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Vocation and Discernment Posts

Characteristics of the newest religious sisters, brothers, priests, and nuns

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 16, February 2023 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
Recent Vocations Study and Report
Courtesy of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon

The NRVC's Catalyst newsletter has alerted us that the USCCB published their annual report with the characteristics of the women and men making perpetual profession in 2022. Here are some of the characteristics the NRVC on review of the report: 

  • On average, respondents report having known the members of their religious institute for three years before they entered.
  • On average, respondents report that they were 18 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, with half being 18 or younger when they first did so.
  • Respondents who reported educational debt paid down an average of $34,000 in educational debt before admission.
  • 84% had work experience prior to entering their religious institute. The main work fields are business, education, and healthcare. 14% were Catholic school teachers.
  • 12% report being raised by their grandparents during the most formative part of their childhood.
  • 36% attended a Catholic high school, compared to 8% of U.S. adult Catholics.
  • 93% report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life.
  • Women are more likely than men to report being discouraged from discerning a religious vocation (64% compared with 37% of men religious)
  • 30% report having a relative who is a priest or a religious.

Read other studies on vocations to religious life here.

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Early lesson: “It’s not all about me”

Posted by: Anne Marie O'Kelley   🕔 Thursday 15, July 2021 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Catholic culture
Sister Irene Eckerman, O.P. with second-grade students at Our Lady of the Elms School in Akron, Ohio in 1983.
Sister Irene Eckerman, O.P. with second-grade students at Our Lady of the Elms School in Akron, Ohio in 1983. (Photo courtesy of Sister Irene Eckerman, O.P.)

My most beloved teachers were nuns who taught us to help the poor, pray for the sick, and send our milk money to El Salvador. It was there that I learned of the necessity—and the possibilities—of self-sufficiency and cooperation. . . . In their polyester pantsuits and orthopedic shoes, Sister Irene and Sister Betty—my first- and second-grade teachers—emanated a sense of joy and purpose I found infectious. . . .

I was 5 when I began first grade in the fall of 1981. Sister Irene, with short, silver hair and oversize glasses, sat before my class in a little orange chair. With a map of Central America pulled down behind her, she passed around a badly photocopied picture of the sisters’ burned-out van [American sisters killed by Salvadoran death squads]. I don’t remember her words, but I remember the sensation: the gravity of the shock tempered by Sister Irene’s insistence on forgiveness. We did not learn about “capitalism” or “revolution.” The nuns did not traffic in propaganda . . . Sister Irene taught us that vulnerability didn’t separate humans, it connected us.

The nuns taught us generosity and introspection as directly as fractions and cursive. My education, in other words, was never only about me, but also about the world I was poised to inherit.

From “Everything I Know About Feminism I Learned From Nuns” by Liesl Schwabe, New York Times, Feb. 16, 2019.

Who’s entering religious life?

Posted by: Anne Marie O'Kelley   🕔 Thursday 15, July 2021 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
Chalice at Eucharist table
Those entering religious life today are attracted to the prayer, spirituality, charism, community life, sense of call, and mission that they find in consecrated life. (Photo: Robert Cheaib, pixabay)

Plenty of valuable data exists about who has been entering religious life recently and why. The National Religious Vocation Conference has made this information available in a highly visual “storymap” online.

That research, and other data, also appear in written form at “Studies” at

Some highlights:

• Newer members express hope about the future, even as they acknowledge that the demographics of religious life are changing fast.

• Newer members are diverse, ethnically and in terms of age, although most are young. The newest research shows the median age for those entering religious life in 2020 was 26.

• What draws new people into religious life are a desire for prayer, spiritual growth, charism, the joy of community life, a sense of call, and mission.

Secret to a happy life from a Catholic sister who has served 7 popes

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 03, January 2020 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life,Mission & Evangelization
St. Peter's Basilica - 123rf
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome (123rf)

After 90 years on earth and 70 years as a Catholic sisters serving seven popes in the Vatican, Sr. Maria de Céu, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, has learned the secret to a happy life: "A life given to others,"

In an interview in Rome Reports, Sr. Marie explains, "If we don't give ourselves to others, what's the purpose of living? The Lord always comes first."

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Millennial sisters get their 9 minutes of fame on Tamron Hall!

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 18, September 2019 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life,Catholic culture

Millennial sisters with many doors open to them chose religious life. That was the theme explored on a recent Tamron Hall Show, a new daytime talk show. The Catholic sisters featured on the show, Sisters Anne Marie Findlay C.S.S.F.; Elizabeth McGill, I.H.M.; Rachel Lauritsen, F.M.A.; and Boram Lee F.M.A. were brought to the attention of Tamron Hall producers by VISION publisher Patrice Tuohy, who worked closely with the show's producers to provide information on the contemporary religious life, Two of the sisters are also recipients of grants from the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations, established by the National Religious Vocation Conference to help alleviate the obstacle of educational debt to religious life. Patrice Tuohy and Phil Loftus, Executive Director of NFCRV, were in the audience to cheer the sisters on.

Millennial Sisters
NFCRV Executive Director and VISION Publisher Patrice Tuohy in the audience of the Tamron Hall Show featuring millennial sisters.

Benedictine Sisters introduce a virtual open-door policy

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 09, July 2019 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life,Catholic culture
Virtual tour of St. Mary Monastery
Virtual tour screen capture of the Chapel at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, IL.
Ever wonder what life in a modern-day monastery is like? Here's your chance to get a sneak peek without leaving home. The Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary’s Monastery in Rock Island, IL have introduced a Virtual Monastery Experience that combines aerial footage and 360 photography of the monastery with information and resources about their way of life. The virtual tour gives discerning women, who may want to become Benedictines themselves, a way to experience life at St. Mary’s before they visit.
“People use the internet to gather information about a school or a vacation spot," says Sr. Stephanie MacDonald, O.S.B., vocation director of the monastery. "So we thought to offer a virtual tour of our monastery as a helpful guide and for those discerning a vocation. It would provide an excellent word of welcome from St. Mary Monastery.” 
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Prepare for consecrated life

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 20, March 2019 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
Praying at mass
Morning Mass

Thinking of consecrated life? Prepare for vowed life by incorporating simple practices into your daily life today. Read more here.

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VISION's Four Steps to Vocation Discernment display big hit in Panama

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Sunday 17, February 2019 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Prayer and Spirituality,Catholic culture
2019 World Youth Day in Panama VISION Vocation Networ
VISION Vocation Network booth at 2019 World Youth Day, Panama

Our banner display at World Youth Day Panama on the Four Steps to Vocation Discernment was a big hit. An article (in English and Spanish) and pdf of "Four steps to vocation discernment" now available. Click here for more.

The VISION crew met thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims at the Vocation Fair in Panama City's Omar Park. We passed out prayer cards and VISION bookmarks and signed up pilgrims to receive daily "Take Five" meditations and stay connected with VISION. One lucky pilgrim won our Fit Bit door prize.

We look forward to the 2022 World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. Hope to see you there!

VISION at World Youth Day! Join us at the Vocation Fair

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 09, January 2019 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Pope Francis,Prayer and Spirituality,Mission & Evangelization,Catholic culture
2019 World Youth Day in Panama VISION Vocation Network
Caption Here

Join VISION Vocation Guide in Panama City, Jan. 22-25, in the Vocation Fair

Parque Omar, Section A, booths 23, 24, 25.

Walk through our "Steps to Discernment" display and enter to win a fitbit! 

Other World World Youth Day events

Fiat International Festival for Youth and Young Adults, hosted by the U.S.A.

Sponsored byKnights of Columbus, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Fellowship of Catholic University Students

Wed., Jan. 23, 2019, 2 p.m. - midnight

Centro de Convenciones Amador (Figali Convention Center)

Recognizing the context of the Church this year (including the crisis, the Synod, the Encuentro, the National Dialogue, etc.), the conversation will center on “What is the role of young people at this moment in the life of the Church?” 

Featuring music, witness talks, prayer, dialogue. Learn more here.  

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I will not work in a segregated dining room, obedience or no obedience . . .

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 06, December 2018 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life,Church History,Catholic culture

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth featured Sr. Pat Haley, S.C.N. in a recent newsletter. This line caught our attention: "I will not work in a segregated dining room, obedience or no obedience . . ."

Sr. Pat explains, "When we got to Nazareth as postulants we were assigned duties. I was assigned to the white men’s dining room. I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna do that.' Mother Lucille was coming down the hall, and although I knew I wasn’t supposed to, I stopped her. I asked for a meeting with her and her Council ‘because I am assigned a duty I simply will not do.’ The next day Sister Constance said that the meeting would take place that afternoon. I told the Council, ‘It is not right to be segregated in a place like this. I just spent my years in high school and earlier fighting segregation. I know I was coming into a white world, but there is no excuse for this.’ Sister Mary Ransom Burke, bless her heart, said, ‘What would you suggest we do?’ I looked at her and said, ‘It’s just a partition between two dining rooms. If you have a ladder and screwdriver, I’ll take it down….Mother Lucille said, ‘We will have to have a conversation with the workers.’ I said ‘You didn’t have a conversation with them before. It was decided by the Council. I will not work in a segregated dining room, obedience or no obedience.’ Nothing else was said but in a week the partition was down and I took the duty. Many of the workers did not like it but it was down. In the hallway there was a white water fountain and a colored fountain. I said you also need to do something about those two fountains. So they did. Sister Mary Ransom later said ‘Thank you’ to me and so did Mother Lucille.”

Learn more about the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth here.

Sister Pat Haley (left) and Betty Collier, newly graduated from Holy Family Mission School, were featured in a local paper for their plans to enter religious communities.

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You talk. We'll listen. A conversation with young Catholics

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 20, November 2018 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Mission & Evangelization,Catholic culture

The National Religious Vocation Conference, VISION's parent organization, hosted a conversation with young Catholics recently about their faith, their challenges, and how older Catholics can be of service to them. One youung person's advice to all Catholics: "Speak less. Pray more. Be faithful."

Find more highlights here:

Full session

Discernment Matters: The choices of a lifetime - A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE

Posted by: Alice L. Camille   🕔 Sunday 31, December 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

SOMETHING RATHER SAD happened to 100 percent of U.S. citizens in the 2016 election. No one felt heard or taken seriously. Half the nation wanted more attention paid to the facts. The other half wanted more attention paid to them. 

Must we choose between ideas and people? Is it impossible to respect both? Social tensions stem from the reality that many people no longer trust the ideas. Facts have become “facts” that mutate dramatically depending on our sources. Experts are now “the elite”—a despised bunch if ever there was one. 

Americans were once keen on developing expertise. This country created the broadest public school system ever attempted. The Old World scourge was privilege defined by dynasty. The American experiment was to invent a nation leveled by literacy. Equal educational access would produce a citizenry of “elites,” fueling progress and prosperity. John Carroll, the first U.S. bishop, recognized an opportunity and rushed ahead to establish the parochial school system. Religious communities were founded to provide the empowering ministry of education. 

Catholic schools were frequently the only schools on the frontier. In the century that spawned the virulently anti-Catholic institutions, Protestants and others still didn’t hesitate to send their children to the sisters for an education. Book learning meant an equal share in the national conversation. It’s time to restore respect for the unifying power of learning. Education must again become the bridge to opportunity, not a source of division and suspicion.

Discernment Matters: The choices of a lifetime - LARGE AND IN CHARGE

Posted by: Alice L. Camille   🕔 Tuesday 26, December 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Doctrines & Beliefs

GOD IS THE ALMIGHTY. Jesus is Lord. Christ is King. We use these phrases liberally in our tradition, but what are we really saying? The message is one of sovereignty—a creaky multisyllabic word that sounds at once old-fashioned and formidable. Sovereignty is the original superpower. No one is above the sovereign. No authority can limit and no voice overrule such a person. Sovereignty gets its way. 

Grandiose statements are generally the hallmark of arrogant individuals. Nations can be arrogant, too. Some claim that God, by one name or another, is on their side, blessing all their deeds and rooting for their success. To be honest, we may hear some of our neighbors say “God Bless America” in a tone that’s aggressive toward and dismissive of the fate of other nations. This possessive attitude about God’s favor is as old as the Bible. “God Bless Israelites,” some ancient stories positively recommend, “and divine wrath befall the rest of you!” 

The sovereignty of God, however, is by definition the biggest superpower there is. It can never be a gun in your arsenal or mine, pointed at our opponents. God can’t be controlled. Those who imagine they have the wrath of God on a chain, to be unleashed on their enemies at the appointed time, are kidding themselves. God is always large and in charge. No earthly authority, no army, no superpower nation merits our ultimate allegiance.

Discernment Matters: The choices of a lifetime - BE NOT AFRAID

Posted by: Alice L. Camille   🕔 Tuesday 12, December 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

THERE IT IS AGAIN. That nagging in your brain, gnawing in your gut, heightening your emotions and making you want to fight—or run. We’re biologically bred to fear, and it’s not something we can pretend away. But we don’t have to be enslaved to it, to come out swinging or fleeing whenever fear rings the bell. 

This generation is awash in fear, and with good reason. Every age has its violence, but this age has turned its genius toward inventing more ways to express it. We mount wars over dwindling resources. Terrorism brings the front of any far-off conflict to local churches, movie theaters, and street marathons. The world economy teeters on a mismanaged financial industry and poorly considered backroom deals. The environment, our vital cocoon, is under assault in every direction. 

And of course, we haven’t resolved the more pedestrian forms of violence: racism, sexism, child abuse, domestic abuse, and prejudice based on orientation, class, ability. The volume has ramped up on hate speech all around us. It’s now civil to be uncivil. 

All of which is reason to fear. Is there any reason for courage? For people of faith, certainly! The admonition not to be afraid is repeated often in Scripture—because people tended to freak out as regularly in those days as now. Fear is useless, Jesus tells us. What is needed is faith; that is, confidence in God’s faithfulness. When God is for us, as Paul says, who can be against?

#GivingTuesday: A day to give back by paying forward

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Sunday 19, November 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life,Mission & Evangelization

#GivingTuesday is a global effort to help others through charity and service. Over the years, you have assured us of the benefits you received from the resources provided by VISION Vocation Network and its annual VISION Guide and Vocation Match service. 

During this season of gratitude, we invite you to give back by paying forward with a contribution that helps us continue our ministry's reach. 

For the past 30 years, VISION has helped more than 5 million people find their place in the church, and we've connected thousands of men and women to vocation directors and religious communities around the world. 

The church needs our help, and we need yours to continue our important mission. 

Your donation will allow us to assist the next wave of spiritual pilgrims in their discernment journey and ensure a hopeful future for religious life. 

Please remember VISION Vocation Guide on Giving Tuesday and any other day of the year! We rely on the generosity of donors like you to support our work in providing vocation-related education, awareness, resources, and services. 

Please partner with us through prayer, engagement, and financial support in encouraging men and women to invite God into their decision-making and consider a vocation to religious life.

