There are many ways to become part of the Life and Mission of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
The Association of the Holy Family of Nazareth is an Associate group of men and women established by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
From the earliest days of our foundation, our Foundress, Blessed Frances Siedliska, recognised the wisdom of inviting lay men and women to become Associates of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and to assist the Sisters in fostering the charism and fulfilling the mission of the Congregation. An Associate has a special relationship with our community, making a formal commitment to living a life which enables God’s Kingdom of Love to be realised in the ordinary experiences of everyday life in our World.
In collaboration we offer encouragement and support to each other in our chosen vocations and work together to allow God’s Power of Love to work through us. We pray for each other and ,together, foster authentic family life amongst our own family members, in turn reaching out to other families wherever we work or minister.
The invitation to become an Associate of the Holy Family is extended to our family, friends and benefactors and all who have been touched in some way by association with our Sisters. We also invite those who minister with us in our attempts to fulfil our mission in the Church. We especially invite co-workers, managers, board members, consultants and those who staff facilities committed to the mission and vision of our Congregation.
What does Being an Associate of the Holy Family Entail?
Each Province of the Congregation establishes its own Associate branches, based on basic Congregational guidelines and according to the needs of the families in each particular area. For some who are unable to be actively involved in attending meetings, being an Associate may mean mutual and reciprocal prayer for each other. The Associate makes a commitment to pray regularly for the mission of the Sisters and the Sisters commit themselves to pray for the associate in his or her chosen vocation. The Associate also makes a commitment to foster prayer and authentic family life modelled on the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth in their own families and to reach out to others in need. Associates who are more active become actively involved in the mission of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth at various levels, according to availability, need and the ministry in which the associate may be involved.
To learn more about the Association in Australia contact Sr. Lucyna Fraczek or any Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Any vocation is a call to love and service. God calls each person to follow the way that best leads to the fulfilment of who they were created to be. In searching for meaning in our lives, we can only find our true path by attentive listening, looking and praying. Openness to God’s creative presence in our lives leads us to discover who we really are in the depths of our being. Many people respond to their vocational call by love and service in the context of their own family life.
As Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we answer God’s call by choosing to live a life committed to inclusive love…a love that empowers us to love all persons as members of God’s greater, human family. Through public profession, in the Church, of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience lived in community, we commit ourselves to nurturing authentic, inclusive love in our personal lives, in our community life and in our ministry . Religious life frees us to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to God, in faithful service to the Church and the World.
“A religious vocation is an invitation from the Father, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to live the life and mission of Jesus and increasingly reflect His love in the world.” (Covenant of Love 6.1)
Women who are actively involved in their own faith development and, in some way, involve themselves in the life of the Church may recognise evidence in their own lives of a call to religious life and may begin their journey by seeking guidance from a spiritual director, who will assist them in reading and understanding the signs that lead them to believe they may be called to religious life.
The invitation may, at times, come from the comment of another person who recognises the possibility that God may be calling someone to religious life. This may arouse in the person a sense of wonder and questioning that leads them to seek further information about religious life. This information can be obtained through contact with the Vocation Director of a particular religious congregation. As Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we commit ourselves to companioning women who sincerely seek to recognise God’s movement in their lives in relation to their vocation, and guide them according to ethical standards and personal respect. Commitment to religious life in Nazareth is a commitment to service in the Church and is therefore always evaluated within the context of loving service in and with the Church.
“In responding to our call to Nazareth we enter into a gradual and life-long process of formation which challenges us to give ourselves completely and joyfully to God who first loved us and shows us how to bring this love into the lives of other.”. (Covenant of Love6.1)
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth nurture the vocation of women who enter formation through various stages.
A Catholic woman recognised as showing evidence of “sufficient maturity, genuineness of vocation, freedom from canonical impediments may be accepted as a candidate into our Congregation.” (Covenant of Love 6.5)
Initial formation in our Congregation includes the stages of pre-novitiate (affiliacy and postulancy), novitiate and temporary profession.
A period of affiliacy generally precedes postulancy. During this time the affiliate is assisted in deepening her personal and Christian life as she becomes better acquainted with our Congregation. The length of affiliacy is determined by the needs of the candidate and the determination of the Congregation and generally does not extend longer that 12 months.
Postulancy begins the formal entry of the candidate into the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and is preceded by a formal application made by the candidate, accompanied by required documentation and requirements.
Postulancy is a period of immediate preparation for entry to the novitiate and provides opportunities for personal growth and development in Christian maturity and assists her in determining the authenticity of her vocation to religious life. During this time the postulant is introduced more to the background, the charism and the mission of the Congregation. The length of the time of postulancy is between 6 -24 months, dependent on circumstances.
The novitiate is a period of no less than two years (with the first year being a canonical year) and is an initiation into religious life, providing opportunities for the novice to grow in intimacy with Jesus Christ through: prolonged periods of prayer, study of and meditation on Scripture, deeper participation in the liturgical life of the Church, appropriate periods of silence and times for reflection, proper instruction in issues related to religious life, opportunities for personal growth and self-denial.
Novitiate is also a time during which the novice studies more about the charism, heritage and mission of the Congregation and is assisted in learning about the substance of the vows and implications for living out the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, in community, for life. Novitiate is a “focused” period of time that aims at empowering the novice to freely and totally embrace religious life with a reasonable knowledge and understanding of the implications of living authentically as a professed Sister.
For serious reasons the novitiate may be extended but by no more than 6 months.
If it is mutually decided that the novice is ready to profess vows, the Sister professes public vows of chastity, poverty and obedience lived in community. The period of temporary profession allows the Sister time to learn to balance prayer life, community life and ministry on a day to day basis. This time also allows for the Sister to assume increasing personal responsibility for continuing the spiritual and religious development initiated in the novitiate and to discern in the light of her required experience her readiness to dedicate herself totally and irrevocably to God through the profession of perpetual vows. Temporary profession is generally a time for study and introduction to formal ministry. Temporary profession generally occurs for a period of five years and may be extended, but no longer than nine years.
After the profession of final vows we continue to foster and nurture our commitment as religious women and as Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. We deepen our understanding and integration of the “Covenant of Love” in our daily lives, and more readily discover the signs of God in our midst as we participate in communal gatherings, reflection days, renewal experiences and other available programmes. Sisters continue to grow in their understanding of community life, mission and ministry. Ideally, life after final profession lasts for life, as does our commitment to on-going religious and personal formation.