Becoming a Dominican Sister
“Become who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St Catherine of Siena
I am always so glad when I hear of dear generous souls listening to the call, ‘Follow me’, and obeying it at once, never looking back.
Mother Rose OP
A period of initial contact, known as Enquiry, normally lasts between one and three years. During that time, we offer to accompany any Catholic woman who is discerning her calling to religious life, offering support through prayer as well as information about religious life and our Congregation of Dominican sisters.
During this time of prayer and questioning, the Vocation Promotion Coordinator is a source of information, guidance and support. She may arrange for an enquirer to visit one or more Communities and may also lead you in a ‘Come and See’ retreat experience.
It is God who calls to Religious Life, and also who directs those who respond throughout their lives. … The person called is primarily responsible for her own formation, since she alone can freely and spontaneously choose to accept the call and all it implies.
Remember, if we hear the call and refuse our Divine Lord simply calls another one and we lose the crown and perhaps our souls.
Pre-Novitiate is a time of preparation for entrance into the novitiate (Constitutions 42)
Once you make the decision to join us, the first formal step is to write to the Congregation Prioress asking to be received into the Pre-Novitiate and stating your reasons for wishing to become a Dominican sister with us. Then you will receive an application form from the Vocations Coordinator who will guide you through the application process and arrange necessary interviews.
During the Pre-Novitiate, which normally lasts one year, a Sister will be your Formator to guide and instruct you as you learn to live in Community, pray the Liturgy of the Church, learn about our way of life and come to know the sisters in the Congregation better. All of this is about preparing yourself for entry into the Novitiate.
The Pre-Novitiate provides the time and space for continued discernment and learning more about the Dominican way of life.
The Novitiate lasts for two years, during which you and the sisters continue to discern whether you are being called to be a Dominican religious with us. It is a time to learn to live the Dominican life in Community with others, and to learn about our way of life and traditions. The Novitice Mistress is responsible for the programme of formation and for offering guidance during these months and years, with the support of other Sisters. The Novitiate is a time of relative withdrawal and inner quiet, rooted in and sustained by a life of community and personal prayer so that you may come to know and love Christ better. It is also a time of preparation for the commitment that will be undertaken at Temporary Profession.
‘May the Lord who has begun this work in you bring it to completion.’
Novices must vie with each other and see who will become the greatest saint. May you be filled with the true Dominican spirit of child-like obedience, never unduly questioning – cheerful and prompt obedience, loving and trusting as a little child obeys its mother.
The Novitiate is a time of relative withdrawal and inner quiet during which the novice comes to know and love Christ better through her study of Scripture and theology. It is also a time of initiation into Dominican religious life, and to facilitate this, the novice begins her study of the history, traditions and spirit of the Order and congregation as well as the Rule and Constitutions.
“Following our Lord Jesus Christ, the sisters work to spread the kingdom of God on earth.
We entered the religious life to sanctify ourselves. How did we intend to sanctify ourselves? By a perfect observance of the three vows and by the faithful observance of the Constitutions approved by the Holy See.
By the profession formula we make our promises to God, to Blessed Mary and Saint Dominic, who are giving us a pledge of our faithfulness.
At the end of the two-year Novitiate, a Sister must ask to be accepted to make Temporary Profession for at least three years.
As a Temporary Professed Sister, you will be assigned to a new Community to continue your Dominican formation and where you will become involved in pastoral ministry and more formal theological studies. Throughout these three years, a Sister will be assigned as a Formator or mentor to support and challenge you as you deepen your commitment as a consecrated Sister.
If at the end of this period of temporary commitment you, and the Congregation feel you are indeed called to this way of life, a lifelong commitment of Perpetual Profession may be entered into, in the sure hope that the Lord who has called you to this way of life will give you all you need to be faithful to it.
So now have courage, take the daily ups and downs and be cheerful. God is waiting for us.
Mother Rose OP
May the Lord who has begun this work in you bring it to completion.