The purpose of a formation process is to integrate you into Cabrinian religious life as a Missionary Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is the beginning of a life-long process of growing spiritually, humanly and in the life of the mission.
MSC formation involves growing in a new identity during a mutual, individualized and thoughtful consideration of God’s personal call to you. You will be accompanied by the Vocation Director and other religious during an ample time of reflection and exploration. The Vocation Director will guide you in discernment, readiness to grow in relationship with Jesus, understanding of yourself and others, and capacity for conversion and growth in Cabrini Missionary Identity. We MSCs define this Cabrinian Missionary Identity as the capacity for:
- Relationship–with God, ourselves and others
- Discernment and good decision-making
- Growth in virtue and good practices
You will be guided through the process of discernment by the Vocation Director in order to gain greater clarity of self and the Institute. When you are ready, you will complete formal application papers and personal interviews with a psychologist – who understands religious life – in order to discern your readiness and aptitude for becoming an MSC. The application concludes when the MSC Provincial sends you a formal letter of acceptance into the candidacy.
After your acceptance as a candidate, you will normally move into a local community. You will work with the Candidate Director to establish realistic goals for integrating your life with the life of the Institute—for example, working with a spiritual director and/or a counselor, who may or may not be a religious, in order to continue to strengthen your spiritual and human maturity and your Cabrinian Missionary Identity. You will have ministry responsibilities in one or more missions.
There are two years of novitiate, each with different expectations during which you will be guided by the Novice Director.
The canonical year is focused on your spiritual development and growth, while residing in the novitiate community. It will provide you with time for deepening your prayer-life, on-going discernment and conversion, as well as the study of the Scriptures, the Cabrinian charism, the life of Mother Cabrini, the history and current reality of the MSCs throughout the world, the MSC Constitutions, and the guidelines for formation found in the Institute’s book on all the stages of formation, the Ratio. There also may be short missionary experiences during the canonical year.
The apostolic year will give you full-time experience in one or more mission experiences while living in a local community in order to explore and prepare for future ministry as a vowed member. You will be encouraged to evaluate your strengths and weakness and grow in making a genuine contribution in ministry with the people whose lives you touch.
During these years, you are guided by the Novice Director to help you continue to discern what the Lord wants of you for your spiritual life, your community life and your ministry. You will continue to discern your strengths and weakness for the future and what you need to learn and practice as you grow. Daily reflection and examen, monthly and annual retreats, opportunities for counsel and mentoring will help you explore the practicalities of living a vowed missionary life. Workshops and classes with others in formation, plus interaction with those in other communities, will give you a wider understanding of ways to live your commitment, trusting in God’s grace and love. The novitiate ends with the first profession of temporary vows.
From First to Final Profession
Several years of living Cabrinian vowed life and mission in community as a junior sister will provide you and the Institute with the time and experience to move you to a life-time commitment. A Junior Director will accompany you and the other junior sisters during these years as you live, grow and mature in your Cabrini Missionary Identity. Living this life, always searching for “the more” in your relationship with Jesus and your service to his people, will root you strongly in your vocation. This valuable time of preparation and insight culminates with preparation for and celebration of your final vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. After final vows, you will still have a life-time ahead of you of opportunities for ongoing formation, experience, education and mission that will last for the rest of your life!