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To contact the Mistress of the Novices, click here
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To begin your journey or for ore information,
click here to connect to the Mistress of the Novices
1. DISCERNMENT
AND ASPIRANCY
2. POSTULANCY
4. FULL PROFESSION
3. NOVICEHOOD
 
 
 
 

Ever feel like the universe is calling you to do something in your comunity, but you’re not sure where to go or what to do next? The Toronto Sisters welcome all potential new Sisters and Brothers who would like to become part of the Order. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be a gay man to join. All people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and membership is not limited to sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or ethnic origin. In fact diversity is encouraged and celebrated!

 

As nuns, we believe individuals attracted to our Order have a special calling that they are answering. Part of the journey each new member takes is finding out what exactly that calling is. It might mean engaging in a particular work, developing a certain "virtue" or habit of being or beatitude; committing to a relationship with the community. But the sense of being called is also about a yearning to be the most fully who you are and bring that out as a Sister, to don vestments and sacred clown whiteface in order to reveal the joy, love and generousness of spirit you possess. 

An aspirant is a person who aspires to do or to be something - they have aspirations. We use the term to describe someone who is exploring joining our group as a nun or a monk (What's the difference? Click HERE to find out).  This usually begins by contacting the Mistress of the Novices (MoN) who wil then will arrange a casual meeting with the individual to discuss their interest. That meeting is called the Discernment. The MoN wil go over the process involved with a friendly discussion about the expectations the house has of every member. This is a chance for the individual to explore and ask questions and also a chance for the MoN to do the same so she can get to know the individual better. At the end of the meeting, the MoN will ask if the Sisterhood is something that the individual would like to continue to explore and pursue. If it is, they simply state their desire and this is called “declaring aspirancy”. At this point, the individual is not considered part of the membership yet and as such does not attend business meetings or vote. The MoN will invite the Aspirant to attend manifestations and events as an observer to see the Sisters in further action. Once the Aspirant feels confident they wish to proceed, they ask the MoN to petition them for Postulancy.

STEP 2 - POSTULANCY
The Toronto Sisters break the journey into 4 steps:
Discernment and Aspirancy, Postulancy, Novicehood and Full Profession.

 

Click on a button below to read about that part of the journey.

STEP 1 - DISCERNMENT AND ASPIRANCY
SO YOU WANT TO BE A NUN?
STEP 3 - NOVICEHOOD

After initial contact with the Order as an Aspirant, and a period of time as a Postulant, the individual moves on to probationary status in the house with a period of training as a Novice. During this time, the individual takes what they learned by watching and applies it practically by doing. They continue to be mentored by the MoN who will meet with them regularly to discuss their journey, give pointers and assign objectives designed to help meet the specific challenges each individual faces. Novices prepare and execute a Novice Project consisting of an undertaking that benefits either the house or the community in some way while learning to work with other members and community members. They also work to complete their study of OPI history as well as research local LGBT2S history. Novices attend all Business Meetings and manifest no less than twice a month - always with at least one Fully Professed member present.

 

The Novice is still very much on a learning curve and discovering how they fit into the group. Novices may give input at Business Meetings but not yet vote. They can be a member of or head up a Comittee, but not hold a position on the Board of Directors. Novices Sisters are permitted to wear full Formalwear including a black habit, white guimpe, colored bandeau, regular size bourrelet, prayer beads and charms. The veil must be white though different textiles are allowed. Full sacred fool whiteface is worn including eyes and lips. Novice Brothers wear a grey tunic, a white cowl, prayer beads and charms. Festivewear may also be worn by Sisters and Brothers when deemed appropriate by the House. Novices may seek out an additional mentor or sponsor who is a Fully Professed member of the house to act as a Big Sister if desired.

 

When the Mistress of the Novices feels the time is right, that the Novice is indeed a good fit and all tasks have been completed to satisfaction, she will petition the membership to elevate the Novice to Fully Professed status. This happens as a report to the membership at a Business Meeting. The vote is by majority to either elevate the Novice to Fully Professed status, or to suggest the Novice learn more at their current level before progressing. If the Novice is found to be at odds with the goals and working order of the house too frequently, the MoN may decide to withdraw their support of the Novice by bringing a motion to the membership at a Business Meeting for either a  return of the Novice to Postulant status or to seek dispensation to end the individuals membership altogether.

