The formation journey is designed to help a young woman grow in her vocation and to live more fully the Charism of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. The stages of initial formation allow the young woman to experience a lived reality of our life as she prepares herself for that final yes to the ONE who has called each one of us by name. Initial formation lasts 9 years, during this time the community and the candidate discern through the help of the Holy Spirit.
The formation stages allow the young woman to grow in her vocation and challenge herself to live fully the life of a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows. Thus, the years of religious formation mold the young woman to become more and more like Jesus Christ, and “to witness to the preferential love of Christ” for all. This process does not end with final profession; it is a lifelong process of having the same mind as Christ and of witnessing to the ultimate sacrifice He made for us on the Cross.
- The young woman contacts the Vocation Director, who will begin the discernment process with her.
- During the period of discernment, she will visit the community to experience our life as lived by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows.
- The young woman will also take part in retreats and activities put on by the Congregation as a means of helping her in seeking to know and accept God’s call freely.
- This is a time in which the young woman in discernment puts her desires before God and listens attentively to the invitation to a life set apart for Him.
- During the time of discernment, the community and the young woman discern together in order to explicitly comprehend God’s call and her freedom in responding to that call.
- The vocation director helps the young woman to be open to God’s plan in her life and to fully embrace the gifts that God gave her.
- Following a period of discernment, the young woman may apply to enter the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows after a period of prayer and discernment.
- The application process involves different stages and is a time that calls for prayer and discernment. The young woman is asked to write an autobiography and complete a questionnaire about her life. In addition, she will submit school transcripts, health evaluations, letters of recommendation, and sacramental certificates.
- This initial year is a time of deepening one’s Christian call.In this stage of formation, a young woman, answering the invitation of Jesus to “Come and See”(John 1:39), is accompanied in her journey of discerning her vocation and getting to know the spirituality of our religious family.
- The aspirancy is a time of transition from family life to community life, a time in which she is helped to value her previous life experiences and is introduced to the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows spiritual, communal, and apostolic journey.
- The aspirant is helped to grow in her faith by studying and taking part in the ministries of the Congregation.
- The postulancy is the stage in which the person in formation is called to clarify her own call through discernment of her own motivations, inclinations, and feelings, while she is growing humanly, spiritually, in the life of prayer and fraternity, and in apostolic and ecclesial responsibility.
- It is a time in which she gets to know the religious family in order to understand its spirit, its origins, its responsibility, and special functions in the Church.
- This period of formation allows the postulant to focus on her growth as a person, to experience Christ in community, and to deepen and increase her faith.
- During the postulancy, the young woman continues to experience community life as lived by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows and to discern in preparation for the novitiate.
- The postulant is helped to discover and experience the person of Jesus in her life within a specific community and to understand her personal call.
- The novitiate provides an atmosphere in which the novice is given time and direction for prayer, reflection on Sacred Scripture, study of the history of the Church and religious life, the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
- Great attention is given to the Constitutions of the Congregation and other Congregational documents.
- The novitiate lasts for two years, and it is a time in which the person in formation begins to live fully the style of life that Jesus embraced and proposed in the Gospel, to the point of completely giving himself on the cross.
- The novice deepens her knowledge of the person of Jesus, and develops a loving relationship with him as the unifying, interior force that guides and directs her life.
- The novice deepens the paschal mystery of Christ by being detached from herself and accepting her Crucified love with courage.
- She molds her mind and heart according to the history, charism, spirituality, and mission of the Congregation in order “to burn and to light.”
- This time that follows the novitiate constitutes the stage in which the religious sister blossoms as a person and matures in her deepest identity, living as a person consecrated to God in a relationship with the One who chose and sent her, together with her brothers and sisters, to bring salvation.
- The sister deepens and develops her experience of living the life she professed.
- This is the stage in which the consecrated sister learns to walk with Christ concretely in her daily life, as well as in her community and apostolic life.
- She learns to see the crucified Christ in all personal sufferings and human tragedies.
- The primary and fundamental goal of the time of temporary vows is that the life of religious consecration will penetrate, illuminate, and harmonize all the aspects and different dimensions of her religious life: prayer, community life, apostolic service, relationships, and study.
- Through this journey, the religious in temporary vows adequately prepares herself for final vows.
- For five years, sisters in temporary vows renew their vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience annually and then biannually after three years.
Perpetual Vows and Ongoing Formation
- Perpetual profession is a beautiful moment of total self-giving to Christ, in the service of God and His people in the Church.
- This stage marks the moment of complete and permanent commitment to God in the congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows.
- The solemnly professed Sister receives the black veil, signifying that she is consecrated to Christ…forever! This day of great joy marks the end of initial formation, but it is only the beginning of a life journey of contemplation and love in the heart of the Church.
- After a period of temporary vows, no less than five years, the Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows consecrates herself to Jesus Christ forever.
- As the sister makes her final profession, she promises to live the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
- Formation is a commitment we make for our whole life. Thus, ongoing formation is aimed at continued growth of the spiritual and apostolic life and at discovering the unique characteristics of this stage of life.
- All the sisters participate in an ongoing formation week at the Motherhouse during the summer, a special topic is chosen for each year.
- “The consecrated sister knows that initial formation does not complete the journey of one’s maturation, because the human person is a dynamic reality. For this, the religious continues to be called to live always anew, as the Spirit, who lives in her, is always anew.” (Directory of the Congregation)
The entire heritage of the spirituality of Mother Elisabetta is entrusted to each Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows, who has an obligation to deepen it, assimilate it, and transmit it to others. It is this spirituality of the cross that is the source of joy and spiritual childhoold that makes identification with Christ simple and accessible to all. (Directory of the Congregation)
To say "yes" to the Lord's call by taking personal responsibility for maturing in one's vocation is the inescapable duty of all who have been called. One's whole life must be open to the action of the Holy Spirit, travelling the road of formation with generosity, and accepting in faith the means of grace offered by the Lord and the Church.