Is it normal to feel afraid of losing my identity as I join religious life?
Yes, everyone who joins wonders if they will be able to be themselves as they become part of religious community. The best thing we can offer to the community is to bring our best selves to bear in this commitment. At the heart of our quest for God is the realization that we cannot be authentic if we don’t bring the whole of ourselves as created by God.
How will this community be a place where I can feel at home?
Undoubtedly, when you are new, you won’t feel totally at home right away. It takes time. You will realize you are just beginning the process of amalgamating into community and creating memories for yourself. But in each step into this life, you will be asking yourself and others about how you fit and how they will make room for you. The freedom to ask the question and to express your doubts and fears will provide you with the ability to really make this your home.
Where will I live?
At the beginning of candidacy most women go on living where they did before they applied. You will be guided to expand your relationships with members near you, and eventually you will be part of the negotiation of where you will live. You will be invited to stay in different houses, as a guest, before being part of the decision of where you would like to live among IHMs. It is a realistic, adult model of mutual decision-making that takes place as you join the community.
Do I have to sign on the dotted line?
There isn’t any part of this decision that isn’t accompanied by time for reflection and peaceful decision-making. You need to be free to leave at any time in order to be really free to stay. There is never a bottom line that completes the process.