Religious formation is a lifelong process that consists of various stages.
Sister Mary O'Donovan is the Vocation Director of The Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. She is the contact person who "walks" with the individual who is discerning a vocation. Since many experience anxiety and confusion in discerning God's will for their life, the Vocation Director is the initial link to the Congregation who will be there as a guide to answer all of your questions and to help you to focus.
The Postulancy is the initial stage of formation and is ordinarily an ten month experience.
When a woman becomes a Postulant she will spend her first and last months at the Motherhouse and the other six months are spent at one of the Homes served by the Congregation. The Postulant is given the opportunity to work with the elderly in the facility and to participate in the prayer life of the Sisters.
There are many different ministry roles that Sisters in our community assume; nursing, social service, administration, pastoral care, resident advocate, food service and others. A Certified Nurse's Aide Training program and other pertinent services are available for a Postulant with no previous experience working with the elderly.
Classes are given on the following: Spiritual life, Community history, Carmelite spirituality, Catechesis, and Community life. Our Postulant Director, Sr. Lois Wetzel, meets with our Postulants weekly to discuss their progress and any challenges. She is always available to offer guidance. If the Postulant is willing and deemed ready for the next step, during a ceremony of Reception, she will receive the Carmelite habit (brown tunic, brown scapular, white veil, white mantle), her name in religion and will begin the next phase of her religious formation: the Novitiate.
The Novitiate is a two-year period of time during which the Novice explores on a deeper level what it means to be a member of our Carmelite Congregation. This stage is overseen by the Novice Director Sr. Helena of Mary.
The Novitiate is a time where the resolve and suitability of the Novice is further discerned and where there is a focus on developing a solid spiritual foundation.
During this year, the Novice becomes more acquainted with the many facets of religious life. Classes are given on the Rule and Constitutions, the Vows of Obedience, Chastity and Poverty, Scripture, Prayer, Liturgy, Christian Doctrine, Vatican II documents, spiritual growth and development.
These classes are given by our Novice Director Sr. Helena of Mary as well as by experienced priests and other qualified speakers. We also take advantage of the many seminary-based courses offered by the Magdala Apostolate. The novice director meets with the novice weekly in what is called "formative meetings" to go over the growth process of learning and adapting to the new life. It is a time when the novice, with the help of her director, identifies her strengths and weaknesses as she fully embrace the religious life.
The Novice continues to learn and live the spiritual and religious aspects of the Carmelite life as she is educated through classes about the Organization and Operation of the Long Term Care Facility, Morality in Healthcare and related areas of Geriatric Care. She also has a mission experience of eight weeks in two homes of the Congregation as part of her training.
Once the readiness and suitability of the Novice to proceed in her religious life are ascertained, the Novice may then be admitted to the "Profession of First Vows". During the Profession ceremony, she receives a black veil that signifies that she is now a Professed Sister.
The newly Professed Sister is assigned to one of our mission houses where she will gain further experience in integrating the spiritual and apostolic aspect of our lives as Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.
The period of Temporary Vows may last from five to nine years. At any time after her fifth renewal of vows, the Sister may request to make Perpetual Profession. If approved, a gold ring is given to the Sister during the Mass of Perpetual Profession, and this signifies her commitment to her Lord and her becoming a full member of the Congregation. By her final profession of vows, she gives herself forever to God, her Community and the Church.
Please contact us if you have any questions about religious life.
To find out what our novices are up to, please check out our Formation Blog.