Discernment Process

The discernment process for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary includes three initial phases: Come and See, Pre-Candidacy and Candidacy. Each of these stages is designed to provide interested women, ordinarily between the ages of 18 – 35, with an introduction to the religious life and the IHM Congregation and to help them to discern their call from God.

Come and See

Women discerning God’s call are invited to “come and see” our life through a variety of events. If the thoughts of religious life have “crossed your mind,” join us for one of the retreat or service experiences on our “Come and See! Current Events!” page.

By “coming and seeing,” a discerner is able to:

  • Pray with the Sisters
  • Listen to God’s voice in the quiet of prayer
  • Experience living community life
  • Serve with the Sisters in our ministries
  • Meet other women who are discerning religious life
  • Meet our newer members who have taken the step of entering into discernment as postulants and novices.


The IHM Pre-Candidacy Program is for women who have expressed a desire to discern a vocation to the IHM Congregation. It typically lasts from one to three years depending on each person. The purpose is to assist young women in discerning a particular call to the IHM Congregation. During this time, the young women meet personally with the vocation directress on a regular basis, participate in discernment/retreat weekends, and visit IHM convents in order to interact with the Sisters and to experience prayer, community life and apostolic work with them.


The candidacy program is designed for women who have expressed a desire to make application to begin the IHM Postulate. The Candidacy Program lasts six months to one year before the woman's admission into the postulate. It provides her and the Congregation with the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding her entrance into the postulate.

In addition to the discernment activities and experiences of the IHM Congregation of the Pre-Candidacy Program, the young woman is encouraged to develop and to deepen her practice of prayer, reflection on the Word of God, attendance at Mass, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. She is also encouraged to continue her studies especially in the area of Faith Formation. She seeks the advice and support of an IHM Sister (Sponsor) and participates and/or assists IHM Sisters in community life and service.

Application to the IHM Postulate may occur any time after participating in the Pre-Candidacy program for at least six months.

“ Let us dispose our hearts therefore to being "good soil", by listening, receiving and living out the word, and thus bearing fruit. The more we unite ourselves to Jesus through prayer, Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the Sacraments celebrated and lived in the Church and in fraternity, the more there will grow in us the joy of cooperating with God in the service of the Kingdom of mercy and truth, of justice and peace. And the harvest will be plentiful, proportionate to the grace we have meekly welcomed into our lives.”
— Pope Francis, May 11, 2014,
51st World Day of Prayer for Vocations