I have been an Associate with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross for six years now.
Initially when I had inquired about the Associate relationship I was told the process would take one and one-half to two years. My first thought was I really want to start NOW!
I guess I did not voice that desire but just followed the rules as this is what I had been taught to do, and looking back on that initial process it was very beneficial in my Franciscan journey as an Associate. At the time I inquired I was feeling as if there was a hole that needed to be filled in my heart or soul, that my spiritual practices were lacking something. It was as if I needed to feel something more about my Catholic faith life, my trust in God, and I hoped being an Associate would help me find this.
And yes, I am finding just that. Learning more about Franciscan spirituality and the spirit of St. Francis has helped me in my personal and family life, my work in a nursing home and working with young school children. I feel I now am able to serve others in the true spirit of St. Francis and much of this comes also through the Sisters' sharing their Franciscan spirit and their gift of love through their individual ministries.
Being in an associate relationship with a religious community has been a wonderful experience and has been very helpful on my spiritual journey. Am looking forward to many more years on this journey.