What are the stages of religious formation?
Postulant or Candidate, the pre-novitiate, commonly called postulancy or candidacy, is a period usually of one year or less when the postulant lives with the congregation and engages in its prayer, community, and apostolic life while receiving instruction and guidance in the ways of the congregation. It is a time for the candidate and the community to grow in familiarity with one another. The candidate is free to leave the postulancy at any time.
Novice, the novitiate can be a minimum of one year or a maximum of two years in duration. The novice takes on the dress or habit of the congregation wearing a white veil if it is the custom. During the novitiate, the novice deepens his/her prayer life, learns about and practices the life of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, experiences the manner of living of the congregation, forms the mind and heart in the spirit of the congregation, and has his/her intention and suitability tested. The novice is free to leave at any time.
Temporary Vows, after having completed the novitiate, the novice requests permission to profess temporary vows. These vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are professed freely and publicly for a period of one to three years and are renewed at the time of expiration. The individual is also free to leave at this time. During temporary vows, the religious is committed to the life of the congregation, participates in its apostolic works, and has all the rights and duties of membership. After a minimum of three and not more that six years the religious professes perpetual vows.