A radical call to follow Jesus
“Vocation” comes from a Latin verb vocare, to call. God calls us all to a variety of vocations in our Christian life. Discerning the one for you can be both exciting and challenging.
The life of the Sisterhood is rooted in prayer, out of which flow our ministries of:
- Corporate prayer, music and worship
- Preaching, leading retreats and quiet days
- Hospitality through our guest house
- Spiritual Care at St. John’s Rehab
- Spiritual direction and Christian formation
- Study and education
- Many other hidden ministries
But a vocation to a religious community isn’t just about the ministry we do. Above all, it’s a call to a radical, loving, giving of oneself to God and then to serve in the context of that self-offering.
A call to the religious life needs to be carefully and prayerfully discerned within the body of Christ. This happens both with the community a person may feel called to and in partnership with family, parish, Bible study or prayer groups. It also happens through conversations with one’s priest or spiritual guide.
We offer a 3 ½-week discernment program each summer called Women at a Crossroads for those exploring new directions in ministry. While it is not primarily for those considering the religious life, it’s a good opportunity to live, work, pray, and study within a community of other women also seeking new directions and sometimes does lead to discernment of a vocation to the Sisterhood.
Women at a Crossroads offers a residential opportunity to experience the life of the Sisters by sharing in the life of prayer, work, study, and relaxation. There are classes on prayer and discernment as well as individual mentoring with a Sister.
Postulancy and Novitiate
If you believe God may be calling you to learn more about the religious life, you may apply to be admitted as a postulant (from the Latin word for “seeker”). You can only discern a vocation to a monastic community by actually trying it out. As a postulant, you promise to be as open as possible to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you and the community discern together how God might be calling you.
After approximately six months as a postulant, if you and the Community agree that it’s time to take the next step, you receive the habit of the Sisterhood at a service for The Reception of a Novice. As a novice, you promise to be faithful to the SSJD Rule of Life, but you’re free to leave at any time during the novitiate.
During the time as a postulant and a novice, women participate fully in the life of the Community. They also have time set aside for study and regular visits with the Novitiate Director for individual mentoring and help in discerning God’s will for their lives. They meet regularly with a spiritual director outside the Community as well.
After about two years, if both the novice and the Sisters believe that a woman has a vocation to the monastic life as lived out in SSJD, she makes her First Profession, in which she promises to observe the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for approximately two years. At the end of that time, if she and the Community again discern it is God’s will to take the next step, the woman may make her Life Profession to live in observance of the vows for the rest of her life. Our monastic vows are a specific way of living out the baptismal covenant of all Christians.
The vow of poverty is grounded in the simplicity of life that Jesus lived and taught, and manifests itself in contentment, simplicity of living, and joyful dependence on God. It requires us to use with reverence, responsibility, and generosity all that God entrusts to us.
The vow of chastity is grounded in the wholeness of love with which Jesus embraced humanity and all creation. It is a way of releasing all our energies for total commitment to Christ, a wholeness in love that is creative and demands integrity and purity of life.
The vow of obedience is grounded in the singleness of purpose with which Jesus lived in order to accomplish the will of the One who sent him. It is the loving and voluntary response of the mature and free creature, making us available to God for God’s glory.
A call to the monastic life: is it for you?
Are you open to new challenges? Do you want to make a difference in the lives of others? Do you desire to serve God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? Would you like to live in intentional community?
Women who would like to inquire further should be:
- Between the ages of 25 and 55
- A baptized Christian of any denomination
- In good physical and mental health
- Free of debt and without dependent children
- Willing to follow Jesus in the way of self-giving love
St. John’s Convent
233 Cummer Avenue
Toronto, ON M2M 2E8
A Prayer for Vocations:
Grant O loving God, that those whom you are calling to serve you in the religious life may be open to hear and obey your calling, and to follow you with full purpose of heart and mind in the way of poverty, chastity, and obedience. May they find in you their riches, their joy, and their peace, who lives and reigns one God, world without end. Amen.
A Prayer for the Religious Life
O God who makes all things new, who called our Mother Foundress Hannah to plant the seeds of the religious life in the Anglican Church of Canada, bless and guide our Sisters, Associates, Oblates, and Companions in all our ventures to make the religious life better known; that together we may prepare the ground for new ways to proclaim and live your gospel: through Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.
A Prayer by Thomas Merton
My Lord God I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
A Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila
translated and paraphrased by John Michael Talbot
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which He moves compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes; you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He moves compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.