next year

I thought some of you might be interested to know what next year will look like for us 2nd year novices. As I pointed out in my last post about my Carmelite friends, most women's religious communities have a 2 year novitiate while most men's religious communities (with one exception I know of being the Jesuits) have a 1 year novitiate.

The first year of novitiate - which is counting down to just under 3 months left for me - is called the "Canonical Year." As you might guess, it is governed by Canon law.
The novitiate, through which life in an institute is begun, is arranged so that the novices better understand their divine vocation, and indeed one which is proper to the institute, experience the manner of living of the institute, and form their mind and heart in its spirit, and so that their intention and suitability are tested. (Canon 646)
Our Constitutions say that the "canonical novitiate, spent in the novitiate house is a period of intensive prayer and study in relative withdrawal from ministerial involvement. During this time a novice focuses primarily on her transformation in Jesus Christ." In the Fall & Spring we went once a week to the intercommunity novitiate for classes. We also have weekly conferences with our novice director and group discussions in the house. Our ministry is limited to one afternoon a week. The rest of the time is spent in personal prayer and reflection and experiencing community living in the Novitiate House.

Next year will be our "Ministerial Year" (called the "Apostolic Year" in some communities) and will look quite different. Canon law provides that "to complete the formation of novices, in addition to the period mentioned in §1, the constitutions can establish one or more periods of apostolic exercises to be spent outside the community of the novitiate." (Canon 648). This explains why some communities have just the one year novitiate required by canon law, and others have a second year focused on ministry.

We recently learned what next year will look like for us in "broad strokes" ... the details are still being sorted out. Our Constitutions give the context for the Ministerial Year: "The novitiate also includes time of engagement in ministry that will evoke the faith dispositions needed by those sharing in the mission of the church as expressed through our charism."

In September we'll be moving into a local community of Sisters in one of our provinces and working full time in some sort of ministry with the poor for 3 months. We'll then come back to the Novitiate House for integration and more studies. In February we'll go to another province and live with another group of sisters and engage in a different ministry for 3 months. The details of which community and ministry are still being worked out. Most likely one of my experiences will be in the UK and one here in NJ.

After our ministry experiences, we'll participate in our Chapter next summer and then prepare to make our first profession of vows some time in the fall of 2008.

I have a feeling the time will fly by. In the meantime, I've got just under 3 months left of my canonical year. The summer months also have some exciting opportunities, in particular with the larger CSJP community.

1 comment:

Judith said...

Hi Susan,

I have tagged you for a meme. See my blog for details. Good luck.