What are the requirements for becoming a nun?
The basic requirement is that you be a woman, and a Catholic. We also have an age limit that is from about 20-35 but that is sometimes open to interpretation for special circumstances.
What advice would you give someone thinking of becoming a nun?
Pray. Pray. Pray. Get advice and then take the next step! Don’t be always second guessing yourself. Don’t try to find the perfect community; it doesn’t exist! Ask our Lord to purify your desires and to show you what is your greatest desire and what is His.
Are there any “spiritual practices” you would recommend to someone who is discerning?
A regular life of prayer: lectio divina, the Rosary, adoration, Mass, daily if possible. Don’t fill your prayer up with prayers but give plenty of time to listen!
What vows do you take and when?
Our Dominican profession follows the ancient practice of professing only Obedience but that is obedience according to our Rule and Constitutions and therefore encompasses our whole way of life. Under this profession of Obedience are also the vows of poverty and chastity.
Do you have Monastic Week-Ends or Discernment Days?
Occasionally we have discernment days or even just a discernment afternoon but these have been a flop numbers-wise so instead we encourage women to come for a private, retreat-style visit for their first weekend visiting.
What is the process for joining your community?
After initial visits we will offer the aspirancy which is about a 2-3 week time living with the community. If that goes well a woman may apply to enter the postulancy which is for 9 months. Two years as a novice and 3 years of First Profession. Solemn Profession may be made after that time. The Sister may ask to extend her time of temporary profession for another 3 years.
Do you have any upper/lower age limits for admission to the community?
Do you have any educational requirements for admission to the community?
You have to have at least a high school diploma. Any other education is valuable but not necessary.
Do you accept formerly married women, i.e. divorced or widowed?
Yes. A woman who has had a divorce must first also have proof of an annulment. We do not accept women with children because of our deep respect for the perennial vocation of motherhood.
Do you accept women from overseas?
Sometimes. With the new immigration laws it makes it much harder and there are certain countries from which we know it is nearly impossible to get the R1 visa. We tend to encourage a woman to seek her place in her own country.
Do you enjoy life?
It is no accident that people always tell us, “You look so happy!” Of course we all have “bad days” but that is because we are human like everyone else.
What’s the hardest thing about being a nun?
Each sister would give you a different answer but probably the give and take of community life. It’s also the source of much joy!
How enclosed/cloistered are you?
We have Papal Enclosure which means that the laws of enclosure are determined by the Holy See. The current laws for enclosure are in a document entitled Verbi Sponsa and can be found online. Enclosure is not an absolute but a means of helping us live our vocation to the fullest! We need this Sacred Space to live this vocation of intercessory prayer and contemplative love.
Do you have Mass and other services in Latin?
No. We do use Latin regularly in our liturgy, especially in Lent and Easter when we sing the traditional antiphons and responsories for the Dominican Office.
How traditional are you?
“Traditional” is such a loaded word today with so many meanings. We consider ourselves living traditional Dominican monastic life following our Constitutions which have been approved by the Church. We have kept most of the customs of our Order or adapted them to our particular circumstance.
How do you earn your living?
Divine Providence always provides if we let Him!
Do you wear the habit all the time?
Yes we wear the full Dominican Habit. For grungy work we have a blue work habit called a “coverall” which we wear with a white work veil. It’s not exactly high fashion but it’s functional!
Do your older nuns live with you or do they go to a home?
We care for our older nuns until we can absolutely no longer care for them ourselves. Our Sisters in the active Dominican congregation nearby graciously cares for our sisters when they need more care than we can give them.
How good is your library?
Excellent! Dominican value books and learning.
Do you have pets?
We have a golden retriever named Sabina.
Do you have to have a good sense of humor to become a nun?
Absolutely! You won’t survive life without a sense of humor! We need to take God seriously not ourselves!
Do you keep silence at all times?
We have 2 recreation periods each day. Outside of those times we strive to keep silence as much as possible. From after Compline until after Mass is what we call “Profound Silence. Also from 1:30-3:00 in the afternoon is Profound Silence.
Do you keep your own names or are you given one?
It all depends. Sr. Judith Miryam, Sr. Denise Marie and Sr. Mary Veronica kept their baptismal names. This was originally the custom of the Order and taking another name began only in the 16th century.
How much time do you spend in prayer?
Each sister has about 2 hours of private prayer. But don’t forget, the Divine Office is the official prayer of the Church, so in total we pray about 5 to 6 hours daily. However, we are taught by our Lord to pray without ceasing and the prayer of the heart continues throughout the day.
When do you get up? go to bed?
You can read our full horarium on the Horarium page.
Do you have any special devotions?
The monastic life is rooted in Holy Mass and the Divine Office. The riches of the liturgical life are like choicest meat and wine! So, we don’t have a lot of devotions.
Our main devotions are Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament joined with Perpetual Rosary. We call this the Adoring Rosary.
How much do you fast?
We fast on all Fridays of the Year and during Advent and Lent and vigils of special feasts. On Fast Days we also have abstinence from meat.
Do you have to be able to sing to join your community?
No, but we believe that everyone can sing and it’s just a matter of learning how. If a Sister doesn’t know how to sing she has to be willing to learn! We have voice teachers that come regularly to work with the community. Singing is “praying twice” and we sing the entire Divine Office and Holy Mass so we sing for about 5-6 hours daily!
Do you use email?
Yes, Professed Sisters and 2nd year Novices may use email. It cuts down on postage expenses.
Do you listen to radio/watch TV?
Rarely. We might on occasion watch a ceremony with the Holy Father. We usually watch the opening of the Mass for Pro-Life on the Vigil of Pro-Life day. Other than that, we would put the TV on if there was a local disaster such as on 9/11. We use the TV so rarely we’ve been known to have no idea as to where the remote control is!
Do you use the internet?
The professed Sisters and 2nd year novices may use the internet but we are encouraged to use it for what is necessary and not waste time on it.
How often do you see your families?
Sisters who have family in the area may have a visit once a month. Many of our sisters come from other states and their families come once or twice a year and stay for a weekend or a few days in the guest area of the monastery. We do not visit during Advent and Lent.
Do you have any free time?
Every day each sister has about 1 ½ hours of free time for a siesta, reading, quiet work, exercise, etc. Sundays are free days (if you aren’t scheduled for the kitchen) . The Community has a retreat day once a month and each month a sister may take a private “hermit day”.
Do you have holidays?
Not the way people “in the world” have holidays! There are days of extra recreation, a cook-out, extra free-time, etc. but all this revolves around and is centered on our life of prayer: Holy Mass, the Divine Office, Adoration, private prayer. We never take a vacation from our life of prayer. It would be like not having air to breath!
Do you vote in elections?
Yes, the Sisters are free to exercise their civil rights and vote. In New Jersey we may vote by mail-in ballot.