|Mother Mary Joseph in her office at the Sisters’ Motherhouse, Maryknoll, NY, 1941|
The founder of the Maryknoll Sisters, Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, MM, has been named one of nine American women to be inducted in 2013 into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (NWHF).
Mother Mary Joseph, whose “extraordinary achievements were recognized and applauded” by all the judges, according to NWHF deputy director Amanda Bishop, will join the 247 eminent women who have been inducted into the Hall since its founding in 1969. Among others included in this year’s list were Betty Ford and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“We are thrilled and honored by Mother Mary Joseph’s selection,” said Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM, president of Maryknoll Sisters, and happy for the recognition it gives to our founder who achieved so much, not only for women religious, but for all American women, at a time when possibilities for them were far more limited than they are today.
“Mary Josephine Rogers, as she was called prior to joining religious life, broke through the negative stereotypes about the role of American Catholic women in church and society at the beginning of the 20th century,” Sister Janice said. “As founder of the first American mission congregation of Catholic women, she proved that women were equal to the demands of life and ministry abroad, particularly in places where poverty, physical hardship and sometimes, even safety during wartime, were commonplace.”
Mother Mary Joseph drew from a lifetime of spiritual depth when she stressed the need for the sisters to be compassionate women, adaptable and willing to try new ways without fear of failure or censure, according to a release put out by Maryknoll. Above all, she emphasized the primacy of a holy life.
Today, Maryknoll Sisters serve in 26 nations around the world, ministering to all people in need. Their numbers include doctors and nurses; authors, artists and dancers; social workers, ecologists and peace activists; theologians and spokespersons to the United Nations.Learn more about the Maryknoll Sisters here.
|A short film inspires Mary to become a nun.|
Have you ever been asked to consider religious life? Was there a period of time in your life where you thought about becoming a sister, nun, brother, or priest? Writer and director Teresa McGee recounts this period of time in her own life as the inspiration for a short film, The Mary Contest.
An 11-year-old, Mary Kelly, struggles to fit in and finds comfort in Sister Adelia, who invites her to join The Legion of Mary prayer group. It is in the prayer group where the contest to find the most names for the Virgin Mary ensues.
How many names can you think of for the Virgin Mary off the top of your head? What about Marian religious communities? With help from the VISION search tab, here's my "short" list of communities with Mary--or some form of Mary--in their name:
October is Mission Month in the Roman Catholic Church, and on October 1 the Maryknoll Sisters will go live with their first website for teens.
Teen4Mission features stories for, about, and by teens who are making mission part of their everyday lives. In October it will have an interactive daily calendar with articles, links to videos, and mission-focused games as well as places where teens themselves can upload their own articles, pictures, and videos about mission and share their thoughts about mission in daily life with other teens.
See a preview of the site.
|ARCHBISHOP Aymond blesses the new
discernment house for women in New Orleans.
The current issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide has an item on Manresa House at Boston College, where students who are considering life as a sister, brother, or priest in a religious order can gather for talks, prayer, meetings, retreats, and other activities connected to the process of vocational discernment, regardless of which religious communities they may be interested in.
Now the Archdiocese of New Orleans has opened a similar facility for women in addition to the region’s men’s house of discernment that already exists. The idea of Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux, S.S.F., director of the archdiocesean office for religious, Magnificat House of Discernment for Women is a full-time home for post-college-age women to live in community while discerning a possible call to religious life. The project is a collaboration between the archdiocese and women’s religious communities in the New Orleans area. For more information about Magnificat House, “like” NOLA Vocations on Facebook.
“Trailblazers in Habits,” a 90-minute film documenting the work of the Maryknoll Sisters, the first U.S.-based congregation of Catholic women religious dedicated to foreign missions, will have its New York premiere on Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., New York, NY.
A portrait of the Maryknoll Sisters’ endeavors in Hong Kong and elsewhere throughout the world, the documentary tells the story in the sisters’ own words, a chronicle that spans 100 years and several continents. The premiere coincides with the Maryknoll Sisters' Centennial year. Here's the 7-minute trailer:
|BR. O'CONNELL works out his runners
at the Iten Athletics Camp.
The Chicago Sun Times recently reported on a new trail in Northern Israel that gives visitors the chance to walk in the steps of Jesus.
The 39 mile "Gospel Trail" opened officially in December after many years of planning to make sure the most important spots were picked. The trail, which is government funded, starts just outside of Nazareth at Mount Precipice and heads northeast past major sites in Jesus' life. Travelers get a glimpse of the Mount of Beatitudes before the trail ends in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.
Along the trail are gas stations, farms and houses so if you need a break there are plenty of places to stop along the way. The Department of Tourism is hoping that this new trail will spark business in Israel. Their hope is that businesses will begin to build hotels and restaurants along the way to help rebuild the tourism industy in Israel.
If want to learn more about the Gospel Trail or to simply immerse yourself in the culture visit goisrael.com
Born in Northern Italy in 1850, Mother Cabrini worked as a teacher in her early life and later ran an orphanage. In 1877 she took religious vows and formed the religious congregation the Missionary of the Sacred Heart.
Her role was to help and work with Italian immigrants and in 1881 she did just that right here in Chicago. She opened up Assumption Church, the first Italian parish in Chicago. Throughout her life, she devoted her ministry to education and health care. She built hospitals and schools and created opportunities for immigrants that may have never had the chance to go to school or receive health care. In 1909 Mother Cabrini officially became a US citizen. After returning to Chicago in 1917, she fell ill and died on December 22, 1917.
In 1946 she was canonized by the Catholic Church. This was a significant honor as she was the first American citizen to be canonized a Saint. Mother Cabrini lived her life by devoting it to helping others. She never gave up and always believed in her mission. What a great role model to have in our lives today. Mother Cabrini is someone we still can look to for help each and every day.
