Sign on the dotted line …

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

When I was visiting my aunt in Naperville, Ill., she asked me how the Benedictine Sisters recruit. Was it like the military?

I was happy to say no. We don’t stay at the door until someone signs. We don’t give the hard sell with out telling the truth that there will be difficult times. We don’t offer uniforms.

What do we do? We share that through those difficult times can come a closer relationship with our community and with God. This is what it’s all about!

St. Benedict says it should not be easy for someone to enter the monastery. Michael Casey reflected on this in The Road to Eternal Life.

“Far from being an enthusiastic recruiter who lures into the monastery everyone who crosses his path, he wants to slow the whole process down so that the person considering monastic life has a chance to think through what the person is about to undertake and to look at it from every angle.”

We truly what it to be a decision between you and God, and we are here to help guide you through the discernment process. Even once you enter, you must work through stages of commitment.

You start as a Postulant. During this 9-12 month period, you will deepen your understanding of Benedictine community life, prayer life and your own commitment level. The Postulancy time is a period of mutual discernment between you and community members.

Next is your Novitiate time. 
During this 2-year program, you will continue your studies in Benedictinism and theology. You will also further your study of our monastic profession of obedience, stability and fidelity to the monastic way of life.

Your First Monastic Profession follows the Novitiate stage. Your receive the title of “Sister,” a truly wonderful moment! This 3 to 6 year period is a time of growth and immersion into the Benedictine way of life as a Sister, during which you will participate in community ministry and be guided to deepen your spirituality and integration into the community.

Your Perpetual Monastic Profession reflects our final, permanent commitment to obedience, stability and fidelity to the monastic way of life.

We surely follow St. Benedict’s advice to not make it easy to enter the community. But that doesn’t mean it’s not joyful as well. During your 6-9 years of learning, journeying, sharing, praying, living a life that is utterly different than your former life is a wondrous time … or at least it was – and continues to be – for me.

Is it always ideal or perfect? Of course not. No life is without challenges, whether single or married. But my spirit and soul are renewed daily as I seek – with my Sisters – a deeper, stronger relationship with God. I do deeply love it.

So we are not the hard sell, sign up now and you are in it for good and can’t get out. There are lots of exits on the journey. Why? Because we want women who want to be here.

Join us as you discern. Join us as you walk the slow path, making – and remaking – decisions as you go. We’ve done it, and still do it, every day.

Give me a holler at smacdonald@smmsisters.org. I’m totally here for you!

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