When you give back by paying forward in support of VISION, you become part of this great calling and mission to help others find their way to lives filled with joy and love. What a perfect gift!

Donate now
 Vision Vocation Guide and are resources of the Natiional Religious Vocation Conference, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.


Discernment Matters: The choices of a lifetime - CONVERSATION STARTER

Posted by: Alice L. Camille   🕔 Monday 06, November 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

HOW CAN WE SAY that conversation is a lost art when people hold forth everywhere and no one appears at a loss for words? Well, chitchat isn’t conversation. Nor is blogging, with its counter-jabs and grandstanding rebuttals. Tweeting isn’t dialogue. All the misinterpreted e-mails and texts should be enough to convince us that, while words fly in all directions, they’re not exactly "smart" bombs.

Conversation is rooted in two Latin words meaning “to associate with” and “to turn around.” We gather in friendly dialogue to turn words around: first one speaking, then another, until the exchange of words turns US around. We should all expect to arrive at a new place in the end. That place will most definitely not be on opposite sides of a wall.

When Socrates taught his students to dialogue, he insisted one speak and the other listen. The listener could reply only after he (always he) repeated the first person’s position. The first speaker had to agree this was a faithful rendering of his ideas before the second person could advance the discussion. In this way, both listener and speaker remained attentive, respectful, and engaged.

Conversation, understood this way, is a truly moral activity. Most talkers simply want to have their say, to talk past whatever was just offered. We don’t engage others in search of truth; we blast one and all with “our” truth. What if we regarded each person, especially those with different perspectives, as a potential source of wisdom? What might we learn?

Pope: A life not shared belongs in a museum

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 14, June 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Catholic culture,Pope Francis,Mission & Evangelization

Pope Francis said that a life which isn't shared with others "belongs in the museum," according to Inés San Martín reporting for Crux. In a Google hangout with youth from around the world, the Pope urged young people not to succumb to an "elitist education" but to be agents of a "human globalization." 

“To educate is not to know things," said Francis, but to be "capable of using the three languages, that of the hands, the heart and the mind. Education is to include.”

New Denver Carmelites urge discerners to answer the call they hear

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 21, April 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

“If you feel that call, answer it!” Sister Imelda Cardona of the Carmelites of the Holy Trinity says in a general message to young Catholics. “God loves you, so you should answer.”

Sister Cardona is one of six Allied Discalced Carmelites, who have come to the U.S. from Mexico to open a convent in Denver and care for the archdiocese's Holy Trinity Center.  

The community, whose charism is to know and to make known the glory of the Holy Trinity, has arrived to Denver to care for the archdiocese’s Holy Trinity Center. 

Founded by Sister Martha Maria Ramirez-Mora on July 16, 1986, the order has 200-plus nuns serving in various apostolates – ranging from assisting at nursing homes to retreat centers – in Mexico, Italy, Rome, Argentina and Chile.

“It is by the grace of God,” Mother Martha Patricia Malacara, superior of the community, told the Denver Catholic that the sisters have made their way to the U.S.

Although they will be helping out in the archbishop's residency and caring for the sacristies on the John Paul II center campus, prayer is the primary ministry of this semi-cloistered, comtemplative community: “We want to let people know that we are praying for them.” Mother Malacara says. “Prayer is our main charism.”

Prayer requests may be emailed to or mailed to Allied Discalced Carmelites of the Holy Trinity, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210. Be sure to tell them VISION Vocation Network sent you!


Nun among the roles of the late Mary Tyler Moore

Posted by: Carol Schuck Scheiber   🕔 Thursday 26, January 2017 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Catholic culture

The late actress Mary Tyler Moore (1937-2017), who died this month, once played a nun on screen. Among Moore's long list of film and TV credits, she starred in "Change of Habit," a 1969 film in which she depicted a Catholic sister who was, as the movie's trailer pronounces,  "dedicated to her calling but at heart a woman."  That is, she was yet another woman of her era who had a crush on Elvis.

The movie is one of many Hollywood films about Catholic sisters. From Julie Andrews as a rambunctious novice in "The Sound of Music" to Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen Prejean in "Dead Man Walking," films have frequently turned a lens on life as a sister. Catholic sisters themselves take issue with inaccuracies, but pop culture curiosity about religious life seems to live on.

Photographer documents nun's first years in monastery

Posted by: Carol Schuck Scheiber   🕔 Monday 12, December 2016 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

Photographer Toni Greaves spent seven years documenting the transformation of "Lauren" into "Sister Maria Teresa of the Sacred Heart," and her sensitive, beautifully rendered images reveal much about the usually hidden world of cloistered religious life.

Three weeks after Lauren joined the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey, Greaves began taking photos. They show her entry into a world very distinct from her full life as a college student who played sports, had a boyfriend, and once dreamed of marriage and children.  

"This story is a window into her early love of God," writes Greaves in the resulting photobook Radical Love. "The story also reveals her daily life over the years and her interactions living within a small community of nuns who are themselves in various stages of their own spiritual paths."

A Nun's Life Ministry hits the road for vocations

Posted by: Carol Schuck Scheiber   🕔 Wednesday 12, October 2016 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

A Nun’s Life Ministry—an online initiative to help people discover and grow in their vocations—is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a cross-country trip Oct. 15-22. 

The trip begins at A Nun’s Life headquarters in Toledo, Ohio and will end in Silicon Valley, a nod to the ministry’s use of technology, including and social media outlets ranging from Facebook to Snapchat.  

During the trip, the staff of A Nun’s Life will interact with its global online community and will sponsor two live-streamed public podcasts:

●  “Praying with the Sisters” will be broadcast from New Mexico on Monday, Oct. 17, at 5 pm ET. Viewers can join the sisters online for prayer and for conversation in the chat room.

●   An “Ask Sister - Motherhouse Road Trip” podcast will be broadcast from California on Friday, Oct. 21, at 5 pm ET. The podcast will feature guests Sisters Cynthia Canning and Sally Gunn of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

The trip’s major stops will be in Chicago, Albuquerque, and three California cities: Cupertino, Campbell, and San Rafael.

Sister Maxine Kollasch, I.H.M., who co-founded A Nun’s Life with Sister Julie Vieira, I.H.M. in 2006, explained why they are undertaking the trip:  “We want to celebrate the 10th anniversary by sharing the joy, adventure, and innovative spirit that’s at the heart of A Nun’s Life.”

The October journey continues a tradition of outreach through travel for A Nun’s Life Ministry, which sponsored a series of “Motherhouse Roadtrips” starting in 2013 that involved broadcasts from convents around the country.

VISION Vocation Guide featured the ministry’s founders in 2015: "Online door never closes on discerners".

New leader to guide next phase for Maryknoll Lay Missioners

Posted by: Jennifer Tomshack   🕔 Wednesday 13, July 2016 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Vocation and Discernment

Maryknoll Lay Missioners—a Catholic organization that supports laity living and working in poor communities in Africa, Asia, and North America—has named a new executive director, Matthew Boyle.

Boyle, who has been with the organization since 2014, says, “I am humbled by being selected to help lead this amazing organization into our next phase of growth and service in Christ’s image.”

Maryknoll Lay Missioners is an independent organization but works closely with Maryknoll fathers, brothers, sisters and affiliates in responding to basic needs of the poor and helping to create a more just and compassionate world.

“Pope Francis calls us all to come back to our missioner roots," Boyle says. "There are so many people in this beautiful world that God created for us, who need our assistance and love.”

Motivated by a profound tradition of Catholic Social Teachings and grounded in the history and spirit of the Maryknoll mission family, Maryknoll Lay Missioners recruits new missioners; helps potential missioners through a discernment process; trains new missioners with an intensive 10-week orientation; provides ongoing mission education, including language and cultural experiential learning; and helps match missioners’ talents with the needs of the population they will serve.

Learn more at

Learn more about Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and Maryknoll Sisters.



Hearing- and sight-impaired Redemptorist priest advocates for special-needs catechesis

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 14, June 2016 Categories: Sacraments,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment
Redemptorist Father Cyril Axelrod, who was born unable to hear and who lost his sight 16 years ago, travels the world to minister and advocate for catechesis "for all people of all ages and all abilities."

Originally from South Africa and a Jewish convert, Axelrod shares with Catholic News Service that he was called by God to spread the gospel to all and that his vocation as a Catholic priest "is to help deaf people open their hearts to see how powerful God is in their lives.” Through his ministry, he encourages parishes and parents of hearing-impaired children to learn advanced sign language so they can help kids grow and express their understanding of faith in a deeper way. He says that sign language, tactile sign language, and body language are "gifts of the Holy Spirit."

Read more here.

Film on Mother Teresa highlights religious communities

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 09, June 2016 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment,Mary and the Saints

The Letters, a film about the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), portrays an intimate struggle with hope and despair by one of the most famous religious humanitarians of the 20th century. The story follows Mother Teresa's life as told through her revealing letters to her spiritual director Father Celeste van Exem. The reviews of the film were mixed, but the movie interestingly delves into many aspects of religious life and different types of religious communities.  

The film begins with Mother Teresa's first congregation, Loreto Sisters of Dublin, who served in Darjeeling, India, as cloistered teachers of girls. After 15 years of service teaching geography and history, Mother Teresa experienced "a call within a call." She desired to work with the poor, sick, and dying on the streets of Calcutta.

The movie highlights the challenges she faced to establish a new religious community, the Missionaries of Charity, that was fully recognized by the Vatican. Despite her desire to give dignity to those most vulnerable, Mother Teresa experienced deep spiritual darkness at times, which is well-depicted.

The Letters is available on DVD and Netflix. Mother Teresa's canonization ceremony will be Sept. 4, 2016.

A dictionary for discerners is a great reference resource to help understand parts of the film.

Cloistered Catholic nun receives Ph.D. in aerospace engineering

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 09, June 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

Holy Face cloistered nun Sister Benedicta was recently awarded a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering from India’s Defence Institute of Advanced Technology.

She previously earned an undergraduate degree at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Pune University. It was during her doctoral studies that she heard her calling to religious life, according to Crux. 

Sister Benedicta joined the cloistered Carmelite convent in Pune in 2015. Sister Benedicta's graduation was the very first time she had stepped outside the convent since entering.

The Carmelite provincial, based in Bangalore, emailed Sister Benedicta and the entire Carmelite community, saying: “You have made the order proud,” and “God bless you!”

Read more here.

"Friars on Foot" pilgrimage in U.S. to promote vocations

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 24, May 2016 Categories: Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

Inspired by the movie, "The Way," starring Martin Sheen, about a man who completes the 450-mile Camino de Santiago, the "Way of St. James," pilgrimage, Dominican Fathers Francis Orozco and Thomas Shaefgen decided to do their own "Friars on Foot" pilgrimage in the United States to promote vocations while commemorating the 800th anniversary of their congregation.

According to Catholic News Service, the 478-mile pilgrimage will begin May 29 in New Orleans and end on June 29 in Memphis. Orozco and Shaefgen will average 16 miles per day and encourage people to join them on the walk for an hour or two that roughly follows Highway 51 north to Memphis.

"We will not carry any money and we will sort of beg. We hope people will provide us with apples and granola bars. We don't plan to use any money. We will carry ID cards and medical insurance cards in case that's needed. We've compromised with our superior that we will have somebody update the website every time we reach a destination," Father Orozco said.

The Dominicans plan to stay overnight with Catholic families and churches, celebrate Mass, and give vocation talks about the Order of Preachers, whose earliest members were itinerant.

Learn more about the Order of Preachers here.

Sisters of Life celebrate 25 years of ministry

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 12, May 2016 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

Founded in 1991 by the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor, the Sisters of Life are an emotional and spiritual outreach to pregnant women in crisis in New York City. As a contemplative and active religious community, the sisters' charism is to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.” Pregnant women are welcome at the congregation's Visitation Mission and its Holy Respite residence at Sacred Heart Convent, and some are permitted to stay in the residence until their babies are one year old.

“One of the reasons for the joy in the community is we believe each person has some beautiful, unique goodness and we have the joy of discovering that in them and reflecting it back so she has the experience of her own dignity, goodness and strength,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said. “That person becomes a gift to us in our recognizing her for who she is. She reveals to us the splendor and beauty of God.”

The sisters do not advertise and rely on word-of-mouth from friends and former clients to share the mission of their community.

Read more from Catholic News Service here.

Monk's secret bread ingredient: prayer

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 05, May 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
The role of Brother Pachomius Alvarado, O.S.B. at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, is to bake classic cinnamon raisin monk's bread—a recipe that has been passed down from many monks before him. “From the very beginning, the monks have baked bread,” Alvarado says. “Our life—the work that I do here—these things are not my will; they’re the will of our superior. It’s important in the community, in this moment, for me to do this; to bake this bread,” Crux reports.

Cuban-born Brother Alvarado had a career in marketing and public relations before entering the monastery. He did not know before about Ora et Labora, the Benedictine Latin motto "prayer and work," but now he fully embraces the Rule of St. Benedict and counts prayer as the secret ingredient in his popular bread.

Discover more about the Rule of St. Benedict and the life of another Benedictine monk in this article: My unlikely journey to brotherhood.

Irish sister killed in Ecuador quake remembered

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 21, April 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 17 has taken the lives of more than 400 people, including Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, age 33, and six others of the order.

According to Catholic News Agency, Sister Crockett, originally from Derry, Northern Ireland, once said she felt there was "no room for God" in the Catholic-Protestant tension and violence of her youth. At 18 she was an aspiring actress, but a free trip to Spain that turned out to be a 10-day pilgrimage, which she tried to get out of, changed her life. "It was Our Lady’s way of bringing me back home, back to her and her Son,” she said. “I was not a very happy camper. Nevertheless, it was on that pilgrimage that Our Lord gave me the grace to see how He had died for me on the Cross. After I had received that grace, I knew that I had to change." Sister Crockett entered the Servant Sisters in August 2001 and made her perpetual vows in 2011.

Spiritual director Father Roland Calhoun told BBC Radio Foyle (Belfast Telegraph) that Sister Crockett was "a young girl who gave her life to God and died for the gospel. She was a joyful girl, I've known her since she was a teenager. A beautiful person. I'll remember the joy that she brought to her youth group and the enthusiasm she showed for her vocation to religious life."

'Imagine a Sister's Life' with new app

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 08, April 2016 Categories: Catholic culture,Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The Sisters of Bon Secours have launched an amazing, eye-catching, heartstring-pulling app, Imagine a Sister's Life, to explore what religious life is all about and what it would be like to be a sister. The free app includes daily reflections, blogs, news and views, faith sharing, virtual retreats, upcoming events, and stories about how sisters were called and their passion for their vocation.

The sisters developed the app to create a place "where a busy young seeker of truth can pause to reflect on the meaning of life, pray in silence, and read articles and thought-provoking commentary on world conditions and social justice efforts."

