1. INQUIRY AND GETTING ACQUAINTED: First steps in discerning a call to religious life include praying, asking questions, seeking advice, meeting with a spiritual director, exploring a variety of communities, and learning about qualifications. Through this process the inquirer is discerning if religious life is the best way for her to live out her life in a healthy, happy and holy way. She is also seeking to find a community where she feels 'at home' and where she identifies with the community's charism and spirit.
If the inquirer is attracted to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and desires to become a vowed sister, she contacts the Congregation Vocation Director. She then meets regularly, if possible, with the Vocation Director or a Regional Vocation Team member located in the East coast USA, West coast USA or the United Kingdom. She is invited to vocation retreat days, visits community gatherings of the sisters and ministries of the Congregation, and participates in other ways to become acquainted with our charism, spirit, and community members. She also learns about the qualifications to become a vowed sister.
2. APPLICATION FOR CANDIDACY: After mutual discernment with the Vocation Director/Regional Vocation Team member, the woman makes formal application to become a Candidate. This process includes receiving the following from the applicant: application form, autobiography, medical exams, letters of recommendation, immigration documents, and background and credit checks. A psychological assessment takes place sometime during Candidacy. The Formation Director and Congregation Leadership meet with the applicant for discernment of readiness for Candidacy
3. CANDIDACY: When accepted to Candidacy, the Candidate lives in a CSJP community household with other sisters, joining in prayer, Eucharist, and daily life. The Candidate continues her work/career or participates in a volunteer ministry. (Financial arrangements between the Candidate and the Congregation are agreed upon.) The Candidate Director assists her in the on-going discernment and introduction to religious life and community living. Candidacy usually lasts about one year. All personal debts need to be paid off by the end of candidacy. At the end of Candidacy, the Formation Director and the Candidate Director, with the Candidate, discern if Novitiate is the next appropriate step. A recommendation to begin Novitiate is made to the Leadership Team.
4. NOVITIATE: The novitiate, a two year period of prayer, study and ministry experiences with people who are poor, takes place in a setting with other novices of the Congregation and the Novice Director. The novice is no longer employed at her previous job and is supported by the Congregation. After mutual discernment and acceptance, the novice celebrates profession of first vows: poverty, celibacy and obedience.
5. TEMPORARY PROFESSION: The newly professed sister lives in community and begins a new ministry or continues her previous ministry. Perpetual profession of vows takes place three to six years after temporary profession.
6. FINAL PROFESSION!
Sisters Chero and Sukyi at Sukyi's final profession.
"So yes, we are forever beginning, and the best we can do is be very grateful that each new beginning is one more chance to grow. "
Margaret Byrne, CSJP