Grants remove obstacle of student debt for religious life candidates
Sister Ann Petrus, C.D.P., superior general of the Congregation of Divine Providence (left), welcomes Sister Christina Chavez, C.D.P. as a member in July 2016. The Congregation was awarded a 2015 NFCRV grant to service Chavez’ educational debt.
The National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV) awarded 2016 grants, totaling more than $140,000, to men’s and women’s religious communities to service the educational debt of seven candidates to religious life.
Awards can be given to grantees each year until the candidate with educational debt makes final vows and becomes a fully professed member of the community or the student loan is paid off, whichever comes first.
“For those entering religious life the expectation is that they be debt-free,” says Brother Ronald Hingle, S.C., NFCRV board chair. “Without assistance from NFCRV, these seven candidates would have had to defer their entrance to the community until their student loans were paid off.”
The National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations was made possible through grants from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the GHR Foundation.
The fund accepts grant applications from religious communities who are members of the NRVC, the founding organization of the NFCRV, from January 15 through March 15 each year and approves the year’s recipients at their May board meeting. Grantees are notified of their application status by June 30.
For more information on the terms of the grant, applying for a grant, or donating to the fund, please go to NFCRV.org or call Mark Teresi at 773-595-4028.
2016 grant recipient candidates to religious life
Cursey James Calais II
What made you begin to consider a religious vocation? Was there a particular moment you remember as an “epiphany” that led you to your commitment?
I discerned prior to college. Ever since I was young, I felt called to serving people. Later on, in high school, after I made my Confirmation, I began to get more involved with the church. I had a lot of inspiration from my parish priests.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
I have a couple! But my favorite is probably Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s actually the underlying theme of one of my favorite books: The Alchemist. It really speaks to how I discovered my vocation: My heart was really drawn to my community.
Who is your spiritual role model?
I probably have a few, but certainly Our Lady—what better way to go to Jesus than through his mother? And certainly my mom. She’s so loving and caring. She embodies the sacrificial love perfectly.
What were you doing before you entered formation?
I did a year of service after college. I lived in community with brothers and laypeople in New York. I worked in their volunteer program with youth ministry, manual labor ministry . . . and that’s really where I started my discernment.
What made you choose the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
One summer afternoon, my parents took me to visit one of the convents where my great aunts—who happen to be Sisters of I.H.M.—were living. When I walked in that convent door, I thought, “There’s something here.” I wasn’t sure what it was, but I looked around at the nuns and how they were treating the people around them and thought, “Oh my gosh, this might be the thing I’ve been looking for.”
How did your education influence your decision to dedicate your life to an order?
Being at Texas A&M was a big part of my vocation story. I experienced a lot of independence and was making a lot of choices for myself. And I surrounded myself with friends who challenged me. It was great to see the fruitfulness of campus ministry and all the great people doing constructive things there, like retreats and worship and praying together.
What would you tell someone considering a religious vocation but unsure what steps to take or how to tell if it is really for them?
Getting to know the founder of the order was key for me. If I’m going to be a member of that order, then I know I am going to be living the lifestyle of that founder. Creating a relationship with that person and asking for intercession was a huge part of my discernment. Reading about his life and letting him speak to me was important.
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