Religious Life Terms

No one likes jargon, but there are some terms you might want to learn as you discern your call to religous life. Here are a few:


The work of a religious community, outside of prayer and contemplation; whatever ministry we are doing: i.e. teaching, nursing, working among the poor.


A meeting of entire province to ensure involvement and shared responsibility. According to the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart, these occur at least every three years.


The period of time, usually one year, when a young woman, a candidate, is testing her call to be a Religious of the Sacred Heart by living in community with us and sharing in our life. This is the first step in entering the Society of the Sacred Heart.


This word can be used in two ways. Sometimes “charism” is used to refer to the primary apostolic purpose of a congregation. Our charism is one of education. We also use the word “charism” to mean the spirit that enlivens us as Religious of the Sacred Heart, the main focus of our lives, which is to find the love of God in the heart of the world and bring God’s love into the world.


An assembly that includes elections or voting. A provincial chapter, as its name suggests, is for members of one province, at which they select delegates to attend the General Chapter. General Chapters occur every eight years, at which a new superior general is chosen.


The time of spiritual formation as a candidate, novice or professed of temporary vows. Spiritual formation consists of prayer, reflection, studies in theology, scripture and documents of the Society of the Sacred Heart. These later documents focus on our history, tradition, and charism as well as more recent documents that come from our General Chapters and Provincial Assemblies that center on how we live our lives in the world today.


The two-year period that follows candidacy. During this period the novice enters more deeply into the life of the Society by prayer, reflection and study. There is also a time for working in a ministry and working among the needy. Most religious communities use the word "novitiate."


The period of final preparation, usually in Rome, before a Professed of Temporary Vows makes her Final Vows. It is a time of prayer, reflection and further deepening one’s love and understanding of the Society. Because RSCJ sisters of Temporary Vows from various parts of the world gather together for this experience it is also a unique opportunity to develop a broader understanding of the internationality of the Society. Relationships are developed during this time of Probation that are often maintained throughout the newly professeds’ lives.

Professed of Temporary Vows (PTV)

Those women who, after completing their noviceship, have made their first vows. They continue to be in this period of formation for at least six years after which they make their final profession. Final profession generally takes place in Rome where we have our international motherhouse (Villa Lanta).


The initials of our congregation, they stand for Religieuses du Sacré-Coeur de Jesu. We were founded in France and this is our French name. We refer to ourselves as Religious of the Sacred Heart.

Superior General

The superior of the international Society of the Sacred Heart. Currently, the Superior General is Kathleen Conan, RSCJ, from the United States - Canada Province.

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