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Vocation

Discerning the Call

As Pope Francis has said, “Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit.” Thus, the first step and on-going necessity in discernment is always prayer. But what next? For a young woman who feels drawn to our Carmel, the next step is to begin dialogue– complete the vocation inquiry form and contact the vocation directress, or attend a retreat. If she is unable to attend our scheduled retreat dates, another time can be arranged to make a short, private visit. If her attraction to our life persists and she has the necessary qualifications to potentially embrace our way of life, i.e. is under the age of 30, in good physical and psychological health, then an indefinite period of more intense discernment is initiated, involving on-going communication with the vocation directress and another longer visit (or several more visits) with our community. If both the community and the young woman feel that the Lord is, indeed, calling her to our Carmel, she may ask to enter and, if accepted, begin the process of religious formation…

Postulancy

“I have come because I feel that our Lord has called me,” says the postulant upon her entrance into Carmel. “I desire to follow Him more closely. For this reason I ask you to permit me to study your way of life in responding to the Lord’s invitation.” In this first stage of religious formation lasting about 1 year, the postulant experiences our Carmelite way of life from within. She shares in our common life and our prayer, and gains a variety of experiences in our apostolate as she continues to discern the mystery of God’s divine call in her life.

 
 

Novitiate

Religious life officially beings with the postulant’s entrance into the novitiate, at which time she receives the habit, a white veil, and her religious name. Throughout this 2 year period, the novice remains largely within the silence of the convent enclosure acquiring a foundation of recollection and self-knowledge. She strives to become filled with the spirit of the Gospel and of the congregation spending much time in study, prayer, and reflection in preparation for profession of vows.

 

Temporary Profession

The novice professes the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience for 1 year, becoming a professed member of the community and a bride of Christ. At her profession, she receives the black veil, her profession rosary and crucifix, and her religious title. She is now a professed member of the community, engages in the apostolate, and may be asked to pursue, or continue pursuing, a college degree. She continues to deepen her relationship with Christ and her understanding of the vows through lived experience. In this way, she prepares herself for her total gift of self to God and His Church.

 

Perpetual Profession

After 5 years of temporary profession, the Sister professes perpetual vows through which she is consecrated by the Church and set apart exclusively for the service of God forever. She freely and joyfully binds herself to her divine bridegroom for all eternity. The Sister receives a card containing the Beatitudes after which she must model her life, as well as a cross inscribed with her name and date of perpetual profession. “Receive this cross,” says the celebrant, “for you are betrothed to the eternal King; keep true faith with your spouse, so that you may come to the wedding feast of eternal joy.”