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FAQ About Becoming a Sister


The following are common questions asked of sisters.  You will notice that some of the questions are requesting specific information while others are asking for an experience or opinion. All responses have been provided by S. Kathy Slesar who is both a sister and the vocations director, giving her the ability to answer questions from both categories.

How do you know you’re being called?

You’ll have a sense of it – a deep knowing.  I had a desire for something more and it seemed to me that it was religious life.

How old do you have to be to become a sister?

22.  We would like you to have some post high-school experience, whether it is work or college.

Can someone who is divorced become a sister?

Yes, as long as the marriage has been annulled.

How do you recognize God’s voice from everyone else’s?

I would consider the gifts of the Spirit, or there can be that sense of peace or a sense of an invitation to grow.  I would say it’s the fruits of it; over time does this appear to be peaceful – the gifts of the Spirit.

How often do Dominicans pray?

There is a morning and evening prayer and obviously mass is encouraged but there are some sisters who are in places where mass is not always available.  Sisters can pray any time they want but at least two times a day.

Do the Racine Dominicans have a dress code?

No, we do not wear habits and there is no code.

Do sisters enjoy popular entertainment?

Yes – we can enjoy movies and DVDs.  Like everything, we ask ourselves “is this appropriate?”

Do sisters always get along while living together?

This would be like asking married couples if they always got along…no. 

Can sisters drink or smoke?

Yes.  We know that they can become a serious addiction so of course, we hope that sisters would only use them in moderation.

When do you see your family?

As often as you need to. There really isn’t a lot of restriction.  We just look for a balance between the community family, and the sister’s family.

Do you have to live in the convent or can you have your own home?

You do not have to live at the convent but you are required to live in community with Racine Dominicans (ie. we have a group of 4 sisters living at our Eco-Justice Center home) unless your ministry puts you in a location where you must live alone.  You cannot own your own home.

How often do sisters attend mass?

Once a week, however because of the accessibility of mass here at Siena Center, sisters may attend three or four times a week.

Do you have to Preach?

You do not have to give sermons, but because we are Dominicans and are the Order of the Preachers, the opportunities are going to be available.  Not all sisters are comfortable with preaching however, we should preach "from the pulpit of their lives."

What kind of work can you do?

You can work wherever you would like as long as your employment does not challenge the mission of our community

Are sisters required to generate an income/be employed to contribute to the community?

No.  Sisters are not required to earn any specific amount of money.  However it is ideal that if a sister can work, she do so to help support the community.

What is the hardest part of becoming a sister?

The giving up of some of the financial stuff is hard, when you have to ask if you want to do something.   But it’s like when you get married – are you willing to throw your lot in with someone else? 

What is the best part of becoming a sister?

There is a lot of freedom to do what you want.  I was able to do a lot of stuff, go to a lot of places that I don’t think I would have done if I just stayed in the work world.

Do you have to go to school to become a sister?

In formation, you will do some schooling but you do not have to have attended college prior to applying.

How long is the process of becoming a sister?

The process is a minimum of seven years.

What are the vows you must take to become a sister?

  1. Obedience – this is the primary rule of Dominicans
  2. Poverty – to live simply
  3. Celibacy

What would happen if you fell in love after taking your final vows?

You try not to fall in love.  You have made your vows so just like in a marriage, you can have friendships but you would try not to get to that point with someone else.  You have to be careful to remember your primary commitment.

Do you have to be a virgin to be a sister?

No, but one show that they possess the skills to be celibate.

Do you get paid if you have a job?

Yes, that money would be put toward expenses.  Anything that’s left over would go into the community account. 

When you join the community, what do you do with your money?

Before you come into the community, the money you have saved up until your commitment can be designated to whomever you want.  For example, when I made my vows, I designated that my money go to my sister when I die.

What does the vow of obedience mean?

It’s about being willing to listen and dialogue.  Obedience isn’t being told what to do, nor is it just simply saying ‘no’.  It’s really saying that you’re willing to listen and enter into a dialogue.  For example, I wouldn’t change my job before talking to one of the executives just like a husband or wife wouldn’t change their job without talking with their spouse.

If you were told to do something and refused, would you be thrown out?

No.  We really don’t get told to do something.  If you were expected to do something and didn’t do it, you may be required to explain why, but you wouldn’t be thrown out.

What is the difference between a sister and a nun?

Nuns are cloistered and monastic, meaning their lives are almost exclusively dedicated to contemplative prayer and they stay within the confines of their convent.  Sisters live in community and are action oriented in their ministries.  They are not required to live within the confines of the convent.

What jobs can you have as a sister? 

Racine Dominican sisters can have any job unless it is in direct conflict with our vows.  We hope it utilizes your skills and contributes to the greater good.

How did you choose the Racine Dominicans?

For me, it was the group that fit me best.  I had Racine Dominicans teaching me from grade school through college. 

How many Racine Dominican Sisters are there?

Around 120


If you are interested in learning more about becoming a sister, check out the following pages:

A day in the life of a sister

The process


Meet some of our sisters