Discernment and Prayer
The realization that God is asking you to follow Him in consecrated life is made through active participation in the Church, prayer, receiving the sacraments, spiritual reading, and service in the Church. It may be an idea you have considered for a long time or one that has come to you during a significant moment in your life. These are prayers and resources to assist in discerning God’s plan for you.
Prayer To Know One’s Vocation
Lord, my God and my loving Father, you have made me to know you, to love you, to serve you, and thereby to find and to fulfill my deepest longings. I know that you are in all things, and that every path can lead me to you.
But of them all, there is one especially by which you want me to come to you. Since I will do what you want of me, I pray you, send your Holy Spirit to me: into my mind, to show me what you want of me; into my heart, to give me the determination to do it, and to do it with all my love, with all my mind, and with all of my strength right to the end. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen
What is the vocation of religious life?
A woman who enters consecrated life chooses to deepen her baptismal commitment by taking vows which emphasize the values of prayer, loving service, and simple living in community with others. Consecrated women serve the Church and community in many ways, including: youth ministry, homeless and hungry, battered women, education, healthcare, family life and parish pastoral ministry. Some Sisters are totally dedicated to the contemplative life. The resources here are to help a discerning woman discover the next steps in her journey. May God bless you as you search for His holy will.
Religious Orders for Women Around the Salina Diocese
Sisters of St. Joseph – Concordia, KS
The Sisters of St. Joseph was formed by Father Jean Pierre Medaille, S.J., in1650 when he called six women to form a religious community in the village of LePuy, France. They lived communally in union with God, each other and their neighbors, ministering to those who suffered at the fringes of life: the poor, the homeless, the orphans, the sick and the dying.
The congregation quickly grew in number and purpose as they began instructing people in Christian doctrine and establishing confraternities of mercy, which incorporated married women into their communities.
When the French Revolution broke out in the late 1700s, however, five of the Sisters were executed by revolutionaries and the congregation disbanded. The dispersed members reorganized after the revolution under Sister St. John Fontbonne in Lyon, France. The congregation flourished and the Sisters worked in the fields of education and health care in the French bureaucracy.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia are drawn to missions of mercy, social justice and human rights, working for change in the world wherever cries for love, help and mercy may beckon.
Learn more by visiting their website here
Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – Wichita, KS
Mother Joanne, our foundress here in Wichita, constantly reminded us, “You have come here first to become saints!” In our life seeking union with God is primary. Mary pondered in her Heart all the mysteries of her Divine Son’s life (Luke 2:51); as our mother, model, protectress and guide, she teaches us to do the same.
Thus, our primary service to the Church is contemplation of the Word. In union with Mary, we pray for the Church, especially for the conversion of sinners and for the sanctification of priests. Our spirituality is Eucharistic and Marian. Devotion to the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary leads us to her Eucharistic Son and she nurtures within us a deep and abiding love for and obedience to His Mystical Body, the Church. The heart of our life and the source of our unity is Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the life of all the Church’s activity, is the very life of each IHM Sister, thus she has the special privilege of dwelling in the House of the Lord. Each convent is the dwelling place of the King. Daily communal Mass, frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament and a daily Eucharisitic Holy Hour form the framework of each Sister’s day: the Eucharist is “the center and source of individual and communal fidelity to the Lord”.
She also makes an additional hour of adoration on Friday evenings when the Sisters offer their nocturnal adoration for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Daily the Sisters participate in the communal celebration of the Eucharist; heeding the directive in their Constitutions that “they should daily seek refreshment and strength by receiving their Eucharistic Lord in Holy Communion so that they may walk with Him in fidelity to all He commands” (#47). Once a Sister is nourished by receiving our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament can she take Him to all she meets.
To mark the hours of the day, the Sisters meet for the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours: Morning, Midday, Evening and Night. This is where “Christ joins the community and the entire Church to Himself”.
Each Sister desires to make the Liturgy a worthy praise of her Beloved. Seeking continually to live the liturgical life, “the Sisters strive to bring their lives into harmony with the liturgy. In all liturgical seasons they reflect upon and unite themselves with the mysteries the Church is celebrating, bearing in mind that in all season she contemplates her Lord who, because of the joy that lay ahead, endured the cross”.
The life of prayer and the life of service are wedded in the life of the IHM Sister. “Each Sister strives to develop a deep spirit of prayer”. In study she comes to know more about Christ, her Beloved; in prayer she come to know Him. Her prayer life is not only for herself but for others as well: “Only in deep communion with Christ the Teacher will she find the light and strength for continuous renewal of her own life and of her transmission of the Good News of salvation…”.
