Religious formation is the education one receives in the ways of religious life. It is an education in love that unveils the unique image of God in each sister, and is a lifelong process during which one is called to ‘put on the mind and heart of Jesus’.
Pope Francis says "Consecrated life is beautiful, it is one of the most precious treasures of the Church, rooted in the baptismal vocation".
Stages of Formation:
1. 'Come and See'
A girl who feels inclined towards religious life is invited to come and experience life with us. During this time she is initiated into a new form of life and a deeper understanding of her call. The candidate-mistress guides her to discern her call. The time of candidateship allows her to become familiar with the way of apostolic religious life, deepen her life of prayer and to live in community. At the same time she learns English, household work and takes up small responsibilities. After spending six months with us, the candidate goes home for a month and decides what she wants to do in future.
Should the candidate decide to return to us and the Society is happy with her, she asks to enter the pre-novitiate which is the second stage in formation. This period lasts for a year during which she is given an opportunity to deepen her life of personal and liturgical prayer, to live and interact with each other in community and is initiated into the life and spirituality of the Foundress. She lives her life along with the novices and is taken care of by the novice-mistress.
This is the third stage of formation. It’s a period of intense formation and initiation into religious life. The duration is of two years. During this time the novice comes to know the Spirit of the Society through the study of the Constitutions, History of the Society and through life in the community. In the second year, the novice is sent for a live in experience to any of our communities for a period of 3 months. She takes active part in our apostolate and community life. This experience will enable a novice to decide whether she wishes to become an Ursuline or not. The Society too will be able to discern if she fits into our way of life. At the end of the novitiate the novice aware of God’s gift to her in her call, and desires to commit herself to God and His mission asks to make her First Commitment.
The juniorate is a time of insertion into the life of the Community, the Congregation and the local Church. The newly professed sister is appointed in a community of which she is a full member and receives an apostolic mission. The junior-mistress keeps regular contact with her, gives timely guidance and arranges courses on different topics for her ongoing formation. Her integration into the life and apostolate of the Community provides her an opportunity for enrichment and growth. The period of temporary profession lasts between 5 – 9 years giving the junior ample time to make her final decision.
5. Perpetual Profession
Through perpetual profession the sister commits herself definitively and publicly to a life in the SOCIETY OF ST. URSULA OF ANNE DE XAINCTONGE. By the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience the sister consecrates herself to the Lord forever and thus is fully incorporated in the Society. In this way she becomes personally co-responsible for the whole community, for its development, and its faithfulness to the charism of Anne de Xainctonge.
The perpetual vows place greater responsibility on the individual for further deepening of one’s rootedness in Christ and His mission. Being thrown into the mission field, a sister faces the hard realities of life. Hence she must take sufficient time to be with the Lord in prayer, seek spiritual guidance, read spiritual books and remain spiritually alert. This will help her to live a joyful community life and be effective in her apostolate. Regular renewal courses and seminars in different batches are conducted to deepen one’s commitment to God and our mission.