When we answer God’s call to live a consecrated life as a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, we are committing ourselves to join with all the women of this community in making present the healing love of Jesus in the world. To do this takes time; it does not happen overnight.
As a member of an active religious community, we are introduced to the spiritual focus of our ministry of service. Prayer frames our lives: we are offering our unique talents, not for personal acclaim or for individual material success, but to make the compassion and service of Jesus real in the world. Thus, new members of our congregation are introduced to daily participation in the Church’s liturgy and to the special power of communal prayer—whether at Mass or in recitation of the Office, daily collections of prayers selected to be said (or sung) at specific times of each day.
In addition, our new members are guided in the practice of spiritual meditation. For some, this guidance may be merely a re-familiarization of meditative practices already part of individual lifestyle; but, for others, this guidance may require the learning of strategies to control distractions and to sharpen focus. Meditative practice allows us to remain truly present to the reason for our ministry: to bring the compassion and love of Jesus to the world.
As new members become familiar with our spiritual focus, they are also instructed in the meaning and requirements of the Vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience—public profession of their intention to live their baptismal commitment in community and to dedicate their lives to service and justice through our ministries.
Vowed commitment occurs over time. Initially, sisters profess temporary vows which are renewed annually for a few years. During this period, new members may participate in our ministries, but their primary focus is on-going formation—learning more about themselves, the religious and spiritual life, and the specific mission of our congregation.
After at least three years of temporary vows, new members, with the acceptance of the congregation, may profess perpetual vows—the public statement of their free response to God’s call and their commitment to live in community, to share their spiritual and material goods, and to participate in the life and ministry of the congregation.
To participate in the ministries of the congregation requires that our sisters be degreed and professionally trained. If new members do not have the necessary training or degrees, the completion of training or degree also becomes part of the process of becoming a perpetually vowed member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.