As part of each IHM’s formation, the works of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Thérèse of Lisieux as well as other contemplative writers are studied. This is so that the aim of the Constitutions can be attained: “By frequent prayer, by listening to the word of God, by studying the life of Jesus Christ, a Sister follows the Blessed Virgin Mary who pondered his words and his works, and by the imitation of his life advanced in her pilgrimage of faith. With her a Sister seeks to persevere in openness to the Holy Spirit”.
“Following the inspiration of the founder, Father Joaquin Masmitja, the Sisters take as their model and protectress the Blessed Virgin Mary, turning to her in all things to beg her maternal protection and the guidance as they seek to imitate the life of her Son” (IHM Constitutions, #4). At all times and in all circumstances the Sisters endeavor to be living images of our Lady, the Mother of God, who continually points to her divine Son.
Our Lady’s “fiat” at the Annuciation: “Let it be done unto me accordingto thy Word” becomes the profession of each IHM as she strives to live their motto: “I take what is set before me.” Each Sister reflects upon Mary’s “yes” making it her own.
As Mary spent her life pondering the mysteries surrounding the life of her Son, each Sister meditates upon the life of Jesus, reflecting on it in her own heart.
Mary at the foot of the Cross completes her “fiat” as she accepts all of the sufferings Christ undertook for the redemption of the world; taking Mary as their model the Sisters participate in these mysteries throughout their own lives for the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of priests.
To learn more please visit their website here
Marian Sisters – Lincoln, NE
The charism (gift of the Holy Spirit given to aid in the salvation of souls) of the Marian Sisters is to “do God’s will joyfully in imitation of Mary and St. Francis.” What does this mean? How is it lived? First and foremost it is lived through a life of prayer and by God’s grace. Joy is a fruit of knowing that one is loved. A Marian Sister most knows the love of her Bridegroom when she receives Him—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—in Holy Communion. She joins Mary, Mother of the Crucified, and St. Francis, who greatly loved the Crucified, at the foot of the cross at Holy Mass. Through the rest of the day she carries the joy of this love to those she meets. Her fiat (“yes”), like Mary’s at the Annunciation, embraces all that the Father may send throughout the day. Like St. Francis, she recognizes with a heart full of gratitude, that all is gift. Her prayer, work, study, and recreation are all His to do with as He wills for the salvation of souls. A true gift of self each day leads to greater love and deeper joy until, please God, she is united eternally with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Heaven where all are “doing God’s will joyfully in imitation of Mary and St. Francis!”.
As Marian Sisters, our community charism is to do God’s Will Joyfully in imitation of Mary and St. Francis. We strive to live Mary’s “fiat” and St. Francis’s simplicity. To nourish our relationship with Jesus, our daily prayer life includes:
* Morning, Evening and Night Prayer
* Daily Mass
* Stations of the Cross
* Holy Hour
* Spiritual Reading
* Examination of Conscience
* Other Personal Devotions
For more information visit their website here
Sisters of Life – Denver, CO
The Sisters of Life are women who are in love with Love – Love incarnate, crucified, and Risen – and captivated by the truth of the beauty of every human person, created in God’s image and likeness.
We believe every person is valuable and sacred. We believe that every person is good, loved, unique and unrepeatable. We believe that every person’s life has deep meaning, purpose and worth. In fact, we give our lives for that truth.
About the Sisters of Life
The Sisters of Life are a contemplative/active Roman Catholic community of women religious, who profess the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. We were founded by Cardinal John O’Connor in New York in 1991, and received formal approbation as a religious institute in 2004, under Cardinal Edward Egan. We currently serve in the [Arch]dioceses of New York, Bridgeport, Philadelphia, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Toronto, Canada. Our missions include serving women who are vulnerable to abortion, giving them the support and resources to be able to choose life for themselves and their children; hosting weekend retreats; evangelization; outreach to college students in Colorado; and helping women who have suffered after abortion to encounter the mercy and healing of Jesus Christ.
To learn more please visit their website here
Other Religious Orders for Women
Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia – Nashville, TN
The charism of a religious congregation refers to the distinct spirit that animates a religious community and gives it a particular character. A charism is part of the permanent heritage of a community, which includes the rule, mission, history, and traditions kept by the religious institute. The charism of a community is such that if all written records were destroyed, it could be re-created through the living testimony of its members. In a spirit of joy and simplicity, and with constant recourse to prayer, hundreds of Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia have witnessed to our charism since 1860.
