“What joy it is to have such good sisters!” (Mother Francis Bachmann–Foundress)
In many of the relationships with our congregation, there is a process for becoming a member. This applies to all our forms of membership—Franciscan Volunteers, Companions in Mission, and vowed membership.
The processes have basic requirements/steps while still being sensitive to the uniqueness of each individual. In one situation we may “interview” someone in person while another situation calls for video conferencing. One person may need more background in the Franciscan charism than someone who has a degree in Franciscan studies. Additional details can be found in the tabs above.
Given this, the process of formation for vowed life with the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia includes the following basics:
Inquirer: Initial contact with the congregation while gathering information about our lifestyle, charism, prayer life, ministries, etc. (a month or two)
Discerner: Ongoing and deeper conversation with the congregation. Meets regularly with the charism promoter and with her own spiritual director. Visits local convents and/or the motherhouse. Attends discernment retreats with the congregation
Pre-Candidate: In the application process. (about three months)
Candidate: Lives in community with the congregation. Maintains her own insurance (car and health); pays room and board; participates in full-time ministry/work; meets regularly with the Candidate Minister; continues in spiritual direction. (six months to two years)
Novice: Lives in community. The congregation becomes fully responsible for all expenses. Intentional and formal studies/workshops/ministry/retreat experiences. Focus is on living the vows, prayer, community life, Franciscan charism. Continues to meet with a spiritual director and novice minister. (two years)
Temporary Professed: Lives in local community. Focus on balancing prayer, ministry, and community life along with other relationships with family and friends. Likely to take additional classes/training to prepare for ministry and/or to complete required studies as identified by the congregation. (three-five years, up to nine for serious reason)
Final Vows: Full member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. Able to participate in community life equally with all other sisters. Maintains a balance of prayer, ministry, community life, social activities, etc. (perpetual/ongoing)