Learning and Growing Together in Religious Life

Posted by Spalding Hurst

April 3, 2023

From Global Sisters Report

As novices embark on their journey to religious life, they are not only called to learn about the teachings of the Church but also to immerse themselves in the cultures of their fellow sisters. This is particularly true for those joining congregations that span across continents and countries, where diverse traditions and practices intersect.

Novices have the unique opportunity to learn from their Sisters of different cultures and backgrounds, bringing a richness to their formation experience. Not only do they gain knowledge and appreciation for various customs and practices, but they also cultivate a deeper sense of understanding and respect for their fellow sisters.

“The novices are from six congregations, six age groups, six different cultural backgrounds or countries — about as ‘inter’ as you can get,” Sister Nancy Gerth explained.

The process of integrating into a new community can be both challenging and rewarding. Novices are called to let go of their own cultural biases and assumptions, and be open to new perspectives and ways of doing things. This requires a willingness to listen, learn, and grow alongside their Sisters.

Sister Nancy Gerth, left, participates in evening prayer at the InterCongregational Collaborative Novitiate with novices Maribah Ishaq, Maisie Ng and Juliana Wuur.

Despite the challenges, the benefits of cross-cultural formation are vast. Novices gain a broader understanding of the universal Church and the diverse ways in which it is lived out around the world. They are also better equipped to minister to people of different backgrounds, and to serve as bridges of unity and understanding in a world that is increasingly divided.

As religious life continues to evolve in a rapidly changing world, the importance of cross-cultural formation cannot be overstated. It is a powerful tool for building bridges, fostering understanding, and strengthening the bonds of sisterhood across continents and cultures.


  1. Mary. K. A

    Global church experience. Congratulations to you.
    Great job indeed. Thank you for sharing with us your involvement with the universal church formation for Mission.

  2. camille panich

    What a wonderful witness for the future of Religious Life. God bless you all!


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