Francis of Assisi knew what he wanted out of life – fame and fortune. But his search for them led him to have more questions than answers. The young man who took such a delight in fun and friends, in beautiful things and being the center of attention was no longer comfortable in his life as the spoiled son of a wealthy cloth merchant.
Francis took time to find the right questions,
“My God who are you and who am I?”
He prayed and recognized in the face of a leper, his brother, a child of God. He prayed and finally heard the Lord Jesus calling him to, “ Rebuild my Church.” This was the answer – to live the Gospel, to follow Jesus, to do it faithfully and full of joy.
Wherever Francis traveled he carried peace. Peace in his words, peace in his deeds, and peace in his heart. He didn’t start out to found a religious order, but his passion and joy were so contagious that others wanted a share in his life.
For over 800 years, men and women have been following the example of Francis and Clare, hearing that same call to follow in the footprints of Jesus and to serve our sisters and brothers in a spirit of humility and peace. The road isn’t always a clear one, but we know that God is leading us forward and challenging us to respond to the ever-changing needs of our Church and our world.
Are you wondering if God is calling you to explore the possibility of religious life?
Do you have a Franciscan heart and spirit?
How will you express that? Share it?
What are your gifts and talents? How will you use them?
Do you feel a nudge to be a messenger of peace, in community with other Sisters?
The Sylvania Franciscans invite you to share your questions with us.
Get to know us and let us get to know you!
FAQ – A Calling to Religious Life
1. How do I know if God is calling me to Religious Life?
Probably every one of us has said, “If only God would speak to me directly and tell me what I’m supposed to do!” But God doesn’t seem to operate like that. Perhaps the best way to understand God’s call is to make prayer a regular, daily part of our lives; be in conversation with a trusted friend, pastor or other spiritual director; and be in dialogue with one or more religious communities. God often speaks to us through others. If something seems to be nudging you and you find yourself at peace with the decision to move forward, then you may choose to move through the process known as formation (see the stages listed below) and further explore the possibility of life in a religious community. This journey, more formally known as discernment, is a good path to follow in any of our life decisions.
2. What type of community are you? Apostolic? Monastic?
Most religious communities define themselves using one of these two words. Franciscans would say, “We’re neither.” We describe our life as Evangelical. Following the example of Francis, the focus of our lives is to live the Gospel in relationship with others. Franciscans would say that the world is our cloister and that we find God in the faces of our brothers and sisters. Prayer is the foundation of our lives, so that we can be out in the midst of the messiness of daily life reaching out to others in a spirit of joyful servanthood.
3. How do you live your life together?
Franciscan life is grounded in relationships. Our life in community witnesses to God’s love at work in our world; through our life in community we are supported in our personal life and ministry. Most of our Sisters live in groups of 2 or 3 in order to share prayer, meals, and leisure time while accommodating each Sister’s ministry schedule, however, some Sisters do live in larger settings.
4. How do you pray together?
Prayer, both individual and communal, are the heart of our life together. Time spent in personal prayer and meditation, gathering for liturgy, and praying morning and evening prayer in our local communities are all part of the rhythm of each day.
5. What kind of ministry (work) can Sylvania Franciscans do?
You will find our Sisters in a variety of ministries including education, health care, pastoral ministry, social services, spiritual direction, law, communication ministries – the list almost seems endless. As Franciscan women following the Rule of the Third Order Regular, our focus isn’t so much on what we do as on how we do it. Each Sister, in conversation with other Sisters and with a member of our leadership, seeks the best way to place her individual gifts and talents at the service of God’s people.
6. Do your Sisters wear a habit?
As women committed to a Gospel way of life, we dress simply. Some Sisters do chose to continue to wear a traditional modified habit. All of our Sisters wear the community ring and the community crucifix or emblem as signs of membership in our Congregation. These community symbols are pictured above.
7. What are the steps to becoming a Sylvania Franciscan?
The steps to becoming a Sylvania Franciscan are designed to provide each woman with an extensive amount of time to truly discern if God is calling her to this way of life. The steps are listed below.
A woman desiring a deeper commitment to God and service to others by following the gospel life inspired by St. Francis of Assisi begins to explore our life by keeping in touch with a member of our vocation team.
Vowed membership as a Sylvania Franciscan Sister is for women who:
- Ordinarily are in their 20s, 30s or 40s, and have completed a year of college or work experience
- Are active members of their local Catholic Church
- Are free from commitment to marriage vows and obligations towards underage children
- Are able to live in community and engage in the works/ministry described in our congregational Mission statement
Each inquirer will be supported in her discernment by our prayers, especially at daily Eucharistic Liturgy.
Pre-Candidacy (usually a 6 to 9 month period) is a time to mutually get acquainted.
- A discernment guide (a Sylvania Franciscan Sister) meets regularly with the pre-candidate
- The pre-candidate joins Sylvania Franciscans for prayer, celebration, and weekend visits as appropriate
- When she discerns that it might be appropriate to move forward, the pre-candidate completes a detailed application process before her acceptance into Candidacy
Candicacy (6-12 months) marks the beginning of the formal initial formation process.
- The candidate lives and participates in the everyday life of an appointed local community of Sylvania Franciscans
- She meets regularly with her discernment guide
- The candidate usually engages in some ministry or ministry preparation
- She remains financially independent of the congregation
Novitiate (two years) is a focused stage of formation that centers on prayer and study of our Franciscan life.
- The novice Sister is guided by the appointed Novice Minister, a Sister of the congregation
- In the first year, known as the canonical year, the novice Sister immerses herself in intensive study of the vows, the Third Order Regular Franciscan Rule, our Franciscan charism and life, prayer, and some volunteer ministry experience
- In the second year the novice Sister further experiences Franciscan life:
- At home with the Sylvania Franciscan community
- In part-time ministry setting(s).
First Commitment (3 to 6 years) is also known as the time of “Temporary” Profession.
- The Sister publicly commits herself to vows of poverty, consecrated chastity, and obedience
- At the time of this commitment, the Sister receives the community emblem
- The period is designed for deepening the Sister’s vowed commitment as a Sylvania Franciscan and for further spiritual, ministerial and theological growth
- The temporary professed Sister ordinarily serves in full-time ministry
Permanent Commitment begins with a Sister’s Final Profession, in which she publicly proclaims her commitment for life.
- At this time the Sister receives the ring which identifies her as a full member of the Sylvania Franciscan congregation
8. Who should I talk to about becoming a Sylvania Franciscan?
Contact a member of our Vocation Network Team. We welcome the conversation!
Sr. Karen Zielinski
6832 Convent Blvd, Sylvania, OH 43560