When a young sister joins the Congregation, she enters into a period known as Initial Formation. This is a time where she will discern her vocation and learn more about herself and God’s will for her. Here below are the stages through which each sister goes in order to become an Augustinian Sister, Servant of Jesus and Mary.
This is the first stage of the whole process of initial formation and lasts one year. It is a time when the young sister has enough ‘space’ to familiarise herself better with religious life and experience it directly. The young sister takes part in community prayer and community life. In so doing, the Aspirant can evaluate her vocation better.
The second stage is the Postulancy. In this period of formation, the Postulant learns more about the proper charism of the Congregation, left us by our Mother Foundress, Teresa Spinelli. The Postulant participates wholly in the programme of the community in which she lives. She is also given the opportunity to participate in activities involving the direct apostolate of the congregation, giving her more space for evaluating her vocation.
The Novitiate is the third stage of initial formation and lasts two years. The First Year is the Canonical year and the Novice attends regular meetings with her Formator. These meetings include informative meetings, where the novice studies about the Charism of the Congregation. She also studies the Rule of the Congregation, which is the Rule of St Augustine, chosen for us by Mother Foundress. She studies the Congregation’s Constitutions, about our Mother Foundress and St Augustine. Led by her Formator, the Novice carries out other personal studies which continue to help her go even more deeper into her calling.
During the five years spent in the Juniorate, the young sister (Junior) will carry on with her academic studies and is given the opportunity to choose a specific area in education in which she would like to specialise. These studies include University Courses or other courses which her to continue to grow her academic formation. The Junior is guided in her formation by her formator who follows her closely in all aspects.
Initial formation ends with perpetual profession. From that point on, ongoing formation lasts a lifetime. As with all baptized people we religious grow towards adulthood in Christ. Therefore, our ongoing formation has to be continuous and has to cover all aspects of our life. It is our serious responsibility to continue working on our formation in order to be able to respond to the ever-renewed calls of God and to live our vocation authentically. Ongoing formation is essential, if initial formation is not to wear thin. Ongoing formation must include all the important aspects of our 1) human and 2) religious formation. The period of fast changes in which we are living demands constant updating and openness of our whole personality. Thus ongoing formation calls for a double objective:
- the development of the person (human qualities, spiritual gifts and academic aptitudes)
- the building up of the Kingdom of God brought about by personal growth (becoming more apostolic).
Our Congregation supports these goals by offering:
- Day and weekend seminars organized by the Institute of Consecrated Life, according to age.
- Sabbatical year/months when deemed fit.
- Weekend seminars which help for personal growth.
- Talks for all the sisters regarding the life and virtues of our Mother Foundress.
- Monthly and Annual retreats for all the sisters.
- Celebrations in particular liturgical times like advent, lent and on days which are traditional for our congregation.
- Apostolate where we can spread our charism of service to the Church as a whole, both in-house and elsewhere
Here I am, ready and prepared, Lord; let whatever happens, happen come what may, as long as it is Your Holy Will.
(M Teresa Spinelli)