Frequently Asked Questions

Loretto SistersWhen considering something as serious as a decision to join a religious community, you may have any number of questions regarding lifestyle, finances, training and ministry, and what you can expect to encounter as a woman religious. Below you will find a Q & A section that may help to answer some of your concerns.

Q: Do I have to be a practicing Catholic to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Loretto Sisters?

A: Most religious congregations of women are formally recognized and incorporated as officially Roman Catholic. New members must be fully-initiated Catholics, and be able to supply a letter of reference from a pastor or chaplain in the local congregation where they worship.


Q: If I become an IBVM Sister, where would I live?

A: You would live in a community with at least one, but perhaps as many as five or six other sisters in housing rented or owned by IBVM Sisters. This housing might be in the form of apartments or houses.


Q: Who chooses where this community is located?

A: The leaders of the Loretto Sisters in Canada would make this decision, in consultation with the Sisters whose responsibility it is to help women explore the possibility of religious life.


Q: As a sister, will I be paid for the work I do?

A: Most sisters who are not retired receive a salary for their work from the organization for which they work. So, for example, if you were to work as a teacher, you would be paid by the school board which employs you; the same would be true of other agencies or organizations. All salaries, wages and pension cheques are redirected into a community fund that supports all of the sisters. Out of this fund, all the Sisters’ needs are provided for, since part of our commitment is to share everything as a religious community.


Q: How are my individual needs addressed in terms of food, clothing, shelter and vacation?

A: Each month, every local community house receives sufficient money to cover the living expenses, utilities, rent, etc. of the sisters that live there.


Q: Will I have a choice as to where I work and in what areas of ministry I would become involved?

A: Keeping the mission of the IBVM in mind, you would be encouraged to use your talents and gifts to the fullest. Every involvement in ministry is made in consultation and discernment with an IBVM advisor, and the discernment around your ‘placement’ is made in terms of where the greatest needs are and how you, with your own particular gifts, might respond.


Q: Can I maintain relationships with family and friends?

A: Yes, you would be encouraged to continue these relationships.


Q: Do Loretto Sisters have time for vacation?

A: We believe that making personal time, and taking time for holidays, is very important for our physical, psychological and spiritual health. We consider leisure time to be part of a balanced lifestyle.


Q: How long does it take to become a Loretto Sister?

A: It takes about nine years from the time when you become a candidate with the community until you make Final Vows, sometimes called “Perpetual Commitment”.


Q: Can I leave at any time during the formation process?

A: A decision to discontinue the process and leave the congregation is yours. That is true during the formation process as well as after you take vows.


Q: Can the community of Loretto Sisters decide, at some stage, not to allow me to continue in the process of becoming a member?


A: The answer to this is “Yes”, because the process of incorporation or becoming a member in a community is always a mutual decision between the community and the new member. If it becomes apparent that a woman is having difficulty living the many challenges of religious life, there would be a lengthy discernment and discussion, and she could be asked to leave the congregation if her belonging is not a good “fit” with the community.


Q: Can I pursue higher education, and will it be funded by the Loretto Sisters?

A: Ongoing education is possible and even encouraged. Each woman’s situation is evaluated on its own merit.

“How happy a thing it is to love God and serve him in truth.”
-Mary Ward