To be a fully professed Sister of Perpetual Indulgence is not a short and simple process. By the time a Sister recites her final vows, she is ready to represent the order to her community and has earned the community’s trust and respect. Although each house of the Sisters has different criteria for progression, it, generally takes almost a year of blood, sweat and tears (blood from the fabulous shoes that don’t quite fit, sweat from the darling black wool Chanel number you thought was a good idea for “parade wear”, and tears from the eyelash glue that managed to seal your eye shut).
The Abbey has four phases to learning what you need to know to becoming a nun: Aspirant, Postulant, Novice and Fully Professed.
An Aspirant is someone who is just beginning on their path. As an Aspirant, you are expected to attend three Sister events, and two meetings (of course we have meetings, how else would we plan our outfits?). This is intended to give an idea of the level of time, energy, and emotional commitment. If you feel that you can handle it, you would ask to become a Postulant.
A Postulant is where the fun starts. For a minimum of three months your task is to learn about the Sisters and the Abbey. You get to wear the oh-so-flattering shapeless black robe and hood, and you begin to experiment with the white face makeup. As a Postulant, you may paint your eyes, but not your mouth. Symbolically this shows that you are learning through observation (the eyes), but you are not qualified to represent the Order (no mouth). On a practical side, this give you an opportunity to practice your make up skills, since everyone looks at your eyes first, you’ll need it. When you have met the requirements, you would be evaluated, and voted to Novice.
A Novice Sister is now a step away from her final vows. For the next six months, just having learned about the Sisters, you now learn how to be a Sister. There is a visible change as well. Gone is the sack over your head and in it’s place is a crisp white box and white veil. You are also given a starched bib and white-trimmed scapular (the fabric that hangs from under the bib). And, not to forget, you now have a mouth, and you will need it, ‘cause you’re gonna put on a SHOW! Actually, maybe not a show, but each Novice Sister is required to produce a Novice Project. This is an event, fundraiser, whatever, that teaches you how to utilize the resources of the Order so that when you become a Fully Professed Sister you will be a one nun fund-, awareness-, hell-raising machine. At the end of 6 months, it is time for the big vote, to be a Fully Professed Sister
A Fully Professed, FP, or “black veil” is a full member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The cute little box has been replaced by the halo-shaped signature wimple of the Abbey, and the white veil has been traded for black (or any other color). The scapular under the bib has now been changed for one of silver. This could be to symbolize the armor worn by St. Joan, or because gray is a good neutral that accessorizes well, you decide. You then take your final vows of community service. This promotion also means that you are qualified to represent every other member of the order and are able to support your community to the best of your abilities and talents. Once you are a Fully Professed sister, you are a Sister for life.
So you think you want to be a Sister?
If you are interested in becoming a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence with the Abbey of St. Joan please email our Mistress of Novices by filling out this form!