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Frequently Asked Questions

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What does a typical day for a Presentation sister look like?
On the surface, our lives probably look similar to other people outside of religious life with some exceptions. We start and end our day with prayer, either individually or in community as well as eating community meals. Many of us work at ministries, including working in parish ministry, social services, affordable housing, advocacy, immigration services, spirituality, education, healthcare and counseling. We spend time hanging out with each other and with friends and family outside of the community too. We spend our spare time as we do: playing games, watching movies, exercising, hiking, birdwatching, reading, and having fun. Most importantly, our days are rooted in prayer, ministry, and community.

What can I do as a Presentation Sister that I couldn’t do as a married or lay woman?
Everyone is capable of loving God, having a ministry, caring for others, etc.. Some people even live in community. The difference of living as a religious sister is that we live our lives for God through the three vows we take of poverty, chastity and obedience. The vow of poverty allow us to live freely without attachment to material things as we live with all things in common. The vow of chastity means that we are able to love freely in the way that we do not have a significant other or our own family to put first. In this way, we are able to go where God calls us and respond fully. The vow of obedience allows us to listen to the wisdom of the Presentation community and most importantly to the voice of God within us to discern why, where and how we are to live our lives.

What’s your charism?
Our charism is hospitality, which calls us to offer hope and the love of God to all as we address injustices and work for peace.

What are the vows that Presentations take?
We take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

What does it mean to live the vow of poverty? What happens to my stuff?
Taking a vow of poverty is different than living in poverty. We do not believe anyone should live in poverty. The vow of poverty requires each sister to hold all things, especially material items loosely. It is also means living simply so others can simply live. We hold all things in common with one another. Thus, what is my “stuff” or material items becomes the communities “stuff”. There will be dialogue on how to go about changes in your belongings, especially if you own a car, house, and/or larger assets as you continue in the process of formation.

Can I date while discerning religious life?
We encourage women to date to discern all vocations including religious life, single life, and married life. However, as a woman is seriously beginning to discern her call to religious life, we ask for her to refrain from dating as she deepens her discernment in religious life.

Will I be able to see my family if I join?
Absolutely! We believe that when you join the community, you are joining our Presentation family. Your family becomes part of our Presentation family. We believe that most often, it is the family where your vocation was started and we encourage women who join to stay connected to their roots. Similar to when someone is in a serious relationship, the community becomes the primary relationship and priority in the sister’s life. It is a balancing of community and family that all people face in their lives, from married life to religious life. It just so happens that as a sister, your new “family in-laws” now happen to be 100 religious sisters!

Are there any age limits?
Typically the Presentations accept women who are between the ages of 21 and 50. However, we are open to conversation and discussion.

Do you change your name?
Each woman is given the option to change her name at the beginning of novitiate. The woman is encouraged to maintain her baptismal name.

Do you wear the habit?
Although some of the sisters who were given a habit when they entered and continue to wear a veil, currently women who enter typically do not wear either habit or veil. The sign of our religious commitment is the Presentation cross or pendant at first vows and the Presentation ring at final vows.

Can you drink alcohol as a Presentation Sister?
Drinking alcohol in moderation is accepted by the Presentation Sisters. We believe in balance and moderation to promote a healthy lifestyle. That being said, there is a Presentation sister who brews her own beer and stories of sisters making homemade wine in the past.

What ministry do Presentation Sisters take part in?
Since coming to Dubuque in 1875, Presentation Sisters have focused ministry efforts on meeting unmet needs. The initial need was for education. Our ministry still has its roots in teaching; however, today, has expanded to meet the needs of today’s world. A common thread that runs through all ministry efforts is a joyful desire to be with those who are made poor and vulnerable.

Do you work together with other communities? Will I get to know other young sisters in other communities?
Collaboration and partnership is a key piece to our lives. We work with other religious communities in our ministries, vocation and formation activities, social justice advocacy and many other areas. There is an organization called Giving Voice for religious sisters under the age of 50. Our members are very involved in Giving Voice and the friendship of younger sisters in other communities is greatly encouraged. You can check out the Giving Voice website.

What is the process of becoming a sister? How long does it take?
The process varies in length, however it can take from 6 to 12 years to complete. The Inquiry and Discernment Stage is an informal period of time in which you get to know the community and talk with the vocation director to see if you are interested in religious life and might be called to this community. During the Affiliation Stage you meet monthly with a sponsoring community of sisters and continue to meet with the Vocation Director to discern whether you are called to life in this community. DuringCandidacy you live in community in order to further discern your call. The Novitiate is a two year-long period of contemplation, prayer, and study. The years following Temporary Profession are a time to enter more deeply into the experience of a vowed commitment and to develop a rhythm of prayer, community, and ministry. Final Profession begins your life-long commitment to seek God according to the Gospel with the members of the Presentation Sisters of Dubuque. Read more

Once I start the process or join, do I have to know for sure if religious life is for me?
Absolutely not. It takes a long time and a lot of discernment to know exactly where God is calling you to be. Before you start and once you are in the process, we do require you to be fully committed to discerning your call to religious life and willing to continue to search deeply to where God is calling you.

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