First we must look at the word “vocation.” Vocation
All Christians have a 'vocation' in life. The word 'vocation' comes from the Latin word 'vocare' which means "to call". Some people God calls through marriage, others as single people. There is the same mystery about religious life as there is about falling in love. It is something in our hearts that we cannot explain.

The realization of this call will come at different times of life and in different ways - from something you have read, an event in your life, a person you have met or known. The call from God can only be heard when you are in tune with God, it's a growing realization that to spend your life as a Sister dedicated to Christ and his people is what would make you happy. Not everyone will be drawn to Religious Life. If you think you are, it is at least worth exploring. And you may want to look at the questions in the section About how to know one’s calling in life if you haven’t already done so.

Religious Vocation - Religious Life
These two terms are so inter-connected we need to address them together. “Religious Vocation” refers to the call given to us by God to a special form of life referred to as “Religious Life.” Many people use the term “religious life” as a general term for persons they regard as being “a religious” but there is a broader term, “Consecrated Life.” This is the concept found in the new Code of Canon Law. In Canon 607 we read:

  As a consecration of the whole person, religious life manifests in the Church a wonderful marriage brought about by God, a sign of the future age. Thus the religious brings to perfection a total self-giving as a sacrifice offered to God, through which his or her whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity.

The idea of consecration can be found n the Scriptures. It is a term that highlights a relationship between God and the person of object being consecrated. The renewal of Religious Life called for by Vatican II realized the significance of the term. “Consecrated Life” is used today to describe the various styles of life that the Church recognizes as playing a special role in her life. Persons living a consecrated life seek to live a life totally dedicated to God, and to grow in the virtue of love exercised for the sake of service to God’s people. For the most part they make the traditional vows or promises of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience as signs of their consecration. Some Institutes have one or more additional vows/promises usually related to their specific charism. Their life style is meant to be a witness to the world of God’s infinite love.

Here are some articles that may also be of interest to you:
The Call to Consecrated Life Consecration and Scripture

  Religious take vows as an expression of their desire to give themselves totally to God through membership in a religious community. A vow is a sacred promise made to God. For religious the vow is made in public because of the witness nature of religious life. By their vows or promises religious give their lives over to God. It is a woman’s individual's free response to a call by God to follow Jesus Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit.

These are the three traditional vows most religious make. They are also called the “evangelical counsels.” because they are derived from the life of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels, in Greek, evangelion. Religious are called to a radical way to living out the Gospel, that is, the Gospel is to be the root or values foundation which determines every dimension of their lives. In every age they provide a strong witness to Gospel values in the face of competing or even contrary values in the prevailing culture. Their ways of living out these traditional values vary somewhat according to the particular Rule or Constitution of each Institute and the culture in which they are to be lived but the essential values are common to all.

For more information on the individual vows you may want to see :

  Consecrated Life has a long history. Over the centuries a variety of forms evolved most often in response to historical changes. The 1800's were a particularly difficult time historically as new nations came into being but it was a rich time for religious. Many congregations came into existence in that century. They gave a new thrust to the mission of religious reaching out the elements of society most in need of physical and spiritual care.

In general there are two main types of religious or consecrated life: Apostolic and Contemplative. Apostolic Congregations are those whose mission includes ministry such as social work, health care, teaching and pastoral work. Contemplative Congregations are those for whom prayer is the heart of their daily life.

There is a more subtle difference among religious institutes that is drawn from the particular charism of a founder whose experience of God led them to start a new institute often to meet a particular need. A charism is a special gift of God for the benefit of the individual founder but it remains as a legacy for the those who follow and adapt the charism to changing times.

If you are interested in going a little deeper, you may find these articles helpful.
Apostolic-Contemplative Life The Different Forms of Religious Life
The Call to Live a Charism Exploring the Charism "Menu: of Religous Life

  In all religious communities, the process involves several stages. While these vary from community to community in name, length of time, and format, the following outline gives a general overview.

Initial Contact: This is usually a very flexible program whereby the person meets with a sister on a regular basis and shares in experiences of prayer and community life with the congregation in which she is interested.

Candidate: This is a more formal relationship with the community. For a year or more, candidates live with the community while continuing their education or work experience. They can observe and participate in religious life from the inside and the community can see if the candidate shows promise of living the life of the community.

