This phase of formation happens in the visitation province itself. The individual who has felt the stirring of God’s Call in her heart and naming it as the invitation from God to consecrated life enters the congregation . With the gentle guidance of the directress of candidates she progresses in her desire to follow Christ, participating in His mission. She begins her first lessons in religious life discovering and responding to the plan of God in the congregation and in the church.
As most of the candidates come from rural India and are not proficient in English and local languages, these are taught to them diligently in the first quarter of the year. After sufficiently mastering the languages, they are initiated to simple prayers, catechism and other instructions characteristic of the Sisters of Notre Dame.
The Candidacy can last from one year to three years.
The Postulancy which lasts for six months to one year is a period before Novitiate when the candidate may discern her call to religious life more seriously, checking on her motivation, desire and fitness to continue her formation with the assistance of her directress and the community she is placed in. As of now, this phase and the period of Novitiate happen in common places in the North for both the Indian provinces.
The Postulant who is adjudged to have sufficient maturity of character and spirit and who continues to nurture her ardent desire to belong to God, begins her novitiate under a canonically appointed directress and prepares herself for the profession of the evangelical counsels. During the two year period of the novitiate, the novice gains understanding and experience of living in a community, the practice of vows, the constitutions of the congregation and the documents of the church. Having realized the importance of integrating prayer and work, to be a member of the apostolic community of the Sisters of Notre Dame, she readies herself adequately to pronounce the vows at a public ceremony .
Juniorate is part of the initial formation for a period of 5 to 9 years. The temporary professed sisters continue their formation begun in the novitiate through an ongoing programme of spiritual, theological, congregational and cultural development.
The juniors after their first profession are send to communities where they participate in the life and apostolate of the Sisters. They are engaged in active ministry, taking responsibility for the mission entrusted to them. By being faithful to their prayer life, interacting with the sisters and others in the mission, they learn to integrate prayer and apostolic works. The example and support of the sisters in the community enable them to grow as mature religious and to make a definite response to their call.
The junior directress accompanies them and guides them to grow as mature persons in all aspects of their life. They are to be open and accountable to the local superior and the junior mistress for spiritual guidance and support.
Once a year a get together is arranged for them by the directress to provide short refresher courses on various topics like spirituality, vows, personal growth, Bible, Life of Mary, social awareness etc. They take up projects every year on the life of saints, ecological and social awareness etc. They also make their retreat during the summer get together. Indeed they are enriched by these programes to be women of integrity and purpose.
The time of immediate preparation for the final commitment is the period of Tertianship. Having learnt and lived the basic tenets of religious life in Notre Dame, and experienced the essential virtues of surrender, authenticity and freedom, the young sister examines her personal profile to assess herself on her human characteristics of being attentive, insightful, reasonable, responsible and loving. She strengthens her desire to liver the charism, spirit and mission of a Sister of Notre Dame, resolving to adapt to any and all circumstances and vicissitudes of life. She reconfirms her resolve to follow Jesus chaste, poor and obedient and professes the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience as an external sign of her inner commitment for all her life.
On Going Formation
This is a means of rejuvenation for all perpetually professed Sisters of Notre Dame to renew herself spiritually and professionally. Both the Indian provinces join hands to organize programs like
Profession group-wise Renewal and Retreat
Renewal and retreat for Silver/ Golden Jubilee groups
Renewal and retreat for groups above sixty/seventy…Seminars, workshops, conferences in and out of the country on relevant topics for personal and professional enrichment.