In this section we begin to answer some questions which were submitted by secondary school students. There were many, many questions so we won’t be able to answer all of them immediately. Come back to visit later for more answers.
1. Why did you become a nun?
( Here are some brief answers from four different sisters)
- I read the lives of the saints when I was in boarding school and I was very inspired by the heroic lives they lived. I decided to follow their example.
- We often had missionary sisters come and talk to us about their vocation and their mission in Fiji. I admired their way of life so much I wanted to be like them.
- I had some very kind and understanding nuns teaching me and I noticed that they were also very caring for the poor and underprivileged who came to the convent daily for food and assistance. I thought that would be a good path to follow.
- I prayed a lot about this decision as I felt also attracted to marriage and having children. However, during a retreat I had a strong experience of God’s love for me. I came to realise that Jesus died for me, so I wanted to live for him. I wanted to give him my life so I decided to become a nun.
2. What do you get out of being a nun?
Joy in being in the way of life that suits my personality, my aspirations, my love of God and connections with families and so many people. I have found that through the ups and downs of my life God is very near me, embracing me, steadying me, sustaining me in my efforts to grow, to be a loving person, to be sincere and faithful in all my relationships.
3. How is your maternal instinct expressed since you do not have children?
I remember when I was a very young nun – new to teaching in secondary school and preoccupied about lesson content – I witnessed a scene between a mother and daughter which stopped me in my tracks. The daughter, a pupil in my class, was distressed and crying. Her mother, helping that day in our tuck shop, rushed to the rescue and comforted her daughter by enfolding her in her arms and soothing her. A scene speaking of the power and gentleness of the maternal instinct, it was an inspiration for me to try to reflect that attitude of love, respect and compassion to people who would come into my life. For a good many years I had contacts with young girls, in the areas of classroom, recreation and sporting activities and in a boarding situation and I must say my life was enriched by their exuberance of life, sense of fun, openness to friendships and to human values. I was indeed blessed to have this setting in my life.
4. Are nuns allowed to marry?
The answer is no. The sisters make vows which are very special promises made to God. In these promises they give up the right to marry so as to spend their lives for God alone. They give up the right to own property or home or money of their own. Their needs are supplied by the religious community to which they belong. This leaves them free to give of themselves, their time and talent to the work of God’s kingdom.
5. Do you live with other nuns?
Yes. I live in a community, that is to say I live with a group of nuns. Living in community is like living in a family where each member adds her special contribution to the wellbeing of the group. So there is collaboration in professional work or ministry, in the daily housekeeping chores, in the care of each other in time of sickness or need.
Praying together at specific times strengthens our faith and love of God. Having meals together, relaxing in the company of our sisters or celebrating special occasions bond us in friendship. Our community is always open to receive those who come to us in friendship or in need.
6. What do you think is the best thing you have ever done?
My experience as a teacher has afforded me tremendous satisfaction. To see young girls and boys mature and grow and move along the journey of awareness and realization of their gifts and potential is tremendously satisfying. To have been involved in this process of human development is one of the most worthwhile things in my life.
7. Are nuns allowed to listen to rock music?
There is no prohibition on any kind of music being listened to as a recreational exercise. There is scope for individual tastes – Irish, classical, jazz, rock, etc.
8. How long does it take to become a nun?
The Call to Religious life requires on-going discernment on the part of the woman who is seeking and on the part of the Marist community receiving her. This takes time and is experienced in four stages, namely: Pre-Candidacy, Candidacy (Pre-Novitiate), Novitiate and Post- Novitiate (from Temporary to Final Profession).
During this time the pre-candidate is accompanied by a Marist sister and together they mutually discern her desire for the Marist way of life and her capacity to grow in her Marist vocation. The period of time for this varies – at least 6 to 12 months. It depends on the needs and the circumstances of the pre-candidate.
The time span for candidacy varies but should be at least 9 months. Normally, during this time a candidate lives in a Marist community. This time is designed to nourish vocational growth, to develop a prayer life, to grow in the spirit of loving service and to acquire some knowledge and experience of Marist Religious life. At the end of this period the candidate and her directress mutually discern readiness for Novitiate.
The Novitiate is a privileged time of formal initiation into Marist living, as well as a time for deeper discernment. This time must include a canonical period of twelve months and will usually not exceed 2 years. It is a deeply reflective experience of personal accompaniment with emphasis on prayer and study in a balanced rhythm of life. The second year of novitiate includes formative community and apostolic experiences designed to enhance novitiate formation. Three months before completion of novitiate, readiness for admission to temporary profession will be mutually discerned. Then the novice writes a formal request to make the temporary vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in the congregation of Mary.
Post- Novitiate (from Temporary to Final Profession)
Temporary Profession will normally be at least 6 but not more than 9 years. During this time, the sister will continue her Marist formation for mission. While living in a Marist community she deepens her commitment to Christ and participates in ministry. Some goals for this time are: the process of interiorizing activity and reflecting on God’s presence in her lived experience; the integration of all aspects of her person so that she is freer to give herself to Marist mission. Toward the end of the post-novitiate period the sister makes a formal request for permission to prepare for final vows. Again this time involves discernment and when her request is granted and after some time of preparation, she makes her final commitment in a joyful celebration of the Eucharist.