To read more about Mother Cabrini and all her amazing works check out this article published by WBEZ.
In one the NRVC will develop a conversational tool to enable religious institutes to engage in a deeper exchange about the findings of the landmark 2009 NRVC/CARA study on recent vocations to religious life and their implications for apostolic life with respect to community, visibility, communal prayer, and celebration of Eucharist.
The second project will convene three gatherings for women religious in the eastern, middle, and western regions of the U.S. The purpose of these unprecedented gatherings will be for women religious to study the research regarding recent vocations and discuss and reflect on the combined implications of this information for religious sisters as they work together to increase their membership both individually and collaboratively.
In the author blurb at the end of his fine article for the current issue of VISION, “Blessed are we who comfort the mourners,” in which he tells his vocation story, it says that Matthew Kuczora, C.S.C "is expected to profess his final vows in August 2011." Well, he did it!
The Holy Cross Office of Vocations informs the world: “On Saturday, August 27, 2011, Mr. Matthew C. Kuczora, C.S.C. made his final profession of vows with the Congregation of Holy Cross. Matt professed forever the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the midst of a celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. In taking these vows Matt committed the rest of his life to living and serving in the Congregation of Holy Cross as an educator in the faith." Congratulations, Matt!
Holy Cross is on VISION.
World Youth Day, Aug. 19: The Pope assured 1,600 sisters, representing nearly 300 religious communities and institutes, that the church and society continue to need the “Gospel Radicalism” of their religious consecration.
Benedict XVI gathered with the women religious at the Monastery of San Lorenzo in El Escorial
|SISTERS AWAIT the pope's arrival at
the Monastery of San Lorenzo outside Madrid.
Photograph: Andrea Comas, Reuters
After a few words of introduction from Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco, the Pope listened to Belén González, a member of the Siervas de Maria congregation, who spoke on behalf of all the nuns present.
“Your Holiness, we know that the Cross placed on your shoulders by God is heavy. We want you to know that you are not carrying it alone, you can count on us who, in the silence of the cloister or in serving the Church in our work, help you in our simplicity and poverty, and with the strength that we receive from Jesus Christ”.
The Pope thanked the women religious for their “generous, total, and perpetual yes” and expressed his wish that this “yes” might “speak to young people, inspire them and illuminate them”. The Pope explained that consecrated life means “getting to the root of love for Jesus Christ with an undivided heart, and not putting anything before this love.” The Pope asked that, in the face of relativism and mediocrity, they live their “Gospel radicalism” in communion with the pastors of the Church, their own religious institution, and other members of the ecclesial community, such as the laity who give witness to the same Gospel in their own vocation.
BRAZILIAN Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, 64, was appointed in January as the new prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican body responsible for overseeing Roman Catholic religious life.
Bráz de Aviz
Commenting on the Vatican visitation of of women’s religious congregations in the United States, the archibishop said: "That, too, has not been an easy matter. There was mistrust and opposition. We’ve spoken with them, and their representatives have come here to Rome. We’ve started to listen again. That’s not to say there aren’t problems, but we have to deal with them in a different way, without preemptive condemnations and by listening to people’s concerns. By now, we’ve received many reports which we have to work through. There’s also the relationship with Mother Clare Millea [the Vatican-appointed head of the visitation], which will be important."
From John L. Allen, Jr.'s report on the NCROnline blog.
ON FRIDAY July 1, 2011 the former Eastern Province of Holy Cross Priests and Brothers officially merges into the Indiana Province to form the new Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers.
The merger was approved at the Congregation of Holy Cross’ general chapter meeting in Rome in the summer of 2010. In December the two provinces agreed that the merger should place on July 1, 2011, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“This merger is a union and an act of God,” said U.S. Provincial Superior Father David T. Tyson, C.S.C. “Holy Cross has trusted in God’s divine providence from the beginning. Today with this union, He continues to bless us. With more than 100 seminarians, we are now more than 500 strong. We are men of different ages, cultures, and ministries, but we are united in the common mission of Holy Cross: to make God known, loved, and served!”
|Nearly 400 Holy Cross religious from the Indiana
and Eastern Provinces gathered in a joint assembly June 13-16
on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
The ministries of the new U.S. Province include four colleges and universities: the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind., 1842); University of Portland (Portland, Ore., 1901); King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, Pa., 1946); and Stonehill College (Easton, Mass., 1948).
Other ministries include 15 parishes in the U.S. and Mexico; André House in Phoenix; the Downtown Chapel in Portland; Ave Maria Press in Notre Dame; Holy Cross Mission Center, serving people around the world; and Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, Mass. The United States Province is also present in Mexico, Chile, Peru, and East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania).
And don’t forget: VISION will be at World Youth Day in August in Madrid at the Holy Cross Family Ministries booth.
Holy Cross on VISION.
|PEACE PILGRIMS at last year's event.|
This Saturday, May 7, the 8th annual “Stepping Up the Call: Pilgrimage for Vocations” will step off at 8:30 a.m. from the Maria Stein Center of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, 2291 St. John's Rd., Maria Stein, OH. The event is a fun and healthy spiritually-based day that has drawn hundreds of participants of all ages from a multistate area who walk (or ride) to area churches and shrines, prayer, talks, benediction, snacks and lunch, and closing Mass, finishing at 4 p.m.
|Missionaries and Sisters of the Precious Blood
and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati organize
an annual eight-mile vocation pilgrimage.
Last month the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity accepted no fewer than 47 postulants from 11 different African countries into its international novitiate in Nairobi, Kenya. The event comes on the centenary of the departure of the first Belgian Brothers of Charity missionaries for the then Belgian Congo, beginning the Brothers' presence in Africa.
|AFRICAN BROTHERS of Charity enter novitiate
on February 26, 2011
In 2010 Father Andrew Torma, M.S.C., vocation director for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, formed two parish vocation committees in parishes the M.S.C.’s serve. The purpose of these committees is to reach out to parents and others in the local church to assume the responsibility of supporting young men and women who hear a call to serve God, the church, and others by becoming a religious brother or sister or through ordained ministry.
