Formation in religious life is a life-long process during which the person grows into who she is called to be as a vowed, consecrated woman. The initial phases of this process, leading up to perpetual vows, are a special time of learning about religious life, the Church, Franciscan spirituality and a time of discovery and integration of one’s personal gifts, limitations and relational qualities into the life and call to holiness of the Community of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. The time of initial formation is focused on growing as persons – spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, professionally and socially in order that the Sister be all she can be for the Church.
Pre-postulancy is the first phase of formation. A pre-postulant spends several months living with the Sisters to learn about community life and the mission of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. During this time, she is expected to be engaged in professional work and be responsible for her expenses. Usually, pre-postulants live at the Chiara Center in Meriden, Connecticut. It is a time of beginning discovery and discernment on the part of the woman as well as on the part of the Community.
Postulancy is the woman’s formal entrance into the life of the Community. As a postulant, she learns about Franciscan spirituality and is helped to integrate her past experiences into this beginning phase of religious life. Postulancy is one year. The word “postulant” means “one who asks.” The postulant asks whether she is called to this form of life or not.
Novitiate is a two-year time of formation. The novice receives the habit of the Community and a religious name. The focus of the novitiate is the study and lived experience of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, Franciscan spirituality, life in community, and the teachings of the Church. The novice learns to serve the needs of the community in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Following novitiate, the Sister professes the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. She participates more fully in the mission and apostolate of the community. This is a time of “temporary vows” leading up to the Sister pronouncing perpetual vows which seals her vowed relationship to God and the Community for life.