How Would I Become a School Sister of Notre Dame?
When choosing to live life as a woman religious, there are many things to consider. We have outlined for you the steps that are involved in becoming a School Sister of Notre Dame. The journey to becoming a Sister is just that - a journey. There are no quick decisions - becoming a Sister is a process that you follow, and each step is necessary and valuable.
Step One - AFFILIATION
The first step in becoming a School Sister of Notre Dame is to become an AFFILIATE. We welcome you as an affiliate into our community when you have expressed serious interest in becoming a member of the congregation. As you look at SSND religious life as an option for choosing a lifestyle and ministry, you are provided with opportunities to experience our community and to meet other women who are exploring SSND life. This is the beginning of a six-month to two-year observation process.
Step Two - POSTULANCY
The second step in the process is POSTULANCY. Postulancy is an opportunity for you to continue discerning your call to religious life, but now you will actually be invited to live in community - growing in self-knowledge and in prayer. The length of postulancy is generally two years. Though you will be living in a SSND community, you continue to work outside the community.
Step Three - NOVITIATE
Becoming a novice is the third step. As a novice you are given the opportunity to form a deeper relationship with God and to gain greater knowledge of the congregation as you begin to integrate the various aspects of religious life. All SSND novices are sent to spend these two years at the Novitiate, located in St. Louis, Missouri. There you will be involved in classes with others on this journey, and you will also be placed in volunteer ministry positions. During this time you will continue discerning your call, and prepare to take your temporary vows.
Step Four - TEMPORARY PROFESSED
If, after these years of discernment, you feel called to make your vows, you are invited to become a TEMPORARY PROFESSED. What this means is that you become a sister, by your profession of vows, and you commit yourself to God through community life and ministry lived according to the constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame - temporarily. This period of preliminary commitment is six years - and is meant to be a further discernment time to be sure the choice you are making is right for you. Final vows come once the six years as a temporary professed have passed.
Step Five - FINAL VOWS
As a School Sister of Notre Dame we profess three final vows:
- Consecrated Celibacy
- Gospel Poverty
- Apostolic Obedience in Community
By our vow of celibacy, we joyfully commit ourselves to Christ, promising to live celibately and chastely for the sake of the reign of God. We continue to develop friendships and foster relationships, yet remain free to respond to the needs of the world in selfless love.
The vow of poverty calls us to hold all material things in common and to develop a spirit of detachment. We strive to live simply and to be responsible stewards of God's gifts. Our vow of poverty urges us to serve the poor and to make the concerns of the poor our own.
By our profession of the vow of obedience, we seek to be attentive to God's will, as revealed in our prayer, other persons, scripture, the needs around us, and our dialogue with our sisters in community and in leadership. We experience the support and challenge from each other in living these vows in today's world.
Our vowed life complements the life of the other members of the Christian community just as their manner of following Christ supports and challenges our own. Together we continue Christ's mission.
What would life be like once I take my final vows?
Life in our SSND community is a giving and receiving of love and respect, of trust, openness, sincerity and forgiveness. We bring to one another our gifts, graces and limitations, contributing to the total life of the community by our very being. Through our presence to and for one another, through prayer, dialogue and ministry, we become a community of one mind and one heart.
Our call to this life of faith in community is based on a desire to follow Christ who is the center and source of our unity. Our community, like every Christian community, is missionary. We are called, and sent, to deepen union with God and among people wherever we are. (YAS Const. #46)
Read more about Sisters and their daily Ministries.