Vocation and Formation
True Faith in the Incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving Evangelii Gaudium 88
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you... (Jeremiah 1:5) In the end, as in the beginning, it is God who forms us, shaping us through our gifts of grace and nature, and through the outward circumstances of our lives.
Our response to this formation by God may vary – sometimes we are happy to ‘go with the flow’ of our lives, and sometimes as St Paul puts it we ‘kick against the goad.’ In no area is this more true than when we are trying to discern a vocation – we are very ready to do God’s will, but very often we are equally determined to do our own
Because God deals with us gently it is also quite hard to hear what we are being called to amid the noise and hubbub of our lives. Nevertheless, the gifts we recognise that we have and wish to use; the desires we have for ourselves, vague though they may sometimes be, are indications of what it is God sees us as, what kind of uniquely Christ-like person He wants us to be.
Sculptors have said that sculpting is freeing the form within the stone or wood. We can see this happening in some of Michelangelo's unfinished sculptures, the shape of the human body seems to be in the process of emerging from the stone. All Christian formation is akin to this: growing in likeness to the God in whose image we are made.
As you may have already read on our website, a Dominican is formed by: Liturgical and private prayer; Study; Community life; the Vows we take; and the mission of preaching to others the Truth we have learned to love.
Becoming a Dominican therefore is a matter of trying to find and maintain the delicate and difficult balance between ever deepening contemplation and an outgoing and forward-looking apostolate. This becoming lasts a lifetime.
The preliminaries, however, are as follows:
- a period of getting to know the Congregation by visits, while carrying on your everyday life;
- a formal application and interview;
- a two year Novitiate;
- three years of Vowed commitment. (Temporary Profession);
- perhaps a further period of Temporary Profession;
- Perpetual Profession (Vows for life)
Our Novitiate house is in Cambridge, as is that of the friars, and some of the Novitiate courses are taken together. The time in temporary Vows will probably be in some other community of our Congregation, and will include some further studies and professional development, together with some work in or for the Congregation or the wider apostolate. The length of this time may vary according to the readiness of the candidate to proceed to making a commitment for life.
Finally the sister, having made perpetual profession will continue the active ministry for which she has made some preparation in her time in formation. The nature of this work will depend to a large degree on the individual gifts and talents of the sister, and the needs of the Congregation and the wider Church. A sister is likely to be involved in more than one form of apostolate in the course of her religious life.
For more on this subject see the page on Mission.
These are the bare bones: should you wish to know more please do not hesitate to contact our vocations director Sr Ann Catherine on on our Contact page