Novitiate is a two-year stage in the discernment process, which consists of the canonical year and the apostolic year.
Canonical or First Year
“The Canonical Novitiate year is primarily a year of prayer and reflection with a contemplative focus that necessarily implies a slowing down of activity and a quieting of the spirit. The Canonical year is ordinarily the first year of the Novitiate.” (Formation Handbook)
Your canonical year is a very structured period in your formation with concentrated time for discernment through prayer, study, community and ministry. You will be introduced to a variety of prayer styles to deepen your relationship with God and to find the prayer style that fits you. You will plan prayers and preach to one another, too. You will be introduced also to chanting the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours.
In a supportive peer group of other Dominican Sisters and novices from other congregations, you will:
- learn about the vows, the history of religious life, and contemporary religious life in the 21st century
- learn about Scripture, justice issues, and theological reflection, and how to preach
- participate in community activities and plan these activities
- learn various communication skills that can nurture healthy and compassionate communication and community life
- experience the Dominican family on a broader level.
While ministry might seem to have a smaller role during this year, it is important that you be open to the unknown by challenging yourself to new areas of service or ministry. Another aspect of the canonical year is the opportunity to gain a deeper awareness of self from workshops, integration, prayer experiences, and meeting with your novice director weekly.
Apostolic or Second Year
“The purpose of the Apostolic Novitiate year is to integrate the learning from the Canonical year into the Novice’s life in community and ministry. The Apostolic year is to be flexible to fit the needs of the individual Novice. The Novice ordinarily works in full time ministry, a volunteer position, theological study, an immersion experience, or a combination of these. Contemplation would be an integral part of each of the options. It is strongly recommended that efforts are made to balance ministry, prayer, and community with emphasis on integrating the contemplative dimension of Dominican life begun in the Canonical year.” (Formation Handbook)
During the apostolic year of your novitiate, you learn how to integrate and live out all that you have been provided in the previous year, while you still receive support from your Formation Minister (bi- weekly) and Director of Formation (periodically). “Our congregation seeks to embrace the apostolic life by honoring the vision of Dominic and his followers. As members of the Order of Preachers, we are challenged to integrate contemplation, study, common life and ministry. We call forth the diverse gifts of our members in a community of love and mutual respect, providing for one another the environment conducive for prayer, study and ministry.” (Formation Handbook)
Note: The symbol of the cross shown on this page, represents the gift you will receive during your welcoming ceremony into the novitiate. You will receive the Constitutions of Dominican Sisters of Peace as well.
Each stage in the discernment process of becoming a Sister calls you to reflect on your growth up to the stage completed and the stage you are entering. May these questions serve to further your growth in knowing yourself, in living with others in community, and in deepening your relationship with God.
- How does your prayer life sustain you? What have you learned about your relationship with God?
- What have you learned about yourself, about the Dominican family and mission?
- How does religious life sustain God’s call for you?
- What are your thoughts and feelings about our congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace?
- What do you see as your responsibilities as we move into the future together?
- What is your understanding of the vows and how do you plan to live them?
Scripture Passage or Quote