What is a Vocation?
A vocation to the religious life is gift from God the Father to the individual, a call to be totally conformed to Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the service of the Church. It is the total consecration of self for the love and service of Jesus Christ.The religious stands as a prophetic sign of the supreme good and destiny that all will find in God alone, a reminder to the world that human life finds its finality in God.
Throughout history God has raised up those who desire to live their baptismal consecration in a more radical way in imitation of Christ who was chaste, poor and obedient. Thus the consecrated life 'constitutes... an abiding re-enactment in the Church' of Christ's own way of life. (Vita Consecrata 22., quoting Lumen Gentium 44.)
Stages of Formation
The initial stage of formation is known as 'postulancy'. In our Congregation this lasts one year. Postulants live within the cloister as part of the community. It is a time of learning about our life and Dominican practices and customs. Initial formation is also given in the spiritual life, the reading of Scripture and in the history and theology of the Order.
Two years novitiate follow postulancy. The first or 'canonical' year is a special time in which the novice is given more time for personal prayer and spiritual reading. In addition there is theological and personal formation under the guidance of the novice mistress.
The period of 'temporary profession' lasts three years at the end of which permanent vows are made. "By our profession we dedicate ourselves to God, following Christ and leading the gospel life in the Order, so that our Baptismal consecration may achieve its effect more completely. [...] While embracing the self-emptying of Christ, we participate at the same time in His life in the Spirit. In this way, if we are faithful we become clearer witnesses in the Church to the good things of the heavenly kingdom" (Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph, Ch. IV).