The Process

By our religious profession, we choose a lifelong direction that unites us to God and to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ. - Constitutions #21

The process for becoming a sister takes at least seven years, during which a woman and the community mutually discern whether God is calling the woman to be a sister. During this time the woman learns about prayer, lives in community, studies theology and ministers alongside sisters. It is a time of deep reflection, growth and grace-filled joy!

See below for more information on each step in this process.

The Process


Inquiry Phase

This initial period will offer you opportunity for in-depth conversation with a vocation minister who will help you discover how and where the Spirit of God is leading you, and if God might be calling you to be a sister.

Opportunities during this time include Come and See days, retreat/discernment weekends, Mercy Challenge service week, meetings, praying and/or socializing with the sisters. For more information, see our upcoming vocation events.

Application Phase

When you and a vocation minister agree that the call to be a Sister of Mercy seems to be strong in you, you begin the application phase. During this time you meet regularly with a spiritual director and continue to experience the life of a Sister of Mercy through retreat/discernment weekends, extended live-in experiences, meetings in the Community, and ministry experiences. For more information, see our upcoming vocation events.

Pre-Candidacy Phase

Once you have completed the application work and received affirmation from the President of the Community to continue in the process, you become a pre-candidate. During this time you will meet the Community with whom you will live and share life. This is a time for you to get to know the Community and for us to get to know you.

Welcoming Ceremony

This simple ritual of prayer and celebration marks the beginning of a woman's journey as a candidate with the Sisters of Mercy. We gather to welcome you through the door of the chapel and to offer you our prayer and support as you take this important step to become a candidate.

Candidacy Phase

After the ceremony, you begin the two-year candidacy phase. Year one focuses on the transition to religious life. Year two focuses on ministry, study in theology, and preparation for the novitiate. During candidacy you live in community, have regular meetings with the incorporation minister, pray and engage in ministry.

Novitiate Phase

Following candidacy, you are received into the novitiate. The first year (canonical year) is an intense period of discernment while you engage in prayer, study the vows, minister with other novices and continue to live in community. The second (apostolic year) includes more ministerial involvement and a deepening awareness of God’s call in you.

Temporary Profession

Upon completion of the novitiate, you become a member of the community by making your first profession of the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and service to the poor, sick and ignorant. Temporary profession lasts for a period of three to six years. During this time you are in full-time ministry or studies while continuing your discernment and living in community.

Perpetual Profession

After completion of the incorporation process, you make a perpetual profession, or final vows, as a Sister of Mercy.