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[quote name='IgnatiusofLoyola' timestamp='1282349987' post='2160844']
From the pictures, the ND's chapel is quite large and nowhere near full. Also, because they are teaching Sisters, many ND Sisters are sent to teach in other cities and do not live in the Motherhouse. From looking at the ND's Web site, they are constantly adding new cities and schools, most in places beyond Nashville. I'm sure the chapel is more crowded at Christmas, for example, when it appears that the Sisters come back to the Motherhouse.

In the days when postulant classes in some Orders could number more than 100, Orders managed to work it out. For example, some Orders set up Provincial Centers in various parts of the country where Sisters might do all or a part of their formation. So, I have no doubt the ND's will work it out, as well, if it ever becomes an issue. (BTW--I have no idea what the ND's expansion plans are, beyond setting up a new community in Australia, which is mentioned on their Web site. So, my mention of Provincial centers was merely an example. The ND's long-range plans may be entirely different.)
[/quote]
Well, I don't know if this was joking or not, but I know when my sister was preparing to enter, they were saying they weren't where they'd find the room for all of them. And during the summer when all the sisters are home, it's apparently pretty packed in the chapel. I have no idea what their plans are, though, if they keep growing so quickly. I guess, it's probably to rely on God. :)

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Entering is a big deal, but it's not the final decision. Being a postulant is still just 'hanging out' with the community. It's the noviciate where you discern more deeply if this is the place for you, study the group's constitutions, and prepare to take vows. Yes, some orders don't really have a postulancy as such - they leap right into habits and the noviciate shortly after entering. People leave all the time during this process, and if an order wants to give you the chance, even if they're a bit skeptical about it being a good match...well, then, that's fine. It's up to the order to decide on the process of how people are admitted.

For instance, nowadays, most groups have a psychological evaluation as part of the process. It's not always before you enter, though! Some groups want to get to know you first and form their own (unbiased) opinions before being told by an outside psychologist that you are really X,Y,Z. So, they could evaluate you (say) before you entered the novitiate, and if there were serious concerns (which would be corroborated by the community's experience of living with this individual for 6-12 months), entrance to the novitiate could be denied.

Is that painful? Perhaps. But it's also painful to have orders turn you down up front. At least you were given a chance, and have a better understanding yourself of why it wouldn't be a good fit. The Rule of Saint Benedict states that people who wish to join should be turned away, and only if they come back (on the third time!) admitted into the monastery. Basically, persistence was evidence of a true vocation back in the day (6th century).

Each order handles things differently, so it is difficult to generalize on this topic. It's not a decision to make lightly, and it's not like joining a club (where you get to keep the rest of your life and just add this one part). It does involve leaving jobs and family and 'the world'. For this reason, very few people would 'give it a try' unless they are out of work anyway...and religious orders are generally smart enough to ask questions that get at whether or not the person is just 'running away' from a difficult situation at home. But if you have the desire for religious life, and just aren't sure if the order/timing is right, 'give it a try' is a step down that path, so it's really not a waste of time. If you're not sure, visit other communities first, of course, before making the decision to take the plunge and join.



As for the Nashville Dominican chapel -- yes, it's basically already full when the whole community is 'home' (summers and Christmas). They're squeezing chairs in the side, and the choir stalls are all taken. No idea what their future plans are, but eventually it might be that not everyone can come home at once. They'll cross that bridge when they get to it.

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[quote name='MithLuin' timestamp='1282491566' post='2161443']
Entering is a big deal, but it's not the final decision. Being a postulant is still just 'hanging out' with the community. It's the noviciate where you discern more deeply if this is the place for you, study the group's constitutions, and prepare to take vows. Yes, some orders don't really have a postulancy as such - they leap right into habits and the noviciate shortly after entering. People leave all the time during this process, and if an order wants to give you the chance, even if they're a bit skeptical about it being a good match...well, then, that's fine. It's up to the order to decide on the process of how people are admitted.

For instance, nowadays, most groups have a psychological evaluation as part of the process. It's not always before you enter, though! Some groups want to get to know you first and form their own (unbiased) opinions before being told by an outside psychologist that you are really X,Y,Z. So, they could evaluate you (say) before you entered the novitiate, and if there were serious concerns (which would be corroborated by the community's experience of living with this individual for 6-12 months), entrance to the novitiate could be denied.

