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The Phases of Formation

The form of life of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis is this: to observe with loving and generous hearts the holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to The Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. In all things, we strive daily to let the power of God's Word open us to ever fuller and deeper observance of the Gospel way. Jesus is our way, our truth, and our life. In union with Him, we render glory to God as we seek to advance His Kingdom.
~Chapter 1: Identity and Spirit | Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis

The Phases of Formation are:

These Phases of Formation are designed to assist a woman in understanding her personal call from God and to help her experience integration into the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. Each step of the program enables the woman to go deeper into a relationship with God and the congregation. A prospective candidate walks with both a minister and companion sister so she is never alone on a journey that can feel at times overwhelming.

Invitational
The invitational phase is open to single Catholic women who are 19 to 45 years of age. During this time, the woman makes contact with the vocation minister to explore God's call in her life. This phase can last from one to two years as she becomes familiar with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. Through correspondence, visits, study, and dialogue, she has the opportunity to meet with sisters, attend celebrations, and experience prayer and fellowship within the congregation. During the latter part of this phase, she begins her journey with a companion sister who walks with her as a mentor and guide.
Pre-Candidacy
Pre-candidacy is a continuation of the invitational phase as the woman studies and reflects on the history of the community and the call to the Franciscan way of life. She meets frequently with the companion sister and the vocation minister. Opportunities for her to meet with the larger community take place as she accepts invitations to attend local community meetings, assemblies, and other gatherings. She also completes the application form and requirements for admission in order to enter the Candidacy phase.
Candidacy
The candidacy phase is the preliminary period prior to novitiate. During this time, the woman lives in an environment conducive to facilitating the transition from lay life to religious community living. She begins a formal study of topics that relate to community life, such as prayer, vowed life, communication skills, and other related topics. She also continues to meet with her companion sister and sisters in her local community on a regular basis. The candidate also studies scripture and theology as she begins to prepare herself for the formal novitiate phase of formation.
Franciscan Novitiate

The novitiate phase is the extended time of reflection and experience that marks the woman's formal beginning of religious life in the congregation. The novitiate is the first prolonged experience of reflecting on oneself, God, the Church, and the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. The novitiate phase usually consists of two years. The first year is the canonical year and the second is the apostolic year. Nine months of the novitiate phase take place at the Franciscan Common Novitiate in St. Louis, MO.

During the canonical year, the novice withdraws from full-time employment and/or schooling in order to give priority to her personal faith development and study. The novice learns the essentials of religious life and what it means to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She studies the Franciscan documents, vows, community life, and the congregation's documents.

The focus of the apostolic year is the integration of Franciscan spirituality, communal life, and ministerial life. During this time, the novice prepares for her future life in the congregation. With assistance, she learns to balance her apostolic activity with the Franciscan contemplative way of life. At the completion of these two years of study, prayer, and preparation for vows, the novice moves to the next phase.

Temporary Professed
In this phase, the sister professes the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience according to our Constitutions, to God and to the Congregation for three years. This is a time of continued discernment and reflection for the sister, minister, companion sister, and the members of the local community with whom she relates. After three years, the temporary professed sister may take perpetual vows, renew her temporary vows, or leave the congregation.
 
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Meet the Vocation Minister

What is a Catholic Vocation?

Introduction to the Franciscan Evangelical Life

St. Francis Conversion Events and Your Personal Story

Discernment: What is it?

Discernment Passages

Life as a Sister

Frequently Asked Questions

Vocation Profiles

The Phases of Formation

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