There are four steps in the life of a Sister of St. Thomas Aquinas: the postulancy, the novitiate, temporary profession, and final profession.
The postulancy is the period between the acceptance of the candidate into the convent and the reception of the candidate as a novice.
During the postulancy, the young lady follows the routine of community life under the vigilance of the Mistress of Novices. She will chant the Divine Office with the Sisters and she will perform some duties in the apostolate of the institution so that she may better understand what will be required of her in the religious life.
During this time, the aspirant retains her Baptismal name to which is added the title of “Sister”. The postulancy lasts about ten months.
The Novitiate is the period given to the candidate to live according to the rule and constitutions of the Congregation and thus be able to find out for herself if she is capable of observing them. The novice does not take part in the active apostolate of the institution but rather devotes her time to prayer, study, and various duties within the convent. She takes classes to help prepare her for the religious life and for her work in the community.
The Novitiate lasts at least one year beginning with the beautiful Vestition ceremony in which the Sister receives her religious name. She exchanges the name by which she was known in the world for the name of Mary, the Mother of God and her beloved model, and adds to it the name of a patron she will have during her religious life.
The novice wears the habit of the community; a white wool dress, a white guimpe, and a fifteen decade black rosary to be worn at her side from her black belt. She will wear a white veil.
The temporary profession is the step in which the Sister makes private vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience which last for three years.
During these three years the Sister resumes duties in the active apostolate. She may be assigned to another house of the Congregation depending on where she is most needed.
A professed Sister exchanges the white veil of her novitiate for that of the professed, and receives the golden locket of the Sisters of St. Thomas Aquinas in which is kept the documentation of her vows.
Final profession is the last step. Having lived in the convent for about five years, the Sister, if she and her Superiors believe that she truly has a religious vocation, will make private perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. At the final profession ceremony, the Sister receives the golden ring of a Bride of Christ.