Vocation Program: Vocation Vocabulary Guide
(Used with permission. Reprinted from Vision Magazine, 2000. Published
by Claretian Publications to order a copy, call 1-800-328-6515. )
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Describes active religious communities - communities whose
mission includes ministry in the world, such as social work, health
care, or pastoral work. Example: "We are an apostolic community devoted
to meeting the needs of poor women and children."
The particular focus and spirit of a religious community. From the Greek
word, charismata for gift. Example: "Our charism is to be peacemakers,
with Jesus as our model."
A meeting for all members of a religious congregation to discuss and
decide on policy, leadership, and direction of the congregation.
Example: "At our chapter, we decided to make direct work with the poor a
Describes religious communities that focus primarily on prayer, rather
than on active ministry. Most contemplative communities follow the Rule
of Saint Benedict, a set of rules providing structure for a communal
life of prayer. These communities generally pray seven times a day,
attend daily Mass, read Scripture and spiritual works, maintain periods
of silence, and perform labor to sustain the community. Example: "Prayer
is the center of contemplative life."
Describes certain contemplative communities that have limited access to
the outside world. Members of these religious communities have limited
opportunity to leave the monastery and outsiders have little direct
contact with members. Not all contemplative communities are cloistered.
Example: "Those who live in cloistered monasteries usually travel very
The process of praying and reflecting on God's call. Example: "After
many months of discernment, I realized God was calling me to be a
The process of education and spiritual development that takes place
during the early months or years of joining a religious community. Those
entering the diocesan priesthood are involved in formation during their
seminary years. Example: "I read a number of books on theology during
A man or woman taking part in the initial stage of entering a religious
community. The novice is typically involved in discernment, preparation,
and formation activities, including study of the order's charism,
history, constitution, and way of living the vows. This period lasts
from 12 to 24 months and is called the novitiate. At the end of the
novitiate, a novice either leaves or takes temporary vows of poverty,
chastity, and obedience. Example: "I really got to know my community
while I was a novice."
Postulant or Candidate
A man or woman requesting and still discerning membership into a
religious community, before becoming a novice. The period of postulancy
or candidacy usually lasts six months to two years. Example: "I'm now a
postulant/candidate with a religious community because I feel called to
this way of life."
The religious rite in which a person formally enters a religious
community. Profession follows a formation program (usually called
novitiate) of discernment, education, and spiritual development.
Example: "All of my family and friends came to my profession of final
One who meets periodically with another to counsel and encourage that
person to deepen and strengthen his or her relationship with God.
Spiritual directors take into account all aspects of life in the process
of growing closer to God. Example: My prayer life has taken on new
dimensions since I began meeting with a spiritual director."