Process of Initial Formation
The first stage of formation is the postulancy (from the Latin, meaning “asking”) which lasts for at least one year. The postulant lives with and participates in the prayer and work of the community while discerning her vocation. She spends some time each day in formal classes, studying the Rule and History of the Carmelite Order and the customs of the Monastery. She may leave at any time if she or the community feels she does not have a vocation.
The two-year formation period as a novice begins with the reception of the Carmelite Habit. The young woman is now a member of the community and continues her formation in daily classes concerned with assuming the obligations and privileges of religious vows. Periodic self-evaluations and community-evaluations help the novice to know herself and test her strengths for living cloistered, contemplative life.
First Profession of Vows
Once the novitiate is completed, the novice may be admitted to temporary vows for three years. As a vowed member of the community she gradually assumes a more responsible position in community affairs. She also completes her initial formation during these years, studying the writings and lives of the Carmelite Saints and preparing to make a complete offering of herself to Christ for the good of His Church.
After five or more years of discernment and formation in Carmelite life, the Sister, with the consent of the Community, is admitted to final or Solemn Vows. The professed sister assumes responsibility for her own ongoing formation and for the daily upbuilding of the community through service, fidelity and discernment with the other sisters in matters regarding the life of the community.