Formation

Formation

The process of formation is the life-long conversion of heart and of gradual growth to the full stature of Christ.

This is the work done by the Holy Spirit in those who respond to His action in their lives. We reserve sufficient period for our initial formation/discernment. During this period the candidates go through some stages as foundation in this process. It takes about seven or more years to complete the initial formation.

Before the end of this period of discernment, the candidate engages in learning about prayer, our way of life live in community, study theology and minister alongside sisters in our apostolate. It is usually a grace-filled period. Learn more about the stages of formation.

Formation

Stages of Formation

Stage 1: Searching Period

This is an opportunity for in-depth conversations with any of the vocation directresses. This could occur during weekend retreats, organized tours to some of our apostolates, during which the candidate socializes with the Sisters and with one another. The vocation Directress will help the candidate to discern how and where the Spirit of God is leading her. She will then assist the candidate in discerning if she has a vocation to our Institute or to another.

Stage 2: Application Period

If the desire of the Candidate to join the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother of Christ is strong, then she puts it into writing. The application letter is usually addressed to the Vocation directress. While waiting for the response, the candidate continues to socialize with the Sisters as well as having some spiritual direction and joining in any activities taking place within the Institute.

Stage 3: Living-in Period

Once the vocation directress’s response to the candidate application is positive she will be given a date to arrive at the designated convent for living-in. During this period she lives with the Sisters in a community of the Institute. This is a time for the candidate to experience the sisters.

Stage 4: Reception Period

At the end of the living in, the candidate is received as a postulant with a Ritual Ceremony of welcome into the Institute of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mother of Christ Family.

Stage 5: Postulancy

This period lasts for two years and six months. The first year concentrates on transition from circular to religious life. The candidate takes part in some seminars and workshops designed for self-knowledge, prayer and some theological studies. In the remaining 18 months the candidate participates in some community apostolate, with six month experience in one of our Institute’s convent. On her return from this community experience, her formation will then focus on preparation for the next stage of formation called the Novitiate. If she is still persevering on her desire and is considered fit to continue, she then request in writing to be received as a novice in this Religious Institute

Stage 6: Novitiate

If the candidate’s application is accepted, she is received into the Novitiate. The canonical year (1st year) is an intense period of discernment while she engages in prayer, studying the vows and Constitutions together with other novices. After the canonical year, the novices are sent in twos to specific communities for apostolic experience, which lasts for three months. At the end of this stage of formation, successful candidates go into one-month remote preparation for their first religious profession with an eight-day directed retreat.

Stage 7: First Profession

Upon completion of the novitiate, the candidate through the profession of the Evangelical Vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, becomes a member of the Religious Institute of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ. This is known as temporary profession, which she renews yearly for about five years or more. After this profession all the newly professed sisters moved to the Scholasticate for further formation.

Stage 8: Scholasticate

At this stage, the Scholastics are taken through the nitty-gritty of religious life according to the Institute’s way of life. They also study Theology in its basic form through which they gain a diploma in (Foundational) Fundamental Theology. After a year’s crash program, these newly professed are located to different convents of the Institute to be integrated into the various apostolates of the Religious Institute.

Stage 9: Final Profession

After five years of temporary profession the sister requests in writing to be allowed to make her final Vows. If considered ready she enters into intense preparation which lasts for two months known as tertianship. The second month of this period is dedicated to a thirty-day directed retreat after which the sister makes her perpetual Vows. With this final commitment, she is admitted into the Institute as a full-fledged member. The completion of this stage ushers the sister into the life long process of on-going formation through which she continues to respond to the actions of the Holy Spirit as she journeys to her eternal home with Christ.