Becoming a Sister
Vocation and Formation

Whatever your gifts and passions, we invite you to consider joining us!

The Sisters of Social Service

The charism of the SSS is firmly rooted in the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit at work within each sister as she engages with the larger community in making decisions that take us into places and situations where we are being led. The spirit of St. Benedict accompanies us, calling forth our desire to challenge injustice in society’s systems as well as working one on one to address the dearth of human needs that plague so many who live in poverty. Joy invites us into community – this translates into the gift of hospitality as we welcome others to join with us in challenging the negativity and chaos that are disrupting our world.

Many SSS have engaged in the field of social work in various manifestations - from legislative work, community organizing, and one on one social services. Others have been called to express these principles through chaplaincy, theological work and retreat ministry. Since 1963, our Sisters have worked in Mexico and Taiwan and in 1994, expanded our work to the Philippines. Our Sisters champion local and global works of peace, advocate for marginalized people at the grassroots and legislative level, support economic development and community empowerment and provide direct social services to those on the margins of our world.

Becoming A Sister

The path of vocation is unique – the calling of every individual is a work of interaction with the Spirit of God. There is some mystery in this experience – there is a sense of being nudged, of wanting “something more.”

Recognizing the mystery of vocation, the SSS honor whatever processes are being experienced by those women being called. Having said this, there are certain steps in this process:

Reaching Out and Connecting

Initially, there is a first contact – the woman who is inquiring about religious life reaches out for information. A Sister of Social Service engages in conversation with her attempting to understand what it is that might be drawing this woman to consider life as an SSS

Having come to some sense that this woman may wish to know more, arrangements are made for the interested person to visit the sisters, come to dinner with them, visit the local houses, come to liturgies, join with the SSS on retreat and/or celebrations such as Easter and Pentecost.

Live-In Experience

If the person continues to be interested in the SSS life, it might be suggested that she consider a “live-in” experience in a local house. At this point in the exploration, the woman is introduced to our life style. During this time of discernment, the woman is introduced to what it means to live a life of prayer. The internal questions for each person is: How is it that I might best live out my commitment? How does the Spirit of God want to express her presence through me as I consider taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience? What are the obligations that I face – responsibilities for family members, health issues, indebtedness, etc.? How fit am I for the experience of living with others?

An SSS companion will accompany the woman as she asks these questions of discernment. It is not necessary to make decisions about the rest of one’s life at this time, but the process of discernment calls each person to wrestle with these questions and how she might fit into the SSS community, taking responsibility for the group as well as her own well-being. A process of mutual discernment occurs as both the inquiring woman and the community come together for experiences of prayer, ministry and community life.

Applying for Candidacy

Once the interested woman decides to take the next step, she is asked to fill out an application form which is submitted to the formation/integration team. If accepted into candidacy, an SSS reaches out to accompany the candidate in her search and decision-making. Through classes and weekends, and through engagement with the members of the SSS, the person in candidacy comes to know the spirit, the way of life, the manner of prayer and the forms of ministry of the community while testing her call to apostolic life. This is also the time when the candidate begins to integrate prayer with work.

Acceptance into the Novitiate

Initial formation/integration occurs as the exploring woman spends time studying Sacred Scriptures, learns -- and lives out more-- the meaning of a contemplative life style that would enable her to live out her vocation no matter the circumstances that face her in her ministry and in her communal interactions. She studies theology and the SSS Constitutions, the spirit and history of the SSS, and the depth of the meaning of the living out of the vows. There is an emphasis on social justice and commitment to the social mission of the Church. She learns more about Benedictine spirituality and the meaning of following the guidance of the Spirit of God in all aspects of her life. At this time, she is asked to find a discerning and reliable spiritual director with whom she can meet on a consistent basis.

Temporary Professed

The process of formation/integration continues as each sister lives out her commitment as a temporary professed woman. The sister begins her time of temporary profession with promises of chastity, poverty and obedience and follows the Constitutions of the SSS. Each woman in temporary profession will have a council contact who regularly meets with the person. She will continue to be part of the classes and weekends available to those in formation/integration. She is expected to continue to meet with a spiritual director with whom she feels comfortable.

Final Profession (Definitive Incorporation)

Final Profession is the moment in which the Sister takes perpetual vows in the SSS community. Taking final vows implies that the Sister has reached a level of spiritual maturity and integrity that enables her to respond with joy to her call as a Sister of Social Service. This final moment of integration into the SSS community implies that she is now ready to take her place in total responsibility to live out a life of service through the vows. Like Elijah, she has the cloak of commitment thrown over her shoulders and she is now committed to living out a life guided by the Spirit of God in both ministry and as an SSS community member.

Are you interested in becoming a Sister?
Please contact one of our Vocation and Formation offices below:

SSS Los Angeles in the U.S.

4316 Lanai Road, Encino, CA 91436

Sr. Nodelyn Abayan, SSS

(213) 448-0578

SSS - In Mexico
Calle Enrique Aguilar #176

Col. Centro, Tacámbaro, Michoacán 61650

Sr. Avigail Ortega Torres, SSS


SSS - In the Philippines

Barangay Minantok East,
Amadeo, Cavite 4119

Sr. Michele Walsh, SSS

Sr. Sonia Delima, SSS

Sr. Vangie Lasao, SSS


SSS - In Taiwan

Sr. Theresa Yi-Lan Tsou, SSS