Members and Formation

“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

Like most religious communities we follow the traditional stages of formation: Aspirancy, Postulancy, Novitiate, Simple Vows, and Perpetual Vows. As a young woman expresses interest in the community she is first welcomed to come and spend some time with the community, through afternoons of prayer and service  weekend retreats and then for longer periods. Then when she is ready to enter she will begin her process of application.

Process of application: This process includes,

  1. A personal request to continue her discernment with our community 
    • This includes an autobiography 
    • A written reflection on her process of discernment and understanding of religious life. 
  2. A letter from her pastor 
  3. Two letters of recommendation 
  4. Psychological evaluation 
  5. Sacramental records 
  6. Medical physical evaluation 

Our formation program for the Sisters encompasses the traditional four pillars of formation, human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. Each of these stages will seek to form the young woman’s heart helping her to discover herself more as a beloved daughter of God, a living member of the body of Christ with a particular mission in the Church, and a servant in Christ’s Church tending to the needs of God’s people.

Stages of Formation

“Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Aspirancy and Postulancy

This is the period of one to two years following entrance into the community during which the young woman gets to know the community and the community gets to know her. She takes part in all of the daily prayers and activities of the convent and attends classes to enlarge her knowledge of religious subjects including Scripture, the Catechism, Church documents and the spirituality of Saint Charles de Foucauld. She is guided in making the gradual transition from the lay life to the life of the novitiate. At the end of Postulancy, if both the young woman and the Community discern that it is God’s will for her to continue, she receives the habit of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth and a religious name.

Novitiate

Once accepted into the novitiate, a young woman will be in formation for two years. At this stage the young woman will begin to be called “Sister.” During this time, she will continue her religious studies and human formation. The Novice also studies the vows and the Rule and Constitutions. One of the Novitiate years is primarily dedicated to study and development of the interior life and the other is dedicated to introducing the Novice to the apostolic life of the community. At the end of the two years, if the Sister and the community discern that it is God’s will, she professes vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience, and Total Consecration to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for four years.

Simple Profession

During the initial period of vows, the Sister enters into a more intense phase of formation. During this time, the Sister renews her temporary vows each year, for a total of four years under Simple vows. During this time, the Sister receives guidance in the actual living of her vows. This guidance is spiritual, pastoral, doctrinal, and practical.  At the end of four years, a Sister may be invited to pronounce her perpetual vows or to renew her temporary vows if necessary.

Perpetual Vows

This level of vows concludes the Sister’s period of official formation, although growing in knowledge and holiness is the task of a lifetime. By entering into perpetual vows the young woman declares and the community recognizes in a definitive way that Christ has called her to be His bride, and that after years of prayerful discernment she is ready to assent to that invitation in a total and perpetual manner.

“The Bride has entered the sweet garden of her desire and she rests in delight, laying her neck on the gentle arms of her Beloved.”
(Spiritual Canticle by St. John of the Cross)