Becoming a member of the IBVM If you think that being an apostolic religious sister might be for you, and you are wondering what life as an IBVM might be like, then it is likely that you will be introduced to one of the Vocation Team: Ewa, MaryAgnes or Anne. We will ensure that you have the opportunities you need to meet us and come to know something of our life and mission. You will be invited to visit communities, and ask any questions you may have. If you wish, we could arrange for someone to accompany you in your prayer and spiritual life, to make a retreat, to suggest some reading material, whatever might be of help to you to discern your future. At this stage the contact is very informal, with no commitment on either side.

If you continue to be interested, you would begin to meet one of us on a regular basis, to help you with your discernment. This person would also come to get to know you better and to discern with you whether this way of life is right for you. Once you feel that you would like to move to the stage of candidacy, a more formal stage begins. Usually people at this stage continue to live at home and continue with their job, although it would also be helpful to spend some time in an IBVM community. The contact becomes more formal and you would now be accompanied by a Director of Candidates. The candidacy period usually lasts six months to a year, though this is flexible according to circumstances.

Religious life formally begins with the noviciate. This is an extended period of formation, usually lasting two years. The novice lives in the formation house, and is formally associated with the institute during this time, and lives as if under vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. She may freely leave at any time.

Central to the noviciate are the full Spiritual Exercises, which take the form of a silent, directed retreat lasting 30 days. Following on from that, you would be sent on various placements of apostolic work. You will also have prolonged experiences in other IBVM communities. The aim of this is continued discernment, deepening of vocation and integration into the Institute, its charism and mission.

If you make vows after a period of two years (which may be extended if needed), you will then have a further extended period in Temporary profession. This gives you an opportunity to grow and develop into the life of the IBVM, while engaging fully in its mission, through study and apostolic work. During this time, you now undertake further discernment and seek confirmation of your vocation in the Institute. The period of Temporary Profession is usually between 6 and 9 years.

The years of initial formation may seem long… but they are full of opportunities for growth: attention is given to your relationship with God, your human development, community life and friendships, and preparation for ministry.

Reflection on the Pilgrim, Mary Ward (by Franz Reinhard Daffner) This is the call that the pilgrim Mary Ward addresses to us, Strong in the promise of Jesus, Leave your niche and go forward on the way of mission. Is it not perhaps necessary, For us to leave the props and supports That we have built for ourselves, And trust in the heart of Jesus, Who gives us enthusiasm, radiating power, and freedom?

Mary Ward, like the Pilgrim Ignatius, Is a letter from Christ Written with the Spirit of the Living God for the world of today. (cf II Cor 3:3)

How shall we read it? What will be my, our, first step out of the niche?