Becoming a Sister of Mercy – what’s involved?
If you choose to explore your journey with the Sisters of Mercy, the process is one of continuing guided discernment and gradual movement into deepening stages of commitment. These stages include: enquiry, candidacy, first profession and perpetual profession.
This initial period is to help a woman discern her call. Regular contact with one of our designated sisters will help you discover where the Spirit of God is leading you.
Opportunities during this time include “come and see” days, retreat and discernment days, meetings, praying and socialising with the nominated sister and other sisters.
When you and the sister with whom you have had ongoing contact agree that the call to a Mercy way is deepening and appropriate, you may decide to move forward in the process. You will meet regularly with a spiritual director and continue to experience our life through retreat weekends, extended live-in experiences and meet sisters in their ministries.
Once you have completed all the application work and received affirmation from the congregation leader to continue in the process, you are considered an enquirer. During this time you will meet the community with whom you will have regular contact. Being an enquirer means that while you continue your normal life – job, study, friends, independence – you take a much closer look at mercy life, work and spirit.
To mark the beginning of this particular part of the journey, there will be a simple ritual of prayer as a welcoming ceremony.
The formal enquirer stage may last from one to two years.
At the completion of the enquirer stage, working with the sister who is accompanying you, you will make a formal application to enter the candidacy stage. This is two-year period of more intense discernment while you engage in prayer, study and preparation to take vows; you will live in a community and be involved in ministry with other sisters.
First profession – New membership
Upon completion of the candidacy, you will become a member of the congregation by making your first profession of the vows of celibacy, poverty, obedience and apostolic service. Initially, vows are taken for three years. Temporary profession – the incorporation process – lasts for a period of three to six years. The time of temporary profession allows you to continue to deepen your prayer life, experience different forms of community living, continue theological or professional formation, and be involved in apostolic ministry.
Perpetual profession – Final Vows
After completion of your time in temporary profession, you make perpetual profession, or final vows, as a Sister of Mercy.
For more information contact:
Kathy Ryan RSM Initial Formation Director – email@example.com
“Claimed by God, grounded in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and fired by the Spirit burning in Catherine McAuley, women are nurtured as they explore their desire for a life commitment to God through the charism of mercy and justice within the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia.”
(Institute Formation Policy, 2007)