available to help you in your search. (Fr. Anthony Ligato 453-6690)

Visit our list of some of the communities that serve the Diocese of Albany

Take our Religious Life Survey if you are interested in learning more about your gifts and want to talk to someone about them.

Take our Quick Vocation Test

Top

 


 
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