The Formation Process
The call to consecrated life comes from the Father. It is a call from the Son to make following Him the sole purpose of life. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens the desire to respond to the call and who guides the call through the transfiguring experience that is the essence of religious life. ~ Vita Consecrata
In response to this call, the Bridgeport Dominicans have established the following Formation Program for its Candidates, Novices and Sisters:
During this stage, the pre-candidate is introduced to the charism of the community. This is accomplished through study of our history and through living our life.The pre-candidate is encouraged to attend daily Mass, receive the Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance frequently, read and pray the Scriptures daily, meet with a spiritual director and participate in discernment retreats.
As a candidate, the woman is immersed in the life of her new religious family. The candidacy is a vital period for the development of the affective maturity and ascetic balance entailed in the growth of virtue, together with a healthy view of community obedience and authority.
During this time (six months to two years), the candidate seeks intimacy with the Lord through Daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, private prayer and meditation. The candidate will begin or continue academic preparation for her apostolate, or study theology and/or philosophy. During this period, the sister will live in community and she will receive guidance from the Director of Candidates.
The two year Novitiate is the time for intensive growth in prayer and deeper understanding of the charism of our congregation. The Novice studies the congregation’s Constitutions and the Rule of Saint Augustine with particular emphasis on the theology of the vows. During this time, the novice’s personal love of Christ is to be focused on the spousal dimension of religious life. The novitiate period is primarily a time set apart for prayer, silence and solitude.
The novitiate includes a canonical year and an apostolic year. The Canonical Year is a period removed from the active apostolate. During this time the formation of the novice will occur in four areas: prayer, virtue, understanding the vows and community. The second year of the novitiate has the added dimension of apostolic involvement or professional studies.
During this time of preparation for perpetual profession, the sister will continue to develop her Dominican way of life by prayer, study, community and apostolic ministry. She will live with perpetually professed sisters in a local community under the guidance of local superiors and she will experience an apostolic ministry with the sisters of the congregation.
After a period of three years, a temporarily professed a sister will renew her vows for up to three years. A sister may request to make perpetual profession after 5 years in temporary profession.