In the Company, the formation process has its target in “giving young people the ability to serve”. Everything, regarding the formation, aims in helping the candidate to grow in her identity as a Daughter of Charity: entirely devoted to God towards the service for the poor” (cf. C. 16a) and strengthen herself into the fundamental convictions of her vocation. The formation process also helps educate the candidate in the Vincentian’s knowledge Charism and promotes the unity and vitality of the Company leading the candidate into a true experience of life.
The Daughters of Charity initial formation takes place in four stages: Pre-Postulancy, Postulancy, Seminary and Initial Formation in Mission. To be admitted to the Pre-Postulancy stage, the young woman must have taken an experience journey being assisted by VVAS. It is desirable she is at least 17 years old and has finished high school.
The Pre-Postulancy is a period specially reserved for the first vocational discernment and getting sensitized. It just begins when the candidate asks herself if she was called by the Lord to join the Company. This stage is distinguished by promoting a deep immersion into a Christian life and getting closer to a Daughter of Charity’s life mode. Over this stage the candidate might remain in her own environment or start living in a Community (cf. Guide for Initial Formation, p. 69). The period of the Pre-Postulancy is flexible but should not last more than 1 year.
The Postulancy is the stage where discernment and the discovery of the vocation of being a Daughter of Charity are continued. The candidate who already has made her first choice for Christ, for the Company and for assisting the poor, starts deeply living these values within a local community. This period allows the candidate to achieve deeper knowledge from the Company’s teachings and values provided by a personalized experience. There is a mutual enrichment process where the candidate discovers the identity of the Daughters of Charity and the Company gets to know the candidate’s own reality in life. Over this period the Company goes on assisting her on the vocational discernment journey. The time of the Postulancy can last at least 1 year or longer, according to the needs of the candidate (cf. Guide to Initial Formation, p. 77).
The Seminary is a special period over the time of the Initial Formation as it’s the stage of internalization, of spiritual structuring and the confirmation of the vocation. Unlike the previous stages, this one is truly experienced by the candidate as a Daughter of Charity, as the admission into the Company happens in the moment of time of her entrance in the Seminary stage. This admission marks the date of one’s vocation in the Company. The handing in of the Constitutions confirms the admission as well as the certificate signed by the Visitor and the Seminary Director. The Seminary lasts a minimal period of twelve months, apart from the apostolic training period. This is a real basic minimum period, as the Seminary can be extended according to the needs of the Sister, but not longer than two years. (CCD c. 648 § 3) (cf. Guide for Initial Formation, p. 87).
The stage of Initial Formation in Mission is the longest stage and gives the Sister the opportunity to i develop her inner total gift to the Lord and for the service of the poor. This stage takes place in a local community, where the Sister may accomplish the unity of life: prayer – community life – service.
It is a privileged time that marks the passage from interiorization period at the Seminary to a real active participation in the mission of the local Community. This passage allows her progressively take in all the demands of her vocation. The Sister is truly a Daughter of Charity since she is admitted at the Seminary. The Company, however, requires a deeper and progressive spiritual journey which should make her able to confirm, by her Vows, a complete self-giving life to God in this Company. This commitment is required if the Sister goes on staying in this Company (cf. Initial Formation Guide, p. 97).