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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Becoming a Sister

How does a person choose the congregation to join?
When a young woman feels a call to give her life to God, she starts to explore different religious congregations. Sometimes this begins with a congregation that she already has some connection with through their education, health care or pastoral ministry. Sometimes she searches Sisters’ websites and once she discovers congregations that she feels a connection to, she will follow up with a visit, talking to the vocation director and seeing if this community is one she feels drawn to. She knows that she has found the congregation that she can connect with when she says: "Aha! This is where I feel called by God."

Together with the congregation, the young woman enters into a discernment process. During this time, with the help of a spiritual guide who journeys with her, the call to a specific congregation may be affirmed. Eventually, the young woman and the congregation arrive at greater clarity regarding the call to that specific congregation. Following the initial stage of "getting to know us," the young woman will then proceed with the initial stage of formation in that congregation.

Questions About Prayer Life

How do Sisters pray?
Our prayer is a response in faith to the loving initiative of God, who is always drawing us to closer union. We participate as often as we can in the celebration of the Eucharist, and daily set aside an extended period of time for individual prayer. One of the ways we pray is to open ourselves to the word of God in scripture, and reflect on our lives in the light of the gospel. As well, we pray the Office, morning and evening, and make a yearly retreat of at least a week.

Questions About Ministry

What are apostolic religious orders?
Apostolic religious orders are orders of women or men who are actively engaged in the service of others. This service flows from their life of prayer, which is at the core of who they are. Unlike contemplative religious orders that are cloistered, that is, who remain in their convents or monasteries, the active or apostolic religious go where the needs are. Both active and contemplative religious orders give their lives in service of others, but in different ways.

Questions About Community Life

Will a Sister stay in contact with her family?
A Sister stays in contact with her family. When a woman marries and begins to raise a family, her contact with her first family moves to a different level — she concentrates more on the needs of her husband and this new family. It is the same with a Sister; most of her time will go to her ministry and community responsibilities. But she keeps in touch with her family and attends family gatherings.

Terms

What is the difference between a Sister and a Nun?
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a technical difference. The main difference between a Sister and a Nun is that a Sister is usually ministering or working among the people, while a nun lives out her call within a convent or monastery. The nun's life is mainly one of prayer; her work is to pray for the needs of the world. You may meet a Sister on the street, in a school or hospital, or around your parish. She may be wearing a habit or she may be wearing ordinary clothes. She is probably wearing a religious symbol: for example, the symbol of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto includes a cross and the letters CSJ.
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