We asked five women to comment from their experience:
- two members who have made a life-consecration: L and MC
- a member in formation: M
- a candidate: E
- an inquirer: C
What attracted you to the Company?
Love for God, love for Angela. (L)
A simple, uncomplicated way of loving God above all, and loving and working for others and for the Church. (M)
I love the charism: brides of Christ living their vocation in the world. (E)
I am drawn by a desire to more fully express my love for the Lord, longing to serve God in a committed way. What makes it difficult for me is a sense in my heart that God has other plans for me. (C)
What’s your formation process?
We start with a period of “getting to know” one another and St. Angela through individualized reflection with a formation guide. Then one-on-one conversations based on St. Angela’s writings and our Constitutions lead to one’s first consecration (two years) and renewal (three years). Grounded more and more deeply in experience, this pattern continues till consecration-for-life. Prayerful discernment accompanies all phases. Continuing formation is a life-long process of spiritual growth.
She must enter joyfully, and of her own will. (Angela Merici)
I’m walking toward a goal – consecration; the contacts along the road are very important to me. (M)
I’m asking God if it would please Him if I gave myself entirely to Him. Could I be the creature that I am meant to be? Could I be more myself, more Christ’s woman? (E)
I feel that everyday continues to be formation. I am more and more involved in studying Scripture. (L)
Do you pray?
That’s our lifeline!
Liturgy: Eucharist, the Prayer of the Church
Private prayer such as meditation/contemplation, praying with Scripture
Personal devotions like the rosary
I make sure to rise early enough so I can enjoy some peaceful time to pray before I face the distractions of a busy day. (L)
Mass. If I miss Mass, I miss a meeting with Jesus. (M)
Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is the best part of my day. (E)
What does the foundress mean to you?
Angela’s style of prayer speaks to me. (L)
Spiritual mother and teacher, a model, a woman of passion, Christ-centered, warm. (MC)
She had a passion for Christ and she lived it. She was real, understanding, and ahead of her time. When St. Angela discusses the realities of humanity it really speaks to my heart. (C)
She made a revolution in the relationship between God and women. (M)
Do you miss having children?
I used to think I was missing children, but now I find that there are many ways to love children. (M)
God has blessed me with spiritual “children.” I have godchildren and students. Spiritual motherhood is part of St. Angela’s charism. (E)
Doesn’t celibacy feel lonely and isolating?
Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely, because I’m alone with Christ. Many other relationships are important to me, too: family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. My sisters in the Company are crucial. Fun is essential! I never feel isolated. But yes, to be honest, I do feel lonely sometimes. (MC)
What kind of community experiences do you have?
Frequent conversations by phone and Skype, occasional visits, and an annual gathering.
What surprised me was the members’ ability to live “together” even so far apart. (M)
Go often, as you have time and opportunity…and visit your dear daughters and sisters, and greet them; see how they are, comfort them; encourage them to stand fast in the life begun. (Angela Merici)
What do other people think about your belonging to the Company?
Members tell others about their membership in the Company if/as they feel it’s appropriate. There are no external indications. It’s a very personal decision, based on individual circumstances.
My family is very supportive. Friends who know are interested, not sure what a secular institute is, but affirming. (MC)
My family is supportive of whatever decision I make. (C)
Family members are pretty supportive. I think that they are still confused about secular institutes. It has helped me to have the support of my parish, pastoral team, as well as other discerners and apostolates. It helps to have the Church encouraging you. (E)
People at work don’t understand what exactly I belong to, but many know that God is the center of my life. I feel very free to say what I want that refers to God. (L)
Most of my relatives think I’m wasting my life. Poor people understand because I’m there for them. My co-workers don’t know that I belong to the Company, but sometimes they say that I’m “different” – as a compliment. (M)
I’d like to learn more. What next?
Contact us. We’ll follow up with conversation, materials, whatever it takes to reach a mutual sense about going forward.