Becoming a Sister of the Humility of Mary is a gradual process of understanding and deepening commitment. At first the goal is discernment - that is, listening to the Spirit through prayer and reflection, exploring the many facets involved in living a religious life and determining whether it is, indeed, the life God is calling  you to.

If the discernment leads to a positive decision, then an individualized process of integration is designed to proceed in stages, allowing an inquirer to test her readiness and fit and the authenticity of her call over a number of years.

It typically takes a minimum of eight years (and sometimes longer) from the initial inquiry to a community to making a lifelong commitment by taking Permanent Lifetime Vows.
But there is really no “end” to the unfolding of a religious vocation. As pioneering  women with diverse gifts, personalities and energies, each Sister of Humility is responsible to develop and use her talents in ministry and service to others and to grow spiritually throughout her lifetime. The end is just the beginning.

  • Basic Qualifications: Who May Apply
  • Pre-affiliate Phase:  Discernment
  • Affiliate Phase:  Integration

Basic Qualifications: Who May Apply

  • A practicing Catholic long enough to understand and appreciate the faith, life and traditions of the Catholic church; at least three years is recommended.
  • A woman who is single. If previously married, either a widow or divorced with a Church annulment.
  • Has completed college and/or has some years of work experience.
  • Has the physical and emotional health and energy to be active in ministry and live in community.
  • Is capable of self-care and has the ability and freedom to enter into the discernment process.
  • Is free of major debt and/or caregiving commitments.
  • Is between the ages of 25 and 55 and a citizen of the United States.

Spiritual Seekers

But most importantly, at her deepest core, a woman must be a spiritual seeker, a woman who feels called...drawn by devote her life and her unique personality, gifts and talents to

  • Searching for life’s essential meaning through prayer and living the vows
  • Serving others, especially the poor and those most in need.

There must also be a reciprocal resonance with the spirit of humility as well as the spiritual culture, corporate priorities and future goals of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary.

How I met the Sisters of Humility

Pre-Affiliate Phase: Discernment

Inquiring Seeker (3 - 6 Months)

The discernment process begins when you request information about a religious community followed by several months of introductory conversations and activities.

  • Explore our website to learn about the community.
  • Fill out a brief survey about yourself and your background. Survey will be sent upon request or via participation in one of the vocation placement services.
  • By returning the survey, you agree to arrange time for a 15-minute follow-up phone conversation to discuss your goals, qualifications and the next steps you might take.
  • Continuing one-on-one conversations as may be needed to make the following decisions.

Decision(s) to be made:

  • Whether the CHM community is the right “fit” for you or not.
  • Whether/how to remedy temporary impediments so as to move forward.
  • Whether to engage in further discernment as an “Active Seeker.”

Active Seeker (12 - 24 Months) - Getting to Know Each Other

  • Phone conversations with your personal CHM mentor.
  • Webinars or conference calls on religious topics.
  • At some point, a personal visit is expected.
  • Consider becoming a CHM Associate as an option.

Participation in a “CHM Spirit” weekend at Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat near Davenport, IA. 

Decision to be made: 

  • Whether to engage in further discernment at the “Deep Seeker” level.  
  • Opt out of further involvement with the CHM community.
  • Apply for the Associate Program.

Simplicity, Humility and Earthiness

Deep Seeker (6 - 12 months) - Serious Candidate

In the “Deep Seeker” stage, the Candidate continues to live and work in her home environment while being in regular touch with her mentor and involved in as many CHM educational and spiritual opportunities as possible.

  • Participate actively in one’s home parish and local volunteer service opportunities.
  • Participate in webinars, conference calls or other events.
  • Engage in a formal discernment process with a spiritual director selected in consultation with CHM.
  • Visit the community for several days, exploring service opportunities and living with a local CHM community.
  • May prefer to join the CHM Community as an Associate for a temporary, or permanent time.

Decision to be made:

  • Apply to become a CHM Affiliate with the goal of making first (temporary) vows. (If needed, additional time (2-6 months) may be requested to complete the formal application including medical, psychological, spiritual, financial and educational information to enter the community.)
  • Opt out of further discernment with CHM.
  • Apply to become an Associate.

33-years-old in Davenport

Affiliate (12 months)

The first 12 months in the community are an opportunity to become familiar with living religious life, day by day. You’ll learn about the community – and you’ll learn about yourself.  You’ll explore a variety of ways to see God in a religious environment, including service to the poor, involvement in issues of justice and participation in community prayer and events.  You’ll live in Iowa near or with a CHM community and continue your salaried employment to support basic living expenses.

Decision to be made by the affiliate:

  • Whether to request entrance to the Novitiate in order to prepare for first (temporary) vows.
  • Delay the decision and extend the time of Affiliation.
  • Apply for the Associate Program.
  • Opt out of further discernment.

Decision to be made by CHM:

Acceptance (or rejection) by CHM community to enter the novitiate in order to prepare for first (temporary) vows.

Formation - becoming a sister

Novice (2 years)

The novitiate is an intensive two-year program individualized for each person with her unique talents, experiences and goals. Through classes, spiritual direction, Scripture study and regular conversations with your mentor and other community members, you’ll prepare a firm foundation for growing spiritually for the rest of your life.

  • First year focuses on learning to develop one’s spiritual life and how to live the vows of  poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • Second year provides opportunities to explore ministry and the various ways to use one’s gifts and talents in service to God’s people, especially the poor and disenfranchised.

Decision to be made by novice:

  • Whether to request to make first (temporary) vows for 3 years.
  • Apply for the Associate Program
  • Opt out of further discernment.

Decision to be made by CHM:

Acceptance (or rejection) by CHM community to make first (temporary) vows for 3 years.

First year novitiate - canonical year

Temporary Profession (3-5 years)

Following a community celebration where the novice promises to live the vows and the community accepts her commitment, the integration program takes on a more informal rhythm. During the years of Temporary Profession, the goal is balance – learning to balance work and prayer, reflection and action, contemplation and concern for others. Humilities call it a life of “search and service.”

Decision to be made after living 3 years under temporary vows:

Whether to request to make Final (Permanent) Vows which confers Full Membership in the Congregation.

Decision to be made by CHM:

Acceptance (or rejection) by CHM community to make Final (Permanent) Vows in the Congregation of the Humility of Mary.

Second year - balance and ministry