What's more, "Young adults can share their thoughts online and share opportunities to get involved in helping those unable to help themselves. The application gives them a gentle reminder of the presence of God in their life and provides many areas of support and knowledge as they continue to grow through their life experiences. For those interested in learning more about religious life there are a variety of professional videos that give them a sense of what an active life in community and ministry looks like as a sister."

Check out this app with these download links: 

ImagineASistersLife APP on iPhone: 

ImagineASistersLife APP on android phone:

The sisters said, "Based on current world conditions, the millennials will be called upon over the course of their lifetime to make many serious moral and ethical decisions both in their own lives and in protecting the health and well-being of others globally. It is hoped that this application proves to be a strong support for young adults, creating an online community that enriches their journey of faith."

'Standup Sisters' tell discernment stories

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 13, March 2016 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

According to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, four members of the Pennsylvania-based Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill presented their discernment stories to a crowd of parishoners, students, and community members at St. Sylvester Church in Brentwood, Pennsylvania, last week. They told stories about how they responded to God’s call and how they serve. Radio journalist Jennifer Szweda Jordan produced the program, called "Standup Sisters." 

Some sisters were shy about sharing their stories at first, but later realized the effect they might have on their community. “We rarely toot our own horns,” said Sister Barbara Einloth. "That might be a good thing and humble, but it doesn’t help people know who we are and what we do. This is an opportunity for people to get to know who we are.”

The women all share unique stories about working in nurseries and hospice care centers. Although they acknowledged the hardship that comes along with their calling, they understand the importance and beauty of it all. As Sister Barbara Ann Boss, president of Pittsburg's Elizabeth Seton Center, said, these experiences "teach you how to appreciate the joy and how to be with someone who’s suffering.” 

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Third annual National Catholic Sisters Week celebrated

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 08, March 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

During the third annual National Catholic Sisters Week (March 8-14), women religious are being celebrated in a series of events at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and beyond. NCSW is a week-long chance to recognize, focus on, and honor the lives of women religious and the incredible example and difference they have made in the world in a variety of online and local events; check out the entire list here.

According to the Global Sisters Report, co-executive directors of NCSW Molly Hazelton and Dominican Sister Mary Soher said NCSW is an opportunity for the larger community to get to know about the sisters all around them.

"We have found again and again . . . young women—whether they consider themselves religious or not—they're just in awe of these sisters," said Christina Capecchi, a spokesperson for NCSW. "They're blogging about their relationships with them, they just admire the sisters so much. . . . Of course, their work with social justice, that really excites the young women we work with. To these girls, they're heroes."

First vows of Sisters of Our Lady of Sion novices celebrated

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 02, February 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

On Jan. 20, six novices of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion pronounced their first vows in Jerusalem as the Year of Consecrated Life concluded (officially on Feb. 2). Novices Alejandra, Clara, Joey, Victoria, Rozeni, and Arlyne are originally from Costa Rica, Brazil, the Philippines, and Egypt.

In taking these three-year vows, the novices embrace the Sisters of our Lady of Sion charism: "to work against all forms of racism, oppression, and marginalization." In each of its ministries, particularly Jewish-Christian and other interfaith relations, the sisters seek to respond to the biblical call to freedom and the imperative to “hear the cries of the poor."

View the celebration and commitment to consecrated life in the Christian Media Center's video below: 

Final gathering of 'Today's Catholic Sisters' to be held at Mt. St. Mary's University, Los Angeles

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 18, January 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

Don't miss your chance to learn about the newest generation of Catholic sisters and why we need them now more than ever at one more upcoming gathering. Hear remarkable stories from these modern women who have answered the call, and learn how they perceive their mission. 

The fourth and final "Today Catholic Sisters" symposium will be held on Jan. 23, 2016 from 9 am to noon at the Rose Hills Auditorium,  on the Doheny Campus, Mount Saint Mary’s University, in Los Angeles, California.

The National Religious Vocation Conference organized the "Today's Catholic Sisters" events taking place across the country over the past several months. Featured speakers include various young sisters as well as the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.; Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.; and Dr. Mary Gautier. A Q&A session and raffle follows the main presentation, and refreshments are served.

All are invited to attend. RSVP here

Questions? Call the NRVC offices at 773-363-5454 or email Julie Montague at

Omaha high-school seniors use VISION Vocation Match for career connection project

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 11, January 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

Bart Zavaletta teaches "Theology 12: Responding to the Call of Jesus Christ" at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Nebraska, and he learned about VISION Vocation Match, a tool that connects vocation discerners with religious communities that match their interests, through a simple Google search. He was looking for resources for a career connection project he assigned to his class of seniors. Vocation Match turned out to be a great tool for them to learn about religious life and discerning vocation. 

Zavaletta had his students go through the VISION Vocation Match process in class so he could answer their questions about types of communities. Zavaletta had the students chose one of their matches and create a marketing poster for that community, which focused on its charism. 

Check out some of VISION's other resources for teachers, youth ministers, and DREs here.

Cloistered community reaches out to discerners

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 10, January 2016 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

The cloistered Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters of Philadelphia have worked in shifts to ensure nonstop prayer for more than 100 years, according to The Huffington Post, but now, with the numbers entering their order declining, the sisters have been reaching out to the community at large to recruit members for the next 100 years.

From banners outside the convent to interviews with news reporters to invitations to schools, the order is working to see growth in new, younger members. "We rarely reached out for vocation promotion before the centennial. But now we want young ladies to see how beautiful the life is and how truer the joy when it is without the trappings of material things," said Holy Spirit Adoration Sister Maria Clarissa.

The order began in Holland in 1896. In 1915, nine of the original sisters in Holland left the motherhouse to come to Philadelphia. Currently there are about 420 Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters living in 22 convents in 12 countries, including three convents in the United States: St. Louis, Missouri; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Lincoln, Nebraska. The sisters wear rose-colored habits, which are meant to call attention to the joy they feel honoring the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Sacrament, the focus of their perpetual adoration.

While they live a life of private prayer, the sisters also manage a hotline where people can call in for advice. It helps many on the other end to know that there are people praying for them and people who care, "no matter what their need may be."

Although they live a simple life, they do indulge a bit sometimes. "We try to be as simple as possible so we can focus on the Lord," explained Sister Mary Angelica. "We are simple in everything, even meals—though on special occasions, we have ice cream."

Former gang member-turned-brother makes final vows

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 07, January 2016 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

In December, former gang member Brother Cesar John Paul Galan made his perpetual profession of vows as a member of the Friars of the Sick Poor of Los Angeles at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California, surrounded by his proud family and friends, according to the Tidings. St. Francis Medical Center is also where, in 2001, his brother Hector died from gun violence and Galan himself was left a paraplegic. 

Because of this tragedy, Galan experienced an 'aha' moment of realizing what God intended for him: consecrated life. A few months later during a journey to Lourdes, France, he asked people there, “Am I ever going to get out of this wheelchair? Am I going to go back home walking?” He started praying for that miracle to happen but received an unexpected blessing instead: forgiveness of the person who killed his brother and hurt him, and he left the gang life of his adolescence behind.

Brother Galan will continue studying to become a priest at St. John's Seminary and preparing to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

New Vatican document affirms role of religious brothers

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 16, December 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

On Monday the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life released a 54-page document, “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church,” that "addresses the identity of the religious brother in three ways: First, as a mystery of a gift received; second, as a communion of a gift shared; and, third, as a mission of a gift to be given away," according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Although not ordained as priests, brothers serve priestly roles in their ministries to the sick, the youth in schools, and the poor in body and spirit. It is important to note that these sentiments about brothers apply to religious women, too, as their consecrated lives are similar.

Crux reports that worldwide there are about 55,000 brothers in the Catholic Church today, a much smaller total than either priests (415,000) or nuns (705,000), though roughly comparable to the number of permanent deacons (42,000).

In this way of consecrated life of service, religious brothers become part of various communities of different orders, societies, or congregations, fulfilling the title of "brother" Jesus preached for himself and his apostles. 

Read another report on the Vatican document from Vatican Radio here

For further information and reflection, read VISION's current and archived articles on Brothers.

Mercedarian missionary sees "face of God" in detention ministry

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 10, December 2015 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Vocation and Discernment

The BBC 100 Women series recently featured Mercedarian Missionary Sister Neyda Rojas and her detention ministry in the very violent and overcrowded prisons of Venezuela. Sister Neyda teaches literacy and other life skills to the inmates who she acknowledges have committed serious crimes, but who she continues to see as "God's children." She shares: "They've lost their freedom, but not their dignity."

Through out her 17 years of ministry, Sister Neyda's charisma and perseverance have gained her trust and respect among the inmates. Some of Sister Neyda's best memories include delivering the baby of a female inmate and ensuring inmates with serious illnesses got the medicine they needed. She spreads hope and respect to each person she encounters, which keeps her coming back to the inmates who call her "La Gota Blanca" (The White Drop) because of the color of her habit in a sea of darkness.

'Sister Rita to the Rescue' to air on BBC One

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 06, December 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The Telegraph reports that Sister Rita Lee is set to star in her own five-part BBC One series, "Sister Rita to the Rescue." To locals in Manchester, England, Sister Rita is known as “Attila the Nun” because of her strength in advocating for those often forgotten in society, especially in her inner-city neighborhood, Collyhurst.

Originally from Cork, Ireland, Sister Rita, 70, characterizes her adopted community as “real life at the raw edge” but see strength in it, too, saying, “People here are the salt of the earth.” When asked if she is ever fearful in her neighborhood, she explained, “If anyone said boo to me, they’d all be at the door, reassuring me. I know the Collyhurst people inside out. They’re wonderful.”

Her leadership style is fair but firm, and based in her Catholic faith. She says, “We must help one another in this life. It’s the commandment. We can’t just go on our own. 'Take the shirt off your back and give it to somebody.' That’s where I come from.”

At the age of 13, she began to hear her call when two nuns from Manchester came to her school in Cork to discuss vocation. They talked about Manchester, the poverty there, and a nursery in which they cared for children. At the age of 18, Rita joined a convent in Manchester and went on to work in the convent school. When the school closed, she worked in various other charitable organizations and eventually ended up in her current home of Collyhurst.

She is excited about the show airing but hopes viewers understand the message. "There’s a bit of a hype about all this, and there’s nothing hype about here," she said. "There’s nobody here above anyone else. We are all on the same level. And that’s it."

Woman achieves lifelong dream, finally becomes a nun

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 29, November 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled Sister Jannette Marie Pruitt, who is now a nun, but also the mother of three, grandmother of seven, great-grandmother of two, and one of two black Catholic nuns in the order of the Sisters of St. Francis.

She was educated by nuns and always active in her parish, even as she got older. Pruitt knew she wanted to become a nun when she was younger, but growing up in Mississippi in the 1950s her race was a factor and she was discouraged from joining an order.

When she was 47, she reconsidered this calling. At first, she thought it was a crazy dream, but when she saw an announcement in her parish bulletin calling for members of the black community who were interested in religious life to attend a weekend retreat and meet different orders. She went and spoke with Sister Marge Wissman who is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, Indiana.

She explored other orders as well, but eventually she knew she had found the right fit with them, explaining, “The Sisters of St. Francis were very fun-loving and outgoing,”

The process of becoming a nun took years, which was good, says Sister Jannette, because she needed time to adjust to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She explained she needed to adjust her lifestyle a bit because she loved shoes, clothes, and spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but she gained much more than she gave up.

She is now a coordinator of the Black Catholic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which helps organize programs for black Catholics. She also sits on the board of the National Black Sisters’ Conference and was twice nominated for the Harriet Tubman award, honoring a sister who is “Moses of Her People.”

The balance between religious life and family life may seem daunting to some, but Sister Jannette finds joy in both, saying, “I have two vocations. My life is full.”

Brothers' pilgrimage video promotes National Vocation Awareness Week

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 04, November 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

In honor of National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 1-7), the annual celebration that promotes and encourages prayer for religious vocations, the Brothers of Christian Schools have produced a short documentary-style video that follows a group of brothers and young men discerning religious life who walked the pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, in Spain this past summer. Together on a Journey explores the discernment and reflection opportunities they shared on their pilgrimage. 

Discover more about vocations by exploring our many Year of Consecrated Life resources here.

Who becomes a nun today? Author and sister responds

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 30, October 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C., co-author of New Generation of Catholic Sisters, asserts that "convents will survive" in a recent article exploring "Who Becomes a Nun in 2015?" in Pacific Standard magazine. The article, along with the book (also co-authored by Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN. and Dr. Mary Gautier), explores the number of young women choosing religious life. Although down from a peak of about 180,000 Catholic sisters in the United States in 1965 to about 50,000 currently (according to a 2014 CARA research study), millenials are showing a pull toward religious communities.

Many religious congregations have extensive social media presence, interactive websites such as VISION Vocation Match, podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, and webinars and discernment chats, such as A Nun's Life Ministry. "This generation is shaped deeply by the Internet and social media, and it's important for older people and sisters to hear about that dynamic. It will enhance the whole group," Wittberg said. The community aspect of religious life is important whether it starts online or at an informational retreat. This new generation of sisters is bringing new perspectives and a new reality to religious life.

Check out the fourth and final event in the "Today's Catholic Sisters" series, which will be held on Jan. 23, 2016 from 9 am-noon at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California. For more information or to view past events, click here

College quarterback turned priest speaks about his vocation

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Wednesday 14, October 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

As he explained to Indystar, Father Thomas Haan felt he was a bit different from his teammates in the Purdue University locker room. He worked hard and became a walk-on quarterback for Purdue as a freshman. He looked like he had it all, but he knew he wanted something more.

Raised on a farm in Lafayette, Indiana, Father Haan did not always want to be a priest. His family was religious and attended Mass regularly, but as a record-setting quarterback in high school, he thought he knew where his life was headed.  

One day, a parish priest said to him, “Are you open to whatever God’s got in store for you?” Father Haan explains, “I’d always say ‘Yes’ because I was dating someone throughout high school and I thought I knew what God wanted, so I didn’t take it seriously one bit in high school.”

In college, things started to change. He made the football team, which left little time for other activities. “When you’re playing college football, you study football, you play football, you think football, you eat football. It’s just very time-consuming. It wasn’t until after that year was over that I began to ponder bigger questions,” he said.

At the beginning of his sophomore year, he began praying and discerning and eventually decided to quit playing football and instead coach a junior high school team. “I loved teaching them technique, but I began to realize I cared more about them growing up as true men, their virtue, their relationship with God," he said. "I cared more about their spiritual life than their spiral.”

He began devoting time to Catholic studies and eventually left Purdue for the University of Notre Dame to live in a house of discernment with other men. He graduated from Notre Dame with degrees in economics and philosophy and a greater understanding of what he wanted to do.

He went to the seminary at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and was ordained in 2013. He now works at Guerin Catholic High School where he helps students see the value in both sports and God. 

