What does it take to become a Sister?
(or Brother, or Guard, or maybe something else we haven't thought of yet?)
When it comes down to the glittery brass tacks of it all, the only thing that separates us from every other person with this particular vocation is the fact that we have a lot more fun doing it (and have left behind some pretty antiquated ideas in the process).
Sometimes service means showing up when it’s the most inconvenient thing in the world. Most of the time it involves sacrificing a lot of time and resources to brighten up the day (or night, mostly night) of the people you come across while doing The Work. Lots of times it involves doing a myriad of mundane-yet-completely-necessary tasks so that our Community can reap the benefits (we are a 501c3 nonprofit afterall - and all of that takes quite a lot of work!)
Thankfully, we always look great doing it, and have the support of not only our fellow siblings here in Philadelphia, but an international network of people who are also doing this work (some of whom have been doing this work for a large portion of their lives). Life as a glittery clown clergy is by no means a lonely existence, and it is as a collective that we find our biggest strength.
Okay, that's nice, but how do you actually join?
The process of becoming one of our siblings is based on the process by which Catholic nuns join their own orders (but with a lot more gaiety involved, if you will.)
The first step is volunteering with us. This is done by attending one of our General Membership Meetings (which are currently the last Monday of every month, check our facebook page for details). If you can make it through one of our meetings (which is sometimes a trial within itself), you'll be invited to hang out and help out with our events for a couple of months. Once a volunteer has attended at least two of our events and two successive GM meetings, they can become eligible for the next step in the process. When our novices and fully professed members believe the candidate is ready to join the House, they will request a brief interview of the potential member, and then have a private vote to confirm their entry.
The new member enters the house as a Postulant or trial member of the House. They do not yet take vows or have voting rights, but begin the process of getting to know the inner workings of the House and what part they may play in contributing to our work. This is also the point where they start looking the part by wearing the whiteface makeup we're all known for (although none of our members are required to wear makeup!) After at least another two successive meetings and at least 3 events with us, the member is then eligible for the next step, after another interview and vote from the novices and fully professed of the house.
The member then becomes a Novice, and takes their first private vows to honor the rules of the House while they remain in the novitiate. Our novices have limited voting rights, and choose the path of whether they would like to be a Sister (wearing our heart-shaped bonnet, called a coronet, and a white veil), Brother (with a black hat called a biretta with a white pom), or Guard (with a beret and white feather). After attending at least 4 additional meetings and at least 4 events, and completing a community service project of their own creation, the novice is eligible for full membership within the House upon interview and vote of the fully professed members of the House.
Full membership within the House is called Full Profession, where the member takes their final vows of service to the community. For Sisters the white veil is replaced with a black veil (and fully professed members may wear a veil of any color), a Brother's white pom is replaced with a black pom, and a Guard's white feather is replaced with a red one. While their journey as a junior member may have finished, the true journey of helping to lead and shape the House has truly just begun.