Taking the first steps
The Vocation Accompaniment Process is the first step in getting to know the Daughters of St Paul. In general, it would involve the person inquiring visiting with a Sister from the nearest community once every two weeks or so for a period of about one year. However, this process is intended to be adapted to the circumstances of each individual inquirer. The National Vocations Director will be in regular contact throughout this time.
The Accompaniment Process is broken into three stages, with the person inquiring and the community each discerning whether or not they wish to continue on to the next stage together.
The aims of the Accompaniment Process are that the inquirer:
- gain greater clarity of her vocational options and motivations;
- be enabled to know more about the Daughters of St Paul, their spirituality, mission and lifestyle, and learn more about the type of commitment religious life requires of the individual
- reach a point of deciding whether or not to continue in the formation process with the Daughters of St Paul
Throughout this important period of time, the inquirer will be encouraged to deepen her prayer life and relationship with Jesus, and to come to know herself more deeply. She will discuss with the Sister accompanying her the direction in which she feels herself being called and be invited to take part in some form of ministry. In doing so, the inquirer can experience the richness and variety of our concerns and also assess whether she feels suited to our mission.
If, at the conclusion of this period, the inquirer feels she would like to continue journeying with the Daughters of St Paul, we would invite her to come and live in one of our communities for a period of about three months or so, allowing the inquirer to experience our community life more closely. After this experience in community, the inquirer returns home and, if she so desires and also has the support of the vocations director, she can make her application for Postulancy!
Stages of Formation
So you’ve decided you’d like to become a Daughter of St Paul! The early stages of introduction to and preparation for religious life are called ‘Initial Formation’. This includes the stages of Postulancy, Novitiate and Temporary Commitment.
Postulancy is a particular time of discernment and transition which allows the young woman to experience community life and ministry among the Daughters of St Paul. She would be encouraged to deepen her personal relationship with Christ through prayer and study, and to further develop in her human and Christian maturity. There is a focus on personal growth, vocation discernment, experience in ministry, and adult faith education. During Postulancy, the young woman would begin to experience what it means to offer her life to Christ and fully commit herself as a Daughter of St Paul.
Generally, Postulancy lasts for two years, although this may vary. In Australia, we might ask the young woman to spend part of this time with a Postulancy group in another country.
Postulancy is also a time of immediate preparation for the Novitiate.
Novitiate is a two-year program of real initiation into the Pauline religious life. Building on the Postulancy, the young woman, as novice, becomes more greatly aware of the vocation, experiences the Order’s style of life and takes on its spirit. In a particular way, the novice learns about the Order’s history, studies the vows and Sacred Scripture, and is introduced to the Order’s Constitutions. It is an intense time of prayer, study, mission and community life, in which the novice embraces the Pauline charism. The novitiate concludes with the novice being consecrated to the Lord through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The newly professed Sister now begins a journey of several years in temporary profession.
In Australia, a candidate for novitiate might be required to join an international novitiate group in another country.
On professing her first vows, the newly professed Sister makes a commitment to live in vows for a period of one year. These vows are renewed at the end of each one-year period, for a total of five to seven years. This time is known as Temporary Commitment.
The Sister in Temporary Commitment continues her Pauline and academic formation, engages more fully in the mission and deepens her understanding of all aspects of Pauline life-consecration, spirituality and community. At the end of the period of Temporary Commitment, after further discernment and personal preparation, the Sister professes her final vows in perpetual profession.
A life of growing in Christ
To be a Daughter of St Paul is to make a life-long commitment to personal growth in Christ; to embrace an ongoing journey with God through the vocation of a religious Sister. The Pauline vocation calls us to consciously welcome the challenge to grow in the human and spiritual dimension of ourselves throughout our lives.
This constant attention to the growth of the whole person in Christ enables us to live as happy and mature religious women. It calls us to stay up-to-date in all aspects of our professional training for ministry, to nurture our relationship with Christ and to engage with the lives of the people we meet. This life of continual conversion helps us to keep in touch with developments in society and the world, an essential for Pauline life, and allows us to constantly develop our ministry so that we can more effectively proclaim Christ to humanity.