“I still see sports having the tremendous potential of being a great forum to learn the virtues of life,” Haan said. “Of self-sacrifice, of discipline, of tempering your passions, of teamwork, of humility, of obedience to superiors, to coaches.”

German university student balances life as a monk

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 04, October 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

German media outlet DW recently profiled Tobias Schrörs, a Dominican monk and university student, about his discernment journey. He is not your typical guy on campus, and he knows it. "It's very clear to me that I stand out," he said. "That escapes nobody's attention."

As the youngest of four, Schrörs was raised in a devout Catholic family, and his parents are very involved at their church. When he first began discerning, he spoke with an older priest and even went to stay in a monastery for a week at the age of 14.

He did service for a year and then became a postulant in Braunschweig and a novitiate in Worms. His desire to enter religious life remained steadfast, so he went to Mainz and joined the St. Boniface Monastery and began his studies in Catholic theology at the Johannes Gutenberg University.

A few times a day, he puts aside his schoolwork in exchange for morning, afternoon, and evening prayer. When he is not representing the monastery, he dresses in skinny jeans and attends classes.

While Schrörs has taken his “simple vows,” he must still decide if he is ready to take vows for life. Though he is still in the midst of his discernment journey, he can picture spending his life in the monastery. "A healthy decision always comes with doubt. Especially a decision that will last until death. Such a decision is often put off. But when I look back on my time in the Order, I'm able to imagine a life like that.”

San Francisco religious community creating 'Catholic urban oasis'

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 04, October 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

The Los Angeles Times recently reported on the growth of Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity, a religious community near San Francisco where members focus on prayer and are encouraged to participate in painting, music, and yoga.

The order, established in Spain in 1963, is attracting many young women seeking to enter consecrated life as well as people from all over the world to its retreats, prayer groups, and spiritual discussions. They recently purchased a retreat center and reopened a shuttered convent. Its members are relatively young—most in their 30s and 40s.

The sisters interact with the outside community, and as Sister Rosalia Meza, who heads the community, says, "We are not holy-holy nuns who think this is a superior vocation. We want people to know that everyone has access to God."

Verbum Dei wants to transform its place into a "Catholic urban oasis" for people across the region.

Online outlets help millennials explore religious life

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 30, September 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The increasing interest in religious life among millennial women in America may be surprising to the New York Times, and due in part to social media and reality television shows, but in the article, Sister Colleen Gibson, S.S.J., VISION Vocation Guide and Take Five for Faith author, corrects those notions. “I’ve never met anybody, who was like, ‘Oh yeah, I saw Christina on the Italian Voice and that really made me want to be a sister!’” Gibson said. Instead, she says, it is usually face-to-face interaction that helps young women realize their vocations.

However, this does come from someone who found her congregation on VISION Vocation Match, an online tool to help people in discernment find a religious community that fits with them. “It’s basically for nuns,” Gibson said.

There are many steps to becoming a Catholic sister and VISION Vocation Match and other online outlets are a great place to start the learning process and begin to connect with other discerners and sisters—a virtual introduction to religious life that jibes with the young. According to the article, the National Religious Vocation Conference reported that of the more than 2,500 women who completed online VISION Vocation Match profiles in 2013, the majority were under 30.

Read Sister Colleen Gibson's 2016 VISION article, "Why being single and living as a sister aren't the same," and check out Take Five for Faith, daily renewal for busy Catholics.

'Francis Effect' enlivens vocations to priesthood

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 29, September 2015 Categories: Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

Prior to Pope Francis' recent visit to the United States, the first Jesuit pope sparked attention and interest in the Society of Jesus, the Franciscans, and the priesthood in general. According to Newsday, the Jesuits have experienced a surge in the number of men considering the priesthood, which vocation directors are calling the "Francis Effect."

The number of men inquiring with the Northeast Province of the Jesuits has jumped from one or two a week to as many as seven weekly since Francis was elected, according to the head of vocations for the province. Although only 10 percent of those seriously consider entering the order, the increase is cause for hope.

Jesuits live in community, with the core of their Ignatian spirituality being to "find God in all things." They are known for their work with the poor and living a life of simplicity.

In choosing the name Francis, the pope's commitment to peace and love of creation is clear. Father James Martin, S.J. said: "He's a Jesuit who took a Franciscan name, which is the perfect combination. The choice of Francis telescoped early on his desire to speak out for the poor, to care for the poor, and to encourage a church that is poor."

Discover more about the Jesuits, Society of Jesus and the Franciscans today.

Illinois' Dominican University to host second "Today's Catholic Sisters" event

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 17, September 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The second of four events in the "Today's Catholic Sisters" series will be held in the Lund Auditorium at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, on Sunday, Sept. 20 from 1-4 pm. This symposium can be watched online live here.

The National Religious Vocation Conference is organizing the "Today's Catholic Sisters" events taking place across the country over the next few months. Featured speakers include various young sisters as well as the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.; Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.; and Dr. Mary Gautier. A Q&A session and raffle will follow the main presentation, and refreshments will be served.

All are invited to attend. RSVP here

Questions? Call the NRVC offices at 773-363-5454 or email Julie Montague at

Family study finds key influences to Catholic vocations

Posted by: Jennifer Tomshack   🕔 Monday 14, September 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

A major study on the role of families in nurturing vocations found that recent entrants to religious life and diocesan priesthood come from families that go to Mass weekly, pray together often, have active faith lives, and encourage family members to be open to vocation options. The study, commissioned by the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, also found that new entrants responding to the survey come from families who:

·       Give importance to private and public religious practices—in addition to Mass attendance—such as saying grace before meals and bedtime prayers, displaying religious art and objects, and actively participating in parish life and charitable services

·       Witness and talk about their faith in their daily lives

·       Attend Catholic schools or receive parish-based religious education

·       Regularly eat dinner together and gather as a family for games or discussions

·       Have Catholic periodicals and other media available in the household

·       Support the idea of a vocation to religious life and the priesthood

“The study confirmed what we’ve known instinctively: Families are the seedbed of vocations,” says NRVC Executive Director Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. “Our goal is to help Catholic parents understand their crucial role in the future of religious life and ordained ministry and encourage them to create a culture of vocations within their families.”

The new taboo? Catholics have a hard time talking to their parents about vocations. Although most entrants to religious life and diocesan priesthood come from families that are open to vocations, approximately half of the respondents found it difficult to start a discussion with their family about their vocation, though they usually found support once they broached the topic.

Among the few who were actually discouraged from entering religious life or the priesthood, family concerns included that the family member was: “wasting” his or her talents, rushing things, or forsaking a career or marriage. However, among those families responding to the survey, most report that they are not worried now about the future of their family member who entered religious life or the diocesan priesthood. “She is so happy being a religious sister,” said one mother, echoing the comments of others, “There is no need to worry.”

Young new members drawn to contemplative order in New Jersey

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 07, September 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The New York Times recently profiled a contemplative order of nuns that are attracting a fair number of millennials. The Nuns of the Order of Preachers at the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, are eliciting noteworthy interest in their cloistered life of prayer.

In the last decade, 15 aspirants entered the order and nine are on track to take their final vows or have already done so, and two more women will join the community this year.

The community credits the web and social media with helping the order get exposure to grow, but ironically, the appeal to the young lies partly in unplugging from a hyperconnected world. 

Sister Mary Catharine, a mentor there to six women under 30, welcomed four aspirants to the order this summer. When asked why she thinks these young women are interested in religious life, she explained, “With all the technology, I think they’re just saturated. And they see this life as really radical and they have a desire for it. Maybe their families are fractured and they see our life as really stable."

After photographer Toni Greaves accompanied a writer to the monastery to do a story about how the nuns were using the Internet to market their community, she was inspired to spend the next seven years capturing their daily lives. Her book, Radical Love, out this month from Chronicle Books, is a collection of images that document one young nun’s journey from her first weeks in the monastery to her solemn profession seven years later. 

“There was an exuberance and vibrancy to all the young women,” Greaves said. “It’s the energy that we embody when we’re in love, and it was amazing to me.”

Pope Francis discusses discernment with youth

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Thursday 13, August 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Pope Francis recently told a group of teenagers and young adults that one of his greatest challenges as a Jesuit has always been discernment. According to the Catholic News Service, the pope spoke in August to about 1,500 members of the Eucharistic Youth Movement from 35 countries during a meeting in Rome.

The pope explained to them that experiencing the peace of Christ is a sign that a person is on the right path, but he cautioned against "superficial peace, that peace that makes you a bit content" because true peace "comes wrapped in the cross."

"... don't be afraid of tension, because it helps you grow," he said. "... resolve tension with dialogue because dialogue unites."

The Eucharistic Youth Movement is a Jesuit-run outreach celebrating its 100th anniversary. The group helps guide young people to a life of church involvement and service.

Daughter of Charity inspires student's vocation

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 03, August 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The Daughters of Charity released a video on YouTube, called Making an impact, about Brother Roberto Martinez, F.S.C., and the role of his grade-school teacher, Sister Marianne Olives, D.C., in helping him discern his vocation. 

Sister Olives taught Martinez how to read English, his second language. After grade school, Martinez attended a Catholic high school run by Christian Brothers. Martinez said that his faith and the prayers of the Daughters of Charity helped him get through a battle with cancer.

Throughout his discernment process, Daughters of Charity prayed for and supported him, and Sister Olives was present when he made his first vows. “It is always a joy to know that my consecrated life is an inspiration to somebody else who also wants to do the same with their life," she said.

Again following in the steps of Sister Olives, Brother Martinez is now a teacher. About the future of his students, he says, “You never know, one day [they may turn out to be] brothers and daughters.”

New grant program pays college debt for 10 Catholic sisters-in-training

Posted by: Jennifer Tomshack   🕔 Thursday 16, July 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
Founded in 2014, NFCRV serves as a sign of hope in the future of consecrated life and is dedicated to increasing the number of women and men entering religious communities. The Fund hopes to accomplish this goal in numerous ways, including offering financial assistance to religious institutes so that they may accept candidates who have student loan obligations.

The National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV) awarded its first grants to religious communities to pay the educational debt of 10 candidates to religious life. The fund grew out of a 2012 Study on Educational Debt and Vocations to Religious Life that found that student debt has become a serious obstacle for religious communities in being able to accept new candidates.

“It is notable that these first grants are being awarded during the Year of Consecrated Life, as established by Pope Francis,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, O.F.M.,Cap., honorary chair of the NFCRV board. “This initiative will support the work of celebrating, renewing, and promoting the gift of consecrated life and help the people of God to gain a greater appreciation for this important vocation and ministry. We are grateful for the vision and initiative of the National Religious Vocation Conference and the financial support of the Conrad N. Hilton and GHR foundations.”

Brother Ronald Hingle, S.C, chair of the NFCRV board, says the Fund’s mission “is to support Catholic religious life by alleviating the financial strain educational debt poses for religious communities. We also want to assist communities in developing effective policies for candidates with student loan obligations.”

“There is no more satisfying ministry than to provide help to those in need,” says Mark J Teresi, CFRE, first director of the NFCRV. “The board and I are grateful to have the privilege to provide financial assistance to so many religious communities this year.”

“Our challenge and my goal,” says Teresi, “is to fully endow this fund, through soliciting major gifts, to solve this obstacle to vocations permanently for women’s and men’s religious institutes.”

The following women’s religious communities are the 2015 recipients of NFCRV grants:

Adrian Dominican Sisters
The Congregation of Divine Providence
Daughters of Mary Help of Christians
Dominican Sisters of Peace
Felician Sisters of North America
Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Conception
Sisters of the Humility of Mary
Sisters of Christian Charity

The funds awarded this year totaled $213,000. Payments will be made 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.

The Fund will send out grant applications to religious communities who are members of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), the founding organization of the NFCRV, in January 2016 with the NFCRV Board approving the year’s recipients at their May board meeting. Grantees will be notified of their application status in June.

For more information on the terms of the grant, applying for a grant, or donating to the fund, please go to, or contact Mark J. Teresi, CFRE at 773-595-4028 or

Wisconsin sisters follow Franciscan tradition of sustainabililty

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 12, July 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Vocation and Discernment
Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, work
in their garden, which is part of the order's sustainability plan.

Pope Francis may be making headlines for his recent challenge on climate change, but environmental action in the church is nothing new. Caring for the earth has always been part of the Franciscan spirit, and one Franciscan order, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been practicing sustainability on its campus near Lake Michigan for years.

According to Milwaukee Public Radio, the order created a land-use committee in 2009, received a grant to help remove invasive plants, and are transforming an old athletic field into an urban forest. They also maintain bee boxes and vegetable gardens on their property.

The sisters rely on volunteers, the local Boy Scouts in particular, for help. They also have a group called “Habitat Healers,” which meets every Thursday morning to work where needed.

The sisters plan to eventually turn their headquarters into a meeting place for environmental groups. They hope that combining environmental stewardship with spirituality will be part of the order’s legacy.

Learn about "Today’s Catholic Sisters: Who They Are, Why We Need Them"

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 23, June 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
We need Catholic sisters now more than ever.

They said yes. Come learn why.

The remarkable stories of the newest generation of Catholic sisters will be shared at the symposium "Today’s Catholic Sisters: Who They Are, Why We Need Them" at four universities this fall and winter.

In partnership with the National Religious Vocation Conference and the GHR foundation, these events will feature several young sisters, along with the authors of New Generations of Catholic Sisters: The Challenge of Diversity. There will be a Q&A session and raffle following the main presentation. Refreshments will be served.

The event dates and locations are:

Sept. 12, 2015 9 am-12 pm
University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, Texas

Sept. 20, 2015 1-4 pm
Dominican University
River Forest, Illinois

Oct. 10, 2015 1-4 pm
(Mass to follow)
Immaculata University
Immaculata, Pennsylvania

Jan. 23, 2016 9 am-12 pm
Mount Saint Mary's University
Los Angeles, California

Featured Speakers:

New Generations of Catholic Sisters authors -
Sister Mary Johnson, S.N.D.deN.
Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C.
Dr. Mary Gautier

Questions? Call 773-363-5454, or visit


"Discernment Morning" encourages young women to consider vocation

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 01, June 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
Religious women participated in a "Discernment Morning" in Phoenix
to encourage young women to listen for a call to consecrated life.

Young women learned about religious life and were encouraged to hear its potential call at a "Discernment Morning" on May 2 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Phoenix.

“The culture today is more about relationships, not even marriage but just being in relationships, and so the idea of consecrating yourself to Christ is very, very foreign to the culture,” said Sister Mary Eileen Jewell, of Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate. “All the vocations are beautiful and we need to present all the vocations, but consecrated life especially tends to be the softest voice that people have a hard time hearing.”

Five religious communities participated in the event, including the Religious Sisters of Mercy; the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul; the Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta; the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist; and the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate.

All of the women who attended were given the chance to ask questions about consecrated life and hear the discernment journeys of many religious sisters.

