What is it? Who gets it? How do I know if I’ve heard it?
The call to religious life is one of life’s mysteries. For some of us, the call came easily and felt as natural as growing up knowing you want to be an artist or a doctor. For others of us, the call felt like a bolt out of the blue—an improbable, “You want me to do what?” For yet others, the call came as a gnawing feeling or question that just would not go away.
In the videos on the right, some of our Sisters provide an insight into how they experienced being called to this life.
Have you felt a call?
You are feeling called. Now what?
It’s important to share your sense of call with someone you trust—and with someone who can help guide your next steps of inquiry.
You may feel called to religious life but have no idea of the different ways it might be lived. Or you may feel called to a particular religious community you know or have heard about.
Take some time to learn as much as you can about religious life and the various ways in which it is lived:
» Visit community websites and Facebook pages.
» Read articles and books about religious life and orders.
» Fill out the Vision Vocation Match to find religious communities that match your calling (www.vocationnetwork.org).
» Participate in the online www.ANunslife.org community.
Then, plan to visit the community you are drawn to or the various communities you are considering. Most communities host “Come and See” weekends. Meeting the Sisters and experiencing the spirit of the community is the best way to determine if it’s a good fit for you.
Our vocation director is happy to help you in your discernment.
You’ve lived the questions—and now you know. You are ready to take a leap of faith and seek admission.
This can be a pretty exciting—but also scary—time.
Untitled by Leonardo Shinagawa, used under CC BY / original image retouched and cropped
Our Sister Joan Delaplane, OP, offers some insights that might be helpful. When she preached on the Feast of the Annunciation, Sister Joan said, “What is crucial to note is that Mary was asked to give only one YES at a time. She did not have to know or understand what lay ahead.”
None of us knows what lies ahead—or what God might be asking of us five years from now. But we only need to give one “Yes” at a time, as Sister Joan points out, trusting, as Mary did, that it “could only take her where the God of LOVE already is.”
The first “Yes” involves formally applying to the Congregation. The application packet includes:
- Formal application forms providing general information, family background, etc.;
- Certificates of birth, baptism and confirmation;
- Statements from doctors regarding general health, eye and dental information;
- Transcripts of academic achievement;
- Letters of recommendation from a family member, an employer, an Adrian
Dominican, an educator/colleague, and a friend;
- Psychological evaluation by a licensed clinical psychologist delegated by the Congregation;
- A statement of reasons for wanting to enter vowed religious life;
- A financial statement;
- An autobiography; and
- Letters of recommendation from the Director of Vocations and the woman’s mentor.
In our community, the Admissions Board makes a recommendation to the General Council, which makes the decision to admit.
The journey into religious life involves a process called “formation.” Having crossed over the threshold into religious life, formation is the process of slowly taking on its mantle to see if it fits—and then preparing for a vowed commitment to the life.
It is a process of deep discernment, study, and experiencing the new. We call it “initial formation,” as formation is a process that continues throughout our lives. As Dominican women, we are called continuously into greater depths of love, awareness and service in the mission of Jesus.
Candidate. The journey for most women admitted to the Adrian Dominican Congregation begins with candidacy. As a Candidate (or “Postulant,” the term we use in the Philippines), a woman is introduced to the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Candidacy is usually spent in Adrian, Michigan; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; San Fernando, Philippines; or another suitable location where the Candidate experiences living and working with Adrian Dominican Sisters. Candidates engage in study and reflection on the identity and history of the Congregation, and in regular dialogue with the Formation director.
Novice. The Novitiate is a two-year period that prepares a woman for full participation in Adrian life in mission as a member. When the woman is admitted to the novitiate, the Novice assumes the title “Sister” and engages in the study of Scripture, theology and spirituality, history of the Dominican Order and the Congregation, and mission in the contemporary world. She participates in community life with Adrian Dominican Sisters, the liturgical life of the Church, ministry, and in regular dialogue with the Formation Director to confirm her call and make a decision about commitment.
One of the two novitiate years is a canonical year centered on personal development, spiritual growth, and preparation for vowed commitment as a Dominican Sister of Adrian; the other year typically involves ministerial experience as well as study.
Temporary Professed. Vowed membership begins at the end of the novitiate when a Novice seeks and is granted permission to profess temporary vows to the Congregation. Through the Prioress, the Congregation receives the new member in mutual commitment. By profession, a woman shares fully the life in mission of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and assumes the rights and responsibilities of a member of the Congregation.
After a time of temporary commitment, typically three to five years, during which the mutual discernment continues, a member may request permission to profess her final vows. Formation continues in the ongoing journey of deepening of the call to Dominican life in service to the Mission.