Is that painful? Perhaps. But it's also painful to have orders turn you down up front. At least you were given a chance, and have a better understanding yourself of why it wouldn't be a good fit. The Rule of Saint Benedict states that people who wish to join should be turned away, and only if they come back (on the third time!) admitted into the monastery. Basically, persistence was evidence of a true vocation back in the day (6th century).

Each order handles things differently, so it is difficult to generalize on this topic. It's not a decision to make lightly, and it's not like joining a club (where you get to keep the rest of your life and just add this one part). It does involve leaving jobs and family and 'the world'. For this reason, very few people would 'give it a try' unless they are out of work anyway...and religious orders are generally smart enough to ask questions that get at whether or not the person is just 'running away' from a difficult situation at home. But if you have the desire for religious life, and just aren't sure if the order/timing is right, 'give it a try' is a step down that path, so it's really not a waste of time. If you're not sure, visit other communities first, of course, before making the decision to take the plunge and join.

As for the Nashville Dominican chapel -- yes, it's basically already full when the whole community is 'home' (summers and Christmas). They're squeezing chairs in the side, and the choir stalls are all taken. No idea what their future plans are, but eventually it might be that not everyone can come home at once. They'll cross that bridge when they get to it.
[/quote]

Thanks for your insights. As usual, they are very wise and helpful.

As for my fears for others entering religious life, after reading some of the stories about the pain, sometimes intense pain, of leaving, I left out one important detail. In reading the stories of other women on Phatmass, it seemed as if the pain of leaving, or feeling like a failure was influenced in large part by how the Community handled it. It seemed that in the situations where the Community handled the Sister's departure well, there was much less feeling of hurt and disappointment--although at least some disappointment will always be natural.

And, when we read stories of large postulant or novice classes where up to half of the class may leave, that may not necessarily be a negative thing. This is especially true if the Community handles leaving well. It shows that the first few years of the formation process in that Community help a new Sister more fully understand her vocation and the religious life. The Community is not letting "just anyone" take first vows. So, in a sense, it means that the formation process is working. A Sister may still have a true vocation to religious life, but the formation process has made clear that this was not the right Community.

Sometimes I worry that young women join the ND's or the DSSME's because they are "popular." But, it seems as if, not only the application process, but the early years of formation, help a young woman discern better her real reasons for joining the Community. And, she may not realize he true reasons until she actually joins.

In looking at all the various religious Orders, it seems as if one of the many factors for a woman to consider, in addition to apostolate, active or cloistered, charism of the Community--to name only a few factors, is whether the individual woman feels more comfortable being part of a larger postulant/novice "class" or if she feels she would do better in a smaller community, where there many be only a few postulants at one time. In our society, with its emphasis on "bigger is better," the first thought might be that Communities with a large number of vocations are "better" or "more successful." But, in religious life "success" is not necessarily measured by how fast the community is growing.

When I read about the ND's, for example, there are many things that make me think that, were I to join a community, I would want to join a smaller one. It's not only logistical things, like having to sleep in a dormitory (which I would find VERY difficult) versus having a private cell, but also the amount of personal attention etc. A smaller community probably would mean less personal attention, but also a very different way of life than a large community. I suspect that in a small community everyone has to "pitch in" on everything at least sometimes, while in a larger community there may be more specialization, especially after leaving the noviatiate.

As for worries about the ND's getting too big, I'll repeat what I have posted before. 50 years ago it wasn't at all unusual for a Community to have 100 women in a postulant class--and this was true for a number of different Orders. Many Communities grew very quickly. Each one handled the growth differently, but each one found a way to deal with it. So, with the rapid growth of the ND's, there may very well be some changes in the next few years, but particularly since the Order has a 150-year history, they have weathered changes in the past, and after some adjustment, continued to thrive. So, I fully expect them to make wise decisions in the future. Although they are growing quickly, they seem, at least from what I have read, to be well "grounded"--in part, because of their 150 year history. A change that is handled well will not mean the end of their growth as a Community.

