|2015 Sister of the Holy Cross Novitiate|
The International Novitiate at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, helps prepare new members for living and leading in international communities and further supports its focus of being one congregation that is richly diverse in age, culture and ministry.
What is a novitiate?
A novitiate is a house of formation where new members of religious congregations get to know God, their community and themselves better. Most communities of women have two-year novitiates.
Joining a community of sisters is a process. The interested person spends time with a vocation director trying to discern whether God might be calling her to religious life. If the answer is affirmative, she applies to a congregation where she continues to test out her call as a candidate or postulant. If she continues to feel a call and is accepted by the congregation, her next step is to become a novice. After her novitiate is completed she makes her first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The sister lives under these temporary vows for five years before she makes a final commitment and is finally professed.
Where was the Holy Cross novitiate before?
Previously, the Sisters of the Holy Cross had a novitiate in each continent where we serve — Africa, Asia, North America and South America. After study and discernment, the leadership of the Congregation made the decision to integrate its four novitiates into one so that new members would have a common novitiate formation experience and get to know their peers from around the world.
Why is internationality important?
Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, founder of the Holy Cross Congregations, wanted his members to go out to the world with the message of Christ. The Sisters of the Holy Cross serve on four continents and in eight countries. Having a joint novitiate reflects the reality of the Congregation’s internationality.
Why is the novitiate located at Saint Mary’s?
We believe that its location at our motherhouse is a great benefit. The presence of our senior sisters provides added support, enrichment and examples of faithful religious and apostolic commitment for new members. There also is a strong presence of the Holy Cross family — brothers, sisters and priests — in the South Bend area. In addition, the local civic community is very multicultural, providing for rich ministry opportunities and the area is rich in overall spiritual, cultural, academic resources and experiences.
Who is in charge of the international novitiate?
Sister Mary Magdalena Gomes is the novice director. She is assisted by Sister Mary Elizabeth Bednarek.
What do the novices do in the novitiate?
First-year novices read about and reflect on spirituality, prayer, community history and participate in faith formation (Scripture, doctrine, sacraments). They spend time in personal prayer and spiritual direction. Novices provide liturgical ministry at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto and visit the Congregation’s senior sisters. They form community together, taking turns planning and leading community prayer, cooking meals and leading community meetings. In addition to their studies, they spend time acclimating to the area and culture. They also give service to the local community. Finally, the novices take part in an intercommunity novitiate with several other congregations held once a week in Chicago. There they interact with novices from other religious congregations, share novitiate experiences and participate in workshops.