Becoming a Carmelite is a lifelong process. The initial years, under the guidance of the Novice Mistress, are only a beginning.
In carefully planned stages, the young woman who aspires to be a Carmelite is introduced to our way of life and prayer, helped in judging whether this is truly the right way of life for her, and drawn little by little into the full life of the community.
1. Live-in. The candidate lives in the cloister for a period of up to three months in order to discern her vocation and come to a better understanding of our way of life.
2. Postulancy. The postulant tests her vocation as she gradually adapts herself to the Carmelite way of life under the direction of the Novice Mistress. Since growth at this stage can differ greatly with the individual, the time of postulancy can vary from six to eighteen months.
3. Novitiate. The novice receives the habit of the Order. During the two years of her novitiate, she comes to understand and experience the demands of following Christ as a Teresian Carmelite.
4. Temporary Vows. During her three years of temporary vows, the young professed further develops the understanding and experiences begun during the novitiate, becomes more fully integrated into community life, and prepares herself for the definitive consecration of solemn vows.