Edited by IgnatiusofLoyola
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Wow - a 50% attrition rate - it still seems like a lot to leave. I hope they do what we in the business world would call an "exit interview" - that might help them target things they need to work on in the admission process. Like someone else said, this as a life-chainging event - something I want to be fairly certain is right for me. So even though postulancy and novitiate do not entail a commitment - at some level, they do because you expect to succeed if you have a vocation. I'm beginning to think that being a religious has much in common with any other career- for example, I love math and numbers - I'm an accountant. I enjoy managing people - I'm a supervisor in my department. I guess I'm pretty good at these things because I get good reviews from my superiors and the people I manage say they like working for me. If you are a religious person and you enjoy prayer and spirituality and if you have a personality that is compatible with living in community, not being acquisitive, putting God above other concerns, then maybe you could succeed in religious life. Maybe God doesn't really selectively give this person a vocation but not that one - maybe He gives some people the types of personalities and characteristics that make religious life appeal to them. Maybe that's the same thing. Forgive me if I've ruffled any feathers - this is still a bit new to me and I'm still amazed that I am pursuing a religious vocation at all.

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[quote name='ksterling' timestamp='1282658245' post='2162423']
Wow - a 50% attrition rate - it still seems like a lot to leave. I hope they do what we in the business world would call an "exit interview" - that might help them target things they need to work on in the admission process. Like someone else said, this as a life-chainging event - something I want to be fairly certain is right for me. So even though postulancy and novitiate do not entail a commitment - at some level, they do because you expect to succeed if you have a vocation. I'm beginning to think that being a religious has much in common with any other career- for example, I love math and numbers - I'm an accountant. I enjoy managing people - I'm a supervisor in my department. I guess I'm pretty good at these things because I get good reviews from my superiors and the people I manage say they like working for me. If you are a religious person and you enjoy prayer and spirituality and if you have a personality that is compatible with living in community, not being acquisitive, putting God above other concerns, then maybe you could succeed in religious life. Maybe God doesn't really selectively give this person a vocation but not that one - maybe He gives some people the types of personalities and characteristics that make religious life appeal to them. Maybe that's the same thing. Forgive me if I've ruffled any feathers - this is still a bit new to me and I'm still amazed that I am pursuing a religious vocation at all.
[/quote]

When it comes to the numbers game in religious life, it's almost as though there's a whole new math scale.

There's something that my parish priest once said to a group of boys when talking about discernment... He said, "Why not try it? Why not go to seminary and give God the "first chance"? If it turns out that God wants you married and in the world, you haven't lost anything. You've given God your first AND you've received EXCELLENT formation on how to be a good father and husband."

I honestly think that God [i]does[/i] call some people into formation, but only formation. God has his own reasons for it. And to be sure, he showers plenty of graces on those who respond so graciously to even give the religious life (or priesthood) a go.

As for personalities and discernment... That's interesting. I don't know. I think you'll find people from all sorts of personalities called into religious life, which is part of the reason that living community life [i]can[/i] be so difficult at times. I know that for the longest time I didn't want to discern religious life as it was precisely because I didn't want to live in community... I would've rather been something a kin to a diocesan priest (which I now know is consecrated virgin). But the more I grow and understand God's will for me, I have a craving for community life... even though it's not really something that matches my personality, you know? (I'm a melancholic, by the way, so I like my [i]me[/i] time). But God gives the graces.

Just some thoughts.

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[quote name='regina_coeli' timestamp='1282689093' post='2162624']
I am full of admiration for all the men and women who enter to "test their vocations"-- they are willing to commit, and so many will not. They can go back into the world knowing they tried.
[/quote]

I wish I could have done this. :( I really was interested in religious life, but found the vocation simply wasn't there because I could not find a religious order who would admit me and I don't have the desire to form my own. I pray that I am able to get over this disappointment and really accept the fact that God has something in mind for me that will bring me true happiness, even if I don't see it now. :pray:

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[quote name='MaterMisericordiae' timestamp='1282689456' post='2162627']
I wish I could have done this. :( I really was interested in religious life, but found the vocation simply wasn't there because I could not find a religious order who would admit me and I don't have the desire to form my own. I pray that I am able to get over this disappointment and really accept the fact that God has something in mind for me that will bring me true happiness, even if I don't see it now. :pray:
[/quote]

I don't know anyone who finds it easy when the doors have been closed on something you honestly thought felt God was calling you to. So, disappointment, and feeling sad is normal, even if it smells of elderberries and is awful to live through. You've lost something you wanted and that you thought God wanted. It's normal to mourn. That says it was something very important and dear to you.

