Joni Luna enters novitiate
On Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., welcomed Joni Luna into the novitiate.
The novitiate is a two-year process. The first year is referred to the canonical year, while the second year is the mission year.
Director of Novices, Sister Janice Smith, said the first year of the novitiate involves intensive study of scripture, prayer, theology, community history and the vowed life among other topics.
“The novice delves more deeply into the Catholic faith, religious life and the history and traditions of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence,” Sister Janice said.
According to Sister Janice, the Canon law of the Church has also established some regulations for the first year.
“There are certain expectations about how the year is lived,” she said. “Canon law requires this year to be a continuous time period of 12 months, so that the novice can stay focused on the internalization of the Gospel values.
Sister Janice said the first year of the process is “intense.”
“There is a total focus on going deeper into yourself and your relationship with God,” she said. “The program is designed to help a woman really delve into what that means. She is given the opportunity to become very connected to what Jesus was teaching the world.
“Essentially, it’s the beginning of deep discernment. Every aspect of the novice’s life enters into this. She examines her call (to religious life) in the context of her whole being. It is a year of transformation and learning about who she is in her relationship to God, her community and all creation.”
During the first-half of the year, Sister Janice and Joni will travel to St. Louis once a week for presentations on a series of topics to aid the novice in her understanding and commitment to religious life. Novices from many other religious communities also attend these presentations and are able to share their experiences and time together.
In the second-half of the year, Joni will begin studying the vows and how they are lived out by the Sisters of Providence.
During the course of the next year, Sister Janice, as her director, and Joni, will work closely together on all of these areas of focus.
“It’s such a deep year,” Sister Janice said. “The novice works closely with the director for guidance and mentoring through the different components of the program.”
Sister Janice added that entering religious life is not for everyone.
“It’s a very deliberate choice to make … the call (to religious life),” she said. “Religious life has changed over the course of time. It has continued to evolve. It’s not just about the number of women and men who enter, nor about how they dress or where they live. It is about being called to a unique commitment to God and the people of God. Through the profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, one learns to give oneself completely to God’s mission of service in and to the world in this very special way.”
Beginning Aug. 10, Joni will now be referred to as Sister Joni.
“To be honest, I am not sure exactly what to expect or how things will turn out,” Sister Joni said. “I can only trust in the desire that fills my soul to serve God in a more intentional way.
“I will continue this Providential journey with the expectation of fulfilling that desire. I ask for continued prayers as I deepen my relationship with God and the Sisters of Providence.”