Stages of Formation

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What are the Different Stages of Formation?

When a woman of faith considers a religious vocation, she begins a process of discernment, which Catholic theologian and writer Henri Nouwen describes as
“listening and responding to that place within us where our deepest desires align with God’s desire.”

Becoming a Sister is a gradual process of discerning God’s movement in your life as you seek to see if religious life is a good fit for you.  The formation process is a time of graced learning about yourself and your relationship with God, and how you are being called to serve others. Formation fosters this call according to our Dominican search for truth and our congregation’s mission to hear and proclaim God’s word while promoting the dignity of each person.

While the process is designed to be flexible and responsive to the needs of each woman, there are several stages within the initial formation process toward becoming a fully professed Sister.

Here’s an article you can read about three women and their journeys through the stages of formation as they were welcomed into the community by the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Still have questions? Talk with us.

Sr. Margaret Uche's Perpetual Profession

What are the Different Stages to Becoming a Sister?

    Stages of Formation with the Dominican Sisters of Peace
  • Candidacy

    The Candidacy phase of the formation process formally welcomes the woman into the Congregation. It is a time of continuing discernment for the Candidate and the Congregation.

    This phase is an opportunity for a Candidate to deepen her relationship with God and to begin the transition to religious life or to discern another calling.

    The length of Candidacy ranges from six months to two years.  At the end of this phase, the Candidate may request entrance into the Novitiate.

    Here are videos of some candidate’s welcome ceremonies:

    Terri Schell Paula Danforth & Shingai Chigwedere Tram Bui

    You can also listen to two candidates talk about their experience of transitioning from being a discerner to a candidate and about being a candidate during the coronavirus period.

    A Discerner’s Transition Into Candidacy

    Candidate Cathy Buchanan shares her experience of preparing to enter our congregation during the pandemic.

    Candidacy During Coronavirus

    Sr. Annie Killian shares how she had to reshape her schedule during the pandemic to add more time for prayer, journaling and personal reflection. She shares how inspired she was by her religious Sisters who were serving emerging needs. This helped her to move forward in her discernment and formation, recognizing how the world needs us “to speak a word of peace and bring God’s healing touch” to others.

    “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask God in my name, God may give you.” (John 15:16)
  • Novitiate

    The Novitiate focuses on deepening a Novice’s spirituality, as well as her understanding of the vows and mission of the Congregation. “A Novitiate of two years will offer the Novice time to spend one of those years as a Canonical Novice, and another year during which she may engage in further study or apostolic ministry.” (Constitution 30)

    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 and usually takes place at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate.

    During this second year, a novice integrates the learnings from the Canonical Year into her life in community and ministry. At the end of this phase, the Novice may request to make her first profession of vows.

    Here are videos of candidates being received as novices:

    Terri Schell, Shingai Chigwedere, and Paula Danforth
    Tram Bui & Cathy Buchanan

    Annie Killian
    “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask God in my name, God may give you.” (John 15:16)
  • Temporary Profession of Vows

    During this time of Temporary Profession, the vowed member seeks to deepen her Dominican Apostolic Life by continuing to interiorize and integrate all that she has learned and experienced during her time as a Candidate and Novice.

    The study program for those in Temporary Profession is designed according to the needs of the individual.  Workshops, articles, and books on a variety of topics may be considered for study.

    The length of this phase is not less than three years nor longer than six years.

    Here are videos of our Sisters making their Temporary Profession of Vows (or First Profession of Vows):

    Sr. Cathy Buchanan and Sr. Tram Bui Sr. Annie Killian Sr. Ellen Coates
  • Perpetual Profession of Vows

    Perpetual Profession completes the initial formation process.

    Each Perpetually Professed Sister has the primary responsibility for her continuing growth in intimacy with God and unity with all God’s people and all God’s creation through fidelity to her Dominican life of prayer, community, study and ministry.

    Here are some videos of our Sister’s Perpetual Profession of Vows ceremonies.

    Sr. Phuong Vu Sr. Margaret Uche Sr. Ana Gonzalez