Also, I think it is only true saints who, soon after a disappointment, are able to immediately accept and trust that God has something better for them in the future. It is only by looking back, years later, that most people understand what God had in mind. It doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to pray for perfect faith. But, for most people, that faith doesn't come immediately. With any luck, as time goes by, and you start seeing other opportunities show up, some of the disappointment will lessen. But, if it doesn't go away for awhile, that just makes you normal. And, when God's plan for you does come into your life, you will appreciate it even more, because it wasn't just "handed" to you. For myself, I also pray that I will even recognize God's plans at all, so that I act on them, because, I can be very clueless and let opportunities pass me by.

Hang in there. You've been through a lot of changes in the past few months. If God doesn't seem to be acting immediately, it may be because he is giving you time to mourn, and for your feelings to settle down a bit.

As I posted earlier, you may not see it, but it is very clear to me just from what you post, that you have come a LONG way in the past few months. You have accomplished A LOT. Right now may be a time to be quiet, let your emotions "rest," and just listen to God, because when you start school again or a new job etc, you won't have many opportunities for that. Sometimes a period of time when you can emotionally "rest" because nothing new is happening (or seems to be happening) can also be a gift of God. I know it hurt a lot when you left your job, but how nice it must be to no longer have others criticizing you or stressing you out all day. Your job was the wrong place for you. Ideally, you can use that bad experience to help teach you for the future to better recognize what kinds of environments aren't right for you before you even start, and also the opposite, better recognize what types of environments emphasize your strengths, and in which your weaknesses don't matter, or are less of an issue. But, that takes time--it may be too soon to completely understand it all now.

For now, I hope you can let yourself emotionally "rest"--God may be giving you a welcome "breather time" before new things begin again.

As always, I'm "shooting in the dark" in what I say. If anything I've said doesn't apply to you--feel free to ignore me. I won't be hurt--and besides, I won't even know! LOL

Edited by IgnatiusofLoyola
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[quote name='ksterling' timestamp='1282658245' post='2162423']
Wow - a 50% attrition rate - it still seems like a lot to leave. I hope they do what we in the business world would call an "exit interview" - that might help them target things they need to work on in the admission process. Like someone else said, this as a life-chainging event - something I want to be fairly certain is right for me. So even though postulancy and novitiate do not entail a commitment - at some level, they do because you expect to succeed if you have a vocation. I'm beginning to think that being a religious has much in common with any other career- for example, I love math and numbers - I'm an accountant. I enjoy managing people - I'm a supervisor in my department. I guess I'm pretty good at these things because I get good reviews from my superiors and the people I manage say they like working for me. If you are a religious person and you enjoy prayer and spirituality and if you have a personality that is compatible with living in community, not being acquisitive, putting God above other concerns, then maybe you could succeed in religious life. Maybe God doesn't really selectively give this person a vocation but not that one - maybe He gives some people the types of personalities and characteristics that make religious life appeal to them. Maybe that's the same thing. Forgive me if I've ruffled any feathers - this is still a bit new to me and I'm still amazed that I am pursuing a religious vocation at all.
[/quote]

I see the 50% attrition rate the same way you do. To me it is a signal of something wrong. But, both of us have lots of experience with corporate life. And, apparently others see the fact of half the sisters leaving as less of an issue that we do. And, maybe God makes use of the incredible hurt and disappointment some women experience when they leave religious life in a way I can't see. But, my natural instinct is to try to avoid as much hurt as possible--not by avoiding religious life, but by making the decision carefully and prayerfully.

To me, a commitment to a religious life is such a huge deal. Just becoming a postulant means totally giving up your normal life and leaving family and friends--it seems, at least to me, like far too serious a decision to "just give it a try." At least, with a normal job, you usually still live in the same place, have the same friends, aren't limited in when you can see family and friends, etc. A religious life means changing practically everything. In the end, all the changes are good, if the religious life and that particular Community are right for you. But, to me it would be sort of like eloping to Las Vegas with someone you hardly knew.

