- Q. What is a vocation and how is it different from a career?
A. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare which means to call. Being a sister is a way of life we pursue in order to live out our baptismal call to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. A career is usually understood as what one does as one’s livelihood or occupation. As sisters, our occupations are our ministries, our particular ways of serving others. In our ministries we use the gifts and talents which God has given us. Many women think they must choose between a religious vocation or a career. You can become a sister and express yourself through your ministry – you don’t have to choose between the two.
- Q. What can I do to know if I have a call to vowed life as a sister?
A. Pray and ask God’s guidance to discern your vocation in life. Contact our Vocations Office so that a Dominican sister can pray and journey with you. She can answer questions and arrange for visits to meet other members of the congregation. Be sure to give yourself the gift of getting to know the sisters.
- Q. Do I have to be a Catholic to become a sister?
A. Yes, it is necessary to be a practicing, fully-initiated member of the Catholic Church, that is, having received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
- Q. What if a woman is a convert to Catholicism?
A. Generally, we ask that converts participate in their parish community for two years after reception into the Church before entering our Congregation. During that time we would still welcome her to congregational events and encourage her to get to know the community.
- Q. Do you have an age limit? Why?
A. Yes, women are invited to enter into the discernment process between the ages of 22-40. We are an active, apostolic Congregation. A woman’s ability to make the transition into a new lifestyle and to actively minister for a significant period of time after perpetual vows are key issues in the discernment conversation.
- Q. Do I need a college education?
A. No. We ask that a woman have a high school education and minimally two years of college or working experience after high school before applying to enter.
- Q. What about educational loans and other debt?
A. Educational debts could be considered on an individual basis, but other debts should be satisfied prior to candidacy.
- Q. Can a divorced woman become a Dominican Sister of San Rafael? What if there are children?
A. Yes, as long as she has obtained an annulment from the Church and has no family members dependent on her. Children need to be over twenty-one, self-sufficient, and self-supporting so that you are free to enter fully into the formation process.
- Q. Can a woman continue to have contacts with family members and friends when she enters the Congregation?
A. Yes, as community, formation and study obligations permit. Our families are an important part of our lives.
- Q. What does “OP” after your name mean?
A. The OP stands for Order of Preachers, the name given to the order that St. Dominic founded when it was formally recognized by Pope Honorius III in 1217.
- Q. Do you wear habits?
A. Our constitutions describe our attire as being “simple, appropriate, and modest as witness to the consecrated life.” Some of our Sisters wear the traditional habit; most of us prefer simple attire.
- Q. How do Dominicans pray?
A. In our Congregation, we are encouraged to pray each day, both communally and privately. We look to Scripture as a primary source for sustaining our relationship with God and one another, and we participate in the liturgical life of the whole Church through prayer and the sacraments.
- Q. Where do you live?
A. We have a strong commitment to community life, so, with a few exceptions, we live together with as sisters in convents.
- Q: What is a typical day like?
A. We pray morning prayer and/or evening prayer as a community, and schedule our own time in private prayer. During the days we work or volunteer in professions consistent with our goals and mission. We also have responsibilities that support our community life: cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. If we are living a healthy, balanced life, each day also includes some physical exercise, relaxation, and recreation. Joy and laughter is a hallmark of Dominican life.
- Q. Do sisters retire?
A. As we age, we may retire from full-time ministry, but we never retire from our life-long vocation as vowed religious. And as Sister Maureen, our past Prioress General, says, “We are always in ministry” in the sense that we always welcome opportunities to live the Gospel in service to others.