Choosing religious life is more an invitation that one receives based on his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and how it develops. It is a step that is taken freely with time spent in discernment, a deeper spiritual life, spiritual accompaniment, various stages of formation, and living in community.
The initial formation of a Xaviere Sister is a long journey – approximately ten years – which gives time for discernment and integration within the congregation. Below are the various stages of formation to become a Xaviere Sister:
This is the first stage in formation with the goal to discover and experience the life of a Xaviere Sister while living in the community. She participates in the prayer and communal life of the community while also continuing her professional commitments. She will have the chance to get to know the wider congregation, its foundress and its history. She will also need to take the time to learn or advance in her knowledge of French. This time of formation is between six months to a year.
This is the second stage in formation where she takes a step away from the activities of the world into one of more silence and solitude. As we are contemplatives in action, she will live in a novitiate community either in Vanves, France or in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The goal of this time is to develop deeper roots in her call to follow Christ in religious life with La Xavière by spending time studying the constitutions and the history of the congregation, undergoing the 30 days spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, understanding the religious vows better and also what it means to be a sister in an apostolic congregation. She will be sent to various short-term placements (L’Arche, Taize, diocesan services, charities,…).
The novices also participate in an inter-novitiate program with other novices from Ignatian congregations.
At the end of the novitiate, those who want to commit to follow Christ as a religious sister in La Xavière ask to pronounce vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for the first time. These vows, during this stage, are renewable every two years. The newly professed sisters receive the Xaviere cross.
Living the vow of chastity as a celibate is to sacrifice married life and maternity but not one’s femininity. I am invited to allow my heart grow with God to be able to welcome all and to be available to all, like Him.
Living the vow of poverty is to abandon myself to God and to others in trust. I commit to keep in common all that is mine and all that I am, and to share it with the community and others. In doing so I show that my only wealth is Christ.
Living the vow of obedience is to commit to follow Christ in doing the Father’s will by seeking and discerning with my superiors the best way to serve. I commit to be available for any mission or ministry I could be entrusted.Claire B.
During this time, the newly professed sister returns to active work and community life wherever she is missioned. It would be her first steps as a Xaviere Sister in the world. Her formation will also continue with regular gatherings with other sisters who are temporarily professed.
This period of formation is between five and nine years.
Tertianship and Perpetual Vows
After several years of “temporary profession”, it is time to leave the “temporary” to move on to the “definite”…CHANTAL A.
Before professing perpetual vows, the temporary professed sister is invited to go through tertianship – a third year of novitiate. It is a privileged time to prepare for final profession and to remember all the blessings received during the years of initial formation. She would make the thirty days spiritual exercises again as well.
At the end of the tertianship, she will profess publicly the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for life. During the celebration, she will receive a wedding band as a sign of her definitive alliance with Christ and as a sister for the Church. She will now be a Xaviere Sister for life!