Formation is a lifelong process as the nun continues her daily and hourly response to the call of Christ, her Bridegroom. The 9 – 12 years of initial formation prepares the young woman for a life consecrated to God.
Initial formation comprises three stages, preceded by the aspirancy:
Postulancy – one to two years
Noviceship – two years
Juniorate – simple temporary vows
The young woman who aspires to be a Poor Clare remains in close contact with our monastic community for a year as she deepens her discernment of the contemplative vocation to which she feels drawn. The aspirant is gradually introduced to our monastic culture as she seeks admittance into the monastery.
After entering the monastery, the postulant lives in the novitiate as she is instructed in the Poor Clare way of life. She spends this time in prayerful discernment to discover if she is truly being called to the joyous and wholehearted service of God and her sisters in community.
The noviceship begins when the postulant is clothed in the religious habit, white veil and cord. During the private ceremony she also receives her religious name. This opens upon a time for the novice to intensify her personal fidelity and love of Christ as she grows in the knowledge of the Poor Clare charism she feels called to live. Her vocational discernment continues and the deepening of her own decision to follow Jesus in this radical Gospel form of life.
During the Mass of Religious Profession the novice pronounces her vows for a period of three years and receives the black veil and knotted cord. Having committed herself to following Christ more closely as a consecrated woman, the junior sister shares more fully in the life of the community.
This is a time of preparation for being consecrated to God in solemn vows, when she will offer herself completely and unreservedly to her Divine Spouse for a lifetime. When the sister makes her solemn profession she receives the ring of espousals and crown of thorns during Mass to signify her union with Jesus Crucified as she is forever consecrated to Him by this outstanding act of love.