The final stage of formation which prepares the young Sister for solemn profession is the JUNIORATE.

During these years in temporary vows, the Sister continues to receive spiritual guidance and instruction, but the emphasis is on the faithful and fruitful integration of all she has learned into daily Poor Clare living.

Entrusted with greater responsibilities in the community, she also strives to be more responsible for her own on-going formation as she prepares to proclaim through the profession of solemn vows the FOREVER which has long been in her heart.

The POSTULANCY is a time of deepening discernment and involvement in the life of the community.  Instruction begun in the ASPIRANCY continues, including regular classes in Catechism, Sacred Scripture, Prayer and Spirituality, Franciscan Heritage, Monastic Customs, and Gregorian Chant/Liturgy.

Perhaps her first contact with the Poor Clares was through a friend or a vocations visit to the monastery with a school group.  Perhaps she happened upon a website and felt drawn to make contact, arranging for a personal "Come and See" experience with the community.  Perhaps she read about the Poor Clares in a book or magazine article and simply wrote for more information.  Regardless of how the Holy Spirit led her, once a young woman feels the call to follow in the footsteps of St. Clare, the natural next question is:

                                                                        


Our Mother the Church has shown her great esteem for our vocation by issuing two documents in recent years concerning women's contemplative life, Vultum Dei Quaerere ("Seeking the Face of God") and Cor Orans ("The Praying Heart").  These instructions include new norms regarding initial formation, including the addition of a year of aspirancy and the lengthening of the time a junior Sister spends in temporary vows before making her solemn (final) profession.  Now, young women who enter our Poor Clare community, desiring to follow in the footsteps of our Mother St. Clare, will journey through the following stages of formation:
HOW DO I BECOME A POOR CLARE?
Following in the Footsteps of Saint Clare

The ASPIRANCY stage is divided into two phases:
ASPIRANCY in the world and ASPIRANCY in the cloister. The length of each phase is determined by the individual needs and circumstances of the candidate.

Aspirancy in the World:

During these months, the aspirant completes the necessary forms, medical evaluations and recommendations that are required as part of the application process.  She maintains close contact with the community, including extended visits in which she resides in the extern area of the monastery.  The aspirant joins the community for the Divine Office from the public chapel, meets with Mother Abbess and the Novice Mistress, and attends instruction and recreation with her future novitiate companions in the parlor.

While remaining in the world, an aspirant deepens her spiritual and sacramental life, agrees not to date, and gradually weans herself off of all internet, social media and cell phone use so as to prepare herself for the next phase of ASPIRANCY.....
Aspirancy in the Cloister:

The remaining months of the ASPIRANCY are spent within the enclosure, allowing the aspirant to experience more fully our communal life as Poor Clares.  The aspirant wears a simple brown jumper and an off-white veil which already indicates her desire to be set apart from the world and follow our Lord in the footsteps of our Mother St. Clare.

This time is a vital period of orientation and gradual "rooting in" as the aspirant learns our monastic customs, participates in the prayer and fraternal life of the community, and receives instruction intended to foster her human and spiritual formation.

 

 

 
If, at the end of the NOVITIATE, both the community and the candidate feel that she has a true vocation to our life and that she has the capacity to embrace this call whole-heartedly, she is received to make her SIMPLE PROFESSION of vows.
The public ceremony takes place within Holy Mass, during which the new bride receives the black veil and knotted cord to symbolize her espousal to Christ.

 

 
While initial formation technically concludes with the SOLEMN PROFESSION of vows, it is really just the beginning!  Formation is a life-long process, and we strive to be always open to the Holy Spirit and His holy way of working in our lives, as He leads us day by day.



Our Monastery in Belleville, Illinois USA
San Damiano, Assisi Italy.   The home of our Mother St. Clare
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The transition from the
ASPIRANCYto the POSTULANCY
is
marked by a simple, private ceremony
during which the aspirant exchanges her off-white veil
for the customary veil of the postulant.

 

The NOVITIATE OR NOVICESHIP is an extended time of engagement as the young Sister, now affianced to Jesus, prepares to make her monastic profession.  Instruction during this time focuses on our four vows of obedience, poverty, chastity and enclosure, our Holy Rule and our Constitutions. The novice strives to intensify her personal fidelity to Christ, to deepen her understanding of our form of Gospel living and to grow in maturity of judgment and all aspects of womanliness.