Formation is a time to come to deeper self knowledge and growth, a time to deepen one's relationship in God, grounding oneself and discovering God's love for oneself. Formation involves learning discernment as a way of life. Through this discernment, the person in formation grows in self awareness and balance in life.
Aspirancy (4-18 Months)
An aspirant of St. Joseph Monastery is a woman who is seeking to enter the monastic community. Through her discernment, she has felt drawn by God to the Benedictine monastic way of life and how this particular community lives the Rule of St. Benedict. Before becoming an aspirant, the person would have met with a Sister of St. Joseph Monastery for a minimum of six months of vocational discernment. During this stage, the person can continue her current living arrangement or live with the monastic community. She also continues in her current employment or finishes her education. She completes a process of application, including health exams, psychological testing and interviews with various Sisters in the community. She makes frequent visits to the monastery and joins in community prayer when possible. She meets regularly with the aspirant director to further discern her call to St. Joseph Monastery.
Postulancy (12-24 Months)
Postulancy is a continued process of mutual discernment of a vocation to the Benedictine Monastic way of life in St. Joseph Monastery. It is a time of transition from her former way of life into the life of the Benedictine community, marked by growth in self-understanding through openness to God, to self, and to others in community, learning to value and integrate essential elements of Benedictine monastic life, understanding the community's vision and practicing its values. The postulant lives at the monastery and participates in the daily routine and prayers. She works or volunteers part-time outside the monastery and attends classes at the monastery in areas such as liturgy, scripture, prayer and the history of religious life. She dresses simply in a black skirt and white top.
Novitiate (12 Months)
The novitiate is the most significant year of formation. It is a period of extended retreat when the novice has a privileged opportunity to grow in her relationship with Jesus, and in the light of her introduction to the life and Benedictine charism, to discern her call more intently. When she becomes a novice, she receives a white veil, the title of 'Sister' and possibly a new name. She continues to live at the monastery but does not work in an outside ministry. Her classes are more in-depth in the Rule of St. Benedict, prayer, liturgy, monastic spirituality and the vows of Benedictine life. The novice continues to discern if she is called to this particular community and prepares to make temporary profession.
Scholastic (3-6 Years)
The sister promises stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience for three years at temporary profession. At the ceremony, she receives a black veil. During this stage she is called a scholastic. She lives the monastic life in a deeper way through prayer, community and ministry/work. She discerns her ministry in conjunction with the prioress and scholastic director and works part-time or full time in that ministry. She continues a formation program of classes and regular meetings with her director. She prepares for perpetual monastic profession through prayer, reflection and study.
After three years, the scholastic is eligible to make perpetual monastic profession. This commitment is made publicly during Eucharist in the monastery chapel. The sister receives a ring at this time to symbolize her commitment to God and the community. She is fully incorporated into the monastic community, living her life for God in service to her sisters and those to whom she is called to minister.