The process includes asking the pastor to identify and encourage 12-15 people who would have an interest in learning about the need for a vocation committee. Father Torma makes a presentation to them explaining the importance of forming a “culture of vocation” in the parish to inspire young men and women to consider consecrated life. The committee brainstorms possible parish activities to promote a vocation culture and chooses two or three activities to be implemented in the parish immediately.
Finally Torma asks three people to be the committee for three years, with a chairperson for two years. This committee can add members as they are able to recruit others from their parish. After the meeting Torma sends the committee ideas and keeps in contact with them to encourage their work.
It’s not unusual for individuals to raise money to support the work of religious communities, but last month Diane Molitor-Palmer of Wichita, Kansas found a unique way to solicit donations for five Catholic women’s religious orders who run missions in Africa: She climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, at 19,340 feet the highest mountain in Africa.
|DIANE PALMER and fellow climbers
on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro
The organizations that benefited from her effort were the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Kaduna, Nigeria, Hope for the Village Child; Sisters of Charity, B.V.M., Kumasi, Ghana, the Library and Literacy Center; Adorers of the Blood of Christ, Manyoni, Tanzania, schools for children; Congregation of St. Joseph, Songea, Tanzania, school for girls in rural areas; and the Christian Foundation for Children & Aging, Nairobi, Kenya, education and nutrition.
Dirty Vagabond Ministries, based in Steubenville, Ohio, is a Catholic apostolate to inner-city young people whose communities typically lack the resources to pay for religious youth workers and programs. The ministry seeks to mentor urban teens through Catholic incarnational theology: Its workers immerse themselves in the slang, fashion, and music of inner-city culture and give themselves to the pain, hopelessness, and anger of urban teens in order to bring Christ, and "be" Christ, with people.
Struck by the absence of visible urban youth ministries in service to Catholic youth, veteran youth ministers Bob and Kate Lesnefsky founded Dirty Vagabond in hope of bridging that gap. As a Christian hip-hop artist and speaker, Bob travels the country reaching out to contemporary teens through rap music and hip-hop culture, while Kate puts degrees in theology and catechetics to use mentoring teenage girls.
The ministry’s main approach is a one-on-one method in which relationships are developed on a personal level so that every individual who visits a Dirty Vagabond Ministries community center is personally heard, loved, and ministered. Dirty Vagabond does not organize large-scale youth events or even seek to draw large numbers of young people. Instead, their hope is to develop new leaders that will remain in the community to mentor others.
Rather than overlook the configuration of urban life, Bob and Kate lead Dirty Vagabond Ministries in addressing the unique challenges of inner-city communities, where the widespread single-parent family structure can lead to a lack of structure, motivation, and attention among the kids who live there.
Their ministry seeks to be a healthy classroom and youth group to a generation of teens who have grown up in a hostile time and environment. Dirty Vagabond Ministries provides resources and catechetical models to develop the faith, character, life skills, and knowledge that lead urban teens to the sacramental life of the church and pastoral leadership within their communities.
Dirty Vagabond Ministries’ How Much Can Be Done in a Year?:
A year after the earthquake in Haiti, Salesian Missions has launched a news site that focuses on disaster recovery efforts in the area of Port-au-Prince. With so much media attention focusing on the negative aspects of the post-earthquake situation, ProgressInHaiti.org hopes to provide information and insight about programs and progress in Haiti related to Salesian Missions activities and those of partner organizations as well as overall issues in the country.
Through a new Salesian University Network, for example, hundreds of university students who had been unable to return to school following the Jan. 12, 2010 quake will have a chance to continue their education through 13 computer labs or cybercafés throughout Haiti.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Salesian Missions provided disaster relief to victims—many of them their own students and teachers. Early efforts focused on the basic human needs of food, water, medical supplies, survival kits, and tents for shelter. Thousands of refugees were housed within the confines of those facilities which were not destroyed, and thousands more were provided meals.
In addition to getting news, people can visit ProgressInHaiti.org to make donations for recovery work. To date about $2.5 million have been spent by Salesian Missions on relief efforts for the Haitian people, along with additional in-kind donations. More than 23,000 students and 1,200 teachers have returned to classes at 10 Salesian Missions educational facilities.
Salesian Missions "What's your mission?" video”:
The Salesians also have a YouTube channel.
Frank McCourt’s famous memoir Angela’s Ashes depicts life in Limerick, Ireland’s fourth-largest city, where for decades residents have struggled to overcome poverty, unemployment, and other social problems Three years ago a trio of Franciscan Friars from the Bronx, New York moved to the Limerick suburb of Moyross to serve the needs of its residents.
Brothers Shawn O’Conner, Jason Grandell, and Thomas Joseph of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal established their friary there in 2007 by converting three abandoned houses into a simple residence and chapel. Shortly before they moved in, they got a reminder of how tough the neighborhood was. Two children were nearly burned to death when a group of teenagers firebombed the car they were sitting in. But O’Connor and the others saw a need, and over the last three years they have worked hard to get to know the community.
“Many of the young people here just have no real proper guidance, that’s one thing we found,” O’Connor says. “They’re very wild. They’re great and they’re wonderful kids but they don’t have any discipline, they don’t have any sense of right or wrong.”
The monks persist with the kids, not shying away from a bit of soccer or American football or some good-old-fashioned roughhousing. They do it all wearing their grey, hooded robes, beards, and shaved heads.
Among other projects, the monks have built a community garden and a youth center. They’ve endured the teasing, the jokes, and the rocks that were sometimes thrown through their windows.
