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The following information explains the formation process for the Franciscan Missionary Sisters.

AFFILIATE/PRE-ENTRANCE PROGRAM

This program is designed for young women who feel attracted to the life of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Its duration is from six months to two years, during which time the affiliate spends time (a weekend or a month) with the Sisters at a designated place. Here she learns more about the Community and is led through a program of prayer, spiritual reading, and a very general introduction to religious life. It is during this time that the initial discernment process takes place, leading to a decision about entrance into the postulate. GOAL To provide an interested woman with an introduction to the Congregation and to prepare her for a better informed decision regarding her entrance into the FMIHM community life. OBJECTIVES To formulate a prudent and tentative judgement on the attitude and vocation of the candidate, and to provide her with assistance for development as a Christian woman so that her understanding of her call may be genuine. To provide the candidate with sufficient information about, and experience of, the Congregation, its spirit-charism, its apostolate; to enable her to make a responsible, informed decision to apply for entrance.


POSTULATE

The postulate (postulancy) is a period of preparation for the religious life. The aim of the postulancy is two-fold: 1) To promote a human and spiritual maturity of the candidate that will make her aware of God's call and dispose her to make a progressive transition from life in the world to the life of the novitiate. 2) To allow the Institute to know the candidate and judge whether she has the human, emotional, and spiritual maturity needed to assume the obligations of religious life. Emphasis is placed on the candidate's total development, so that she is prepared to make her choice freely and responsibly. Each candidate is guided and encouraged to deepen her religious knowledge and her interior life. The duration of the postulancy may be from one year to two years. The length of this probationary period varies with the individual. The postulant may continue to study for a degree (college/theology classes), or work in the Community apostolate, depending on her educational background. She also receives instruction on the theme of Christian vocation as well as Franciscanism, the life of Blessed Mother Mary Catherine Troiani and the history of the Institute.


NOVITIATE

GOAL Religious life begins with the novitiate where novices are directed toward a more intimate union with Christ, nurtured by silence, solitude, prayer, and the generous giving of self to community and to apostolic activity. The postulant is admitted to the novitiate when she has demonstrated that she has reached the human and spiritual maturity which makes her aware of God's call, and which allows her to respond to her religious vocation freely and responsibly. The purpose of the novitiate is to initiate the Sister into religious life. The time of the novitiate is a two-year period during which the novice learns first hand the requirements of religious life, becomes acquainted with and lives the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and is helped to develop an intimate union with Christ from whom all her future apostolic activity will derive its life and vigor. The first year of the novitiate, called the Canonical Year, is a year of intense spiritual formation. The program of studies during this time consists of theology with an emphasis on Sacred Scripture, together with the knowledge of the traditions of the Institute, the vows, and our constitutions. Further study is done in the Franciscan life and the charism of our Mother Foundress. The novice has the opportunity improve herself culturally, domestically, and spiritually. At some time during the second year of novitiate, the novice could be sent on mission for a short period of time. This is known as formative activity, and serves to provide a contact for the novice with the concrete aspects of the apostolate. Here she not only learns techniques and methods, but most importantly, she learns how to balance periods of activity with periods of prayer and meditation After the two-year period of novitiate is completed, the novice asks to make her First Profession of Vows and then enters the juniorate.


JUNIORATE

The juniorate begins after the completion of the novitiate and is usually a five-year penod. During this time, the Sister is given the opportunity to deepen and continue the formation initiated in the novitiate, and is provided with a continuing theological, professional, and apostolic formation. She will also attend formation days and meet periodically with the directress of junior Sisters. The junior could also have the opportunity of working in the apostolate and applying her spiritual, theological, and professional background. All of these experiences are meant to foster the development of the Sister into a well-integrated woman and will lead her to the moment when she will responsibly, freely, and irrevocably consecrate herself to Jesus Christ through her Final (Perpetual) Profession of Vows. The fifth year of juniorate is dedicated to the immediate preparation for the Final Profession, with a deeper understanding of consectration-vows and of the rite itself.