One woman in attendence said, “We’re all called to something and some of us are questioning that. ... We just need that guidance. I think there are some people that just automatically assume they’re called to marriage and they don’t ever question another vocation. The possibility of a religious vocation shouldn’t be something scary because it’s what God wills for you and He’ll let you know.”

Read more here.

French contemplative order welcomes women with Down syndrome

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Sunday 31, May 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
The Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb is a unique
religious community of women with and without Down syndrome. 

The Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb is a 30-year-old contemplative order in France that accepts young women with Down syndrome called to religious life. 

According to Regina magazine, "At the priory, the Little Sisters receive young women touched by the spirit of poverty and dedication... Every day they receive the Eucharist, living in the spirit of silence and prayer, while meditating on the Gospel."

The order was founded with the encouragement of geneticist Jérôme Lejeune, who discovered the cause of Down syndrome.

Read more about this small contemplative community here.

Score another vocation for Google

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 06, May 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

When Sister Mary Anne Francalanza considered religious life, writes Janet Tansley in an aricle for the Liverpool Echo, she did what most of us do when we’re looking for a book or new outfit: She went on the internet.

Sister Mary Anne took her final vows with the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) in Wavertree, Liverpool (U.K.) three years ago.

“I was the first person to have contacted the sisters through the internet," she says. But things are different now. “Today if people want to look for us we are on Facebook, Twitter, [VISION!], the lot..."

“It’s about finding God in all things and all places!”

Click here to learn more about the Faithful Companions of Jesus.

"Snowball effect" credited for increase in vocations in UK

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 05, May 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
 Theodora Hawksley left academia to join the Congregation of Jesus.

Last week the Guardian reported that the increasing number of women joining religious orders in the United Kingdom is perhaps, according to postulant Theodora Hawksley, because of a "snowball effect." Hawksley believes, "God always calls people to religious life, but various things can make it harder to hear that, and one of the things that makes it easier is lots of people openly talking and thinking about it, and giving it a go."

According to the article, the number of women entering U.K. religious communities has reached a 25-year high. The article debunks myths surrounding religious life and highlights the joy of living in community. The religious interviewed encourage people to spend time with religious communities, including on hosted retreats. One sister quoted said, “Things like that raise the profile of different ways of living out vocations and help normalise what it is to be a nun or religious sister in the Catholic church."

Read the full article here.

Explore your vocation through weekend encounters, retreats, volunteering, and more on the VISION Vocation Network Events page! 

Discover more about the Congregation of Jesus today.

A mother journeys to accept her son’s vocation

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 03, May 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
A mother comes to terms with her son's priesthood in "Vocation Crisis" in America magazine.

Kristin Grady Gilger faced the same journey that many parents have when finding out their son or daughter has been called to a religious vocation. In her article, "Vocation Crisis," in America magazine, she recounts the shock she and her husband felt after their son, Patrick, told them that he wanted to convert to Catholicism and join the Society of Jesus. She writes, “As a Catholic priest, he would take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—vows that are about as countercultural as you can get in 21st-century America. And even then, he would wait a decade or more before he would be ordained a priest and be allowed to do the things priests aspire to do: say Mass and administer the other sacraments. ...Why would any 20-year-old in his right mind choose a life like that?”

She recalls how she was wondering what she had done wrong and how she and her husband “didn’t even raise him Catholic!” She was angry, frustrated, and felt that her son was throwing away his future, until one friend brought God into the equation. Gilger remembers, “He said something that made me sit back hard in my chair. ‘God has his hands on your family in such a special way,’ he told me gently. Something inside of me shifted when he said those words: It was the first time I had considered whether God had anything to do with it.”

By acknowledging God’s part in the discernment process, she was able to better understand the call her son was feeling, and as her son entered the priesthood and she was able to see firsthand the different ways he was needed and loved, her worries about loneliness began to vanish. She writes, “In fact, he is far less alone than almost anyone I know. He even, on occasion, goes on vacation.”

When it comes to her son, Gilger still worries, as most mothers do, about his future, but by acknowledging the role of God and the joy her son has found in his role as priest, she has come to accept his decision and has recently completed a memoir about how her son’s journey has brought her family back to the Catholic Church.

Shroud of Turin on display to commemorate Salesian anniversary

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 23, April 2015 Categories: Prayer and Spirituality,Church History,Vocation and Discernment

The public exposition of the Shroud of Turin officially opened in April at the Italian city's cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

According to Catholic News Service, Pope Francis authorized the public display of the shroud to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, a 19th-century priest from the Turin region who was a pioneer in vocational education, worked with poor and abandoned children, and founded the Salesian order. The pope is scheduled to visit Turin June 21-22 to venerate the shroud.

The famous relic is believed to have been the cloth to have wrapped the crucified body of Christ. On the shroud is the image of a man that bears "all signs of the wounds corresponding to the Gospel accounts of the torture Jesus endured in his passion and death."

The church invites the faithful to reflect on the shroud's image as a way to grasp the suffering Jesus endured and the love for humanity that sacrifice entailed.

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin said, "The shroud invites us to never let ourselves be beaten down by evil, but to overcome it with good."

Starstruck nuns swarm Pope Francis in Naples

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 23, March 2015 Categories: Mary and the Saints,Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
Pope Francis was happily overwhelmed by his enthusiastic reception in Naples.

Pope Francis recently met with priests, religious leaders, and seminarians at the cathedral in Naples, Italy, and The Telegraph reports, "once Pope Francis' presence was announced, the starstuck sisters broke into applause and waved excitedly... and then a half dozen of them scurried up close surrounding the pontiff in their long black religious habits. One carried a large wrapped present."

Over a microphone, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe urged restraint and made lighthearted commentary. “Sisters... Later... Well, would you look at that? And these are the cloistered ones. Just imagine the non-cloistered ones,” he said, provoking laughter from the crowd in the cathedral.

Pope Francis said the sisters' great enthusiasm was a reminder to religious leaders to "live their convocation with joy and enthusiasm."

Spanish convents use social media to help women discern

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 22, March 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
Sister Xiskya Valladares, the "tweeting nun," takes a selfie with young people.

The name of the Spanish website,, translates to “I am looking for something more.” When users enter the site, a women immediately greets them by asking if they’ve ever considered religious life and says, “You may have a vocation without even knowing it.”

This is just one of the many ways Spanish convents are recruiting new members to religious life. They are also turning to Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media sites.

Many, such as Olga Maria, the prioress of the barefoot Carmelite convent in Valladolid in northeast Spain, seek to give young women alternative methods to discern. In 2012, she went to Rome to ask for permission to use social networks while recruiting young women as well as permission to let discerners join the convent for a trial period to see if it suited them. Since then, the convent’s popularity has grown considerably, with its Facebook profile receiving 8,000 likes and its Twitter account gaining 461 followers. It also uses WhatsApp to reply to young women’s questions about the discernment process.

In Mallorca, Spain, Sister Xiskya Valladares of iMisión has become famous as the “tweeting nun” and has almost 25,000 followers on Twitter. She says, “We have to be in touch with reality, and listen to people who are suffering, both existentially and materially. As Pope Francis says, 'The shepherd should smell of sheep.'”

Read more here.

National Catholic Sisters week begins Monday, March 8

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 06, March 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

National Catholic Sisters Week, an annual celebration to honor women religious, begins March 8. Events during the week, sponsored by groups all over the country, are meant to instruct, enlighten, and highlight the lives and witness of women religious and encourage a new generation of young women to follow their example.

Here are some ways to participate in National Catholic Sisters Week:

• Visit, to find resources and ideas for
celebrating both the Year of Consecrated Life and National Catholic Sisters Week. 
• Participate in the hashtag campaign during National Catholic Sisters Week.
• Watch oral histories of Catholic sisters, read blog posts by the young women who created the
histories at, and read first-person accounts of religious life.

Center for studying religious life first of its kind in U.S.

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Wednesday 18, February 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
Sister Maria Cimperman, director of the new Center for the Study of Consecrated
Life, speaks at the center's opening at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

The Center for the Study of Consecrated Life at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago opened in February with activities including a symposium on hope and discussions on the changing nature of religious life. Under director Sister Maria Cimperman, the center plans to have both on-campus and online courses, as well as host symposia and workshops for participants to explore and study consecrated life in all its forms.

Father Robert Schreiter, professor of theology at the Catholic Theological Union, said the timing of the center’s opening is perfect. He believes the center is exactly what Pope Francis meant when he called for religious institutions to be “closer to people and their struggles in general and closer to the poor in particular.”

While there are a few centers dedicated to the study of religious life around the world, the center at the Catholic Theological Union is the first in the United States. Here, many will be able to gather information from all over the country as well as work with other international centers in order to use resources like never before.

Father Mark Francis, CTU president, said, “I believe the center is going to be a clearinghouse for a lot of what’s going on in the study of religious life. We hope to link up with the other international centers, and examine how religious life is transforming itself. We want to make sure we’re looking not just here, but at the developing world and from all these various perspectives.”

Sister Barbara Reid, vice president and academic dean at CTU, expressed her excitement for both the future of religious life and the new center for studying it. At the opening, she explained some of the goals for the recent addition to CTU, saying, “Part of the vision for this is that we are at a turning point – the way religious life was lived in the past, that form of religious life is dying. Something new is coming about, and we’re right at the cusp of that.”

Read more here.

Young novice received direction from VISION Vocation Match

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 12, February 2015 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
Using VISION Vocation Match, Rebecca Lasota researched
many communities before deciding to enter religious life.

At the age of 18, Rebecca Lasota is the youngest woman formally discerning religious life with the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate (PVIM). She is joining the contemplative order whose sisters are also missionaries, according to The Catholic Sun.

Lasota's journey to sisterhood began at a young age. She read about Saint Dominic’s early start with missionary work and prayer, which appealed to her. At 15, her serious research of religious communities began when someone suggested that she try VISION Vocation Match at, a tool designed to narrow the search in a fun and easy way.

From her match results to a series of conversations, lunches, and visits to the motherhouse in New York, Rebecca became a postulant three years later with the community whose "unique apostolate is fallen-away Catholics."

Father Joshua Johnson, Baton Rouge’s youngest priest

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 01, February 2015 Categories: Catholic culture,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment
Father Josh Johnson speaks about his vocational journey.

Father Joshua Johnson, 27, is a priest at Christ the King Catholic Church at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He is the youngest priest in the diocese, and uses his gifts of rapping and storytelling to connect with young Catholics.

Johnson explains that he was not initially open to his calling, revealing, “I was raised Catholic, but I just never liked the Catholic Church growing up. I thought it was boring, and I didn’t understand it.”

He first encountered Christ through Eucharistic adoration during a retreat, but even after he understood his calling, he was not ready to accept it. Still, he went on to earn his master's degree in theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Johnson used to rap to entertain other seminarians; now he raps to witness for Christ. He said, “Whenever I got to seminary, I continued to do it for fun and people started hearing me, and the next thing you know I’m doing it at festivals and youth conferences.”

While some do not condone his religious rapping, Johnson believes it is a way to connect with young people and help them find Christ, explaining, “Rap in and of itself is not evil; it’s not a sin. It’s part of the culture. We can use that. We’re not called to reject the culture; we’re called to go into the culture and promote what’s good. And there’s a lot of good that can come from this kind of music.”

Read more here.

Study: Newly professed are highly educated

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 30, January 2015 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
 A CARA study finds about 68 percent of religious entered their institute with at least a bachelor’s degree.

The latest study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) was released just before the World Day for Consecrated Life (Feb. 2) and the national Day of Open House with Religious (Feb. 8).

Study highlights on religious men and women who professed perpetual vows to the nearly 800 communities in 2014 include:

* They were more likely to have attended Catholic high schools and colleges than the average American Catholic.

* Two in three (68 percent) entered their religious institute with at least a bachelor’s degree (61 percent for women and 80 percent for men). 18 percent of religious earned a graduate degree before entering their religious institute.

* Most religious did not report that educational debt delayed their application for entrance to their institute. Among those who did report educational debt, however, they averaged one year of delay while they paid down an average of $15,750 in educational debt.

* The average age of responding religious of the Profession Class of 2014 was 37. Half of the responding religious were age 34 or younger. The youngest was 24 and the oldest was 64.

* Nearly all of the religious of the Profession Class of 2014 (89 percent) participated in some type of vocation program or experience prior to entering their religious institute. Most common was a “Come and See” experience (59 percent) or a vocation retreat (50 percent).

* Nearly half said that a parish priest or a religious sister or brother encouraged their vocation (49 and 47 percent). Men were more likely than women to have been encouraged by a parish priest, religious sister, or brother.

“Given the fact that 89 percent of those responding to the recent CARA survey of new religious had participated in some form of a ‘Come and See’ experience prior to entering their religious institute, we know it is important for our youth and young adults to have greater exposure and familiarity with the community life of religious,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to visit local religious communities in their own area during the Day of Religious Open Houses, Sunday, Feb. 8.”

Read the full CARA study here.

For a full list of upcoming Open House and "Come and See" events, click here.

Vatican releases positive report on U.S. sisters

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 17, December 2014 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

In mid-December, the Vatican released its final report on a multi-year investigation into how American sisters live, work, and pray. The report was largely postive and expressed gratitude for the sisters' ministry and witness.

“Women religious have courageously been in the forefront, selflessly tending to the spiritual, moral, educational, physical, and social needs of countless individuals,” the report said.

The Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America
 resulted from a visitation beginning in 2008 "to look into the quality of the life of religious women in the United States." It was initiated because "apostolic religious life in the United States is experiencing challenging times."

Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference (VISION's parent organization), shared his thoughts on the report with America: "Religious sisters are an essential and formidable force in the life of the church. They have managed hospitals, schools, and universities and have forged innovative, effective ministries to meet the needs of the poor with little money, but with great vision and determination. I applaud the Congregation’s acknowledgement of the structural, cultural, and financial challenges women’s religious institutes face in attracting and retaining new members. I am especially heartened by the Congregation’s very clearly stated commitment to work with Pope Francis to find expression for 'feminine genius' and a role for women in 'decision making in the different areas of Church life.' During this Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis invites all religious to look to our future with hope."

The Global Sisters Report said of the report: "Using some form of the word 'gratitude' eight times over its 12 pages, the report also acknowledges the suspicion many sisters had over the launching of the investigation and says the Vatican is seeking 'respectful and fruitful dialogue' with those who refused to collaborate in the process."

Although the number of those in religious life is diminishing, support for these challenges is present in the report. The Year of Consecrated Life will offer even more opportunities for the laity and religious to experience the charisms, community, and grace of consecrated life.

Boost in vocations for Benedictine Sisters of Erie

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 20, November 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
Vocation director Sr. Marilyn Schauble believes that technology helps play a role in increasing vocations.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, four women entered the monastic religious order at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pa. In a recent article from Faithlife, vocation director Sr. Marilyn Schauble, OSB, said of the vocations, "It's new life, it gives you a little spark."

