GETTING A CLOSER LOOK
EXPLORING THE MISSION STATEMENT
InterCongregational Collaborative Novitiate Mission Statement
The Mission of the InterCongregational Collaborative Novitiate (ICCN) is to provide a quality
novitiate experience with peers for novices from multiple congregations.
The program will facilitate ongoing discernment in a holistic and mentoring environment that fosters relational, spiritual, intellectual, and intercultural growth and development; nurtures individual charisms and the charism of religious life; and prepares novices
to live vowed apostolic religious life.
The “novitiate experience with peers for novices from multiple congregations” creates fertile ground for novices from both women’s and men’s congregations to become companion learners. A novice participates in some or all of the following activities: Intercommunity Novitiate Program (ICN) including several workshops held at Siena Retreat Center in Racine, Wisconsin, Pastoral Theological Reflection, days of reflection, Catholic Theological Union classes and special lectures, and social gatherings. As an adult learner, the novice appreciates the opportunity to dialogue with peers and actively engage in other group activities such as prayer and Eucharistic celebrations. Perhaps the most important aspect of having peers is the opportunity to build relationships. These relationships result in the development of a supportive network and allow for first-hand experiences of collaboration among peers that are diverse in culture, age, gender, religious congregation and life experience.
“Ongoing discernment in a holistic and mentoring environment” takes place through formal structures and informal encounters. A novice participates in regular one-on-one sessions with a spiritual director, an ICCN Co-director and the sending congregation’s Formation Contact Person. These sessions provide a safe space for the novice to share insights about herself and to integrate novitiate experiences. Ongoing discernment regarding vocational call is a focal point and discernment as a way of life is continually reinforced. Those who accompany the novice on her journey provide support and mentoring as she continues to explore global religious life and deepen her understanding of it through the lens of her own charism.
Class discussions and informal encounters offers the novice further opportunities of integration and discernment. The ICCN Co-directors create an environment that fosters holistic growth and integration of personal development, which encourages the novice to approach her novitiate experience with an open mind and challenges her to stretch beyond that which is known or comfortable.
The ICCN provides numerous opportunities for “relational, spiritual, intellectual, and intercultural growth and development”. Topics covered in classes and workshops build upon one another to create an expansive and thought-provoking curriculum. These classes and workshops invite the novice to consider new perspectives that help her deepen her understanding of diverse worldviews, including her own and consider their implications. Personal development is fostered through the input, feedback and self-reflection in which the novice engages. Similarly, spiritual growth is nurtured and valued as an essential element and framework for the integration of knowledge, self-awareness and relationships with both God and others. Each opportunity for growth and development assists the woman in her ongoing discernment regarding her call to community life and the ways in which she might contribute.
It is not uncommon to hear newer members say that being with peers from other congregations deepens their appreciation, love and understanding of their own charism and that they often gain clarity of call to their particular congregation. The ICCN places great importance on how it “nurtures individual charisms and the charism of religious life”. Coordination with the sending congregation ensures that regularly scheduled classes on charism are a consistent part of the program. Meetings of the novice and contact person for the sending congregation are also regularly scheduled and offer further opportunity for integration and deepen connections. Visits from sisters of the sending congregation can occur; this is an opportunity to support the novice and better understand the novitiate environment and program. Building relationships among peers from other congregations provides a way for the novice to share her experience of this unique time in initial formation. It also broadens her knowledge about current local and global realities of religious life in relation to the Church and world.
Consecrated religious life exists to spread the Good News of the Gospel, serve those on the peripheries, and live prophetic and joyful lives. Pope Francis, while addressing a group of sisters at the Vatican in 2017, encouraged, “be prophets of hope with eyes turned to the future, where the Spirit pushes you, to continue to do great things with you…Awaken the world, illuminate the future.” With these challenging aspirations, the ICCN “prepares novices to live vowed apostolic religious life” for today and beyond. Preparation includes the study of religious life (history and contemporary), vows, scripture, Church, an mission relative to the current and emergent social, cultural and spiritual realities. The foundation provided by the ICCN affirms and encourages a woman to develop the distinctive gifts each one brings to religious life as she discerns her ministerial call in light of these challenges and the signs of the times. As mission and ministry evolve, a newer religious woman will be equipped to live and minister in creative, collaborative and relevant ways in a spirit of joy and hope.