Novice: The novitiate is a special two-year period which marks the person's official entrance into the community. Novices spend time in study and prayer, learning more about themselves, the community, and their relationship with the Lord. At the end of the novitiate, they prepare for temporary promises or vows.

Vows: The profession of vows may be made for one, two, or three years and are renewable up to nine years. The decision regarding length of time is one made by the individual and the community. Final vows could be made after three years of temporary vows depending on a community’s particular constitutions or practices

For specific information about our Pallottine formation program see:

According to the National Religious Vocations Conference, the following are mentioned:

generally good health; adequate intellectual ability; healthy relationships, including good friends; sense of humor; ability to make a positive choice for celibacy; member of the Catholic Church; faith and sense of integrity;
relationship with God; responsiveness to others; capacity to serve a variety of people; leadership ability; collaborative worker; ability to live simply, sharing a common life; can compromise for the common good.

  Most religious communities would agree but they would look to see if the woman has a natural attraction to the charism of the particular community, a special gift to live it. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, for example, looked for those with a spirit of joy because that was necessary for anyone who would work with the poorest of the poor.

You might want to take a look at these articles which might be of some help for you.
What might be the signs of God’s Call? How do I know if I am being called to religious life?
The Call to Live a Charism Exploring the Charism “Menu: of Religous Life

That’s a good question! The way to get to know God’s will is to speak God’s language and that’s what prayer is. Whatever the works we say or think, God knows our heart and he always answers in way that bring us peace and joy, the signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

There is no short answer to this question but there are some things we can suggest. First is something called Examen of Consciousness. It is a style of prayer that can help you develop a greater awareness of God’s presence in your life and also your own reactions to that present. The article is a bit long but it will give you a good place to start.

Ultimately your goal is to discern what it is God is asking of you. It is important to understand what the process of discernment involves. It is not something you jump into. It is a serious process, that requires discipline. We are happy to provide you with some useful aids.

Discernment - Brief Overview
Is it for me?
The Art of Decision Making
The Process of Discernment
Some prayers for a discerning heart

  In as much as religious life is a life totally dedicated to God it is a life that requires a whole-hearted commitment. Most communities require life-long commitment following a period of temporary commitment. There are a few communities, such as the Daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, whose members renew their vows annually though most remain in their communities for life.

The reason the question is so often raised has to do with fear. Any choice for how to live one’s life has a certain amount of insecurity and fear at first. Fear of commitment is not a reason to avoid looking at the possibility that you are called to make a life-long commitment to religious life. The peace of God always accompanies those who make their choice in prayer and seek the grace of God to live it.

For an extended discussion of this question you may wish to read:
Making a Commitment What People Fear Most in a Vocation Decision

  Historically, there have always been communities that did not wear a formal habit. Many habits started out as the lay clothing of the cultural era at the time of their foundation. Many kept their original dress long after fashions changed. In time many of these became the basis of what we came to know as habits. All religious reviewed the style and place of the habit after Vatican II. Initially there were trials to modernize the habit but gradually some communities opted for lay clothes.

Those who maintain habits today do so for various reasons. One of the primary reasons is that religious dress is a sign. The habit is an instantly recognized symbol of faith in God and commitment to Christianity. Another frequent rationale for religious garb is that it is simple dress and therefore a way to live out the vow of poverty. A sister who wears a religious habit can own just two or three changes of dress and be free of the expense that may be involved in a more extensive contemporary wardrobe. Other communities say the habit is an important sign of penitence for them.

Some communities have opted to wear lay clothes, saying that the most valid sign of Christian faith is lifestyle, how one lives, not how one dresses. They have noted that among certain populations religious dress creates an undesirable barrier between them and those with whom they work. Some Catholics and non-Catholics distance themselves from people in traditional religious dress.

There is also an historic reason. Many have discontinued wearing habits noting that the dress worn in times past was that of the common people. When styles changed, religious continued to wear what they had been wearing. Lay or street clothes are the clothes of common people today.

Our Community

Our Sisters are permitted to make a choice. It often depends on the particular ministry a Sister has. Among our older Sisters you will find some who wear a religious habit. Many of our Sisters have chosen to retain the veil as the distinctive sign that they are a religious and wear professional clothes for ministry; others do not. There is a tendency among many to distinguish professional dress for ministry and casual dress when they are in the convent or at recreational events. We recognize that these are changing times for religious life in general and we respect each Sister’s choice.

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