A CONVENT in Canada is inviting young women to spend a year in spiritual formation as a way to rejuvenate the Church.
Companions on the Way began as an initiative within the Sisterhood of St John the Divine. The co-ordinator of the initiative, Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert, said: “What we are hearing from younger people in our Church is a desire to become more grounded in their spiritual life, and to develop skills they can use to pioneer and develop ministries.
“Whereas our Alongsider programme appeals to a slightly older female demographic, the Companions programme has been designed specifically for women between ages 22 and 40.”
In addition to community prayer and private prayer, candidates will spend part of each day in study, either at the convent, or at Wycliffe College, at the Toronto School of Theology, where they will have an opportunity to earn academic credits. They will attend classes on such subjects as contemplative prayer, the monastic tradition, and the missional Church.
“Our programme is unique in that it aims to develop a community for women within an established monastic community,” Sister Constance Joanna said. “We believe strongly that the renewal of the Church will come from the religious orders.”
Molly Finlay, an associate of the 131-year-old Sisterhood, a postulant for ordination in the diocese of Toronto and a co-organiser of the programme, said that the year offered “authentic spirituality”.
“The programme will resonate with women who have been . . . wondering why their spiritual lives feel a bit hollow,” she said.
Ten women will be accepted in the programme, which will begin in September 2016. Applicants from outside Canada may be admitted on a six-month renewable visitor visa.