Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we shine a light on the most common questions about pursuing your vocation as an Assumption Sister. If what you see looks promising, please contact our Vocation Director at ravocation@hotmail.com. She welcomes your specific questions and will provide a sense of whether the Assumption might be the right place to continue your journey.

Click on arrows to display answers:

Is there an age limit for becoming a sister?

No. Each person's request is considered individually.

What would I need to enter the Assumption?

You need to have a personal love of Jesus Christ, a resilient spirit, and the desire to live and work with other people for the sake of the Kingdom. And because Assumption Sisters are a fun group who enjoy life, a sense of humor is a big plus!

On a practical level, what do I need to enter the Assumption?

You need to be a baptized Catholic who has been practicing your faith for some number of years. You need to be free to make vows (if you were previously married , this requires a decree of annulment). You also need to be in reasonably good physical and mental health and free of serious debt. >

I'm thinking about the religious life, but not ready to start the process yet. What should I be doing at this stage?

The first thing you can do in this stage is pray. Ask the Lord to show you the way ask often and with real confidence. Then listen. At the same time, it also makes a lot of sense for anyone thinking about religious life to talk it over with other people. A spiritual director, a confessor, a campus minister—any of these people might be helpful to you as you work your way through your discernment. Sometimes, unfortunately, such people are hard to find. That shouldn't discourage you from doing the discernment work. It is work, and that's not easy, but as you begin to know yourself and your relationship with Christ better, you will find that it pays off in increased freedom of mind and heart. One good way to help yourself, whether you're in dialogue with someone or not, is to read books.

Can you offer me guidance at this discerning stage?

Yes. Someone can accompany you. Typically, you would meet with a sister once a month for a period of time that you would decide upon together. You and she would look at your questions in more depth. Her role would be to encourage you to get at the truth of what you desire, to encourage you to respond to your call, whatever it is and wherever it may lead you, in freedom.

The other thing we can offer you at an early stage is a true welcome from our community. We invite you to dine with us, pray with us, work with us. We have a formal side that you might see in church, but we also have an informal, fun-loving side. We enjoy sharing our Assumption life with visitors, whether for an evening or a longer period of time. We're interested in you and your evolution as a person of faith.

What happens if I decide to give religious life a try?

Assuming that you've had a chance to get to know us initially, you would talk with Sr. Mary Ann about your decision, then write a letter to our Provincial Superior and her Council requesting to enter the Assumption. They would then consider inviting you to enter our formation program.

I have a car and some savings. What would happen to them?

As a postulant, you can keep your car if you want to. You would still be responsible for payments, maintenance, gas, etc. If and when you progress to novice, you would make arrangements to sell or give the vehicle away.

With respect to your money (including income, credit cards, 401k plans, etc.): as a postulant, you would continue to manage your personal financial affairs. As a novice, you would ask someone else (a member of your family or some other trusted person) to be a steward of your assets. They would still be completely yours, but for the period of the novitiate, you would not be involved in the daily management. This would continue during the period of temporary vows.

Would I be expected to pay rent to the Sisters while living in the the community?

Usually we ask postulants to provide us with nominal room and board money. Novices are in another category of dependency on the community and so receive all that they need: food, shelter, clothing, books, etc. from the community.

I have a profession already. Would I be able to continue working in my profession if I joined the Assumption?

The Church has entrusted us with the mission of education. In the U.S. Province, we don't own any schools, though we collaborate with others in schools and colleges. Our education mission overs a broad spectrum of activity, including parish work, education of adults, prison ministry, advocacy for immigrants, teaching ESL, organizing communities, etc. So we put our professional skills at the service of the community. That means that if you were a lawyer, you might work on immigrant issues. Or, if you were an architect, your skills might be used to help develop affordable housing among the poor in southern New Mexico. The idea is that each of us contributes something to the project of the Province. The projects pursued by the Assumption Sisters are discerned together every six years by the Congregation as a whole. We are committed to effecting change in society as a Assumption community rather than as "lone rangers." This means that we have to be flexible and willing to listen to the mind of the group. Another word for this form of listening is obedience.

What is the formation program like?

There are three distinct stages: 1) postulancy, 2) novitiate and 3) first (or temporary) vows. Each stage is designed to encourage personal growth -- intellectual, spiritual, and experiential -- as a woman moves toward full membership in the congregation.

Can you give details about each stage? How long does each take?

