If you are not an English speaker, then Pre-Candidacy is a period before you take a formal step, when you are supported by the Institute while you study English. You usually live in a group with other enquirers who are studying English. This time also gives you a chance to know more about the Institute as well as giving the Institute time to know you a little better.
Being a candidate means that while you may continue your everyday life – job, study, friends, independence – you take a much closer look at the Loreto Sisters’ life, work and spirit, living for some of this period with a community. Candidacy normally lasts six months to two years and involves:
- regular contact with someone who will walk with you in this spiritual search.
- some experience of living in a community.
If and when it seems right, to you and to the Institute, you apply to begin your Novitiate.
The novitiate lasts two years offering a solid time of spiritual preparation, supporting you as you grow in understanding yourself and your call, and laying a deep foundation for total dedication. The Province novitiate is held in Manila, the Philippines.
There is instruction on prayer and on the Loreto way of life under the guidance of the novice director. At all times as a novice you are encouraged to consider your growth as a person — in self-acceptance, in contributing to community life, in relating to others with an ease and readiness which is vital to your own happiness and effectiveness as an apostle in the years to come.
Your personal and spiritual growth is tested and promoted by various “experiments” which can include lengthy periods spent away from the novitiate house, living in different Loreto communities and working in various apostolates. There are also periods spent among the disadvantaged, maybe in hospices for the dying, or with refugees and other people in various kinds of need. Mary Ward wanted her sisters to have a freedom to respond to mission, a deep love for people living with disadvantage and to learn from direct experience the richness to be gained by finding God in all things.
The heart of the novitiate experience is the making of the thirty-day retreat. This time is devoted to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and is usually in the first year.
At the conclusion of two years novitiate, if both Loreto and you are satisfied that you are really being called to the Loreto vocation, you take your First Vows (simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for a limited period, usually for one or two years at a time.)
In Temporary Vows, you continue to have special support and guidance, and live as a fully committed member of the group. During this time, you may be called upon to have a variety of ministries and experiences of community. You may also undertake further studies.
Temporary Profession usually lasts for six to nine years.
When you make your Final Profession, you have decided to make a life commitment. You are happy and at peace with this choice. This is a decision made in consultation with those who have supported you in your journey. You have had time to explore deeply your personal, spiritual, psychological and professional maturity and have reached a truthful outcome that is right for you.
Throughout your vocation, your personal, spiritual and professional growth will be encouraged. You will have the chance to experience many areas of the Loreto Sisters’ works and will be supported by a community of Loreto Sisters, friends and colleagues all working together with a commitment to Gospel values and the enduring vision of Mary Ward.
Cherish God’s vocation in you; let it be constant, efficacious and loving.
– Mary Ward