A Dominican Formation


When a young woman first arrives at the Convent, she becomes a postulant. Postulancy is a period of time during which the young woman is initiated into religious life and the prayer of the Divine Office. Postulants need to be at least eighteen years of age, of sound physical and mental health, and have the capacity to teach and study.

The entry date for postulants is usually, though not necessarily, during January. The postulancy lasts between six to twelve months, ending at the reception of the habit in January. Postulants follow classes within the Convent, such as, Liturgy, Holy Scripture, principles of Catholic Schooling, Latin, Gregorian Chant, an Introduction to Philosophy and to St Thomas Aquinas, and Monastic History. Their private studies include a deepening of the Catechism and theology, Holy Scripture and the classical spiritual authors. They may also do some university studies if they are finishing a degree.

A period of pre-postulancy may be required if aspirants have language difficulties or if they need extra time to adjust to religious life. Both postulants and pre-postulants wear a black skirt, a white blouse, and a black vest. Postulants also wear a simplified type of veil.


After the postulancy, a Dominican nun begins her Novitiate – a period of time given to a candidate so that she can become acquainted with the Rule, the Constitutions, and the observances of the Congregation so as to find out for herself if she is capable of living them faithfully, prior to making vows. It also allows the Congregation to assure itself concerning the dispositions, habits, intelligence and capacities of the Novice.

The two-year Novitiate begins on the day that the young woman receives the habit of the Order and the white veil. The novitiate is the time when strong and sturdy foundations are laid. The first year, the canonical year, concentrates on her own spiritual formation and a deeper understanding of the Dominican life.  A canonical novice is not permitted to work in the apostolate (that is, she cannot teach), and she is not permitted to study secular subjects, although she may keep up a skill, such as maintaining her knowledge of Latin or of a musical instrument. Religious formation classes include Liturgy, Holy Scripture, Vows and Constitutions, Dominican Spirituality, Latin, Gregorian Chant, the Summa of St Thomas Aquinas, and the History of the Dominican Order.

In the second year, the Sister is permitted to do part-time teaching, while continuing her spiritual and religious formation with classes in Liturgy, Holy Scripture, Vows and Constitutions, Virtues of the Religious Life, Latin, Gregorian Chant, the Summa of St Thomas Aquinas, and the History of the Dominican Order.

Temporary Profession

At the end of the two years of Novitiate, if the Novice and the Congregation are still of the same mind, the Novice can request to make Profession. As other Dominicans do, she makes only a vow of obedience, but she understands that she is also binding herself to poverty and chastity. These vows are made for three years at first, then renewed for another two years. During this time, the Sister wears a black veil. Personal study is continued to strengthen her understanding of Holy Scripture, Theology and Dominican spirituality. Formation classes focus on Pedagogy and on the Catholic concept of Human Nature as it is related to teaching various subjects.

At the end of her temporary vows, the Sister can make Final Profession, and at this ceremony she is given the gold ring of a Sister with permanent vows.