The Church from the beginning of the Order has called Dominicans to teach the Word of God and to emulate the Lord alone in seeking the good of souls. St. Dominic wished his followers to speak always to God or of God. By our profession of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, we seek a life hidden with Christ in God, who first loved us. Out of this dedication comes our love of the world for its salvation and the upbuilding of the Church. Our work of Christian education gives life and direction to the consecration we make. By our consecrated life we teach the way to holiness and joy.
The essence of what it means to be a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia is summarized in the community’s Ratio Institutionis, which outlines our program of initial and ongoing formation. Our charism is defined by the following characteristics:
We live the contemplative dimension of Dominican life by our monastic practices which include:
- Places and times of silence
- Cloister appropriate to our life
- Wearing of the religious habit
- Living community life
The greatest aids to this contemplative spirit are:
- Devotion to the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament
- Choral recitation of the Divine Office and the Rosary
- A dedication to prayer and the Passion of Our Lord
We are committed to:
- A regular prayer life
- A life of poverty, detachment and simplicity
- A classical sense of our Dominican charism
Living the Dominican motto “to contemplate and to give to others the fruits of our contemplation,” we are committed to:
- A love of study and a strong preparation for the apostolate of teaching
- Excellence in education
- A thorough background in theology and philosophy
- The religious formation of youth in the Catholic faith
Strong Community Life
In our convents we strive to have:
- A loving and wholesome community life which strengthens us for a loving service of the people we serve in our schools
- A strong spirit of joy and camaraderie
- Pride in our community and a spirit of loyalty
- Love of the Church
We draw on the wisdom of the ages and with a deep awareness of our identity as women religious we:
- Love the Church and seek to serve her in fidelity
- Treasure our vows
- Foster a reverence for the priesthood and the Church’s Magisterium
- Share with enthusiasm the truth of the Gospel
- Witness to our consecration by the wearing of a distinctive habit
- Look to the Virgin Mary as our model and mother, seeking to imitate her humility and recognizing in her what is meant by true womanhood
To learn more please visit their website here
The Religious Sisters of Mercy – Alma, MI
In the Church, there are many religious institutes with gifts that differ according to the particular grace which has been given them. This distinctive character, or charism, first given to the founder/foundress and approved by the Church is not only transmitted to each member of the Institute but is deepened and constantly developed. This charism involves a particular style of sanctification and apostolate. Mercy is the charism that has been entrusted to Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley in the foundation of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Venerable Catherine McAuley, sought to incarnate the Mercy of God the Father to the poor, sick, and ignorant.
An attitude of Mercy is present among the Sisters— and subsequently becomes evident—through the Institute’s communal life of prayerful service and contemplation. Mercy is best understood in the covenantal relationship of God with His people. God’s love is “more powerful than betrayal, grace stronger than sin. The fruits of this love are forgiveness and restoration to grace, the reestablishment of the interior covenant” (Dives in Misericordia, n. 52). God’s abundant mercy embraces and transforms the Sister’s own misery into a healing grace for her and impels her to dispense this mercy to others in their misery. The Sisters strive for the perfection of charity in order to reveal the “Father of Mercies,” pursuing and manifesting Christ’s command “to be merciful as your Father is merciful” (2 Cor 1:3; Lk 6:36).
Union and Charity
In recalling Jesus’ prayer to the Father, “That they all be one . . . as we are one that the world may believe that you sent me,” Venerable Mother Catherine indicated that the Institute is called to image the Divine Persons in Trinitarian union and that perfection of love and union is the unqualified condition of effective evangelization” (Constitutions, 55). In its essence, this religious community endeavors to be an instrument of unity and mercy within the Church, with “charity our badge of honor, so that there be in us but one heart and one soul in God” (Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley). The Sisters cultivate a spirituality of communion, rooted in the union of the Persons of the Trinity, from which all expressions of mercy emanate.
Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley proclaimed before her death that her legacy to the Institute was “Union and Charity.” The legacy of union and charity and tender mercy to Christ’s poor left by Mother Catherine to her daughters was kept alive through the Constitutions she wrote, her letters, her poetry, and most of all her prayers. We cherish our legacy of Union and Charity, the spirit in which we live together as a religious family and in which we fulfill our consecration and life of service in Mercy.
The Mercy Cross
The Mercy Cross was part of the original habit of a Religious Sister of Mercy from 1831; today, each Religious Sister of Mercy of Alma, MI still wears this Mercy Cross. In the past, the Mercy Cross was part of the Sister’s Rosary, which was worn on a leather belt around her waist. Today, the Sisters wear the cross around the neck.
