The stages in becoming a Sister of Mercy are pre-candidacy, candidacy, novitiate, temporary profession and perpetual profession.
On feeling drawn to this way of life, one contacts a Vocations Director (see Contacts) and one begins a journey of exploration through accompaniment and dialogue. This is a mutual ‘getting to know you time’ for both the pre-candidate and the Vocations Director. During this time they explore together whether or not religious life would be life giving and fulfilling for the enquirer. This time of discernment can last from one to two years.
At the stage of candidacy, the time of formation begins more formally. The candidate participates fully in the life of a local community and takes part in prayer, ministry, meetings and other facets of community life. All this experience helps her and the community to discern her next step as they grow in knowledge and understanding of each other. This time may last from 9 months to 1 year.
On completion of candidacy, one is received into the novitiate. This stage lasts for two-years. It is a time of withdrawal, prayer, reflection and study during which one engages in a more intense process of discernment which focuses on Mercy Spirituality, the Life and Charism of the Foundress Catherine McAuley, the Mission and Ministry of Mercy and the Vowed Life. The Novice may do some initial theological studies and some ministry placements during this time.
Temporary Profession Of Vows
On completion of the Novitiate one becomes a Sister of Mercy by professing the vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience. Temporary vows are made for a given period of time during which one continues to discern God’s call. Through mutual discernment one normally reaches greater clarity around vocation and so can develop greater freedom to respond to God.
Perpetual Profession of Vows
The profession of one’s perpetual vows completes the stages of initial formation. A Sister of Mercy freely, joyfully and publicly promises God and the Church to persevere in the Congregation for the rest of her life celibately, obediently and simply in the service of the poor, the sick and neglected.
To read some of the life stories of our Sisters click here