Formation Process

The Process of Formation

The formation process is preceded by a period of time when the prospective candidate frequently visits the monastery, or if she does not live close enough to visit, she carries on a correspondence with the Vocation Directress. During this time she tries to learn as much as possible about the life lived in our monastery, and at the same time tells us about her background and present living situation. As she shares her desires and attractions with us, we try to discern together if she is well matched with our life.


When it is determined that there is possibly a real vocation to our monastery, the woman is invited to spend about one month (called an aspirancy) living as a guest within the enclosure. This time is planned so that before she quits her job or gives up her apartment and car, she can see from experience if the enclosed contemplative life will be compatible with her gifts.


At the end of the aspirancy the woman returns to her home and in the midst of her normal life, reflects on her experience with us. If she feels truly called to a commitment to this life, and the community reflecting on their experience with her agree to the possibility of this call, she applies to enter as a Postulant.


At this point the candidate gives up her job, car, and home with the idea that she will most likely never return to her former life. The period of postulancy lasts from six months to one year. When the candidate seems ready she is given the Dominican Habit at a simple private ceremony attended only by the Community.


After receiving the Habit the Sister spends two years preparing to make her religious vows. The time is spent under the direction of the Novice Mistress in study, prayer, and community living. When ready for profession there is a public ceremony in which the candidate promises Obedience, Poverty, and Chastity for three years. After this the Sister continues her formation in the novitiate for another two years, renewing her vows annually. 


The years in the novitiate are centered on learning to live the contemplative life in community with a focus on certain areas of study. There are classes in Prayer, The Rule and Constitutions, Scripture, Liturgy, Christian Doctrine, Monasticism, Dominican History, Dominican Spirituality, and Church History. There follows four years of study in Philosophy, Theology, and Ecclesiology. Initial Formation concludes with Solemn Profession at a public ceremony when the Sister makes her vows "until death".


For more information please contact the Vocation Directress at: vocations@nunsmenlo.org