Over the years the Sisters have developed various processes to introduce, teach, mentor, support and guide new members. It takes about a year for each new member to compete this arc, during which time you will learn how we work, what we do and how the internal working structure of a house is set up. Emphasis is placed on developing your own Sister and learning how to set her loose in the world. This learning period includes spiritual growth, self examination and defining who your Sister is as well as practical applications like how to create and apply your face, how to do a glitter blessing and best practices when out in the community.

 

It is important that the applicant understand that these steps serve to teach each individual how to be a member and flourish within our Order. n. It is easy to misinterpret the journey as a gauntlet of criticism and disapproval and mistake their mentors guidance and corrections for personal attacks, but this is not a time of judgement but of exploration. The point is always to learn, therefore it must begin free of attachment to ego and suspicion, keeping the ultimate goal in mind. Your mentors and elder Nuns want you to succeed!

A Postulant is an inquirer or observer -  a probationary candidate for membership. During this time, the postulant generally participates as fully as possible in the work of the house, watching the Novices and Fully Professed members at work. Since the candidate is not a formal member of the order at this stage, it is easier for an individual uncertain about their role to re-examine his or her intentions and commitment before entering the novitiate. It is also important at this stage that the candidate look at the personalities and dynamics that make up the house and how they would fit in. Likewise, the membership will be looking at the Postulant for suitability and how the group dynamics work together.

 

Postulants attend regular business meetings as observers, but may not yet vote or speak out on matters. They spend time on their own researching the history of the Order (referred to as Sistory) both globally and locally to gain a working knowledge. The By-Laws and Policy Handbook is studied carefully so that the Postulant understands the culture and operational methods. when in pubic, Postulants travel with the Sisters but keep to the background observing more than interacting. It said that this period is therefore ruled by the eyes and centers on learning by watching rather than the mouth by speaking. Some find this period restrictive and unfair, but a candidate with a true calling understands it is an important and necessary step on their journey.

 

During this time, the Mistress of the Novices (MoN) will mentor the Aspirant, answering any questions they may have and gently conducting them on their path. This will include someone one on one workshops designed to help the Postulant begin to uncover her Sister self. She offers ideas to help the Postulant discover their vocation or live more fully into the vocation they have chosen. It is about exploring, trying things out and trying things on. The MoN will guide the Aspirant by working with them to create a name, choose a colour, pick a symbol, identify with a song, etc. These choices will help the Postulant better recognize who they are as Sisters and personalize their appearance and work accordingly.  

 

Postulants wear black outfits of their choice predominantly female in appearance but always including gender-fluid elements. For their headgear, Postulants wear a smaller, thinner version of our house coronet (called a bourrelet), a simple bandeau and a plain, short, grey veil. The bourrelet may be wrapped in a fabric of the Postulants choice – perhaps in the Sister colour they have chosen. They may wish to accessorize their black outfit using this colour as well. Their charm or symbol may also be added to the outfit or bourrelet. Prayer beads may be worn at the waist. Postulants may wear the sacred clown whiteface from the nose up with any desired eye and cheek makeup (including jewels and/or bindi as desired) but their lower face including lips must remain unpainted, symbolizing their dedication to watching and learning during their transition. Postulants may ony manifest when there is a Fully Professed member present.

 

Postulancy generally lasts between 3 - 6 months, depending on the individual but there is no set limit. When the MoN feels the time is right she will petition the Postulant for Novancy at a Monthly Business Meeting. The vote is by majority to either elevate the Postulant to Novice status, or to suggest the Postulant learn more at their current level before progressing. Either the MoN or the Postulant may also decide at any time and without the need for any formal procedure that the union is either not a good fit or not the right time to continue.

STEP 4 - FULLY PROFESSED

Once elevated to Fully Professed status - a Novice is given a veiling ceremony where the Sisters white veil is removed and a black or coloured veil is applied, or a Brothers white cowl is exchanged for a grey or coloured one. This is often done by the MoN but may also be done by another member. As a Fully Professed Sister or Brother, the member may vote, hold Board positions, head Comittees, manifest on their own (though for safety all members are encouraged to manifest in groups of no less than 2) and mentor new members. The earning curve of how to work within our house is over, but a true Sister of Brother never stops larning - always discovering new ways to serve our community, promulgate joy, help those on the edges, expiate guilt and the seek spiritual enlightenment that guides our way.