Vowed membership is open to single or widowed Catholic women. Others who wish to share our spirituality may join as Associates or become Friends. Members of the Servite Secular Institute come from all walks of life. On joining the Institute, members continue their usual occupation and remain in their normal place of residence. |
Candidates for membership usually spend some time attending group meetings and getting to know the Institute and its members. After a period of discernment of vocation, they apply to enter a stage of preparation for vows which takes place on a personal basis through meetings and correspondence. Prospective members of the Institute follow a vocation discernment programme under the guidance of an experienced Institute member. This lasts about a year. After admission to the Institute, initial formation takes about four years and has to be fitted in with normal commitments. This period is a time for growth in understanding and living the teachings of Christ, in the Gospel and in the contemporary Church. It is a time for studying the SSI Constitution and becoming Servite. If called to make the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, members, whether employed or unemployed, in sickness or in health, alone or with others, offer the whole of the rest of their lives to God to do with as He wishes. After several years in temporary vows perpetual vows are made.
The Servite Order was founded by a group of seven and group life is an important part of our charism. Groups exist wherever there are sufficient members, and meet regularly for prayer, reflection and mutual support. Regular prayer is an intrinsic part of each day's life and it is integrated into the members' daily routine.
The concept of group is integral to the Servite vocation. The Order of Servants of Mary is the only order that was founded by a group rather than an individual: the Seven Holy Founders. Community spirit and hospitality are important features of the Servite charism.
Although Institute members live and work separately, each of us belongs to a group which has regular meetings. The frequency, length and location of these meetings are determined by the circumstances of the members. In the UK, some groups meet quarterly for a weekend, others more frequently for a day. Members who are isolated by distance, age, health or family commitments are in contact with their group by other means.
Group meetings include prayer, study, the sharing of Scripture, our insights and lived experience. In the group we are formed by the example of other members and grow in our vocation. The sharing of what we are, including our failings and inadequacies as well as our gifts and insights, is essential for the life of the group, the Institute as a whole and our individual lives.