Schauble explained that all of the women are in their 50s, each of them researched several other religious communities before committing, and all have been working with Erie's inner-city poor.

VISION executive editor Patrice Tuohy said that the overall numbers of people entering religious communities are beginning to increase slightly. Tuohy attributes this to religious communities using the Internet to attract new members. Schauble similarly finds her vocation ministry responses must be quick and efficient via email and text to draw in younger women. "You always have to think of the future of the community," Schauble said.

Discover more about the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.

Check out the "Guide to growing your community in the digital age" for tips on how to reach young, energetic discerners of the modern world.

Best of VISION ebook available on Amazon

Posted by: Jennifer Tomshack   🕔 Thursday 13, November 2014 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment

The best of VISION Vocation Guide has been published as an ebook, ‘Discover Your Path,’ available on Amazon at

“Discovering our vocation in life is absolutely impossible without coming to some awareness of our own life stories and a deep appreciation of the advice and support of friends,” writes Friar Douglas Adam Greer, O.P., in VISION 2002, “Getting to know what makes us tick, what energizes us, what vision of life gives us hope, pounded-out and pulled-together in the mortar and pestle of friendship, is the process through which we come to make an informed vocation choice.”

To that end, the articles collected in 'Discover Your Path' will help discerners pound out and pull together information and insights into where God might be calling them—a process often referred to as “vocation discernment.” May the readers of 'Discover Your Path' find it useful as they seek the vocations within themselves.

Catholics called to build a "culture of vocations"

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 30, October 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
USCCB prayer card for vocations

The 2014 National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW), Nov. 2-8, will be celebrated in U.S. parishes as a special time to "foster a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life."

Pope Francis emphasized the culture of vocations in Evangelii Gaudium, proclaiming: "The fraternal life and fervor of the community can awaken in the young a desire to consecrate themselves completely to God and to preaching of the Gospel. This is particularly true if such a living community prays insistently for vocations and courageously proposes to its young people the path of special consecration." 

The observance of NVAW is sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. The organization has created a variety of NVAW resources including news releases, videos of daily reflections, homily points, Holy Hours for Vocations, Prayers of the Faithful, prayers for vocations, and other resources such as lesson plans and activities.

Fr. Shawn McKnight, USCCB’s executive director of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said: “When three or more people encourage someone to consider a religious vocation, he or she is far more likely to take serious steps toward answering that call.”

Nov. 30 marks the beginning of the Year of Consecrated Life. Check out the VISION Year of Consecrated Life section on our website for articles, resources, and the commissioned song “Wake the world with dawning joy," in honor of this celebratory year of consecration and discipleship.

Dancing priest follows inspiration

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 23, October 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

A YouTube video has gone viral of seminarians Rev. David Rider, 29, of Hyde Park, New York, and Rev. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee, from the Pontifical North American College in Rome, tapping and Irish dancing in front of a crowd for a fundraiser in April at the college.

Rider attributes his vocational calling to Pope John Paul II. In a 2012 CNS video interview, "David Rider: Off Broadway," Rider speaks of the death and funeral of his "hero": "I saw the way he [Pope John Paul II] impacted the entire world for the choice he made for the priesthood. I felt well up within me also the desire to follow in his footsteps and become a priest." Despite a promising theatre career before him, Rider chose the priesthood and now dances "with the desire to bring forward the Kingdom of God," proudly wearing his collar.

On the heels of the dancing priests, Sister Cristina, the winner of the TV show, ‘The Voice of Italy,’ has released her first single: "Like a Virgin." According to the RNS report, "Sister Cristina, 26, says her version of the salacious pop song is a 'testimony of God’s capacity to turn all things into something new' as well as her personal calling to be a nun."

Lifetime’s new reality show: “The Sisterhood”

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 20, October 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
In the new reality series 'The Sisterhood,' five young women consider joining religious life.

Lifetime is set to release a new show, “The Sisterhood,” which profiles five young women who are considering becoming nuns. The “docu-series will provide an honest, behind-the-scenes look into the struggles, triumphs, and unique experiences that shape these women as they attempt to leave their old lives and take religious vows.”

The women profiled are all at different points on their faith journey and come from different backgrounds.

The Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm in New York, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in Illinois, and the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker in Kentucky agreed to let the series into their establishments for filming. This is the first time cameras have been allowed in convents to profile the discernment process. 

The show is set to premiere on Nov. 25 at 10pm ET on Lifetime.

Read the full story.

Veteran journalist quits BBC to join religious community

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 13, October 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
 Martina Purdy bids the BBC goodbye on Oct. 10.

One of Northern Ireland's most respected political journalists, Martina Purdy, announced she was leaving her career of almost 25 years to enter a religious congregation. In a statement, she said: "This is a very personal decision. I ask that the media respect my privacy and that of the religious congregation which I am entering, as I face up to the new challenges of my life. I will not be making any further public comment about this matter."

However, she was recently spotted on her way to mass with a group of religious from Adoration Convent of the Falls Road in Belfast, and she also took to Twitter to thank the public for their support.

In June, VISION posted on Facebook a report from the National Catholic Register that a famous Spanish model, Olalla Oliveros, also left her career to enter religious life.
Perhaps moving out of a profession to religious life is more common than we think! 

Albanian nun tells stories of bravery

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Tuesday 07, October 2014 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Vocation and Discernment

Sr. Maria Kaleta, an 85-year-old Franciscan Stigmatine nun, was a highlight of Pope Francis’ recent trip to Albania. During his meeting there with priests, religious, seminarians, and members of ecclesial lay movements, Kaleta recounted stories of her faith during the Communist regime in that country.

Kaleta spent seven years with her order but was forced to return home to her family by the Communist regime before taking her final vows. While there, she was unable to publically declare her faith but learned “to keep the faith alive in the hearts of the faithful” in secret.

She recalled a time when a Communist woman approached her and asked her to baptize her child. “I was afraid," Kaleta said, "because I knew the woman was a Communist, and I told her I didn't have anything to baptize her with because we were on the road, but she expressed so much desire that she told me there as a canal with water nearby. I told her I didn't have anything to collect the water with, but she insisted that I baptize that child, and seeing her faith, I took off my shoe, which was made of plastic, and I filled it with water from the canal and baptized her.”
 This was just one of many times she risked her life and safety to spread God’s word and witness her faith.

Among other stories of how she lived out God’s will in secret for years, Kaleta also focused on the strength her faith gave her. "The Lord gave strength to those He called; in fact, he has repaid me from all my sufferings here on earth," she said.

Read the full story.

Irish priest receives Vatican award

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Monday 06, October 2014 Categories: Mission & Evangelization,Vocation and Discernment
Fr. Vincent Mulligan receives Vatican's Good Samaritan medal.

Fr. Vincent Mulligan, 74, was awarded the Good Samaritan medal by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers for his decades of service as the director of pilgrimages for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) order in Dublin, Ireland. For the past 27 years, Mulligan has been conducting pilgrimages to Lourdes, France, for patients suffering from illnesses. He is the first Irish priest to receive this honor.

“I didn’t expect it at all, and I don’t deserve it either," Mulligan said, after receiving the award. "I am just an ordinary working priest. Lourdes is a place of peace and contentment. You are faced with suffering on a massive scale. Your health is your wealth, and if you haven’t got that, you’ve got nothing.”

Lourdes is home to the Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes, where many pilgrims travel to pray to the Blessed Mother for healing. Along with many volunteers, Mulligan takes those who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to travel to the religious site.

Even after visiting Lourdes so many times, Mulligan still enjoys the trip and is thankful for the volunteers that accompany him. “I look forward to it," he said. "You are helping people that cannot help themselves. It is not something I expected at all in any shape or form. I feel this is recognition of all the workers, all of them. Without them, and without the young people, we could not do what we do here.”

Read the full story.

“Hour Children” nun gives second chances

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Wednesday 01, October 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
Sr. Teresa Fitzgerald

Sr. Teresa Fitzgerald always knew she had a calling to work with children, and she did so, first as a Catholic schoolteacher and later as an administrator. Then, that calling took her in a new direction.

One of her colleagues, who was working with imprisoned mothers with infants, asked if “other nuns would be interested in dealing with older children, giving them a home and offering them the chance to stay in touch with their mothers.” Fitzgerald decided to seize this new opportunity.

She went on to start “Hour Children”—named for “the typical hour allowed for visits with incarcerated women”—which houses 70 children. The program offers thrift shops, a day care center, a food pantry, and job training. The residents and nearly all the staff are former convicts.

Fitzgerald has made it her goal to help people who society often casts off as those who brought this upon themselves. “For some, there weren’t any choices, it was just a life experience that they were channeled into for whatever reason–economic or personal or addictive issues. But I was amazed and touched by their goodness and their openness…I met very few people who blamed someone. And their resiliency, their hopes and dreams are big,” she says.

Fitzgerald recognizes that there are many factors that lead people to make the choices they do. She realizes that everyone makes mistakes, giving her the reputation of “the nun who gives second chances.”

Read the full story.

Retired nun brings loving touch to NICU

Posted by: Katie Loftus   🕔 Sunday 21, September 2014 Categories: Clergy,Vocation and Discernment

Sr. Loretta Mann, 85, a Sister of St. Francis of Assisi since 1948, retired from education in 2008, but not from service, and she joined the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Conn., as a "cuddler," where she volunteers three times a week.

"Mothers who have grown kids or have other responsibilities, they can't be here, but I can," Mann says. As a cuddler, she rocks the babies and keeps them company, often reading books and singing to them.

Mann joined the convent when she was 19, knowing she wanted to work with children. She taught in Pennsylvania for two decades and was then sent to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to get a master’s degree in administration. While she was not happy about the transition at first, she understood that it was part of God's plan. "I always believe that God puts you where he wants you," she says.

After working as a principal in Media, Penn., she was placed in the Hartford area as the curriculum coordinator for the archdiocese and later became superintendent, a post she held until she retired.

"Did I want to retire? No. But I knew it was time. And do you know what? I was at the St. Francis NICU the very next day as a cuddler," she says.

Her services are appreciated by many at the hospital, including Dr. Jose Arias-Camison, the director of the NICU, who says Mann's loving touch helps the infants recover.

"As we know, for many years when the mothers come and touch and hold their babies, their vital signs improve. Sister is not their Mom, but it has the same effect," Arias-Camison says.

Mann's kind spirit and willingness to help spreads throughout the NICU, and she loves making sure the infants know someone is there.

"I have loved every job, every ministry I have been in," she says. "When I gave up teaching, I thought that was the best job in the world, but then I came here."
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Two Michigan towns are neck and neck in vocations

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 19, June 2014 Categories: Consecrated Life,Clergy,Vocation and Discernment
Twins, Todd (left) and Gary Koenigsknecht, are among the Class of 2014 newly ordained priests.
The New York Times recently profiled newly ordained identical twin priests Todd and Gary Koenigsknecht from Fowler, Michigan who are "among 22 [priests] from their hometown, Fowler, Mich., population 1,224. They officially tie up the leader board with the neighboring village of Westphalia, population 938, which has also produced 22 priests, making for a robust rivalry in both football and Roman collars."

But that is not all...

"The elevation of religious life here has also had an effect on young women: Westphalia has produced 37 Catholic nuns over the decades, according to diocesan data, while Fowler claims 43. Marita Wohlfert, who is 20, is in the running to make it 44, having professed her first vows last year with the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará and taking the name Sister Mary of the Holy Family."

Is grass-fed beef the culprit? What's in the water of Westphalia and Fowler, Michigan? Please share it with the rest of us!

The real sister that inspired the OITNB character

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Tuesday 10, June 2014 Categories: Consecrated Life,Vocation and Discernment
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK character Sister Ingalls (left) is really Dominican Sister Ardeth Platte.
The very popular Netflix series Orange is the new Black (OITNB) character Sister Ingalls is inspired by pacifist nun Sisters Ardeth Platte, Jackie Hudson, and Carol Gilbert. According to the Common Dreams site, Platte, along with Hudson and Gilbert, "were arrested in October 2002 after they allegedly cut a chain link fence surrounding a Minuteman III missile silo in northern Colorado. The nuns then used baby bottles to dispense their own blood in the shape of a cross on the silo."

Character Sister Ingalls and Sister Ardeth lived in their "camp," serving their time as well as serving as chapel clerk and ministering to women of many faiths. And post-camp life, the real-life-Domincan Sisters Carol, Ardeth, and Jackie continue to advocate for peace and justice.

#oitnb #domincansisters #peaceandjustice

Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister saves through sewing

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Saturday 10, May 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe holding a pop tab purse made by her St. Monica's Girls' Tailoring School students in Gulu, Uganda.

Last week the Global Sisters Report highlighted an extraordinary Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister from Uganda-Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe. Perhaps you remember her as one of 2007 CNN’s Heroes or as the recent keynote speaker for the 2014 TIME Magazine -The 100 Most Influential People in the World.

In fact Sr. Rosemary’s vocation and survival during the horrific time of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army is the subject of a new book and movie narrated by Forest Whitaker, Sewing Hope. Her life’s story is “the story of one woman's fight to restore hope to her nation. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe resides over Saint Monica's Vocational School in Gulu, Uganda. Rosemary learned that [many girls] had been abducted and spent years with the rebels, losing a chance at any education. Rosemary introduced a practical tailoring course, where students who could not complete school were able to learn skills to provide for themselves and their families.”

View the Official Website for the Documentary Film and Book Sewing Hope here.

#bringbackourgirls #sewinghope #sisterrosemarynyirumbe

Discernment trends - Millennials blog their journey

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 28, April 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
REBECCA GUTHERMAN, a senior at Immaculata University, blogs about her plan to join the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary or the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
The growing trend of blogging, social media communities for discerners, and other resources like VISION Vocation Match attract and connect many millennials on their journey to religious life online. VISION also has a Blog Index.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently interviewed millennial Becca Gutherman about her blog, “Road Less Traveled” (the title a nod to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”) and her journey to becoming a nun.

“The blog gives a face to religious life,” says Gutherman, who is majoring in English and secondary education, with a minor in theology. When she graduates in May, she would like to teach in the inner city and someday write a young-adult fiction book. “People see that this is still a real life choice.”

What other online ways have you witnessed millennials discern?

#discernmenttrends #millennialnuns #bloggingmillennials

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Vocation reflection from saintly popes

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 23, April 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
Blessed Pope John Paul II and Blessed Pope John XXIII -photo credit CNA
As we prepare for the canonizations of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Blessed Pope John XXIII, I stumbled upon a couple of quotes that continue to inspire purpose and vocation in life.

