Step By Step
(enjoy the pics of Sr. John-Mark’s progression through these steps…at least the ones we have photos of!)
Getting to Know You – Beginning discernment with our community starts with a simple email. Tell us a little bit about yourself, ask any questions you might have, and share with us where you on the discernment journey. Usually this email is followed up with a phone conversation and more questions and answers and encounter and sharing and getting to know each other. It’s all very simple and human. This first step is often the hardest for those who aspire to Religious Life, as well as to those who feel just ‘a little’ open to it and to those who are curious: “Could God really be calling me?”. Remember that sending that email or making that phone call does not require that you have any of the answers. It’s a simple inquiry into our Life and a sharing of the journey; it’sinviting another to accompany and support you as you seek God’s holy will, whatever that may be.
Duc In Altum Retreat – Often the next steps that is suggested is to make a 3 day silent directed retreat here at Our Lady of Solitude Monastery. The retreat is aptly named: DUC IN ALTUM (Latin for “Launch Into the Deep”). Duc In Altum retreats serve to put the tools of discernment into the hands of discerners. Through silence, spiritual direction, talks on pertinent discernment issues, and much time for prayer, retreatants are invited to go deeper into the Heart of Christ and there – from this place of security, light, and peace – to enter into authentic discernment. While Duc In Altum retreats are not exclusively geared toward discerning the PCPA way of life, they are helpful for those who wish to proceed in discerning our Order.
A young woman’s discernment with the community formally begins with a week-long aspirancy. This week provides an opportunity for the aspirant to be immersed in the life by living the same daily schedule as the nuns, spending time with Our Lord in adoration, and getting to know the Community through observation and encounter. If the time of aspirancy leads the young woman and the formation directors to believe that she has a potential call to this community, she begins an application for candidacy.
A new candidate to the monastery joins in the life of the community in its fullness. Living within the Monastery, she takes part in the formation lessons, Divine Office, adoration, and monastic work and recreation. This immersion live-in experience gives the candidate an opportunity to assess both her call to contemplative life and to this particular community. Candidacy also providesan opportunity for the community to come to know the candidate. If after 3 months both the candidate and the community mutually desire that the candidate continue on in discernment with our community, then the application process continues.
After the application process is successfully completed, the candidate is accepted for entrance as a postulant. Postulancy denotes a preliminary period before entering the novitiate of our Order. Postulancy is derived from the Latin word “postulare” which literally means “to ask”. During this time, the postulant deepens her understanding of the Catholic faith and learns something of our Poor Clare way of life, our history and spirituality. Also during this time, she learns how to adapt to this new way of life, as she continues to discern her vocation. The duration of postulancy is typically one year, then the postulant may petition the Community to be admitted to the novitiate.
After the successful completion of Postulancy, the Sister is invested in the Holy Habit, receives a new name, and begins her Novitiate. Novitiate typically is 2 years in length. During Novitiate, the Sister continues her formation with special emphasis on the vows, as well as learning about the charism, customs, and history of the Order.
The Vowed Life
After Novitiate, the Sister makes her First Profession of Vows. She professes to live in poverty, chastity and obedience for 1 year, in accord with our Constitutions which are based on the Rule of St. Clare. These Vows may be renewed each year for five years. During this time of formation, the Sister is a Junior-Professed nun.
After about 8 years of formation and five years of temporary Vows, the Sister make her Solemn Profession of Vows. This is the definitive moment of her life-long commitment. And it is at this time that she becomes fully incorporated into the Community.
(Sr. John-Mark is a junior professed member of our community! Keep her in your prayers as she journeys towards Final Vows)