Live + Jesus!
Becoming a Sister of the Visitation of Holy Mary
How does a person know if they have a vocation?
We know that every person is a unique individual and their relationship with God is as well. What attracts one person might be different from what attracts the next person. That being said, let’s see if we can answer the question.
Wondering if you have a vocation can begin with a THOUGHT. Sometimes reading about Sisters or seeing a person who looks like a Religious Sister might make you think "What is it like to live like that?"
Now-a-days when surfing the Net so much information can be found when you ask yourself a question like that.
Maybe this thought comes to you while you are reading a book, an article, seeing a picture of a Sister praying, or in Church, or hear a priest, or someone talking about living a Religious Life as a Sister. There is so much news about our Holy Father, Pope Francis these days, that thinking about him and the way he is impacting the world can give rise to wondering if you might want to live a life that is especially given over to the Lord.
Maybe you know someone who is a Sister, or who is going to be a Sister or hear someone talking about them. I hope that this litany of "maybe’s" corresponds to something you have experienced.
So what happens next?
Normally when a person has thoughts and questions about what it is like being a Sister they will write to a particular convent or monastery and ask for information. That usually starts the process and if you really want to follow that small inner "voice" you may ask if you could come and visit to see what their life is really all about and if it’s for you. It’s not unusual to contact a few different places. However it is good to limit the contacts to perhaps 3 or 4. Too many contacts may cause inner confusion.
Where do we both go from there?
For our Religious community we begin the introduction by inviting the young women (18-43 years of age) to come for a weekend, or a few days of private retreat.
So what is a retreat?
A retreat is a time of silence, reflection and prayer. The person who invited you would make herself available to you to help you through these days. So you would have someone who would talk to you and explain all that you see happening in the Monastery while you are on retreat. And most importantly, she would be a person to ask your questions.
How does the stay work out?
You would be given a tour of the Monastery so that you would know how to go from one place to another. Usually from the entrance way (coming into the Cloister) to your room (cell) and the showers and how to get downstairs to the Chapel and the Dining Room (Refectory).
A schedule for the days you are there.
You would be given a schedule to let you know what time prayers are, meals times, free time and what the ringing of the ‘house bell’ indicates. (This bell tells the Sisters when it is time to gather for prayer, or to do spiritual reading, or to come to supper and then to recreation). The "house bell’ is like the signal you get while in school to tell you it is time to change to the next class. One of the Sisters rings it by hand.
Places you may visit while in the monastery
The Sister will show you all the places you may be free to go: the Chapel, where to walk in the outside areas, the garden, the and so on. She will make herself available to you when the bell rings so that you can find your way to whatever event the bell is signaling. It takes a little time to get use to it all, but you are never left on your own, someone is always around to help you to find out what is going on. All the Sisters are happy to be of service to you.
What will I do with the Sisters?
As a Community we are happy to have you come and join us for the chanting of the Divine Office. We use a book called "The Liturgy of the Hours". Sister will help you and guide you whenever you come to these times of prayer: Morning Prayer (7AM), Office of Readings (10 AM), Day Time Prayer (2 PM) Evening Prayer (5 PM) and Night Prayer (8:15 PM).
In addition to the Divine Office we come together as a Community at 7:45 AM to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Holy Mass is offered by one of our Chaplains who come to us from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA – only about 15 minutes away. You would join the Sisters in the Sisters Choir (the part of the Chapel reserved for us) while our lay friends and visitors are with us in the public Chapel which is reserved for them. Actually our Chapel is really called a "Monastery Church" because it is really big!
We also invite you to come and eat with us in the Refectory (dining room). We eat our meals in silence while one of the Sisters reads to us during the meal. Sometimes we have self-service and at other times there are two Sisters assigned to serve the meal.
What do I need to bring with me?
You may bring whatever you would normally bring when you go on a trip to visit a friend or family: Your personal items, pajamas, bathrobes, hair-dryer, shoes to walk outside in comfortably (lots of fields and little pebbles outside). We can always provide for a need you might have, please just let us know.
We do ask that you wear skirts and not slacks. When it is cold weather you may want to bring some warm slacks to wear outside since it can get really cold here in the Berkshires. Normally we ask that you wear skirts or a dress while inside the monastery. We have extras if you need something!
We have plenty of books and bibles for you to use however feel free to bring anything you would like to use – headphones and i-pods are alright. Just bring "quiet things" with you. A rosary is good to bring along and a notebook for journaling if you don’t already do that. We also have things you can use if you don’t have these things. Remember it is a time of prayer and reflection for you!
What if I have a special need?
We want you to feel at home, so if you have a special dietary need or if you get hungry in-between meals just let Sister know and she will be happy to see what she can do to "hold you over!" Food allergies or medical needs can be met if you tell us about them.
Cell Phones/ wireless items?
Located in the middle of a village we do not have any cell phone service and limited wireless capabilities. We do have computers, so if you need to use one that can be arranged. We have two land-line phones as well.
If you are here for a brief stay we normally do not offer laundry service unless there is an urgent need. Coming for a longer visit would be different, but we are happy to meet your needs as they arise. Again, just let us know what your need is and then we can respond to it.
Where will I sleep and take a shower?
Each Sister has a private room (cell) and so will you. We have a little room in our cells that has a toilet and a sink (a little rest-room) and we have showers and bathtubs for your use as well. We provide towels and bedding and blankets for your use. You can bring an alarm clock with you if you like and we also have clocks available in each cell for your use. Seeing the location of all these areas is part of the initial tour you receive upon your arrival.
That’s it for a ‘general overview’. If you think of anything else just drop us an e-mail through our website and we will be happy to answer any other questions you might have.