The black of the Cross symbolizes the misery of mankind, sin, darkness, suffering. The white of the Cross symbolizes the mercy of God, His light, purity, unfading brilliance and His descent into our misery.
The Mercy Cross reminds the Sister that she is to be the convergence point of the misery of mankind and the mercy of God. There is no corpus on the Mercy Cross, because the Sister wearing it is to be the corpus.
Apostolate in Mercy
“The Apostolate, in its essential mission, is the proclaiming of the Word of God to those whom He places along [the] path, so as to lead them towards faith” (Evangelica Testificatio n.9). Prayer is the primary activity of our Institute, and every activity, if it is to be realized as a work of mercy, must be an expression of prayer. Our apostolate, as that of all religious, consists primarily in the witness of our consecrated lives.
The unique apostolate of our Institute flows from the charism entrusted to Venerable Catherine and the Vow of Service of the poor, sick and ignorant that each Sister of Mercy professes. Our Vow of Service flows from our life of prayer. Each Sister of Mercy offers her life, in praise and honor of the Triune God, to be the convergence point between the mercy of the Lord and the misery of mankind. As Jesus was sent by the Father to the Cross, each Sister is missioned through the heart of the authority of the community into carrying the cross so that she can give herself freely and fruitfully in service to the poor, sick and ignorant. The ways in which a Sister of Mercy of Alma, MI serves Holy Mother Church in the apostolate are various, with a focus in healthcare and education.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy is the patroness and protectress of the Institute of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, making September 24—the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy—the Titular Feast of the Sisters of Mercy. Mary is the Mother of Christ who cooperated with the Lord’s will at every moment of her life. She is the Mother of Mercy because she is the Mother of Jesus Christ, Mercy Incarnate. Standing by her Son at the foot of the Cross, she was given as mother to every disciple. She continues to invite each Sister of Mercy to the foot of the Cross of her Son. Holding the Sister into this mystery, Mary assists her to be an instrument of Mercy.
St. Thomas Aquinas -When Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley established her community, she placed it under the protection of Mary, Mother of Mercy. With the refoundation of our religious institute in 1973, as the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, we retained the charism and patrimony of Mother Catherine’s foundation but became a canonically separate religious community. In the years following our refoundation, the philosophical and theological writings of St. Thomas Aquinas became an increasingly pivotal influence in our formation. While our Institute is not Dominican in its spirituality or origins, “St. Thomas’ philosophical and anthropological understanding of the human person is essential for the way the Sisters of Mercy of Alma, MI are formed to receive mercy and to be merciful servants of the compassion of Jesus”.
In August of 2002, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship approved our Institute’s request to be placed officially under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas. At that time, he was named our “Heavenly Patron.” He is thus a special intercessor for our community and his teaching provides a path to perfection in mercy for each Sister.
This patronage also permits us to celebrate his feast day (January 28th) as a Feast in the proper liturgical calendar of our Institute.
Passion of Christ – Devotion to the Passion of Christ leads the Sisters to gratitude, increasing union with Christ, and acceptance of their own sufferings with joy. Venerable Catherine exemplified this devotion and its fruits. “Learn to carry the cross you are now going to embrace willingly for love of Him…cling to it; tell your Savior that you will prove to Him your desire to be crucified with Him” (Mother Catherine McAuley).
The Blessed Sacrament – The Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, having been instituted by Our dear Lord to be our food and support during this mortal pilgrimage and also our perpetual sacrifice, each Sister should, therefore, cultivate a loving devotion to this heavenly mystery” (Mother Catherine McAuley).
The most important room of each Alma Mercy Convent is the chapel. The Sisters are encouraged to make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day, especially before leaving for their apostolic work, upon returning from their work, before leaving for or returning from a trip and at any time of need.
The Sacred Heart – Since the start of the Foundation of the Sisters of Mercy, Mother McAuley stressed that the Sacred Heart “must be a personal devotion for each Sister, and she must believe that the Sacred Heart is her surest font of forgiveness and reconciliation. At times of sorrow, the Sisters are to unite themselves with the Heart which was sorrowful even unto death. When alone, they must unite their solitude with that of the Sacred Heart in its exile of love in the Blessed Sacrament.” Mother McAuley also stressed that the Sisters “are to study the lives of those saints who made the Sacred Heart a special devotion.” Today, as then, each Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan proclaims with Mother Catherine McAuley, “as Sisters of Mercy, surrounded as we are with danger and temptation, where will we seek refuge if not in the Heart of our Loving Lord?”.