“Anytime there is a new brother, too, the young people test him. You have to go through somewhat of a crucible and rightly so because you have to earn the peoples’ love and respect,” said Brother Joseph.
Earlier this year the monks organized a rap contest in the neighborhood. Though the area is still a troubled place—and the current economic crisis will not make life there any easier in the coming years—the contest and other efforts are the kind of small gestures they believe give people in Moyross a sense of pride and hope for the future.
The friars at work in Moyross:
“Am I to live the sacrament of marriage? If so, when? Am I to live the single life? Live as a chaste single person? Am I to be a priest? Am I to be a lay minister? Part time? Full time? Am I to be a religious brother? A religious sister? Am I to be a consecrated lay person? Is it time to make a first step toward commitment? To this person? To the church? To this religious order? To this organization?
“When discerning about something, it is important to be a person of faith. Believe that God has a plan for you. Each of us does the hard work of dating, inquiring, studying, volunteer activities, prayer, and searching. We must be engaged in the process. Passivity is not discernment. God will not spoon-feed us into a life commitment. Yet, when we turn our action over to guidance from God, situations, persons, and circumstances will be tools to illuminate the direction. Prayer is necessary. In prayer, mention the person or the actions or the circumstances around the process of one’s search.
“Talk with people. The gospel uses the image of the lamp on the lamp stand which illuminates the entire room. We cast light onto our experience when we talk about it. Parish marriage preparation or Engaged Encounter helps a person to see clearly that this person is choosing me as her or his life partner. Sharing our spiritual journey with a mentor helps to clarify God’s will for our lives. A trusted friend or an experienced person can help clarify confusing experiences. Searching for a call to serve as a priest or a consecrated person is nourished by the lives of the saints, involvement in ministries, making sacrifices, and living with sisters, brothers, or priests for a short time."
For decades Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa has prepared young men for global service as Divine Word Missionary priests and brothers. This month Sister Ana Julita Bele Bau, a 39-year-old member of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters (the women’s community cofounded by the Saint Arnold Janssens, who established the Divine Word Missionaries), will become the first female graduate since the school refocused its mission to include new coeducational and lay formation opportunities.
SISTER JULITA walks the halls
Facing declining enrollment—"we were at a critical point for student enrollment and we had a wealth of resources to share," said college president Father Mike Hutchins, S.V.D.—the school allowed Catholic sisters to enroll in its English classes and undergraduate degree programs four years ago. As of next month, 35 of the 122 students at the college will be women. Though the women are all Catholic sisters, in January two lay leaders from Society of the Divine Word parishes in Jamaica will begin undergraduate work.
"Our beginnings were low-key to see how it would work out," Hutchins told Mary Nevans-Pederson of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. "Now I don't think anyone would go back." The new students bring "new life and vitality" as well as maturity and experience to the campus. “The women religious set a really good standard for the guys—they out-study and outwork them," Hutchins said.
Sister Julita, who has taught in Indonesia and Antigua, completed four years of cross-cultural studies and will return to her community in Anitgua to accept her next assignment on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean.
"I don't too much feel like a pioneer," she said, even though she was often the only woman in her classes and was 15-20 years older than most of her classmates. "They helped me with my math and I brought life experience and someone to talk to," she said. She says fellow students or staff never made her feel unwelcome.
Hutchins confronted the possibility of romantic male-female relationships head-on, calling a general assembly to discuss it. "It's something natural that can happen, falling in love, and there is nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "I urged them to be up-front and talk about it to our spiritual directors if it happens.
"The common denominator here is mission,” Hutchins said. “Everyone is committed to missionary service."
There has, however, been a previous female graduate of Divine Word. In 1994 Pat Cline, a working mother from Dubuque, Iowa, entered the college as the sole recipient of a scholarship designed to promote diversity. She completed her degree in 1998.
Sister Patricia Lucas, D.H.M. with two of her students
Now the director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, Lucas is also a member of the multicultural and evangelization committees for the archdiocese. In addition she is the regional director of formation for the Daughters of the Heart of Mary and has ministered in Ethiopia and the inner-city prisons of Chicago.
After joining the Daughters she was assigned as director of Nazareth School for Girls in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she was responsible for 1,400 young women. "At that time, the president of Ethiopia had his daughter attend Nazareth School. Everyone there valued their education and viewed attending the school as a stepping stone to England or America. The students prayed so much; they prayed for peace every morning," Lucas said.
Due to the continuing civil war in the area that ended in 1991, she relocated back to the U.S. to become president of a mostly white school. "I sent in my résumé for the job without a photo," she said. "When I was voted in, people were definitely taken aback. I didn't see overt racism, but it was racism that was covered by a smile. People don't respect you as a person with intelligence.""My faith has made me a stronger person," she confessed. "I could not endure the racism, even within my own church, if it was not for my faith. It made me look beyond the atrocities and realize there is a God."
I was at the Paluch Seminar on Vocations this past week and met some young adults who had never met a religious sister until they were well in their teens or 20s—even though they had attended Catholic schools. It made me realize that many people may not know or see the value of nuns, sisters, brothers, and religious priests.
I'd love to hear from others on what they see as the value for themselves and for the church of having people choose religious life. For myself I would say that I have been inspired by the fact that priests, brothers, sisters have been at the forefront of every major social movement in the U.S.: child labor laws, civil rights, peace, social justice. They helped establish our extensive Catholic school and healtchcare systems. They are now leaders in the immigration and healthcare reform movements.
I do believe their witness and dedication to the church is essential to the life of the church. Please let me know what you think.
The St. Joseph Worker Program (SJW), sponsored by the Congregation of St. Joseph, has announced the first class of St. Joseph Workers for their new year-long volunteer program in New Orleans, Louisiana. Four young women, who have a blog, joined recently-named program director Jackie Schmitz, C.S.J. on July 31, 2009. Their volunteer year will end June 30, 2010.
