Once accepted into the RVM pre-novitiate, the ordinary course of formation will take ten (10) years. RVM formation prepares sisters who are well educated, trained in the spiritual exercises, and skilled to minister in diverse and ever changing environments.
Pre-Noviceship or Postulancy
The Pre-Noviceship is the first formal phase of the RVM Formation Process, which covers a period of ten (10) months. It is a time when the pre-novice chooses to explore and pursue the already growing conviction that God is calling her to the religious life in the RVM Congregation. Therefore, it builds upon the assumption that she, for a reasonable period of time, has felt a call to the religious life, that free and gratuitous gift from God, calling forth a free and creative response.
This phase of formation allows the pre-novice to experience a “gradual transition from the lay life to the life proper to the novitiate.” (RC II.I I.I) It offers the pre-novice occasions and opportunities to question and discern the reality of her call. It ascertains the human, spiritual and apostolic foundations, which are necessary for her growth into the values, attitudes and lifestyle of Christ in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.
Noviceship is the first initiation into the “essential and primary requirements of religious life” (RC 13.1). It lasts for a period of two (2) years, which can be extended but cannot exceed six (6) months. It is the stage where the novice’s growth conviction to her call to the religious life is nurtured and her human, spiritual and apostolic growth process is enhanced to a degree of maturity, inner-directedness and transcendence that will enable her to live the “evangelical counsels of which she will later make profession” (RC 13.1)
The fist year novice spends her noviceship in a formation house where she lives a life of contemplation and develops “that intimate union with Christ where all apostolic activities must flow” (RC 13.2). She is initiated into the Paschal Mystery of Christ, a meditative study of Scriptures, evangelical life and the celebration of the Liturgy according to the spirit and character of the RVM (cf. DFRI 47). The second year novice is initiated to the RVM missions where she experiences the essence of being sent and lives the apostolic life, which will be hers in the future. She realize in her life that “contemplation and apostolic activity are closely linked together”(DFRI 4), inspiring her to be a contemplative-in-action in imitation of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.
Having purified her intention and tested her suitability in the religious life, with the help of her formator, the novitiate and other formative communities, the novice makes a decision to commit herself to God in the RVM Congregation.
Juniorate / Temporary Professed
The Juniorate is a formative stage that follows the profession of the first vows and extending through the various years of doctrinal, apostolic and professional formation. It is the stage corresponding to the period of preparation for perpetual vows. It lasts for five (5) years and may be extended not beyond eight (8) years. (cf CB, Chapter 5 #91)
In view of its end and its content, the Juniorate means a
deepening, broadening, perfecting and stabilizing formation in such a way as to lead the Junior to a degree of religious maturity required to assume definitive commitment to Christ, to the Religious of the Virgin Mary, and to the mission entrusted to her by the Church.
Tertianship is the final stage of the Juniorate level that lasts for ten (10) months and spent in the Juniorate House. It is a period of intensive preparation in prayer, study and integration. It is a phase for renewal of spirit and religious fervor. It provides the Tertian time for final discernment and prepares her to seal with perpetual profession her life of consecration to God and to the Church.
Continuing Formation / Perpetually Professed
Formation is a process of gradualidentification with the attitude of Christ towards the Father. It involves the whole person, in every aspect of the personality, in behavior and intention. Precisely because it aims at the transformation of the whole person, it is clear that the commitment to formation never ends (VC 65). Also, due to human limitations, the consecrated person can never claim to have completely brought to life the “new creature” who, in every circumstance of life, reflects the very mind of Christ (VC 69). Indeed, at every stage of life, consecrated persons must be offered opportunities to grow in their commitment to the charism and mission of their institute (VC65).
One such opportunity to grow is the program for continuing formation which is an intrinsic requirement of religious consecration. Cultivating and sustaining faithfulness and integrating creativity with fidelity” (DFRI 67) are at the heart of continuing formation. It is a comprehensive plan and an accompanying program that assists the religious to explore and develop ways of living their fidelity to their vocation and mission as they mature and encounter new experiences and as they open themselves to the demanding realities and challenges of the present world. It provides them with some compelling insights and incentives for exploring and assimilating the many and varied blessings along the pathways of their graced journey of religious life, now and for the future.