What is necessary for one to be admitted in the Order?
First of all she must be a virgin who has the firm intention to serve God in this way of life. Then she must enter joyfully and of her own will (R I:1-4).
An Ursuline is expected to be a mature person with a personal and profound relationship with Christ. So from the very beginning the Order gives special attention to the formation of their members.
Acceptance in the Order of St. Ursula goes through the following stages:
- Juniorate (temporary profession)
A candidate usually lives and works in an Ursuline community for about one year. This allows her to experience life in an Ursuline community. The community also gets the opportunity to know the candidate. If she wants to enter, she can apply for the postulancy which lasts from one to two years. Here she can experience more closely Ursuline life by taking part in the daily activities of the postulant community.
Toward the end of this period, if the postulant wants to continue, she can ask for admittance in the novitiate. This period prepares her for the consecration in the Institute.
The novice is given time in the best possible climate to develop her spiritual life centered in Christ, expressed in the one single love for God and fellow people. During the noviciate priority is given to prayer. The novice is encouraged to use the Scriptures as the source of inspiration for her personal prayer, and the writings of St. Angela to deepen her vocation. Community prayer is a means to be united with the prayer of the Church in a living liturgy.
The 30 day retreat is a valuable part of the novitiate to strengthen the personal development of the novice. Before the end of the two years the novice can apply for the first profession in the Order.
If her petition is granted, she can pronounce her first vows. That means that she commits herself to Christ and to the Order according to the Ursuline Constitutions for a certain period, usually three years. Now the novice becomes a junior professed sister. The temporary profession is renewed after three years, and can last from 5 to 8 years. The juniorate can be spent in an Ursuline community with elder Sisters or in a special community for Junior sisters. During this period the Junior attempts to integrate prayer life and the apostolate, and develop spiritual life in work and study.
Toward the end of her temporary profession she can apply for the profession for life. Formation is a dynamic and ongoing process. It lasts as long as one lives and is able to learn. The same is true for our relationship with Christ. It never ends and finds its completion only when we see him from face to face at our death. Having this in mind, the Order of St. Ursula stresses the importance of ongoing formation. The Ursuline is expected to be constantly open and willing to deepen her life. Life experiences, prayer and work, personal reading and study and courses can enrich her life.
After 10 or 13 years profession, the Ursuline is given a period of renewal called the Tertian-ship which lasts about a half year. This period allows her to strengthen the bonds with God and the Order.