“We deem it opportune to remind our children of their duty to take an active part in public life and to contribute toward the attainment of the common good of the entire human family as well as to that of their own political community. They should endeavor, therefore, in the light of their Christian faith and led by love, to insure that the various institutions—whether economic, social, cultural, or political in purpose—should be such as not to create obstacles, but rather to facilitate or render less arduous man’s perfecting of himself in both the natural order and the supernatural . . . . Every believer in this world of ours must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying leaven amidst his fellow men. And he will be this all the more perfectly, the more closely he lives in communion with God in the intimacy of his own soul.”
―Pope John XXIII ( Pacem in Terris: Peace on Earth)

"I invite you all to pray for those young people who, throughout the world, hear the call of the Lord and for those who may be afraid to answer that call. May they find educators at hand to guide them! May they perceive the grandeur of their vocation: to love Christ above all else as a call to freedom and happiness! Pray so that the Church may help you in your search and in arriving at a correct discernment! Pray so that Christian communities may always know how to pass on the call of the Lord to the younger generations! With me, thank the Lord “for the gift of a vocation, for the grace of priesthood, for priestly vocations throughout the world” (Gift and Mystery, 10)! Let us thank him for consecrated persons! Let us thank him for families, parishes, and movements, the cradles of vocations!"
―Pope John Paul II, Paris 1997

#JohnXXIII #JP2 #popescanonization

"Imagine a Sister's Life" website - 21st century connection for aspiring religious

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 09, April 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
The Sisters of Bon Secours' new website connects women on their journey to religious life.

In an age where advances in technology can sometimes disconnect us, I must say that the "Imagine a Sister's Life" website welcomes the visitor in very real way. This site offers a conversation starter for women both struggling to find their purpose or need confirmation that they're on the right path.

With a wide array of multimedia tools, "Imagine a Sister's Life" invites visitors to explore religious life by exploring three steps that are outlined on the home page: 1. Meet a Sister, 2. Picture Yourself as a Sister, and 3. Becoming a Sister.

Don't forget to click the "Talk to a Sister" tab to view their blog, join the chat room, and even send a comment or suggestion.

Click Sisters of Bon Secours to discover more about this innovative community.

#imagineasisterslife #pictureyourselfasasister #becomingasister

Sister Camille's conversations take a turn toward religious life

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 02, April 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
NCR columnist Sr. Camille D'Arienzo

Sr. Camille D'Arienzo, whose column Conversations with Sr.Camille is regularly featured in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), recently posted two great interviews with members of religous communities: Providence Sr. Susanne Gallagher, S.P. on her work with children with special needs, and Marist Br. Sean Sammon, F.M.S. on the future of religious life.

Providence Sr. Susanne Gallagher, right, with her sister Rita who inspired her work with Special Religious Development, better known as SPRED.
Sr. Susanne, a recent recipient of the University of Notre Dame's Laetare medal, said that her interest in special education was due in part to the fact that her younger sister has Down syndrome: "I had been praying for a way to commingle my work and my prayer life and to become involved with people who are intellectually challenged, said Gallagher. ... I sensed that SPRED ministry would be a place where I would become more aware of God's presence in my life."

Read the full interview here.

Learn more about the Sisters of Providence--Saint Mary-of-the--Woods, IN 

Br. Sean Sammon, F.M.S., says that religious life is meant to be a leaven within the church and society.

Br. Sammon told Sr. Camille that there has never been a "golden age" of religious life. "Each era has had its challenges. We need to use our energies to address today's, including the changes that very few welcome. ...Young people coming to religious life today are reminding us that community and a vibrant life of prayer are as important a part of religious life as the ministry of our congregation."

Read the full interview here.

Learn more about the Marist Brothers.

#spred #sistersofprovidence #maristbrothers #sistersofmercy

#NCSW The inaugural National Catholic Sister Week concludes

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Saturday 15, March 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
 SISTER STORY website launched during the first National Catholic Sister Week.

The National Catholic Sister week has successfully concluded and created a lot of buzz for women religious.

Attendee Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau writes on her blog: "This new tradition [NCSW] is sparked by the funding obtained by St. Kate’s [St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN] from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for a 3-year project called “Sister Story.” One of the goals of this project is to demystify religious life by collecting the personal stories of Sisters from various communities/congregations from all over the nation.  To accomplish this, college women are being paired with Sisters with the goal of forming close relationships that will culminate in a videotaped interview which will be made accessible on a public website."

The sisterstory site Sister Paule is referring to, provides an opportunity for viewers to participate in the "Tell Us Your Story" tab which includes thanking a nun. Particularly noteworthy is the SisterStories tab itself. It is quite incredible to read the "In their own words" stories as the Huffington Post acknowledged their blog a wrap up of the NCSW: "Let's Hear It For The Nuns! 7 Stories To Kick Off Inaugural National Catholic Sisters Week."

Enjoy being demystified by these remarkable stories as I am.

#ncsw #sisterstory #womenreligious

Jimmy Fallon thought he "had the calling"

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 19, March 2014 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
"It’s my first experience on stage is as an altar boy. You’re on stage next to the priest, I’m a co-star," Jimmy Fallon on growing up Catholic and wanting to be a priest.

Deacon Greg Kandra reminded us on his blog that in the wake of Jimmy Fallon's succesful debut as the new host of "The Tonight Show," Fallon wanted to be a priest.

Deacon Greg recalls Jimmy Fallon's 2012 interview with NPR about his Catholic upbringing in Brooklyn, NY.

Fallon  shared: "I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to Mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning, serve Mass. And then you made money, too, if you did weddings and funerals. You’d get like five bucks. And so I go ‘Okay, I can make money too.’ I go, ‘This could be a good deal for me.’ I thought I had the calling... It’s my first experience on stage is as an altar boy. You’re on stage next to the priest, I’m a co-star."

Read the full 2012 NPR transcript here.

Before they took vows they were...

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 05, December 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
WHO WAS SEEN on the big screen and who was a bouncer?

You've heard about Pope Francis' prior work sweeping floors and as a bouncer right? If not, you can read the Catholic News Service report here.

Surely, you've seen the Huff Post article of the Pope joining his Almoner at night giving alms to the poor of Rome no doubt, correct? Read more on this rumor that is "probably true" from "a knowledgeable source in Rome [that] told The Huffington Post that "Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women,"" here.

Perhaps you haven't heard of Mother Dolores Hart, OSB who before becoming a cloistered nun, played opposite to Elvis Presley in "Loving You." Relish in Mother Dolores Hart's journey toward her true vocation as she reflects that "The extravagance of my Hollywood career only mirrored the extravagance of God’s creative love expressed through His Son." Read the full USCCB blog here.

 Discover more about the Benedictine communities here.

#popefrancis #hollywoodtoholyvows

Bruce Lee helped archbishop find his vocation

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 02, December 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
BRUCE LEE: Vocation promoter.
It was a quote from action-movie star Bruce Lee which helped inspire Philippine Archbishop Socrates Villegas to enter the priesthood.

A life-long fan of the Hong Kong martial artist and actor, Villegas, the newly-installed president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, remembers coming across these words from Lee: “He said: ‘The cup realizes itself only by being empty.’ For me,” Villegas said, “it’s a call for sacrifice or for something greater than what I have been doing.”

Source: Sun.Star (Philippines)

HGTV open casting call for those entering religious life

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Friday 27, September 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
NOVICES! SHARE YOUR STORY with HGTV's new show new house, new life.
HGTV’s, latest series, new house, new life seeks fun, high-energy, people who have or are in the process of changing their current status for a lifelong passion. In particular, they are looking for novices preparing for religious life.

Casting applications are being accepted now and production will continue through the fall. Ideal candidates will be outgoing people who would love to share their life-changing vocational and discerning experience with HGTV’s audience, inspiring others to pursue their dreams of religious life or spiritual fulfillment and service.

For more information please contact:, 720-259-1546.

#callingallnovices #shareyourjourney #inspireothers

Which form of religious life is most popular and other fun facts . . .

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 25, September 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Have you ever wondered who is considering a vocation to consecrated life? Who is answering THE CALL? Well, you are in luck!

In the past year nearly 5,000 people completed a Vocation Match profile. How old are they? What kind of community interests them? Where do they live? Check out our cool new infographic below (click here for a larger version of the graphic).
   Results compiled from completed
          Vocation Match profiles.

Sundays are for . . .

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Thursday 12, September 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
“AFTER 17 YEARS of being a priest,
Sunday mornings still never get old for me,”
says Father John Herman, C.S.C.
For this throwback Thursday I think it is fitting to throw a “Hail Mary” here and remember the true purpose of Sunday mornings. While we are in the second week of the NFL season, let’s set our fantasy football teams to the best combination of players we have and then leave it and head to Mass.

Father John Herman, C.S.C., touched upon the importance of Sundays Eucharist this last October (2012), in his blog piece: Nothing Better than Sunday Mornings. Heshares  his love and gratitude for God calling him to become a Holy Cross priest aswell as a glimpse into his life of blessings and challenges as pastor of La Luz Parish in México.

Fr. Herman says: “One of the things that helps me feel very grounded in celebrating the Eucharist here is the connection that I’m developing with the people after being here for a little more than a year. I see Imelda out there and know that she’s suffering greatly from the tragic and violent death of her daughter. I see Pablo and Carla who are expectantly awaiting the birth of their first child. I see Arturo and know how he and his family are struggling to keep their family business going. I see Edgar who is discerning a possible vocation to religious life and priesthood in Holy Cross.

“I love Sunday’s, not because it’s the day for NFL football. I love Sundays because we all get to come together for our celebration of the Eucharist. Does it get any better than this?”

Learn more about the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

#throwbackthursday #sundaymornings #celebration #eucharist

What is your calling?

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Monday 19, August 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
"THERE ARE a handful of young people across the country who have interpreted 'calling' in perhaps the most literal way possible."
A couple of articles in the news this past week have addressed this question of calling, purpose, and vocation.

First, Emma Green of The Atlantic shares her thoughts on this in the context of the millennial generation in her article Why Would a Millennial Become a Priest or Nun? The highlights that struck me come at the beginning of the article:

"There are a handful of young people across the country who have interpreted 'calling' in perhaps the most literal way possible: By devoting their lives to the Church. The decision seems radical in the context of common stereotypes about millennials, a generation often accused of lack of discipline, skepticism bordering on snark, preference for a hook-up culture, and only the vaguest spiritual impulses. These millennials defy those clichés, taking lifelong vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to God—and to the Catholic Church, which, especially in their lifetimes, has been regularly plagued by scandal.

Sister Colleen Gibson, a 27-year-old in the second year of her formal training with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, took the quiz on a website during college to determine what the best path might be for her. "It's like, but for religious communities," she explained. After identifying some of the aspects of religious life that appealed to her, she clicked a box to send her answers to various orders that might be a fit. "The next morning when I woke up and opened up my inbox, there were 40 emails—it scared me to death. It's like throwing red meat into a lion's den." In time, obviously, Sister Colleen found the community with the best fit, and her may options gave her the chance to look at different kinds of communities.

The website Sister Colleen searched is the VISION Vocation Network's very own Vocation Match survey!

Second, on the Huffington Post Agapi Stassinopouslos posted a blog item regarding the topic of "purpose" and "calling" in her piece "5 Essential Questions to Lead You to Your Calling."

", , , When we connect to our heart's calling," Stassinopouslos says, "everything starts to have meaning. So I have come up with five questions that as you answer can bring your calling closer to you.

"What am I here to learn?

What am I here to teach?

What am I here to overcome?

What am I here to complete?

What am I here to express?"

Vocation Fair at WYD Rio2013

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 17, July 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
World Youth Day Madrid 2011 priest in prayer.

Father Leonardo Lopes, member of the Pastoral Preparation Sector and Head of the Vocations Fair for World Youth Day Rio2013 shares: “The goal of the Fair is to help all who attend to ask themselves what God expects of them.” 

From July 23 until the 26, from 8 in the morning until 8 at night at the Quinta da Boa Vista site of World Youth Day Rio2013, pilgrims will have the opportunity to visit confessionals specifically designed for WYD, along with a tent of 600 square meters for adoring the Most Holy Sacrament, participate in catechesis, eat at the food court and various restaurants, and even visit tents with DJs and finally Evangelization 180º, with extreme sports like climbing and zip-lining. Read further here.

Is there an upcoming Vocation Fair in your area? Share the information of date, time and location below.

Also, remember to follow our VISION staff at World Youth Day Rio2013 at

Encouraging Vocations for Young Girls

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 30, April 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
As a young girl, I remember reading books like Babysitters Club or The Magic Tree House but nothing like a book encouraging me to seek or explore the call to religious life. Perfect timing, since Sunday (April 21) was the World Day of Prayer for vocations. 

When they could not find stories about vocations for children, Fr. Jeff and Peggy Wertz decided to start writing their own books. In 2010 they published, Becoming Fr. Bob,for boys, which quickly became a success. 

This January, during Catholic Schools Week, they released their latest book, aimed at elementary and middle-school girls: Becoming Sister Mary Grace.

“Principal Peggy Wertz and I worked alongside a great illustrator and saw Becoming Sister Mary Grace come alive,” said Father Kirby, vicar of vocations for the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. Wertz is principal of St. Mary Help of Christians School in Aiken, S.C., where illustrator Alice Judd is an art teacher.

 “We want this book to be attractive to young girls, as well as middle-school girls,” Wertz said, explaining how the cover pictures Claire, the focus of the story, with her little sister. The little sister is the cause of Claire’s excitement as the story opens. With their mother expecting a new baby, this is Claire’s chance to become a big sister.

“We felt all of the youngsters in the country would identify with becoming a big sister,” Wertz said. It was also a nice way to talk about perhaps becoming another kind of “sister” someday.

The book is dedicated to the girls who were part of the St. Cecilia Vocation Club at Mary Help of Christians School when the book was begun. Those girls are now juniors and seniors in high school.

Natalie Gorensek, a junior, was really excited at the launch of the book and stated that, “Everyone knows about marriage and priests, but not everyone knows about nuns. So it’s important we have vocation clubs to get the word out that being a sister is interesting and cool. … Knowing other options (of vocations) is really helpful in spiritual development." 

To read more about the book Becoming Sister Mary Grace, check out the artilce published in the National Catholic Register and let us continue to pray and encourage vocations throughout the world. 

50th Anniversary of World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 24, April 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
50th anniversary; instituted by
Pope Paul VI during the
Second Vatican Council.

This past fourth Sunday of Easter (April 21st), also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, marked the 50th Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Pope Francis’ celebration included the ordinations of 10 new priests in the Diocese of Rome.

Catholic News Service shares moving highlights of Pope Francis' homily. “The voice of Jesus is unique,” Pope Francis said. “If we learn to distinguish it, he will guide us on the path of life, a path that leads us even beyond the abyss of death.”

The USCCB encourages us to “pray that young men and women hear and respond generously to the Lord's call to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, societies of apostolic life or secular institutes.” 

Pope Francis: Lowly but chosen

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Monday 18, March 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

From a story by Veronica Scarisbrick on Vatican Radio: Pope Francis has chosen the motto Miserando atque eligendo, meaning "lowly but chosen," which in Latin means "by having mercy, by choosing him."

