What It Takes To Be a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence
Often, the Sisters are seen out having a good time, looking fabulous and enjoying themselves. However, what people do not see is the great deal of work that each Sister does. We are also associated with fundraising and we do a lot of it, but that is not our mission and our work spans many other areas.
The Sisters do work including charity, community outreach, ministry, social activism, sex-positive education, and disease prevention. We organize, plan and throw events, sometimes acting as MC or host. We also have some very intense one-on-one sessions with the people we meet. The Sisters frequently act as educators for the community. Ours is a “ministry of presence”. Being a Sister requires a lot of different skills and an investment in time, energy, and money.
In a potential member we look for drive, passion and commitment; a desire to perform community service; the ability to handle many tasks with grace; honesty and a genuine character; good people skills and the ability to interact with others in a meaningful way. However, having the drive and skills is not enough. The Order must be able to work together smoothly and efficiently. We are far from perfect and, like any family, often have our misunderstandings. Despite that, we all work towards our common goals and often can make miracles happen.
We are more than just another community service organization: we are Sisters. We have a history and a culture that has developed. Like our religious counterparts, we felt calling to do this work. There is room for a lot of fun in the Order, but we take our callings and our vows very seriously. The majority of Sisters consider this a lifelong vocation; the path may twist and turn, the outer manifestation may change, but the commitment to service never waivers. In Atlanta we have two membership paths, one is the path of a nun and the other is the path of a Guard. In either case, both are consider to be Sisters and they follow the same regulations.
Becoming a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence
If you are interested in joining the Order, we recommend that you attend our events, observe Sisters in action, and engage them in conversation. Get to know them. Your path towards Sisterhood starts with a conversation with the Mistress of Novices. During this conversation, the Novice Mistress will assess your motivations for approaching the Order and try to determine if you will be a good fit. If she believes that you have potential, you will be asked to attend one of our general membership meetings. At that time, you can declare your Aspirancy.
There are four steps to becoming a Sister, the entire process taking at least one year.
The aspirant begins by declaring your intent to join at one of our general membership meetings, which are every third Thursday of the month. It lasts for at least three months; during this time, you should be developing relationships with the Sisters, participating in our events and watching how we work and operate. At this stage, you are not a member and have no rights within the Order. If we both decide that you are a good fit, you will need to get the Novice Mistress’ recommendation and select a Fully Professed Member to be your sponsor; we call them your Mother. The Membership then votes on your elevation; if you get a 2/3 vote you are elevated to Postulant.
As a Postulant, you are a Member of the Order although you still have no rights. At this time you can choose your sister path; either the path of a nun or the path of a guard. In addition to continuing to further your relationships within the Order, you are required to at least three meetings and three events. You will manifest as a nun/guard with white face and a (gray veil for nuns). You may only paint your eyes to symbolize you are still observing and learning. Postulancy lasts for at least three months. Near the end of that time, if we still agree that you are a good fit, you will need to find a Fully Professed Member to be your main sponsor; you Big Sister. With the Novice Mistress’ recommendation and the sponsorship of your Big Sister, you will be brought up for elevation. Should you get the two-thirds vote required, you will be elevated to Novice.
The Novitiate begins to manifest the outward appearance of a Nun/Guard. A Novice wears the whiteface and wimple as a nun, although she is only allowed to wear a pure white veil, and black attire for guards. Despite this, the public still perceives you to be a Sister and your interactions will radically change. The Novitiate lasts for at least six months. During this time you are a member without rights, you must attend at least six meetings and six events. With you Big Sister’s help, you must also plan, organize, and throw an event. Once you complete the requirements and have the Novice Mistress’ and your Big Sister’s support, you may ask to be elevated to Fully Professed status. As with the other steps, you will be voted upon by the membership; should you receive the two-thirds vote required, you will be elevated to Black Veil.
Fully Professed (Black Veil)
Although this is the last step in the formal process of becoming a Sister, it is the first step towards being a Sister. As a Fully Professed Member of the Order, you have all of the rights and privileges of a Member: you may vote, represent the Order, and manifest, as you feel called to do so. Fully Professed Members also may hold office and help shape the direction and development of the Order. Our Fully Professed Members serve the Order in many different roles; taken as a whole, they make the Order what it is.
Still interested? Get in touch with our Mistress of Novices
Sister Gardenia Honeybutt Gardeniahoneybutt@atlsisters.org