Stages of Formation

“Called by God to a Life of Prayer and Service”

Candidacy stage

The aim of this period (about one year) is to continue the process of getting to know the community, and providing an opportunity for the Sisters to know you.

The community provides opportunities to help the candidate to:Mary Ward’s journeyMary Ward’s journey

  • understand your own personal faith journey;
  • deepen your relationship with Jesus;
  • use scripture for prayer;
  • become familiar with ‘awareness examen’;
  • understand the importance of discernment in daily life;
  • reflect on your call to religious life;
  • participate in a variety of ministry experiences;
  • become aware of the multi cultural aspect of the IBVM.

During this time the Loretto Sisters have the opportunity to assess the personal growth and faith development of the candidate and to reflect on her suitability for religious life and in particular for membership in our community.

The candidate usually continues her work wherever she is employed.

A psychological assessment is part of the application process to enter the novitiate stage.

“I listened to God’s deep dream for me and longed to respond to this invitation.”
-Mary Ward

Formation - Novitiate Stage

Mary Ward and her first companions seated in a semi-circleMary Ward and her first companions seated in a semi-circleFormation for membership in the Loretto Sisters is a process of learning and reflecting. The novice takes part in:

  • studies in theology and Ignatian spirituality;
  • various Ignatian experiences of retreat and ministry (working with the most vulnerable and marginalised, assisting in faith formation, have the opportunity to help in some kind of pastoral and spiritual care.) These experiences are designed to stretch, challenge and strengthen the woman in her vocational journey;
  • ongoing spiritual direction or spiritual accompaniment;
  • studies in the theology and practice of the vows;
  • ongoing evaluation with regard to suitability for religious life. The strictest confidentiality is always maintained.

A novice may leave at any time or may be requested to leave if it seems best to the community.
The second year of the novitiate is usually spent engaged in ministry and studies.

“Cherish God’s vocation in you. Let it be constant, efficacious and loving.”
-Mary Ward

The Period of Temporary Vows

This is a period of six years, during which the newly-professed sister engages in a crucial stage of personal growth and development in the life and mission of the Institute. This time helps her to:

  • deepen her love for God and her awareness of God’s love for her, and to grow in her love for Mary Ward’s spirit and vision;
  • develop a strong sense of her personal vocation rooted in God and in the spirit of the community;
  • integrate all aspects of her life (spiritual, communal and ministerial) as an IBVM;
  • grow in her ability to discern and to understand the principles of Ignatian spirituality (link) and apply them to her daily life;
  • deepen her relationship with God;
  • become sensitive to the needs to today’s world;
  • have at least one full year of theological studies;
  • have opportunity for professional development after proper discernment with her superiors;
  • come to a decision regarding permanent commitment to the vowed life in the IBVM.

Personal and psychological development are important during this period. Suitable opportunities for this development are provided according to the guidelines of the formation and according to the needs of the individual sister.

Sisters who are in the stage of Temporary Vows are encouraged to maintain frequent contact with other Sisters in the same stage of formation. On-going evaluation assists the Sister to gain the most benefit from this period.

She may leave the Institute or be asked to leave when her vows expire.

Perpetual Vows

A Sister requesting to make Perpetual Vows has acquired a certain degree of personal, spiritual, psychological and professional maturity, is faithful to prayer, has developed healthy relationships inside and outside the IBVM, has had several different kinds of experiences in the service of God’s people, and demonstrates that she is happy with her choice of life.

After Perpetual Profession, the sister continues the process of life-long learning as well as personal and spiritual growth.

“It is good pleasing the Friend of friends…to be entirely and forever at our Saviour’s disposal.”
-Mary Ward