Steps in the Life of a Marian Sister
1) Postulancy: 6 months to a year.
Three-quarter length habit of the same material as the professed Sisters’ habits, blue cape, short navy blue veil with white trim, Miraculous Medal.
2) Novitiate: one year of cloistered, intensive training.
Full-length blue habit with blue scapular, white veil, Miraculous Medal, and large 5-decade rosary at the right side.
3) First vows: the Sister takes her place in the active apostolate but continues to receive training and instruction.
White veil is exchanged for a navy blue veil with white lining.
4) Three-year vows: active apostolate, continued instruction until final profession of vows.
Receives large brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to wear in place of the blue scapular on special feastdays.
5) Final profession: perpetual vows.
Receives gold ring of profession.
The first step, the postulancy, consists of a period of six months to a year during which the candidate lives with the Sisters, follows, their schedule, prays with them, and is trained in the duties and obligations of the religious life. Did she leave a home and family behind her? Now she has a new one — a home full of joyous, generous hearts, a family of loving companions she quickly comes to know and love. All this is just part of that hundredfold Christ promised to those who follow Him. Did she leave behind material possessions? While this involves some degree of sacrifice, she now finds herself free to dedicate herself entirely to the work of the apostolate. He Who clothes the lilies of the field and provides for the little sparrows, cares infinitely more for the needs of His brides who have given up all to serve Him....
Next, if both the candidate and her superiors feel that she indeed has a vocation, she is given her religious habit and a new name — after one of God's saints as well as the name of His Mother. She enters into that formative period known as the novitiate, a year of intense spiritual preparation for her first vows. During this time she is instructed in the spiritual life, the Holy Rule and the obligations of the vows.
At the completion of the year, if the novice and her superior feel she is ready, she takes her first vows, which are for one year only. The Sister then takes her place in the active apostolate of the Congregation — either in hidden labors of unseen service, or active work in Catholic education or the Catholic press. Whatever her assigned duty, she strives to remember that her Holy Rule would have her to be “Mary’s visible hands at work in the world, striving to bring about the reign of justice and truth.”
At the end of this year under vows, the Sister may renew her vows for a period of three more years. Only after at least four years of temporary vows is a Sister allowed to make her perpetual profession.
The ceremony for perpetual profession is inexpressibly beautiful, for by it she gives herself wholly to Him alone forever. When the bishop places the ring of profession on her finger, it is Christ Himself Who espouses her. In response she replies: “To Jesus, my heart, my all, forever....” Those words are also engraved on the inside of her ring to remind her that she now belongs wholly to Christ, the Bridegroom of her soul.