Tag Archives: religious order




William, born of noble parents at Vercelli, had scarcely completed his fourteenth year when, with a wonderful spirit of penance and an ardour of piety, he undertook a pilgrimage to Compostella. Then, after attempting in vain another pilgrimage to the sepulchre of Christ the Lord, he remained two years on a lonely hill in constant prayer, vigils and fasts.


When he restored sight to a blind man, fleeing the praises of men, he built a monastery in a rugged and inaccessible spot on Monte Virgiliano, which thereafter was called Monte Vergine. He there admitted companions and molded them by certain rules, taken for the most part from the institutes of St Benedict, and by his words and by the example of his most holy life.


When other monasteries were built later on, the holiness of William became more famous day by day and attracted men from all parts to him. They were also drawn by the fame of his frequent miracles. Finally, after predicting his death, he fell asleep in the Lord in the year of salvation 1142.


O God, who made your saints an example and a help for our weakness; grant us, as we walk the path of salvation, so to venerate the virtues of the blessed Abbot William that we may obtain his intercession and follow his footsteps. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold titles added]


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“The terms ‘nun’ and ‘sister’ are often used interchangeably, though technically there is a difference between the two.

Here’s a simple explanation: A nun is a woman who lives a contemplative life in a monastery which is usually cloistered, which means ‘enclosed’. Her ministry and prayer life is centred within and around the monastery for the good of the world.

A sister is a woman who lives, ministers, and prays within the world. While she often lives with other sisters, her life is called ‘active’ or ‘apostolic’ because she is engaged in the works of mercy and other ministries that take the Gospel to others.

As you can see, the difference is both in their charism (their spirituality and community lifestyle) and also their apostolate (type of work). Note that both nuns and sisters use the title ‘Sister,’ such as ‘Sister Mary Elizabeth.’

– This information was printed on an information leaflet about vocations, Archdiocese of Southwark. For more information about religious orders, links to websites of religious orders/Ecclesial Communities and consecrated life please visit (external link)


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“From discovering a community to taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience

Religious sisters are called by God to live a special life as brides of Christ in service to the Church. Because becoming a religious sister is a serious commitment, there are several stages in the process:

1. “Come and See”

A time of visiting various religious orders to learn about them, meet the sisters, and explore different charisms. At this time, a woman feels called to religious life, but doesn’t know which order to join.

2. Aspirancy/Pre-Candidacy

When a woman feels called to a particular religious order, she starts the application process. While in application, she is called an ‘aspirant’ because she aspires to join the order.

3. Postulancy/Candidacy

When a woman’s application has been accepted, she joins the day-to-day prayer and work of the order, albeit in an exploratory way. She learns more about the sisters, and begins formation, perhaps taking classes in theology and scripture. This is a time of further discernment. Length can vary depending on the person and the order.

4. Novitiate

At this stage a woman is called a ‘novice’ because she is new to the order. For a period of about two years, the novice lives the life of the order in nearly every way and continues formation. This period is analogous to being engaged; the dating is over and now she is moving toward making vows.

5. Vows

When a woman and the community feel sure about her call, she vows poverty, chastity, and obedience, which together are called the ‘evangelical counsels.’ In most orders (though not all), members profess perpetual vows after a period of three or more years after they first take vows. Note that while the process of formation is similar, each religious community has its own particular nuances. It’s best to ask the vocation director of a particular order about their process.”

– From the leaflet: “Archdiocese of Southwark, Vocations” – web address, further reading: (external link).


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O Almighty God, Whose wise and amiable providence watches over every human event, be thou my light and my counsel in all my undertakings, particularly in the choice of a state of life. I know that on this important step my sanctification and salvation in great measure depend. I know that I am incapable of discerning what may be best for me; therefore, I cast myself into thy arms, beseeching thee, my God, Who hast sent me into this world only to know, love and serve thee, to direct by thy grace every moment and action of my life to the glorious end of my creation.

I renounce most sincerely every other wish than to fulfil thy designs on my soul, whatever they may be, and I beseech thee to grant me that grace which, by imbibing the true spirit of a Christian, will enable me to qualify myself for any state of life to which thine adorable Providence may call me. O my God, whenever it may become my duty to make a choice, do thou be my Light and my Counsel, and mercifully MAKE KNOWN TO ME THE WAY WHEREIN I SHOULD WALK, FOR I HAVE LIFTED UP MY SOUL TO THEE. Preserve me from listening to the suggestions of my own self-love, or worldly prudence, in prejudice to thy holy inspirations. Let THY GOOD SPIRIT LEAD ME INTO THE RIGHT WAY, and let thine adorable providence place me, not where I may naturally feel inclined to go, but where all things may be most conducive to thy glory and to the good of my soul. Amen.

Mary, Mother of Good Counsel, Seat of Wisdom and Help of Christians, pray for me.


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