SJW is a year-long volunteer program for single women between 21 and 35 who are committed to social change. This program is based on the St. Joseph Worker program the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet began seven years ago in St. Paul, Minnesota that has since grown to two houses in the Twin Cities as well as an alumni house.
The program trains and supports women to be agents of change as they provide direct services to the communities they serve. The core of the program includes development in leadership, community, justice, and spirituality, which participants work toward through training programs, retreat days, living together in community, ministry experiences, and interaction among themselves, the sisters and associates of the Congregation, and others they meet.
A Study on Recent Vocations was just published by the Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference (the group which holds the copyright for VISION Vocation Guide). The study shows an increase in ethnic diversity among new entrants and a desire for prayer, communal living, and Catholic identity, which correlates with the VISION VocationMatch.com annual trend surveys and reader statistics.
For full details of the study, click here.
Best practices gleaned from the study for attracting and retaining new members:
Parishes, religious educators, and families also play a role in promoting vocations. Let's hope the study spurs more vocation awareness among all Catholics.
Sister Cyril Mooney, a member of the Irish-based Sisters of Loreto (Mother Teresa’s community before she founded the Missionaries of Charity), has been part of Calcutta's streets for more than 40 years, a Religion & Ethics Newsweekly story reports. Like the late Mother Teresa, Sister Cyril first came to India, in 1956, to teach in the elite English-language schools the sisters started during the colonial period in India.
Unlike Mother Teresa, however, Sister Cyril continued teaching, becoming the school principal and expanding her educational reach to underprivileged children living on the streets of Calcutta. Today, 50 percent of the students— mostly from slums—attend her community’s school for free.
"Our idea is to push them as far as they can go academically, and then if they can't go any farther they'll vet them into one of the vocational trainings and give them training whereby they can start to work," Sister Cyril said. "My hope is that every child who comes out will have a better future and I think the next generation will have a very good future.
They Killed Sister Dorothy, a new film about the life and death of Dorothy Stang, S.N.D.deN., who was murdered in the Brazilian rain forest in 2005, recently won both the Grand Jury and Audience awards for best documentary feature at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
Stang was a native of Dayton and belonged to the Ohio Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who created a Tribute Page on their website to honor her. At the time of her death, she was working with the Project for Sustainable Development, a government initiative created through Brazil's National Institute for Agrarian Reform which helps landless families benefit from sustainable farming systems.
The land was granted to the peasant farmers by the government, but is highly coveted by powerful ranchers. Stang, 73 at the time of her death, stood with farmers as they defended themselves against the ranchers and loggers who were evicting them from their land.
The area where Sister Dorothy was murdered, called "Esperança," (Hope) has since been reserved as a project of sustainable development. Stang, known as the "Angel of the Amazon," spent more than three decades working in the rainforest to ensure that farmers could claim and work their land.
Filmmaker Daniel Junge traveled to Brazil to investigate Stang's murder. Junge quickly realized that the trials of Sister Dorothy's suspected murderers, which included powerful loggers and ranchers, could "hold the fate of the Brazilian rainforest itself."
The movie was produced by Just Media of Denver, Colorado. It should be available for purchase on DVD when it completes its run at film festivals. For more information, see a movie review by Sarah Masters, Hartley Film Foundation, in Plainviews, an e-newsletter of The HealthCare Chaplaincy, and an article on Sister Dorothy in the 2006 Vision Vocation Guide.
People carry the coffin of Sister Dorothy Stang at a cemetery in Para, Brazil on February 15, 2005. Her casket is draped in a Brazilian flag.
Holy folks need two miracles as part of the process of being declared a saint. Catholic missionary Blessed Father Damien de Veuster of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary recently had a second miracle associated with his cause approved by Pope Benedict, which clears the way for his canonization.
The miracle is based on the testimony of Audrey Toguchi of Honolulu, who says she prayed at Damien's grave on the island of Molokai in Hawaii and was cured of a deadly cancer.
Toguchi's doctor, Y. M. Chang, says no one truly knows why some cancers disappear, "For the true believer or faithful, this is a miracle. For the true skeptic, this is a random or very unusual coincidence. For the doctor and scientist, we call it complete spontaneous regression of cancer."
The church is calling it a miracle, and Damien is expected to be canonized in 2009.
Vision Vocation Guide just sent out a press release on Trends in Catholic Vocations based on the very encouraging statistics we've gathered from Vision Vocation Match and two recent vocation surveys we conducted among discerners and vocation directors. All of the statistics are fascinating; be sure to check them out.
Here's one stat I'm betting will change in the coming year: In answer to the question: What resources have you found most helpful in gathering vocation information?, 42 percent of respondents rated Discerners' blogs "Not Important at All." My prediction: That percentage will completely flip within a year, with at least 40 percent rating discerners' blogs as an essential resource. Please pass on links to discerners' blogs you already know to be helpful to those exploring a religious vocation.
In 1964 Sister Lois Aceto, a Racine Dominican sister, had been teaching in that Wisconsin city for 14 years when her order gave her the opportunity to fulfill her dream as a foreign missionary: After spending five months in Lima, Peru learning Spanish, she and three other Dominican sisters went to Bolivia. The group had no specific instructions and “didn’t even have a place to stay,” Aceto told Racine Journal Times reporter Marci Laehr Tenuta. “I went there kind of naive about many things.”
After the sisters spent a period riding the buses of La Paz, Aceto started teaching religion in the public schools. There she organized high school and college students to work on justice-related issues—a delicate matter in a country then governed by a dictatorship. “You can’t talk against the government without getting arrested, which I was twice,” she said
Aceto also started a small library and hospital and a school for the blind, a task for which she learned Braille. Other activities included keeping young people out of brothels. “Boy, was that an education, let me tell you,” she said. “I’m always doing things I’m not prepared to do.”
