Becoming a Sister or a Guard

So what’s the difference between a Sister Nun and a Sister Guard? Nuns are a more public face of our order. They take vows to serve the community in a very public way. They are known for their striking, gender-bending look when manifesting (appearing in habit and makeup) as well as their outgoing, joyous personalities. Guards serve house, which in turn allows the nuns to serve the community. Their work is more behind the scenes and their uniform is much more subdued. They rarely wear makeup. This allows to remain just out of the picture so that they can more easily do work the nuns may have more difficulty with in their garb. Despite their name, Guards are not considered part of a security detail, though making sure the Nuns are safe on outings is part of the job. It should be noted that both nuns and guards are full-fledged members of the order with equal voting rights and membership privileges.

There are 3 steps to becoming a member of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence through The DC Sisters. The first is to become an Aspirant:



Aspirant - a person who aspires to do or to be something. Aspirant is the term used to describe someone who has approached the Sisters with the intent to join as a guard or a nun. This is called “declaring aspirancy”. Essentially it means they have taken an interest and decided they want to explore the Order further. The Sisters will arrange to meet with the individual face to face to discuss their interest and also make clear the path of Sisterhood with a frank discussion concerning the demands the order makes upon every member. This friendly meeting is usually arranged by the Mistress of the Novices and may also include the Mother Abbess and the Sister who was initially approached. This is a chance for the individual to find out more about the Order and ask any questions they may have to be sure it is a good fit for them.

At this point, the individual is not yet considered part of the membership and as such does not attend business meetings, but should attend General Membership meetings. The Mistress of the Novices may invite the Aspirant to attend manifestations and events as an observer to see the Sisters in action. Once the Aspirant feels they have a good handle of what is required of them, they ask the Mistress of the Novices to petition them for Postulancy.



Postulant - a person admitted to an order as a probationary candidate for membership. A Postulant is an inquirer or observer. This period is ruled by the eyes and centers on learning by watching rather than speaking. During this time, the postulant generally participates as fully as possible in the life of the community, joining the novices and professed members at work. Postulants are expected to attend regular business meetings as observers, but may not yet vote. They are to research the history of the Order (referred to as Sistory) both globally and locally and gain a working knowledge of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI) and the DC House. The House Book of Bylaws should be studied carefully. 

 
This period can also be considered a period of candidacy for the novitiate. Since the candidate is not a formal member of the order at this stage, it is easier for an individual uncertain about their role to re-examine their intentions and commitment before entering the novitiate. Likewise, should the person be determined to be unsuited to the life, a postulant can be dismissed by the house without the need for any formal procedure.

So we have determined that Postulants wear a predominantly black outfit of their choice but that should have some elements of genderfuck as well. On their heads they  have a “training bourrelet” (smaller and thinner than the Novice bourrelet), a simple bandeau and a plain, short, grey veil. The bourrelet may be wrapped in a fabric of the Postulants choice – perhaps in the sister colour they have chosen. They may wish to accessorize their black outfit using this colour as well. Their charm or symbol may also be added to the outfit or bourrelet. Prayer beads may be worn at the waist. Postulants may wear white face with any desired eye and cheek makeup (including jewels and/or bindi as desired) but their lips must remain painted white symbolizing their dedication to watching and learning during this period. Postulants  are expected to attend Business Meetings and attend manifests no less than 2 times a month.

The Postulant chooses a sponsor. When the Postulant seels the time is right, the Mistress of the Novices will make a report to the membership at a Business Meeting that petitions the Postulant for Novancy, recommends the Postulant spend more time at this level, or recommends that the individual go on a different path and leave the order. This report is voted on by the membership seeking a majority.



Novice – a Novice is a prospective member of the order who is being tried and being proven for suitability of admission. After initial contact with the community as an Aspirant, and a period of time as a Postulant, the individual moves on to a prescribed period of training and proving, called the novitiate where they are known as a Novice. This usually lasts one year. During this time, the individual takes what they learned by watching as a Postulant and applies it practically by doing as a Novice. Novices are expected to prepare and execute a Novice Project consisting of an event or other undertaking that both benefits the community by raising funds, raising awareness or raising joy – often all 3 at once. Novices are also to lend in hand in helping other Novices and nuns with other house projects. Novices should complete their study of OPI history as well as research local LGBT history. Novices are expected to attend all Business Meetings and manifest no less than 2 times a month.

Novices may speak at Buisiness Meetings and vote on house maters. Novices are permitted to wear full Formalwear including a black habit, white guimpe, colored bandeau and bourrelet, prayer beads and charms. The veil must be white. Full whiteface should be worn including eyes and lips. Festivewear may also be worn when deemed appropriate by the house. Novices must find a mentor or sponsor who is a Fully Professed member of the order. If the house is still a Mission and all members are still Novices, a Sister from another house may be sought out. This individual is also known as a Nun Mama.

When the Mistress of the Novices feels the time is right, the novice is indeed a good fit and all tasks have been completed to satisfaction, she will petition the membership to elevate the Novice to fully professed status (or in the case of a Mission house – Novice Ready to Fully Profess). This report is voted on by the membership seeking a majority.

 


So there you have it – the 3 steps to becoming a Sister Nun. Sister Guards go through a similar process exchanging veils for leather caps.

 

Some important things to know –Until you are a FPM, you are not permitted to publicly represent the Sisters. You should always direct any questions or press to an FPM.During each stage of progression you are required to meet certain milestones set by the House. These include but are not limited to specific attendance requirements for meetings and/or events.Until you are an FPM you are not permitted to publicly appear in face without the presence of an FPM.

If you feel you have a calling to serve your community, promulgate joy, help those on the edges, seek spiritual enlightenment, expiate guilt ...and want to have a hell of a good time doing so, please get in touch with the acting Mistress of Novices - Sister Constance Inner and start your journey.

 

To email The Mistress of the Novices, click here.