Becoming a Loreto/IBVM

The Journey

A full life of faith in Mary Ward's Institute today offers:
• A direct personal relationship with God in Christ
• A sense of belonging
• The sharing of Gospel values through apostolic life

The centre of our life is mission, the apostolic expression of our intimate relationship with God and our sense of call. Each woman brings her own gifts to the Institute.

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Discernment is a process of reflection and prayer which helps people listen to the Spirit and explore their sense of call.

It is the ongoing search, above all, for the ways God is working in our lives. Prayer is most important in this search. The grace of vocation flows from our Christian baptismal commitment. A woman discerning a call to religious life is attentive through prayer and reflection to the ways Christ calls her to follow him as she considers becoming a sister.

Every life journey is unique. The process of becoming a Loreto/IBVM Sister consists of various stages.

Joan and Orla

The first stage is enquiry.

This is an opportunity for the enquirer and the IBVM to become acquainted and to discuss questions about religious life.

Whether an individual is ready to enter into serious discernment depends upon her psychological and spiritual growth. Flexibility, awareness of call, a willingness and capacity to grow are fundamental to 'the vowed life'.  

If it seems right, the person applies to become a candidate when she is ready to make that step.

Women should and can provide something more than ordinary
in the face of the common need
Mary Ward

Geraldine and Moira

Being a Candidate involves continuing normal life - job, study, independence - while taking a closer look at IBVM life and spirit. It also affords opportunities to live with an IBVM community.

Candidacy normally lasts one year and includes ongoing prayer and mutual discernment with the vocation director.

If it seems right, the candidate applies to begin novitiate. A psychological assessment is part of the application process to enter this stage.

I listened to God's deep dream for me
and longed to respond to this invitation
Mary Ward

Therese and Marie Celine

Becoming a Novice is a much more serious commitment. The novitiate process offers time for a deepening of prayer and reflection in the midst of a lived experience of the Loreto/IBVM life.

The first year of novitiate focuses on the inner spiritual journey and relationship with God. It can involve opportunities to experience areas of social outreach. The second year is dedicated to developing an active, apostolic spirituality.

The novice takes part in:


• studies in theology and Ignatian spirituality
• various Ignatian experiences of retreat and ministry (working with the most vulnerable and marginalised, assisting in faith formation, some kind of pastoral and spiritual care.) These experiences are designed to stretch, challenge and strengthen the woman in her vocational journey
• ongoing spiritual accompaniment
• studies in the theology and practice of the vows
• ongoing evaluation with regard to suitability for religious life.

The second year of the novitiate is usually spent engaged in ministry and studies. At the end of two years, should she wish and it is considered appropriate, the novice will take vows.

Cherish God's vocation in you.
Let it be constant, efficacious and loving
Mary Ward

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Temporary Vows
Temporary vows are usually taken for 6 to 9 years. While in temporary vows, the sister continues to have special support and guidance, and to live as a fully committed member of the Institute. During this time, she may be called upon to have a variety of ministries and experiences of community. She may also undertake further studies.

This period of time:


  • helps the newly professed sister in her personal and psychological development and mission with the Loreto/IBVM.
  • helps her to deepen her love for God and her awareness of God's love for her, and to grow in her love for Mary Ward's charism
  • develops a strong sense of her personal vocation rooted in God and in the spirit of the community
  • integrates all aspects of her life - spiritual (including Eucharist, prayer, reflection), communal and ministerial
  • helps growth in her ability to discern and to understand the principles of Ignatian spirituality and apply them to her daily life
  • deepens her awareness of the needs of today's world
  • helps her to come to a decision regarding permanent commitment to the vowed life in the IBVM.


On-going evaluation at this time assists the Sister and the Institute to discern wisely about her future commitment.

It is good pleasing the Friend of friends...
to be entirely and forever at God's disposal
Mary Ward

Sophia Achieng 

Final Vows
The Sister making Final Vows has acquired a certain degree of personal, spiritual, psychological and professional maturity, is faithful to prayer, has developed healthy relationships inside and outside the IBVM, has had several different kinds of experiences in the service of God's people, and demonstrates that she is happy with her choice of life.


When she makes Final vows, she has decided to make a life commitment. She makes this decision in consultation with those in leadership positions of the IBVM. After Final Profession, the sister continues the process of life-long learning as well as personal and spiritual growth.


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For further information contact:


Vocations Director: Sister Eileen Linehan

Phone: 086 3194597

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Loretos in Dalkey