Traveling outside La Paz, Aceto established an outpatient clinic for people with no medical care. She supervised orphanages and started a group for street children called New Hope. “It was beautiful,” she said. “It’s still going, by the way.” In an effort to be better prepared for her ministry, she even went to Madrid to study medicine.
When her father became seriously ill in 1981, Aceto returned to the United States. But she didn’t stop working on justice issues. She became involved in local programs like Restorative Justice and the Conflict Resolution Center housed at Neighborhood Watch, of which she is the director and where she trains others to be mediators and teaches conflict resolution in area prisons.
Aceto recently published a book, Journeying toward Justice, that recounts her time in Bolivia. “I feel driven to share my story,” she writes in the book. “For this is not merely one woman’s story: It symbolizes many of us—unknown, perhaps to all but a few—but people earnest, zealous, dedicated to serving God in the way we feel called, to engaging ourselves in the struggle for peace and justice in the world.”
Aceto says her work in Bolivia “changed me completely. I loved it, every minute of it. It taught me how to rely on the providence of God. You learn how to walk with God, all the time.”
Journeying toward Justice is available at
From the heart of a missionary
Words come rushing into my awareness as I think of my missionary life so far . . . Kenya, my dream come true, far away from my birthplace of Detroit, Michigan. Fulfilling years of wondering, praying, searching, which culminated in my joining the Medical Missionaries of Mary, in Boston, Massachusetts. One dream, of being a nurse, had already come to fruition; now the missionary segment was unfolding. I was sent to a place called Turkana, a desert area tucked away in a corner of northwest Kenya. It was a land so totally new to me and “foreign,” yet it was there, in a seemingly barren land, that my life really bore fruit. I found a new life, a new home and all my dreams were fulfilled.
How to sum up my years as a missionary? So many experiences: joys and frustrations of learning a foreign language, becoming part of a gifted people so very different from my own. So much learning: about life and death, risk-taking and loving, failures and accomplishments. I discovered within me: my love for a people and land that is so deep that they will always be enmeshed in my heart and soul. It was a land where I experienced the deeper meaning of communion and commitment, of realizing more deeply what a missionary really is, the costs as well as the tremendous gift.
O what wondrous things I have experienced! What can compare with an old woman’s toothless smile as she eagerly awaits the often mispronounced or haltingly expressed words I speak in her language? Or who would trade anything for the laughter of a healthy baby and mother who have successfully fought the battle against tuberculosis? Again, what is equal to helping to quench the thirst for knowledge about God, about healthy living, about what the “rest of the world is like” that young people have?
Whom did I find? I found friends, people I am close to and will remain so until the day I die. I found Christ already present among the people who were labeled animists by some and heathens or pagans by others. I, the missionary, was missioned to, in countless ways, such as the heartfelt compassion I received from a starving mother of three who comforted me as I cried while telling her we had no more food to give, that our supplies were finished after a year-long drought and famine. I am the woman of little faith that, during that same famine, when death from hunger and disease were literally all around us, thought that Christmas would be dismal—but who had the best Christmas of her life! I experienced that Christmas Eve the true spirit and meaning of Christmas shining in the eyes and hearts, in the faith and joy of the people. These and countless other experiences I hold dear and will cherish always.
I lift my heart in gratitude to God for my missionary vocation and for all I have lived and experienced as a result! Glory and praise to our God!
I belong to: The Medical Missionaries of Mary
Despite years of war and hardship, Sister Maryanne Pierre has helped to keep Baghdad’s St. Raphael’s Hospital open to those who need medical care. The Dominican sister, 58, was recently named a CNN “Hero of War,” a group of people the news network recognizes for their “feats of courage, nobility of purpose, or life-risking situations” to “avert conflict, save lives, or otherwise achieve an extraordinary mission.”
Sister Pierre was born in Iraq and was attracted to the Dominican sisters, who had established a community in Baghdad in 1873. After studying in France and the United States, Pierre returned to the Iraqi capital to work at St. Raphael’s.
In addition to treating sick and injured people during the Iraq war, St. Raphael’s, one of the few hospitals to remain open during the fighting, also had to deal with a large number of premature childbirths. “The fear caused many women to have premature births, Sister Pierre said. “Three hundred and fifty babies were born in two weeks.” Falling bombs and looters did not deter Pierre and the hospital staff from keeping the facility open. Most recently she went into the streets and asked U.S. Marines to guard the hospital.
“This is my job to stay here to help people,” she said. “Even during the first Gulf War we stayed. It’s our duty to stay here for all the people.”
What do you think of Sr. Pierre's work? Do you find it inspiring? Frightening? Both?
The Catholic Church continues to “go green,” and by that I don’t mean only the liturgical color of Ordinary Time. In a sign of the church increasing concern for the environment, Archbishop Leo Cornelio, newly installed archbishop of Bhopal, India, said he would accept only one kind of congratulatory gift: tree saplings. Archbishop Cornelio, a Divine Word Missionary, said he intended the gesture to highlight concern over rising pollution and growing indications of global environmental degradation.
In response to his invitation, Archbishop Cornelio received more than 10,000 saplings, which he said would be planted at Christian institutions and in other public places.
Last night I heard Olivia Wilde, an actress from Artists for Peace and Justice, speak of Passionist Father Rick Frechette's
|Passionist Father Rick Frechette,
a medical doctor, at one of his
clinics in Haiti prior to the
recent devastating earthquake.
Frechette had been in the U.S.
visting his ailing mother,
but returned to Haiti immediately
following news of the disaster.
great work in Haiti, founding hospitals, free clinics, and schools. He has received the "Hollywood Humanitarian Award" for his untiring dedication to the people of Haiti.
