If you don’t know a Sister of Divine Providence, please contact Sr. Theresa at email@example.com. One of us would be privileged to walk the journey with you.
Here is a picture of the whole journey from beginning to taking perpetual vows!
The first step is the Aspirancy
Aspirant is an old-fashioned word but very appropriate at this point! To “aspire” is to direct one's hopes or ambitions toward achieving something. The aspirant does just that! She continues her way of life, living independently, and also engages in a formation process which gradually introduces her to the life of a Sister of Divine Providence. An aspirant meets regularly with the vocation coordinator, and occasionally shares meals, prayer and celebrations with a CDP community. She begins regular spiritual direction. All of these are helps in discerning her vocation.
The second step is the Postulancy.
We use this word because it aptly describes what this stage is all about. The “postulant” is one who asks for something, who submits a request. After an initial discernment she may feel called to continue with us on her journey…so the aspirant requests to live in community and to deepen her understanding of CDP life. As a postulant she will continue her full-time work or educational studies. She also continues regular spiritual direction. This stage lasts generally 1 to 2 years.
The third step is the Novitiate
The canonical novice enters more deeply into this “new” way of life, and she is now called “sister”. She steps out of the mainstream and hectic pace of life for a while to deepen her relationship with Christ. The novice lives in the formal novitiate community and engages in studies of the congregation’s charism and history. She deepens her understanding of our CDP way of life by reflecting on our constitutions. She is given the opportunity for classes in spirituality, scripture or other topics which will enrich her spiritual life. All the while she explores in depth her call to vowed life as a Sister of Divine Providence through regular spiritual direction and prayer. This is called the “canonical” year because Canon Law, the law of the Church, prescribes the content of this year…that’s how important it is! The canonical novitiate lasts one year.
The novice in her apostolic year is now ready to practice in a real way all she has discovered about herself, her relationship with Jesus and her relationship with others. With her novice director she decides upon a volunteer activity for the year that will help her continue to grow. She moves into a CDP community and continues her experience of living poverty, chastity and obedience. The apostolic novitiate lasts one year.
The fourth step is Temporary Profession of Vows.
After the 2-year novitiate, the sister and the congregation have had much time to discern if God is calling her to be a Sister of Divine Providence. If so, the woman asks to make temporary profession of vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. She does this in the presence of family, friends and community – the “church”. As a temporary professed, she works in full-time ministry and continues to discern her call to live the vowed life forever. Generally, she lives in community. She continues to meet with a sister-mentor and is encouraged to partake in regular spiritual direction. This step lasts 3 to 6 years.
The final step is Perpetual Profession of Vows.
Perpetual means forever! After many steps of formation, which included prayer, reflection, learning, ministry and life in community, a woman knows in the depth of her being, that God is calling her to this special consecrated life…a life lived only for God! She requests permission to make perpetual vows. Once she is accepted, the sister is invited to take more time for prayer and reflection. A program is designed to help her prepare, and other sisters are invited to participate with her. This year culminates with the sister professing vows for life!
The initial trek is now over, but the new and life-long journey to live a committed life of Providence as a CDP begins. The sister joins all in community on this journey – a journey of great fulfillment for those who are called!
I grew up in a devout Catholic family in Nigeria and early on developed my faith through my involvement in the parish choir, youth ministry and other parish associations in my local church. After high school I grew restless, realized that I wanted more. It felt like God was calling me into a deeper relationship with him and I realized that I could not say “no.” Not sure what responding “yes” to God would mean, I went ahead to explore religious life after high school. I joined the Dominican sister in Nigeria and was with them for some years. God showed me that this was not the community for me, and I left in 2004. I came to the United States in 2007 when I was offered a full scholarship to study at Berea College in Kentucky. While at Berea, I met Sr. Theresa Bowman who was then one of the campus ministers in my college. Through her, I learned more about the Sisters of Divine Providence and seriously started discerning after attending some Come and See weekends. It felt like a good fit and I entered the community in 2014. Now I am a canonical novice. I am learning about the evangelical vows, about our spirituality and how we live the four fundamental virtues of simplicity, poverty, charity and abandonment to Providence. The joy and happiness I have experienced since being here makes me realize I have finally found my place in God’s Divine plan, which for me only comes from discovering God’s unconditional love. I am convinced that my faith journey is embedded in God’s Providence, and I am happy to be with those who have embraced and made this charismatic gift part of their daily lives.
I think my conscious searching began I went to Asbury Theological Seminary in 1996, because I knew I wanted to go into ministry of some kind. I graduated and began to work, but there was something in me that wasn’t satisfied. I felt a stirring that God wanted me to set myself apart for a deeper relationship with him. For many years I resisted. At the time, I was not Catholic, and I had a daughter! In my mind the only way to live a consecrated life to God was to continue living by myself, which was a terrible thought for me at the time. Now I know that God does not ask us to do anything that he does not make a way to do, and all things are done in His time!
The first step was to become Catholic. Then I began to explore how to consecrate my life to God. My daughter had become an adult so religious life was now possible for me. Through a discernment process God showed me that I could live consecrated life in community. I began looking for a religious community to join. Initially I discovered the Congregation of Divine Providence on their website and began having discussions with their vocation director. Over the last few years I have been in a discernment process. I have steadily grown in the knowledge that this is the community where I belong. On August 23, 2015 I made my First Profession and became a full member of the CDP’s.