The purpose of a formation programme is to introduce the person to religious life and the particular way that community lives it in daily life. This introduction allows a person to "test the waters" to see if the Congregation is a fit and, also, for the Congregation to get to know the person and see if the person is right for it. Although formation programmes differ from Congregation to Congregation, each is designed to be a process over several years that gradually allows the person to deepen her understanding of religious life, to discern if this is the way God is calling her and, if so, to freely make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph have several stages in the formation programme. All of the stages are designed to be holistic, addressing the spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological aspects of life through prayer, reflection, education and community experience.
This is a period of time when a woman is getting to know the sisters, the Congregation and is making a commitment to deepen her spiritual life through a commitment to prayer, Mass and the sacraments, and to learning more about her faith through workshops and reading. In Kenya, after a period of discernment through week-end visits and various workshops, women may apply to join the prenovitiate programme at Luanda which is a nine-month programme of study with students who are applying for the Mill Hill Seminary and another six months of community experience with the sisters in various ministries. The women live in our convent at Luanda and also spend time in our various communities before they apply to enter the novitiate.
In other countries, the prenovitiate time is tailored to the individual but also involves meeting the sisters, spending time in prayer with them. Initially the woman continues to work or finish her education and, before entering the novitiate, resides in one of our convents for a specified length of time.
During their first year, the "Canonical Year", novices live in the novitiate house with the novice mistress where they study our FMSJ way of life (Constitutions and Directives), our history, charism, the vows, the Franciscan Rule and spirituality and our missionary vocation. In Kenya, the novices attend courses at an interCongregational novitiate programme as well.
Our second-year novices, while continuing their study, are sent out to different communities for two apostolic periods. This experience helps them to understand the type of ministry that our sisters are engaged in and gives them a concrete opportunity to serve the poor.
At the end of the novitiate, the novice freely commits herself to following Christ by professing the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for a year.
After her first profession, the Sister is assigned to a local community where she begins working in a specific ministry. The sisters in temporary profession meet several times a year with each other and their formator to continue to discuss the Charism and the Spirituality of the Congregation. During this stage, the sister is given professional training for a specific ministry, if she does not already have a professional qualification. Each year the sister takes time to evaluate her specific goals and objectives for formation and asks to renew her vows. The sister is also assessed by her formator and the community in which she lives. After approximately five or six years, the sister may request to make final profession.
After final profession, ongoing growth and development is the responsibility of the Sister herself who is encouraged, in consultation with her Community leader and Congregation leader to use opportunities which arise for personal, spiritual, intellectual and apostolic renewal, and recognising that the process of becoming a FMSJ is a lifelong journey.
If you feel God is inviting you to explore life as a Franciscan Missionary Sister of St. Joseph contact
Sister Noel Barron FMSJ
3 Clifford Street
Rochdale OL11 1NG
Sister Margaret Teresa Lonergan FMSJ
Sister Anna Muindi FMSJ