Maybe I'm too careful, but before I make a big change in my life, I put in a lot of thought, research, etc. Then, because I've done that, I can better recognize when the right thing comes along, and I can jump quickly, if necessary.

However, I suspect I am looking at this from a more secular viewpoint that many here, and that viewpoint may not be the right one for a religious vocation.

In the end, I don't know what is right. I find all the various viewpoints and opinions very interesting and helpful, especially because many of them are new to me.

Edited by IgnatiusofLoyola
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[quote name='IgnatiusofLoyola' timestamp='1282694304' post='2162660']
I see the 50% attrition rate the same way you do. To me it is a signal of something wrong. But, both of us have lots of experience with corporate life. And, apparently others see the fact of half the sisters leaving as less of an issue that we do. And, maybe God makes use of the incredible hurt and disappointment some women experience when they leave religious life in a way I can't see. But, my natural instinct is to try to avoid as much hurt as possible--not by avoiding religious life, but by making the decision carefully and prayerfully.

To me, a commitment to a religious life is such a huge deal. Just becoming a postulant means totally giving up your normal life and leaving family and friends--it seems, at least to me, like far too serious a decision to "just give it a try." At least, with a normal job, you usually still live in the same place, have the same friends, aren't limited in when you can see family and friends, etc. A religious life means changing practically everything. In the end, all the changes are good, if the religious life and that particular Community are right for you. But, to me it would be sort of like eloping to Las Vegas with someone you hardly knew.

Maybe I'm too careful, but before I make a big change in my life, I put in a lot of thought, research, etc. Then, because I've done that, I can better recognize when the right thing comes along, and I can jump quickly, if necessary.

However, I suspect I am looking at this from a more secular viewpoint that many here, and that viewpoint may not be the right one for a religious vocation.

In the end, I don't know what is right. I find all the various viewpoints and opinions very interesting and helpful, especially because many of them are new to me.
[/quote]

Trust me, Iggy, you're not the only one who takes this sort of stance. In fact, you'll find that many, [i]many[/i] people do, even among priests and spiritual directors.

I was just about to type out a response here, but I think I'm going to start another thread, since this topic probably deserves it's own venue. Bear with me for a few minutes.

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[quote name='IgnatiusofLoyola' timestamp='1282693249' post='2162652']
I don't know anyone who finds it easy when the doors have been closed on something you honestly thought felt God was calling you to. So, disappointment, and feeling sad is normal, even if it smells of elderberries and is awful to live through. You've lost something you wanted and that you thought God wanted. It's normal to mourn. That says it was something very important and dear to you.

Also, I think it is only true saints who, soon after a disappointment, are able to immediately accept and trust that God has something better for them in the future. It is only by looking back, years later, that most people understand what God had in mind. It doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to pray for perfect faith. But, for most people, that faith doesn't come immediately. With any luck, as time goes by, and you start seeing other opportunities show up, some of the disappointment will lessen. But, if it doesn't go away for awhile, that just makes you normal. And, when God's plan for you does come into your life, you will appreciate it even more, because it wasn't just "handed" to you. For myself, I also pray that I will even recognize God's plans at all, so that I act on them, because, I can be very clueless and let opportunities pass me by.

Hang in there. You've been through a lot of changes in the past few months. If God doesn't seem to be acting immediately, it may be because he is giving you time to mourn, and for your feelings to settle down a bit.

As I posted earlier, you may not see it, but it is very clear to me just from what you post, that you have come a LONG way in the past few months. You have accomplished A LOT. Right now may be a time to be quiet, let your emotions "rest," and just listen to God, because when you start school again or a new job etc, you won't have many opportunities for that. Sometimes a period of time when you can emotionally "rest" because nothing new is happening (or seems to be happening) can also be a gift of God. I know it hurt a lot when you left your job, but how nice it must be to no longer have others criticizing you or stressing you out all day. Your job was the wrong place for you. Ideally, you can use that bad experience to help teach you for the future to better recognize what kinds of environments aren't right for you before you even start, and also the opposite, better recognize what types of environments emphasize your strengths, and in which your weaknesses don't matter, or are less of an issue. But, that takes time--it may be too soon to completely understand it all now.

