Phase 1: Discernment
A woman may have found us online, attended a discernment retreat, participated in a service experience, campus ministry, or been in contact with a friend of the Handmaids.
- She gathers information about our congregation as well as other congregations
- She speaks more intentionally with a Handmaid
- She participates in a volunteer experience with us, and/or shares prayer and meals with us
- Attends a Come and See event and/or a live-in experience
Phase 2: Application
- Letter of application
- Statement of good health from your physician
- A psychological exam will be required (this is standard for Religious communities and should be helpful to the discerner as well as the Congregation to better accompany the woman who may enter).
The application process is not meant to be intimidating. It is a time for a woman to examine her spiritual journey and rejoice at God’s providence in her life.
Phase 3: Postulancy
Postulancy marks the start of formation for a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart.
- Live as part of the community
- Learn about Handmaid spirituality and history and ministry
- Enter into ministry with the Handmaids
- Postulants can visit home and be visited by family members
- Postulancy lasts one to two years and includes a retreat of eight days
Phase 4: Novitiate
- The first year is an intense time of prayer and reflection, with little ministry responsibility
- The second year includes more ministry while maintaining a focus on learning and prayer
- The novitiate is a time to prayerfully prepare for making one’s first vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Novices study congregational documents, meet regularly with a formation director, and grow in their prayer experiences.
- Novices make the thirty-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
Phase 5: Temporary Vows
There are two stages of Temporary Vows:
- Juniors are sisters who have just finished their novitiate and are being trained for ministry. (Many go through an undergraduate or graduate degree related to the ministerial abilities and interests of the sister.)
- Sisters of Vows are those temporary professed who have completed their juniorate (time of studies) and are in fulltime ministry.
Phase 6: Tertianship
Handmaids from every province around the world who are ready to proceed to final vows come together in Rome for a time of spiritual reflection, education, and cultural orientation.
Includes the thirty-day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises retreat.
Phase 7: Final Profession
The Handmaid pledges herself to God as a Handmaid for life, vowing chastity, poverty, and obedience, in imitation of Christ.