Curious about the Daughters of Charity? Wondering about the process of discernment? Here are some common questions we answer:
Everyone’s vocation story is different. If you sense God is calling you to religious life, we are here to help! Contact one of our Vocation Directors. We can talk with you, share opportunities to volunteer and assist us in a ministry, or arrange a time to have dinner and prayers with us and learn more about the Daughters of Charity. We also have a variety of discernment retreats and events and are always adding more. These retreats provide dedicated time for personal reflection and the chance to meet other young women seeking an understanding of God’s call for them. Our goal is to help you find God’s calling for your life. Tell us how we can pray for you and help you on this exciting journey!
Check out our discernment opportunities to see if there’s one that fits with your schedule. Or, contact us for more information about the Daughters of Charity. We can connect you with additional opportunities for discernment retreats or arrange a time to visit some Sisters so you can explore if this is where God is calling you.
There are five steps to vocation discernment within the Daughters of Charity.
- Discernment. As a discerner, you will spend time getting to know the Daughters of Charity through retreats and events. You may spend time with a local community at dinner and prayers or volunteer to assist a Sister in her ministry. The time period for this stage varies depending on your needs.
- Pre-Postulancy. Once you feel confident in your call to the Daughters of Charity, you may apply to enter Pre-Postulancy. During this period, you will live in a local community alongside Daughters of Charity while you continue to discern God’s call for you. You will share in the spiritual and common life of Daughters of Charity, receive spiritual direction, minister to persons who are poor, and learn about our charism and founders. The time period for Pre-Postulancy varies according to the needs of the individual, but is generally about one year. If you feel God is continuing to call you to be a Daughter of Charity, you would complete a formal application to become a Postulant.
- Postulancy is the stage during which you will experience living a spiritual, community, and apostolic life in common. You will continue to live in a local community, discern your vocation, and deepen your human and Christian formation. You will grow in the Vincentian charism while learning the requirements of a vocation as expressed in our Constitutions and Statutes. Postulancy is a one-year period, after which you can request to enter the Seminary (Novitiate).
- The admission of a Postulant into the Company takes place at her entrance into the Seminary. “She is admitted to the Seminary when both she and the Company are morally certain that she is called by God and ready to take upon herself the life of a Daughter of Charity” (Constitution and Statutes of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, C. 54).
Seminary is a time of reflection, prayer, and growth in the Vincentian charism. During this period of time, you will strengthen your knowledge of the Company, the Catholic faith, our founders, and our mission. At the end of this 18-month period, you will be sent on Mission.
- Once sent on Mission, you will move out of the Seminary and into a new local community to either begin full-time service to the poor or continue professional preparation for ministry. After five to seven years as a member of the Daughters of Charity, you may request the privilege of pronouncing vows for the first time. A Daughter of Charity pronounces four vows--poverty, chastity, obedience, and service to those who are poor. Rather than taking a final vow, these vows are renewed annually for all Daughters of Charity.
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Each day, a Daughter of Charity meets Christ in her Sisters, collaborators, and in the poor. She begins her day with private and community prayer and participates in the celebration of the Eucharist. Her call to serve others in ministry varies according to her gifts and the needs of the province.
She may be a teacher in a school, a social worker in a daycare center, a pastoral administrator, or someone who does outreach to the sick or elderly. Her ministry requires regular hours of service, but she responds to the cries of the poor as she hears them in the present moment. She might be called to the bedside of a dying patient to be with his/her family and friends or she might serve as an advocate for a hungry and jobless individual seeking assistance. She might cheer her students on to victory at a basketball game or be called to drive an elderly client to the grocery store for shopping.
A Daughter of Charity goes where Christ calls her and responds with love. At the end of the day, she returns to her home to share an evening meal with her Sisters, to pray, and relax.
The Daughters of Charity are an international community of almost 14,000 Catholic women who live and minister in 94 countries all over the world. In the U.S., the Daughters have two provinces with established headquarters (provinces) in St. Louis, Missouri and Los Altos Hills, California. See more places we serve on our map.
The basic “work” of the Daughters of Charity revolves around service to persons who live in poverty. Our ministry is to respond to the changing needs of those who are poor throughout the world, including ministries in preschool, elementary, high schools and universities; religious education; parish ministry; skilled nursing facilities; multi-hospital systems; clinics; daycare and neighborhood services; services and residences for the aged; social services and Catholic Charities offices; prison ministry; advocacy; homeless shelters; children’s residences; homes for retired Sisters; rural ministry; and outreach services. New ministries arise as the needs of the poor change and grow.
Daughters of Charity live in community in simple homes near our ministries. Usually, our community is composed of several Daughters serving in the same geographical area. We have houses in more than 2,000 communities in 94 countries in the world. In the U.S., we currently have houses in 20 states and Canada. View our map to see where we live and serve.
In the spirit of our founders, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac, the Daughters of Charity where a habit resembling the simple dress of the “common people” and those who are poor. Our habit is a simple navy or light blue dress or skirt with a navy blue, light blue, or white blouse, worn with the symbol of our community--a small Vincentian cross. A coiffe (or veil) is optional and each Sister chooses to wear or not to wear a coiffe depending on what will help her live out her commitment to serve those who are poor.
How we spend our leisure time is as varied as we are. Some Sisters like to read, while others enjoy outdoor activities. We might share a meal with a friend, watch a movie together, or grab an ice cream cone. You might find us playing music, enjoying a podcast, taking a walk, or participating in athletic activities. Some of us spend time on artwork, needlework, and other crafts, as well as writing poetry and corresponding with friends. Being a Daughter of Charity doesn’t mean giving up what you love to do!
Prayer is an important and integral part of the life of a Daughter of Charity. Each day, we take time for an hour of silent prayer as well as time for the rosary, spiritual reading, and private prayer to communicate with God. There are also times for common prayer in the morning and evening and for the daily celebration of the Eucharist. A Daughter shares her spiritual journey with her companions as they support and encourage one another to grow in faith and the community sets aside time for spiritual sharing each week.
The founder(s) of each community had a specific spirit or charism they wanted to develop in a community. Although most religious communities are alike in their concern to live the gospel message and serve others, the charism of each group determines what ministries they have; whether they wear full traditional habits, simple habits such as the Daughters, or more contemporary clothes; how they live community life; and how they pray.
The charism of the Daughters of Charity can be expressed as “given to God, in community, for the service of those who are poor.”
By spending time with Sisters in their ministry and community settings, you will know which community God has planned for you. The Daughters of Charity serve the poor, live in community, and deepen their relationship with God in prayer. They are humble, simple, loving women who collaborate with others to assist those most in need. If this spirit matches yours, consider joining us at an upcoming discernment event.