These inspirations give rise to strong resolutions to devote one’s self to God without reserve & to advance in every religious virtue.
— Mother Catherine McAuley

After consultation with the Superior General, it may be determined that a particular candidate would benefit from an additional period of discernment and growth with the community. In most cases, pre-postulancy occurs at Saint Marienhaus in Germany, although other locations are also possible.

Formation in pre-postulancy is ordered toward growth in self-knowledge, growth in greater disposition for the formation in postulancy, and a greater understanding and experience of living religious life as a Religious Sister of Mercy.


We should labor continuously to subject nature to grace, by a general watchfulness to our exterior, as well as interior.
— Mother Catherine McAuley

On August 1 candidates are received into postulancy. The word “postulant” comes from the Latin word, “postulare,” which means “to seek” or “to question.” Women entering postulancy are seeking to know if it is God’s will for them to be a Sister of Mercy.

Formation during this period enables the postulant to enter into the prayer life, common life, customs, and work of the community. Postulancy ends with entrance into the canonical novitiate on July 16 of the following year.



Canonical Novitiate

The novitiate is when the Sister’s life in the Institute begins, and it is ordered in such a way that that the novice “experiences the institute’s manner of living [and is] formed in mind and heart by its spirit.” This is so that her “intention and suitability be tested” and that the novices may recognize her vocation both as divine and proper (or particular) to the institute (Canon 646). The first year of the novitiate is spent at the Motherhouse and includes scriptural, doctrinal, and spiritual instruction, indispensable to the development of a life of deep union with God and the understanding of religious consecration.

No occupation should withdraw our minds from God. Our whole life should be a continual act of praise and prayer.
— Mother Catherine McAuley

Second Year Novitiate

During the second year of novitiate, the novice participates in an apostolic mission of the institute and learns to integrate the professional and religious dimensions of her person. “During the novitiate, both the excellence and the possibility of a perpetual commitment in the service of the Lord will be brought out” (Directives on Formation, 55). At the completion of the novitiate the Sister may request to profess temporary vows.