With the kingdom of Heaven as her goal, the religious sister aims for purity of heart. She is single-hearted, focusing her gaze solely on the Lord.
This is a beautiful and radical way of life that requires formation: the process by which one is gradually conformed to Christ. A woman’s desire for formation arises out of the penetrating awareness of God’s love for her and the subsequent realization that she is made to reciprocate this love. Willing to change her ways and conform herself to Christ, she cooperates with God’s grace and opens herself up to spiritual, intellectual, apostolic, and human formation. Much guidance and support is provided to the candidate in the formation program, primarily from the formation directress, Sr. Adriana. This process is gradual, as evident in the stages of formation outlined below.
“He said to them, “Come and See.”” – John 1:39
The purpose of postulancy is to prepare the candidate for novitiate. The primary objectives of postulancy are to develop the virtues necessary to live the religious life and to discern the presence of a religious vocation. This is accomplished by observing and living the common life, and generously giving of oneself in the formation program. Postulancy lasts for one year and ends with entrance into novitiate.
“They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him…” – John 1:39
This is the official entrance into the religious life. The purpose of the novitiate is formation in the charism of the institute and definitive discernment of the presence of a vocation. This is accomplished by means of contemplative formation and study. The novitiate lasts two years and ends with the religious profession of vows, at which point the woman receives her white habit and religious name.
“One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.” – John 1:40
This stage is marked by ongoing formation in preparation for the profession of perpetual vows. The purpose of the juniorate is to deepen the religious sister’s formation of the Norbertine charism and foster the grace of perseverance. A junior sister does this by continuing to live the common life and receiving professional formation. Depending on the individual, this could mean earning a master’s degree in theology, teaching credential, etc.
The purpose of ongoing formation is to fan into a flame the grace of vocation given and sealed at profession. This is achieved by means of regular (annual) retreats and consistent days of recollection, sabbaticals and pilgrimages, and living generously the religious life.