Here is news from him posted January 15 on the Passionists' website:
After driving by night to Kennedy Airport January 12th, and flying to the Dominican Republic January 13th, Conan and I arrived to Haiti this morning in the helicopter of the President of the Dominican Republic. This ride was due to the reputation of NPH in the Dominican Republic, NPH Italy, a reputation enhanced in the DR by Andrea Bocelli not long ago.
Our first tasks were the medical evacuation of one of our American volunteers, the medical evacuation of one of our Cuban doctors and the evacuation of the body if one of our American visitors. The search still continues in the rubble for another missing American volunteer, Molly.
We also had 18 funerals today. One for John who works at our St Luke program. We miss John very much. He often stopped to at my door to tell me the milestone of his developing baby, which delighted him no end. John ran our computerized language lab. Another was for Johanne’s mother. Joanne is one of the Directors of the St Luke program. All the others were of unknown people who were sadly rotting by the wayside. Other sadnesses…the death of Immacula, our only physician assistant, who worked at our huge outpatient side of our hospital. The death of ALL but one of Joseph Ferdinand’s brothers and sisters, the death of the husband of Jacqueline Gautier as he was visiting a school which fell and all the students (all died), the death of our ex-pequeno Wilfrid Altisme who was in his 5th year of seminary for priesthood.
Other stories of deaths of people who are dear to us keep coming in. We spent the rest of the time managing the countless people with serious and severe wounds, coming to our hospital. We are doing our best for them, under trees and in the parking lot with ever diminishing supplies. We will work throughout the night and beyond. No stores are open, no banks are open. Diesel is running out. Will be out in two days if we don’t find a solution, which will mean no power at all. The hospital is without water since there is some broken line between the well and the water tower. Structural damages to the hospital seem superficial at first glance, but about half the outer perimeter walls have fallen. The old hospital in Petionville is in ruins, and teams of workers, led by Ferel, and been digging for Molly non-stop around the clock.
WE HAVE NO INTERNET. OUR PHONES DO NOT WORK. IF A CALL DOES GET THROUGH WE CAN’T HEAR OR BE HEARD. Robin has internet access through a satellite. I asked her to send this message for me, and to read my emails and answer them as best she can for now. Please continue to pray for us. We pray for you too.
Fr. Rick Frechette
The Passsionists have the following message on their website:
Please consider a donation to help Fr. Rick help the people of Haiti:
Passionist Missionaries Inc.
526 Monastery Place
Union City NJ 07087-3398
Donate on-line. The link for our Donate Now will redirect you to Caring Habits, Inc. (CHI), the credit card processing company for The Passionist Missionaries website.
Gathering reports from the National Religious Vocation Conference's February Newsletter, and Fides, the news agency for the Ponitifical Mission Society, the earthquake in Haiti has had a devasting effect on many religious communities even as many religious men and women are in the forefront of relief efforts. Here is what is being reported to date:
From the NRVC:
Sister Brigitte Pierre, D.C., a Haitian member of the Daughters of Charity was found dead January 17. Remaining members of the Daughters of Charity were unharmed, although their homes were destroyed, and they have been living in tents as they reach out to assist their neighbors. An international team of 8 Daughters of Charity has arrived to assist with the relief effort.
Sister Mary Finnick, G.N.S.H. of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart is a nurse and has been treating the injured at Matthew 25, a Port-au-Prince hospitality house she runs. She and a doctor have been using the dining room of the partially damaged house as an operating room.
Sister Judy Dohner, H.M., a Humility of Mary sister suffered broken ribs and a concussion. She lives with the Sisters of St. Antoine of Fondwa, a Haitian community that lost a novice sister and a 2-year-old orphan in her care, along with its convent. The community’s orphanage and school also were damaged, forcing
|The funeral service for Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot,
outside the ruins of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de
l'Assomption, in Haiti on Jan. 23, 2010.
Miot and many parishioners were killed
when the cathedral collapsed during the earthquake
Shawn Thew / EPA Read mor
members to sleep outdoors with the orphans.
The Marist Brothers report that since their works are far from Port-au-Prince, they withstood the earthquake without any serious damage.
Two seminarians of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales were killed; five others were seriously injured but expected to recover. Two of the community’s three houses were completely destroyed. The community’s three priests and seminarians are living out in the open.
The 11 Sisters of Providence serving in Haiti survived the earthquake, although their homes were damaged. The sisters are sleeping in the street but continue to serve the poor by caring for the injured in a make-shift clinic set up on the grounds of a demolished church. Meanwhile the international congregation of the Sisters of Providence has launched a fundraising campaign to help Haiti rebuild and has pledged that its sisters will remain for the long term.
Sister Odlinè Morcy, S.S.A. of the Sisters of St. Anne was killed and another sister was injured. The community also lost a dispensary, a school and two residences.
The Society of the Sacred Heart reports that the three R.S.C.J. sisters based in Port-au-Prince are safe, but their house was destroyed. They express gratitude to the Daughters of Mary who extended hospitality to Sister Josefa Corrada, R.S.C.J. after she escaped a building. The R.S.C.J.s will move to Verrettes, Haiti where the community offers educational programs.
At least five employees at the Viatorians’ principal building, Villa Manrèse, were killed when the building was destroyed. One Viatorian, Jean-Michelin Cadet, injured his leg when the Viatorian community house and parish church in Grand Goâve were destroyed. Several Viatorians have opted not to take refuge in the community’s intact house in Cazeau neighborhood near the airport but to remain in Grand Goâve and Villa Manrèse, ministering to the people as best they can. The Superior General of the Viatorians has launched an international fundraising campaign to help rebuild and continue its mission in Haiti.
The two Xaverian Brothers who run the Maison Fortuné Orphanage in Hinche, Haiti are safe. They are moving forward with plans to take in children from Port-au-Prince orphanages that have been destroyed. The Xavierian Brothers also sponsor Sant Zveryen, a house for young men attending college in Port-au-Prince. The house was damaged, but all nine student-residents survived.