To learn more please visit their website here
Religious Orders for Men Around the Salina Diocese
To serve the Church as a priest or religious is a humbling honor which no one merits but which Our Lord chooses for us. We must therefore pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into His vineyard, and we should always pray for vocations to serve the Church in the priesthood and the religious life. These are prayers and resources to assist those discerning their vocation.
Prayer and Discernment Resources
The USCCB has a great list of helpful resources on their website, which can be found by clicking here.
Retreats are important moments to listen to God and hear the talks of priests, seminarians or religious. Retreats foster genuine discernment. In the midst of your busy lives, a retreat opportunity affords you time of silence and clarity that cannot be found in the world. Please take advantage of a retreat experience to ask God what He wants for your life – a retreat gives you such an opportunity.
Religious Orders for Men
Conception Abbey – Benedictine Monastery – Conception, MO
Conception Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in northwest Missouri where all we do is dedicated to the glory of God following the instructions of St. Benedict in his Rule. We exist to praise God in our daily cycle of prayer and work, welcome guests, educate future priests, and share the Gospel.
A Life of Prayer
The monks of Conception Abbey gather six times a day for prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist.
A Life of Community
The monks of Conception Abbey share a common life of prayer, work, and recreation.
A Life of Conversion
Benedictine monks are called to give their life in a self-sacrificial way so that “in all things, God may be glorified.”
A Life as A Monk
St. Benedict’s Abbey – Monastic Life – Atchison, KS
“What do you seek?”
“The mercy of God, and the fellowship of this community.”
The novice, after experiencing the way of life in the monastery for a year, comes before the community and the abbot to request admission to first vows. The abbot asks him that question, “What do you seek?”
So the vowed life together is a solidarity of brothers seeking to prefer the love of Christ before all else. By the monastic vows we seek to live as Jesus lived, in union with his heavenly Father, and to be a city on a hill in the Kingdom of God. We seek to live as members of the Body of Christ and so bring the healing of Jesus to a fractured world.
Our fraternal life as a special family in Christ is a shared journey in which all monks seek to support the vocation of one another. Within this life Benedictine monks profess vows of Stability, conversatio morum, and Obedience. Through these vows we live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience modeled by Jesus Christ.
As Pope St. John Paul II taught in Vita Consecrata, “the consecrated life is a living memorial of Jesus’ way of living and acting, a re-enactment in the Church of the way of life which Jesus embraced and proposed to his disciples.”
Learn more here
A Day in the Life
Learn more about their day to day life by clicking here
Click here to learn about the formation process
St. Benedict says that the novice should be one who truly seeks God and who is eager for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials (RB 58:7). When a man enters our community as a novice, the abbot asks him one simple question: “What do you seek?” to which he responds, “The mercy of God and the fellowship of your community.” It is this experience of God’s mercy within the context of a community of brothers which constitutes the essence of Benedictine monastic life and the sole criterion by which that life is judged.
We find mercy in the Work of God, the shared prayer of our community in the Liturgy of the Hours and the Holy Mass, because it is there that our brothers, singing the Psalms and offering the Eucharistic sacrifice, pray for us with the prayer of Christ Himself. In the celebration of the liturgy, we receive the Good News of salvation from the lips of our brothers, and we urge one another on in our common search for God.
We find the mercy of God in obedience to our abbot, whom we believe to hold the place of Christ in the monastery, and in obedience to the whole community. Through obedience, we are freed from the insecurities of our own limitations. Our horizons are broadened through the demands made of us by others, our limits are stretched beyond what we ever thought possible, and we discover the pettiness, the smallness of so many of our desires. Obedience teaches us to listen, to heed the reality outside ourselves and to respond to that reality with generosity and gratitude.
We finds mercy even amongst the trials of life, in our failures, embarrassments and disappointments. We learn through the support and acceptance of our brothers that our personal worth comes not from worldly success, talent or ambition, but from our adoption as sons of God. Our brothers comfort us in our tragedies and challenge us in our selfishness.
To the newcomer, the never ending routine of prayers, the demands of obedience and the impositions of fraternal life may feel like burdens. But St. Benedict reassures him, “Do not at once fly in dismay from the way of salvation, the beginning of which cannot but be narrow. But as we advance in the religious life and faith, we shall run the way of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the unspeakable sweetness of love” (RB Prologue:49). We hope that through God’s grace of perseverance, our lives will be transformed in His mercy and that, as we progress through the years of our lives together, we will become for others an instrument of that mercy.
To learn more visit their website