Come explore! Weekend looks at religious life in the 21st century

March 14, 2015 by

web-2015-ExplorationWeekendSingle, Catholic women of all ages are invited to a “Weekend of Exploration” to learn about the diverse forms of membership in the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Presenters at the event will explain canonical and agrégée membership as well as a new approach to welcoming women into the 132-year-old religious community.

The weekend begins Friday evening, March 27, and continues until 1 p.m. Sunday, March 29, at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia.

Since the Concordia congregation began welcoming candidates for agrégée membership in 2006, there have been two “tracks” of what was traditionally called “formation:”

  • For “canonically vowed sisters,” it was a formal process that included one year as a postulant and two years as a novice before professing vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • For “agrégées — pronounced ah-gre-ZHEYs and from the French for “attached to” or “aggregated with” — it was a less formal but still structured process that generally lasted about three years before professing a single vow of fidelity to the congregation and to God.

Taken together, more than 20 women have come to the community in these nine years, most as candidates for agrégée membership and two as canonical sisters.

But the new approach does away with the distinction between the two tracks — at least for the first two years.

Today the “Preparation and Integration Program” welcomes women into the congregation as candidates, and gives them time to discern which form of religious life they are called to — either canonical or agrégée.

As she enters her third year, a canonical candidate — who in that final year of preparation will be called a “novice” — will complete the study and other requirements of the Church as a woman religious. The agrégée candidate in her third year will continue the study required by the congregation to be received into the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The two forms of membership are the same in almost every aspect, but there are two significant differences:

  • “Canonically vowed sisters” profess the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as defined by canon — or Church — law. As part of the vow of poverty, an individual sister relinquishes all personal wealth and income; at the same time, the congregation assumes complete responsibility for her economic well being for the rest of her life.
  • “Agrégée sisters” profess a vow of fidelity to the congregation, but it is noncanonical, meaning that it is not governed by Church law and is instead a private vow between that sister and the Concordia congregation. And while it encompasses the three canonical vows, they are applied somewhat differently. The agrégée is called to live a frugal lifestyle, but she does not relinquish her finances to the congregation, and the congregation assumes no financial responsibility for her.

Also, canonically vowed sisters have traditionally begun their religious life with a formal “formation” during which they left their previous life and lived as part of the congregation. Agrégée candidates did not leave behind their outside lives. Instead, they met with mentors and studied around their regular work and life schedules. And once they professed their vows, they continued in that work and life schedule.

Since 2006, 11 women have professed their vows as agrégées and two as canonically vowed sisters. Eight women are currently candidates for membership.

One of the goals of the new approach, said Sister Jean Rosemarynoski, vice president of the Sisters of St. Joseph, is to be able to “craft” the preparation process to meet the needs of each woman entering religious life. Some may live in community with other sisters; others may not.

“It is individualized,” she explained, “so we can meet both the spiritual needs and the real-life needs of the women who are called to our community.”

During the Weekend of Exploration in Concordia, interested women will have a chance to meet both canonical and agrégée sisters and candidates at both the Nazareth Motherhouse and Manna House, the sisters’ spiritual retreat center. There are also presentations planned on the history and spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, plus Mass in the Motherhouse chapel and time for prayer and contemplation.

For more information or to register, contact Sister Jan McCormick at (785) 479-6795 or




2 Responses to “Come explore! Weekend looks at religious life in the 21st century”

  1. Dayna Barlow on March 17th, 2015 8:39 pm

    I will pray about coming. I should be available this year though I hadn’t been aware of the date and had not planned on it. I have been working (and living during the week) in Iola, KS since January 2014, with 7 weeks off following back surgery December 5, 2015. My reluctance only stems from my current fatigue and malaise, but the weekend might be just the cure for that as well. Temptation comes in many ways.

  2. Loretta Jasper on March 5th, 2015 7:22 pm

    It is well worth your time, if your spirit is being tickled.

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