Frequently asked questions about vowed membership
- How do you know if you can join the Sisters of St. Joseph?
A woman interested in joining us is invited to get in touch with the sister who is our vocation contact person. Together you and she can explore your desire to join us. If your desire remains, we will suggest that you engage in what we call spiritual companioning which is an opportunity for ongoing conversation about how you sense God in your life and your relationships.
- What are active religious orders?
Apostolic religious orders of women and men actively engage in service of others. We care about the needs of our world and see the distress of others as "our" distress, their joys as "our" joys. Part of our call is to listen together to where we can be of most service.
- How does a person choose which Congregation to join?
When a woman feels a call to consider joining a religious Congregation, she often starts to explore different Congregations. Often, she starts with a Congregation with which she already has some connection through education, health care or pastoral ministry. She might feel drawn because of a particular sister who expresses qualities that she wants for her own life. This is a good beginning place. She might feel inspired by the work a Congregation does. Sometimes she might find herself saying, I feel connected to this group. Or I think this group could bring out the best in me. Or I want to join a group that cares so passionately about justice and seeking God.
Together with the Congregation the woman enters a period of discernment which simply means intentionally looking at whether there is a "fit" between the Congregation and what the woman herself is seeking. It is a period of time in which a Congregation and a woman get to know each other. If there is mutually a sense of "fit", next steps are taken to becoming a member.
- What is a vow?
A vow is a commitment a person makes that says, "I have the intention to live my life in a certain way." It says that the person is publically saying that I choose to let seeking God become central in my life. In religious life, we profess three vows...poverty, chastity and obedience.
- Can someone who is entering religious life also be engaged in studies
at university at the same time?
Generally, we encourage potential members to complete university or college and/or to have some work experience before joining a religious community. Having this life experience helps a woman make a more informed choice and therefore make a choice coming from a place of freedom.
- What does it mean to live in community?
To live in community means that we choose to make the Sisters of St. Joseph a very significant group in our lives. This means that it is a major context in which we make decisions and live our life. Living in community is both enriching and challenging. We learn the give and take of living together and support each other in listening to how God is calling us personally and communally.
- What kind of work do Sisters do?
Actually, a Sister works almost anywhere there is need and where her talents and professional skills will help meet those needs. You will find Sisters ministering in soup kitchens, prisons, counselling services, chaplaincy work, teaching in schools and universities, spiritual direction, parishes.
The particular emphasis of the Sisters of St. Joseph is to bring together that which is separated and to make obvious that we are all connected. This focus operates at the level of personal relationship as well as at the level of creating public policy in which the concerns, especially of those experiencing poverty are included.
- Can you join if you are lesbian?
Yes, women who are lesbian may join our community. Whatever one's sexual orientation is, the important piece is capacity to live a celibate life. What is central in this vow is the ability to enter into healthy relationships with other people.