The Postulancy is a kind of apprenticeship. One sister will be responsible for walking with you. With her and the community, you would be initiated into our way of common prayer and assisted in strengthening your own personal way of prayer. You would also work on discerning if the next step in the process, the novitiate, is right for you. During this time, you would continue to work at your profession as you begin the inner work of entering progressively into our ordinary life participating in the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist with us, working on some part of the community's apostolic project, joining the community for its weekly meeting, taking your turn cooking, helping to plant bulbs and rake leaves in the fall, shoveling snow (except in New Mexico), cheering the Sox and booing the Yankees (or vice versa). It's your time to learn about the congregation and its charisma. The postulancy is a flexible stage. Most people need about a year, but some take six months and others request up to two years.

Novitiate is a two year stage. The first year, also known as the canonical year (because it is required by Canon or Church law), has a very different feel from the postulancy stage. It's a time of solitude in which the novice no longer works outside the community, but instead begins to delve into the life of prayer and study. Along with intense personal work on your own heart and spirit, you get to know the Bible, the Church, and the Congregation more deeply. The director of the novitiate, whom we call the Novice Mistress, would be a key resource for this stage of the journey, but the work of personal formation always remains your own responsibility. In other words, novitiate is not like a course to be passed, but rather a special, graced time for you to receive God's plan for you as you develop an attitude of discipleship.

The second year is also known as the apostolic year. You take on various apostolic projects even as you continue the inner, spiritual work you began in the previous year. These projects are usually short term experiences, often set up to give you a chance to experience life and work with the poor. They are opportunities for you not only to give but also to receive from those who the world says have nothing.

After the two years of Novitiate, you make Temporary Vows for three years. Each of the vows is explained in more detail a little further on in these FAQs.  During this time, also known as The Juniorate, you would most likely do formal theological studies for at least a year, and then take your place in the overall apostolic project of the province. In other words, you would start working outside the community again. Most people renew their vows after the three years for another two years. Then, if it seems right both to them and to the community, they request to make final vows.

Would I be free to leave any time during the process?

You are free to leave at any time during the postulancy and the novitiate. If you had made temporary vows, you would need a dispensation from those vows, but that can be granted.

How many people are going through this process with you right now?

At present (2017), we have one Sister in temporary vows.

Well, what about obedience? What would that mean for me?

A major goal of initial formation is that each person will begin to "live the questions," as Rilke says, as she studies the vows and all that they mean. So a short answer here isn't possible. But we can say that vowing religious obedience does NOT mean that you would be taking on a kind of adult childhood in which Mother or The Superior tells you what to do. Religious obedience in the Assumption is lived out by adults who desire the good of the others as well as their own good. A line from our Rule of Life may give you some inkling of how we try to live this vow: "the generosity with which each one gives up her own will and accepts what has been decided strengthens communion and builds the community. In this way the whole Congregation is formed in love, thanks to the fidelity of each of its members."

How about chastity? Does that mean that I can't have any friends?

"Learning how to love requires time and entails many conversions," says our Rule. Celibacy for Christ is a path of growth in which passions and feelings are gradually integrated under the influence of the Spirit, so that the personality is developed both by Love and for Love. In other words, the vow of chastity is not a vow against human friendship. Instead, it is a vow that orients us to seek a life of deeper and deeper friendship with Christ, to include him in all our relationships, whether with friends or family. Friendship with others, both men and women, is deeply important to us. Our friends enrich our lives as individuals and as community.

And poverty? How does that work?

With our vow of poverty we renounce the right to dispose of property independently. This means that salaries, gifts and inheritances belong to the community rather than to individual sisters. We live from the community rather than from our own resources. It's a discipline that's meant to lead us to genuine poverty and simplicity of heart.

I understand that you are an international congregation and there are sisters in the U.S. Province from all over the world. Would I have to live in another country if I joined you?

We value our internationality very much. In the Assumption, you begin to get a feel for that internationality, which is promoted by regular international sessions for sisters held at our motherhouse in Paris and elsewhere in the congregation. These events lay the groundwork for a culture of international friendship and solidarity among us. Many of us have enjoyed spending time in another province of the Assumption, some for a very long time, others for a year or two. Some have lived their entire religious life here in the United States. So the answer to the question is: it depends on what you need and on what the province and congregation need. However, joining us does not mean that you would automatically go to live in another country.