Different Stages of Formation

Recently someone left this question in the combox: What is daily life like in the novitiate, and how is life different in community for junior and perpetually professed members?

Our newly professed Sr. Rose Marie was asked to respond...

Life in the Novitiate...

Life in the novitiate is designed to help us to ease into cloistered religious life, so that this big adjustment is made more gently. A postulant or novice participates in community life while not yet having the full responsibilities of a professed religious. She goes to all of the community liturgy, recreation, and meals. She also has some work to do in the monastery like house cleaning, kitchen work, garden work, laundry and other things like that.

She is under the supervision of the novice directress, who keeps her in line, helps her to learn and live Passionist life through spiritual direction, and also provides classes for formation… and a lot of other wonderful things as well! Basically, she helps a formation sister to discern while gradually growing into a deeper spiritual life and into community.

While a postulant or novice participates daily in community activities mentioned above, there are also specific times of the day when the novitiate sisters do things separately from the professed members of the community. They have 45 minutes of class time daily in the mornings as well as 30 minutes of study time every afternoon. They also pray the rosary and have recreation together in the afternoon.

Life as a Sister for Six Years in Temporary Vows...

When a novice makes her first profession of vows, she moves out of the novitiate into the professed cell wing. She is then directly under the superior rather than the novice directress, though she (the newly professed sister) may also be assigned another professed sister to supervise her work and her spiritual needs. She gradually begins to participate more in community work and responsibility assigned to her by the superior. She continues to have some study time and moves up to begin taking classes once or twice a week with the other junior professed members of the community.

In place of other class time, she instead does spiritual reading in the mornings. She may still join the novitiate a couple times a week for the afternoon novitiate recreation and rosary. I have only been a junior professed sister for 2 weeks, so I, myself, am still figuring out how life is different in community for a junior professed sister.

Schedule for Sisters in Perpetual Profession

My understanding of a perpetually professed sister’s day is that she works more closely with the superior concerning her community work and responsibilities (which are more serious) and her spiritual needs. Rather than class time, she takes time for spiritual reading in the mornings. She has study time every Wednesday afternoon. She usually does not participate in novitiate activities unless she is the novice directress or for a special reason.

There is much more that can be said, but I hope this is helpful. As you can see, the length of my respective paragraphs for each stage of religious life is an indication of my experience!