For now, I hope you can let yourself emotionally "rest"--God may be giving you a welcome "breather time" before new things begin again.

As always, I'm "shooting in the dark" in what I say. If anything I've said doesn't apply to you--feel free to ignore me. I won't be hurt--and besides, I won't even know! LOL
[/quote]


No, you are absolutely right. Sometimes, I don't want to hear it because I know how flawed I am and I start to wonder if I gave up too easily, but by the time this hits, I realize that it is out of my control. I need to learn trust, most of all, but I also need to learn to put that trust in people who deserve it, especially God. My employers were definitely wolves in sheep's clothing. At the end, they acted like I had done nothing wrong (as I was walking out the door, to be exact), but all along, they had told me I didn't measure up to their standards. I never got that impression of them when I interviewed there. If I had, I wouldn't have accepted the job. Things turned sour about 2-3 months in. I honestly don't know how I stayed as long as I did. I realize God gave me great graces to TRY as hard as I could, but in the end, I just knew it was not the right fit because of things I witnessed there that were unethical and, quite frankly, racist. They claimed that they were a Christian workplace, but did not measure up to what a Christian should be. :(

I start my class next Monday. I have to say that I am super happy to be starting school again. I am a perpetual student because I LOVE to learn and that probably from my Dominican spirituality! ;) Even though it is one class, at least it will be something that I can work towards. I hate sitting around all day long with nothing to challenge my mind.

So please pray for me. I have a ton of support from my extended family when I didn't expect it. Some of them can be quite critical at times, and I was dreading the day when I would tell them that I wasn't working anymore, but I told them this weekend, and all of them agreed that it was DEFINITELY not the place where I should be working. They told me that I wasn't appreciated enough for my effort, which was hard to see because I can be quite critical of myself and think things are my fault when they really aren't. God bless.

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Please don't misunderstand - there will always be people who leave, no matter how rigorous the application process. It's just the 50% statistic that I find troublesome in this day when you have opportunities to visit, participate in apostolates (which the Apostles of the Sacred Heart and others offer), psych testing, interviews, etc. I mentioned before a friend who loves to comb antique stores for old books. She has made it her mission in life to buy every nun book she can find for me. Over the weekend, she found a new one - "Nun" by Mary Gilligan Wong. It is an autobiography of the author's life in the convent. The order was disguised but I did some research and found that it was the Sisters of Providence. Reading that book was scary. There were about 70 women in Wong's postulant class - only about 27 took vows. That's a much worse attrition rate than the DSMMEs and I think it stems from the fact that applicants that "fit the profile" (young, right out of high school, virgins, of legitimate birth, received all apppropriate sacraments) and professed a desire to serve God were accepted. The screening was not at all as comprehensive as it would be today. The book portrays novitiate as a horror house - all the novices had anorexia and all manner of psychologically induced illnesses (ulcers, psychotic behavior) - much originating from young and impressionable girls trying not to be themselves and fitting a preconceived mold. Most of the girls had no idea what they were getting into, including the author - and she did a 4 year aspirancy in high school. I would have left in 5 minutes. I didn't get discouraged after reading it because I know things are very different now. But the lesson is to really do your homework both spiritually and otherwise. Work with your SD so you are as sure as you can be that religious life is really what you want to do. And the other part - where I am now - is to look at different communities, get to know the ones that appeal to you and then really drill down - understand the charism, apostolate, personalites, community dynamics - everything you can. I am a firm believer that God helps those who help themselves so I am trying to be a "discerning discerner"

Kat

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If you talk to older sisters, you will see that they experienced the same percent (or more) of sisters leaving. I have talked to sisters who were the only remaining member out of a group of 9 or so...and that was after final vows. It is not just the DMME sisters who experience the loss of half of their postulants. I know another community who have an inquiry period, and a year long candidacy before the postulancy, and 2 of the 3 postulants left several months before noviciate. I honestly don't think that the method the DMME's have is any less effective than others. I think they actually fair above average if you look at communities across the country.

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is anyone going on the Jesu Caritas retreat oct 1st - 3rd????
I AM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yay!!!!!!! [img]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/public/style_emoticons/default/clap2.gif[/img]

[img]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/public/style_emoticons/default/nun2.gif[/img]

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