The Sisters of Charity of St. Hyacinthe, Canada lost their convent and school in Haiti, but their 21 sisters are safe and living with other congregations.
The Missionaries of St. Jacques lost Port-au-Prince Archbishop Serge Miot.
The Montfort Missionaries lost nine seminarians and one priest.
The Congregation of Daughters of Wisdom lost three sisters. Three others are still trapped under the rubble.
Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Haiti have about 130 members. One seminarian was killed.
The Congregation of the Holy Ghost lost one seminarian.
The Christian Brothers (with 15 working in Haiti) reported no deaths or injuries. There was slight damage to its novitiate, which has been converted into a shelter for nuns who were left homeless.
None of the 41 Redemptorist fathers or brothers was killed; only one was wounded. However damage to their property estimated at $2 million.
The seven Dominican men religious also escaped unharmed. The Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin sustained one injured sister; one of their two homes was completely destroyed. One of the children of their school was killed.
The 49 Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary all survived.
The five Camillian seminarians escaped unharmed.
The Salesians reported about the collapse of a school that buried 200 students and the religious working there. The bodies of two Salesian seminarians have been found.
Jesuits reported little damage and no lives lost; only one priest was injured.
The Franciscans also reported that their 16 brothers are alive. However, an Argentinean priest of the order, who worked as a missionary in Haiti for the past two years, is among those who disappeared in the earthquake, his brother reported on a local television station.
According to the most recent statistics Haiti's capital was served by 277 priests, 387 men religious and 1,200 women religious.
In a recent holiday message from Moscow, Sister Roberta Christine, F.S.P., a Daughter of St. Paul from Virginia, wished everyone a blessed Christmas and happy new year—or, more precisely, С Рождеством и новым годом!—and described some of her activities in the Russian capital.
|Moscow's Catholic Cathedral|
Sister Roberta’s efforts led to an invitation from the Salesian Oratory Youth Group at the cathedral to give a talk on Pauline life and mission, which she did with the help of two other sisters, a PowerPoint presentation in Russian, and youth translators when necessary. “We started the evening with ‘tea’ and ended the evening with the ‘tea’—a very Russian thing to do,” she said. Some of the young people have even started stopping by the Pauline book center.
As for the weather: “We have had -23 C, -20, -16 so that 0 C feels like summer,” Sister Roberta reported. “But at -15C’’—that’s 5 degrees Fahrenheit—“your nose hairs and eyelashes actually freeze. The trick seems to be dressing like an onion.”
New York City's Empire State Building said "yes" to Mariah Carey, dog shows, cancer charities, even the 60th anniversary of communist China. But the landmark skyscraper's owners have declined to illuminate the iconic skyscraper in honor of the late Mother Teresa.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said his advocacy group requested that the building be lit on August 26 for the centennial of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner's birth. The request was denied in an unsigned, faxed letter, Donohue said, "and they never gave an explanation."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Associated Press that she spoke with Empire State Building owner Anthony Malkin. Although the real estate mogul was "very professional" and said he "would reflect on the points I made," she said, he didn't give her a satisfactory answer.
Mother Teresa helped open a pioneering hospice for AIDS patients in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. "Her impact on the world was so much greater than one religious group," Quinn said.
Illuminating the 102-story high-rise on Fifth Avenue in different colors to mark an important date, cause, or personality is a New York tradition. The building is color-decorated for religious holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah and other special occasions.
For Mother Teresa, the building would glow in blue and white in the New York night--the colors of her Missionaries of Charity order. Mother Teresa died in 1997, at 87, and was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church-- a step toward possible sainthood.
Requesting a lighting display involves filling out an application evaluated by the Empire State Building Co., which is privately owned and considers selection "a privilege, not an entitlement," according to the website with the application form. A decision is made "at the sole discretion of the (company's) ownership and management."
On August 26 the iconic Peace Bridge near Niagara Falls will be lit in blue and white in honor of Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 and is currently under consideration for sainthood. The bridge is being lit as the result of a joint request from the Dioceses of Buffalo and Saint Catharine’s, Ontario.
"We get numerous requests such as this," said Ron Rienas, general manager of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, which runs the Peace Bridge. "We did not take the view that this was a religious request. It's really commemorating the charitable works of Mother Teresa."
The request "seemed fitting," given that Mother Teresa was "certainly a woman of peace," said Kevin A. Keenan, spokesman for the Buffalo diocese. "This is symbolic in that Blessed Mother Teresa's light continues to shine around the world."
The Peace Bridge, which spans the Niagara River connecting Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario, received a lighting makeover in 2009 that allows for color-changing lights nightly. Nearly 700 light-emitting diode fixtures replaced floodlights on the 1927 steel arch bridge, creating a dramatic new look at night, typically between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Rienas said the requested tribute for Mother Teresa did not appear to be controversial. "Regardless of anyone's religious background, I don't think anyone can argue with the good works that Mother Teresa did. That's the viewpoint we took," he said.
The manner in which this request was handled is in stark contrast to a similar one a few weeks ago to have the Empire State Building in New York City lit to commemorate Mother Teresa. The request was denied, which resulted in protests by some Catholics and eventually led to the joint request by Bishop Edward Kmiec of the Buffalo diocese and Monsignor Wayne Kirkpatrick of the St. Catharine’s diocese for the lighting of the Peace Bridge.
The Peace Bridge LED Lighting System:
|A car of the "Mother Express"|
Though a Roman Catholic born in Macedonia, Mother Teresa is a national hero to people of all faiths in India. "The poor were attracted to Mother because they perceived that her compassion was authentic. In her presence, they felt consoled and assured that God loves them and cares for them," said Sister Prema, the superior general of the Missionaries of Charity.
The Missionaries of Charity now have 765 houses in 137 countries with more than 5,020 sisters, 370 brothers, and 38 priests.