Doors to Becoming a Sister

Sacred Heart Monastery
4 min readSep 13, 2021

Doors of Discernment

Listen with the ear of your heart.

Discernment is a time to discover what my call or vocation in life is.

Front door of Bishop Marty Chapel
A woman feels called to religious life and through prayer and mentoring determines whether this is an authentic call for her. The first step in discerning is exploration. She gets to know Sisters, WHAT religious life is like, the differences between communities and asks questions. Most important, she grows in her relationship to God and listens to the desires God has placed in her heart. To learn more about the next steps please continue to the next doors.

Serious Seekers Door

Seek the Lord where He may be found.

A person who wants to look deeper at a religious call to a particular community.

Inside door from the gathering space leading to the chapel. A woman spends time with our Benedictine community experiencing our way of life for weekends, weeks, or months during the course of a year. The seeker will come visit the monastery, for a weekend retreat, for a monastic experience, be part of the Residential Volunteer Program at the monastery or whatever Events and Opportunities help her discernment. As she continues listening in prayer and in spiritual direction, she may, in dialogue with the vocation director, begin the application process. In this time of inquiry, the discernment process is always mutual: the woman and the community together decide if this is the right fit for her.

Postulancy Door

What can be sweeter to us than the voice of the Lord inviting us?

A postulant is a word used for a woman who asks to join our community. This is the beginning of her time of initial formation.

Doors to Initial Formation: Postulancy

As the newcomer enters the Postulancy she begins a life-long formation process guided by the Holy Spirit which takes place in the midst of community life. During the postulancy, usually 6 months to a year, the newcomer shares in the life, work and prayer of the community as she and the community discern God’s call to her in to this Benedictine way of life.

S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery describes what the life of a postulant entails including the types of classes and work.

Novitiate Door

“Come my daughter listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord”

Novice is the word used for a woman who lives, studies, and works with our community to see if she is called to be a Yankton Benedictine.

A look through the doorway of the Formation Room
This is a time of integration and preparation to enable the novice to better recognize her vocation to monastic life and experience the manner of living this life. She will be formed in mind and heart by its spirit, and tested for her intention and suitability to live this way of life. The novitiate may be one to two years in length and is spent at Sacred Heart Monastery.

S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery answers the questions:
Are there any activities outside of the community?
What classes do they study?

Temporary Profession Door

“Let us set out on this way with the Gospel for our guide.”

The entire community, the “Chapter” admits the woman to temporary profession, which may last three or more years.

Doors to the Chapter Room, where the novice comes before the Sisters to ask permission to make temporary vows.
After both the novice and the community have discerned that she is being called by God to the way of life of a Yankton Benedictine, she makes temporary profession in which she promises before God and the whole community stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience. The sister continues her integration into community and the deepening of her commitment to Christ, the Church and this way of life as a temporary professed member.

S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery answers questions about temporary profession:
How long is this temporary profession?
What kinds of things do they do during this time, work, classes etc.

Final Profession Door

“See how the Lord in His love shows us the way of life.”

After three of more years, the woman and the community discern her readiness to make permanent commitment to the Benedictine way of life.

Front Door to our home — Sacred Heart Monastery
Perpetual Profession is lifelong commitment to faithfulness to the journey of seeking God and gospel living in this community through the promises of stability, conversion of life and obedience.

S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery shares what one can expect moving forward in their vocation and given responsibilities. An ongoing life long commitment.

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Sacred Heart Monastery

We are Benedictine women of Yankton, SD, sharing our gift of seeking God through prayer, work, study and community life.