Each person’s vocation journey is unique. Women who have been invited to discover God’s call in their lives are encouraged to participate in daily prayer, sacramental life and service. Women who are seeking to know God’s call will find discernment retreats a vital and helpful part of the Discernment process.
The master plan of the vocation journey to religious life is that which the Lord began when He said to the apostles: “Come and see.” John. I:39 After regular contact with an Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a woman may wish to request a Live-In experience. During this time she participates in community life, prayer life and ministry. Usually the live-in experience is for one to several weeks.
After the live-in experience if a woman decides to respond to the call of Jesus in a deeper way, she can request to participate in the Pre-Postulate Program. This program helps a woman decide if she has the desire and prerequisites to begin a formative journey with the Apostles. This initial period is called Pre-Postulate because it precedes formal application to the Congregation. The Pre-Postulate will take place in a formation community on the grounds of Mount Sacred Heart with other pre-postulants and a Sister-mentor OR in a discernment house with other ASCJ sisters and a Sister-mentor. The Pre-Postulate program takes place from August 15 through November 15.
After the Pre-Postulate experience, a candidate may apply for acceptance into the Postulate program. The Postulate is the first official stage of formation prescribed by the Congregation. Through the Postulate the candidate continues to discern and verify the authenticity of her call to the Apostles’ particular charism. The Postulate takes place at Mount Sacred Heart and provides a deepening of the candidate’s spirituality, participation in works of the Congregation, and service to the local Church. The Postulate period lasts from December to July.
The Novitiate consists of a two year period. The Canonical year is dedicated to the religious and spiritual formation of the novice. During the Canonical year the novice will experience the consecrated life through study and internalization of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Canonical year is completed at Mount Sacred Heart. The Apostolic year is a year of practical experience when the novice is assigned to an Apostle community to experience the many dimensions of religious life and share in that community’s life and ministry. The Novitiate period is a continuation of the journey towards holiness, by means of a deeper experience of God.
The Juniorate is the last stage of the Apostle’s initial formation. It is the period of temporary vows that are renewed annually until perpetual profession. During this time the junior Sister is given the opportunity to continue her spiritual formation, professional preparation, and apostolic experience. The temporarily professed sister spends two of the years in a formation community followed by living and ministering in a local apostolic community until the time of perpetual profession. This Juniorate time is a preparation for the total self-gift to God in the perpetual profession of vows as an Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Perpetual vows may be professed after five to nine years of temporary vows.
Each Apostle of the Sacred Heart of Jesus continues on the formative journey every day of her life. This journey requires that the Sister assume an attitude of constant discernment and self-evaluation, so that in all the circumstances of life she may assess the quality of her response to the Lord. The Congregation regularly provides formative programs for the Apostles and encourages them to participate in others that are offered in the local Church.