The motto is one the pope had already chosen as a bishop. It is taken from the homilies of the Venerable Bede on Saint Matthew's gospel relating to his vocation: "Jesus saw the tax collector and by having mercy chose him as an Apostle saying to him: Follow me."

This homily, which focuses on divine mercy and is reproduced in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Feast of Saint Matthew, has taken on special significance in the Pope's life and spiritual journey.

It was on the Feast of Saint Matthew in 1953 that a young 17 year-old Jorge Bergoglio was touched by the mercy of God and felt the call to religious life in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and entered the Jesuit order.

Beyond the motto, the coat of arms has a blue field and is surmounted by the mitre and the papal keys. On the crest itself at the centre is the symbol of the Jesuits, a flaming sun with the three letters recalling the name and the salvific mission of Jesus. Underneath we have two more symbols: to the right the star representing Mary and to the left the nard flower representing Joseph.

Pope Francis among 34 popes from religious communities

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 13, March 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

In being a member of a religious order and the first Jesuit elected pope, Pope Francis joins 33 other pontiffs who came from religious communities: Here is the list, thanks to a Wikipedia entry on popes:

  • Benedictines (17):-
    • Gregory I, Boniface IV, Adeodatus II, Leo IV, John IX, Leo VII, Stephen IX, Gregory VII, Victor III, Urban II, Paschal II, Gelasius II, Celestine V, Clement VI, Urban V, Pius VII
  • and including Camaldolese (1):-
    • Gregory XVI
  • Augustinians (6):-
    • Eugene IV
  • and including Canons Regular (5):-
    • Honorius II, Innocent II, Lucius II, Gregory VIII, Adrian IV
  • Dominicans (4):-
    • Innocent V, Benedict XI, Pius V, Benedict XIII
  • Franciscans (4):-
    • Nicholas IV, Sixtus IV
  • and including Conventual Franciscans (2):-
    • Sixtus V, Clement XIV
  • Cistercians (2):-
    • Eugene III, Benedict XII
  • Jesuits (1):-
    • Francis I

    Learn more about these communities in VISION's Community Search.

Congratulations to the Maryknoll Sisters on their founder's recognition

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 08, March 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
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.

Extreme Makeover: Website Edition

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 12, February 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
We are excited to announce that our friends over at A Nun's Life Ministry have recently launched their newly refurbished website and it is incredible. 

A Nun's Life Ministry has been working hard to create a website that is accesible and functional for all its users. Today, the sisters will be hosting a LIVE website tour to show off their wonderful new site. The streaming audio and video tour will begin at 6 p.m. Central Time. The chat room will be open too, so you can interact with the sisters and with other folks during the tour.

Some of the new features include: 
  • New designs by Ann Betts
  • New Podcasts by the Sisters called "Random Nun Clips!"
  • New videos that highlight the sisters and all they do
  • Easier navigation features to help you find exactly what you are looking for

Make sure to check out the website and join the sisters tonight for their special podcast. Way to go sisters!! 

Her journey to becoming a sister

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 31, January 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
A nice reflection from a Sisters of Mercy candidate on "My Journey to Becoming a Sister of Mercy." "I wish my decision to pursue religious life was a single moment that I could describe to you but I grew into it, or maybe it would be more accurate to say it grew into me."

Click here to learn more about the Sisters of Mercy.

It's National Vocation Awareness Week and Vocations are Thriving!

Posted by: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso   🕔 Wednesday 16, January 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

This week is National Vocation Awareness week and a lot of parishes are doing their part to encourage parishioners to pray for young men and women to consider becoming a priest, deacon and religious brother and sister.

SISTERS of the Visitation, Tyringham, Mass.

Actually, the USCCB are having guest blog posts by young priests and religious on their pursuit to the vocation and how they were prayed for and encouraged by God and others to live the consecrated life.

Additionally, the newest members of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Tyringham, Massachusetts come from very different life experiences and are a variety of ages but have all been drawn to the life of a cloistered nun. Peggy Weber of Catholic News Service shares the thoughts of each of the four new members as well as the director of novices’ Sister Mary Emmanuel’s goal for the community. Sister Mary Emmanuel says, "We're looking for someone with enthusiasm, someone's who's very interested in the religious life, someone who is a deep, faithful Catholic. She said that anyone considering religious life has to be open, willing to take a risk, and be someone who dares to be different.”


Thankfully, in the spirit of vocations, the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States is thriving! Deacon Greg Kandra shares on his blog The Deacon’s Bench, “with more than 50 men in formation,” their congregation, “is among the healthiest for Catholic religious orders in the United States.” The key to their success is shared by Vocations Director Holy Cross Father James T. Gallagher is simple: “We use social media as a way to make ourselves known to those young men discerning a call to religious life. But the personal interaction still comes first. Our social media outlets are just tools we use to help make Holy Cross known, share discernment tips and help deepen a man’s prayer life.”    

Let the beautiful words of Archbishop José H. Gomez be our prayer during this National Vocation Awareness week; "Every priest is a sacrament — a sign and instrument that brings men and women to the encounter with the living God. So in this Year of Faith, we need to refocus ourselves, especially in our families, on helping men to hear this beautiful and noble calling from Jesus.” (Shared from his November 2012 Tidings article).

Augustinian Sister Mary Thomas honored by Queen

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 03, January 2013 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

For her services creating the state-of-the-art St. George’s Park Retirement Village in Sussex, U.K., Augustinian Sister Mary Thomas was awarded an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth in her New Year’s Honor’s List, Zenit reports. Sister Thomas, a native of Ireland, accepted the award on behalf of her religious community, the Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus, and those who provide care in the Augustinian homes: “I recognize that the award is given not just to myself but in recognition, too, of my own religious community and many other professionals who have worked with us over these years to assist the elderly and most vulnerable in our society.”

The Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus order was founded by Canon Peter John Maes in 1842. The sisters were to offer assistance to him in his ministry to the mentally ill. Today the sisters run four care facilities throughout the U.K. Their most ambitious project was the St. George’s Park Retirement Village. The award-winning development includes senior apartments, community building, restaurant, bar, shop, hairdresser, library, gym, game rooms, treatment facility, and lush grounds with a lake and park.

Sr Mary Thomas trained as a general and psychiatric nurse and has spent all of her religious life caring for the sick and elderly. When she was appointed Superior of the Order in the 1990s, she began to realize the sisters’ dream of an innovative new assisted living and care community.

For more on the Augustinian Sisters, read their online listing in the VISION community directory.

The joy of Catholicism

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Sunday 16, September 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Comedian Stephen Colbert and Cardinal Timothy Dolan were the stars of a gathering on Satruday at Fordham University in the Bronx billed as an opportunity to hear two Catholic celebrities discuss how joy and humor infuse their spiritual lives.

According to a New York Times report by Laurie Goodstein, the audience sent in questions via Twitter and e-mail, which Jesuit Father James Martin, SJ pitched to the two men. Among them: “I am considering the priesthood. Would it be prudent to avoid dating?”

Cardinal Dolan responded that, on the contrary, “it’s good” to date, partly to discern whether the celibate life of a priest is what you want. Then he added, “By the way, let me give you the phone numbers of my nieces.”

Mr. Colbert said, “It’s actually a great pickup line: I’m seriously considering the priesthood. You can change my mind.”

The Huffington Post reported that Colbert, who has taught Sunday school classes to school-age children, said people in comedy often don't understand how he could remain Catholic. But he said he views the church as teaching joy, which he called the "infallible sign of the presence of God."

The official twitter hashtag for the event was #dolancolbert.

Read followup comments from Father Martin at America Magazine.

Click here to learn more about the Jesuits.

Art by by Tim Luecke, Fordham senior.

Irish seminary welcomes 12 new student priests

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 29, August 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
Great news for vocations!  Yesterday at Saint Patrick's College Maynooth, the National Seminary for Ireland, 12 new student priests were welcomed into formation.

President of the College, Monsignor Hugh Connolly, said in his welcoming to the new candidates and their families, "As you begin your formation journey I wish you every blessing during this privileged time for discernment, for learning, for vocation, for praying, for listening and for being especially close to Our Lord in the word of Sacred Scripture, in the faith of the Church, in your participation in the Liturgy and in your service of others."

The Church of Ireland has had quite a memorable year hosting the Eucharistic Conference in June, and later this year will host a 50th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

As Monsignor Connolly concluded his welcoming he also expressed the great need this year is to be reminded of the importance of faith in each of our lives, to continue to deepen our relationship with God, and to be committed to sharing our faith with others. 

Let us continue to pray for those who are considering entering into religious life and for those women and men who already live a religious vocational life.  

*Source: Independent Catholic News

The Mission is simple: Those who give receive more

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 14, August 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Billboards are usually seen along expressways trying to grab our attention and get us to stop along the way. Often, we glance at these signs and continue driving to get to our destination. But what if a billboard was calling you towards religious life? Would you simply just read the sign and continue driving or would you answer the call?

Seeking to repopulate its thinning religious ranks, the Roman Catholic diocese of Austria's largest province launched a province-wide billboard campaign to recruit priests, nuns, and other laypeople. The requirements are simple: a sense of religious mission and a commitment to celibacy. Benefits: a possible inside track to Heaven. With over 80 large billboards and 300 small electric placards being placed around the provinces, the message is simple, “The Mission. Those who give all receive more.”

While unemployment is growing in Vienna, these billboards are a way to encourage men and women to consider entering into religious life. The billboard campaign has created some serious stir because mass advertisement for religious life is rare. Austria, which is overwhelmingly Catholic, is finding that is mostly in name rather than practice.

Like elsewhere in many parts of Europe, Masses are poorly populated in Vienna and other bigger cities and the number of declared Catholics is shrinking – in Austria by 13 percent since 1960 – as former believers fed up with church scandals and a perceived sense of the Vatican's disconnect with the world.

At the same time, however, the number of priests has declined rapidly – in Austria by 26 percent. In St. Poelten, Lower Austria's provincial capital, 244 priests are administering to the needs of 423 parishes. Country-wide, the overwhelming majority of priests are over 60, and young replacements are scarce.

The hope is that this billboard campaign will get people interested in religious life and service and to show people the importance of working with the Church. To read more about the billboard campaign check out the piece in the Huffington Post

Wise words from the Sisters

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 05, July 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
Last week I received an email from our friends over at a Nun's Life , in which they were answering a question from a blogger about what motiviates a person to become a nun. After reading the answer, I was amazed at how honest and important it was to really think about where we are each being called to by God in our own lives.   

The message was so powerful and so thoughtful that I would like to share it with you today: 

Hi Sister, what motivation did you have to become a nun? Why did you choose that type of career/life??

You asked what my motivation was for becoming a nun. Well, I didn’t really plan on becoming a nun. My motivation was to live my life the best way I could as a young, single, Catholic woman. I knew my options were single life, married life, and religious life. I figured that I was destined for married life. I always wanted to be married and to be a mom. But, I decided I’d check out the religious thing just to say “been there, done that” … so I wouldn’t have any doubts about that NOT being my call. Well, that didn’t happen.

It turns out it was my call. I think deep down, I recognized that I was most fully myself when I was in tune with God. It just so happened that for me, that meant living the lifestyle of a religious. For others, it may mean living a married life, being a parent, becoming ordained or choosing single life. Whatever lifestyle God calls us to is IT, the best one for us. I realized that to be true to myself meant that I had to let go of something and let God do the driving. I still am quite a back seat driver, but more and
more I am able to say “not my will, but yours be done.”

Being a nun is more of a way of life than it is a career. I think of a career as something that at the end of the day or week, I can come home and do my ordinary stuff. I’m “off duty” so to speak. Just like being married is not a career, being a nun is not really a career because being a nun is part of who I am. It’s like I’ve got this IHM “DNA” now that is as much a part of me as my family is. As with married life, our vows are for life — in good times and in bad.

In a way, I wasn’t the one who first chose this life of being a nun. It’s like it chose me. I know that sounds kinda weird, but it’s true. It’s not something I ever would have thought would “fit” me. Yet, by golly, it does. Once I realized that this is what God was calling me to, I had to take the time and space to choose it for myself, to make God’s call my own, to embrace it freely. After some major resisting, running, and denial, I was able to freely choose this life, knowing that it is the best way I can be me and serve God and the world.

Please pray for all those who are discerning a vocation and take some time today to really listen to where God is calling you.

Book tunes into discernment

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 27, June 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

FATHER ANDREW CARL Wisdom, O.P., VISION Vocation Guide author and promoter of vocations and vicar for mission advancement for the Dominicans’ St. Albert the Great Province, has followed up on his award-winning Preaching to a Multi-Generational Assembly (Liturgical Press, 2004) with a book on discernment, coauthored with Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister Christine Kiley, A.S.C.J.: Tuning into God’s Call, published last July by Liguori Publications.


“Through a series of practical reflections,” the publisher says, “this book introduces you to five stages of the discernment process. Though our life purpose may not be understood all at once as doubts and fears may still persist, this book will assist you in making time to discern God's direction. The process of discernment has many facets. If you are wondering what God has in store for you, then this is just the book to help you pray and actively move through your discernment process. It will help you find peace in your prayer and inspire you.”

NRVC recevies half-million-dollar-plus grant

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 11, June 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

Congratulations to the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) - on whose behalf VISION is published - for being awarded a $650,000 grant by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The purpose of this “capacity building” grant is to strengthen and enhance the organizational systems, structures, management, publications, communications, and governance of the NRVC. It is the largest grant ever received by the NRVC.

The Hilton Foundation has identified the NRVC as a key organization with whom they would like to
partner in the future in the promotion of one of their foundation’s priorities, namely, support of Catholic sisters.
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Euro Pop Band Releases Soundtrack for Vocations

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 29, May 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Ooberfuse, a European electro-pop band released a single in support of the English and Welsh Church’s new vocations drive, according to the U.K. Catholic Herald.

Worth Abbey Benedictine Fr. Christopher Jamison OSB, director of the National Office for Vocation, commissioned the band to write the soundtrack to help promote vocations. Their song, “Call my name,” can be heard here and comes from their forthcoming album Seventh Wave, to be released in August.

Fr Jamison described the single as a “wonderful gift given to the Church. The words are poetic and inspired, worthy of the psalms.”

Their previous single, Heart’s Cry, was the youth anthem for the Pope’s visit to Britain in September 2010.

Band member Hal St. John described the task as a challenge: “When God speaks to us he does so in a strange and other worldly language that it is sometimes hard if not altogether impossible to render into intelligible words. His gentle yet persistent call cuts through the clamour and roar of contemporary life treading as softly as dove’s footsteps. For some, pop music is part of the noise that drowns out the sound of divinity, desensitising us to the transcendent. On the face of it, it seems incongruous that pop music, especially dub-step, should be used to heighten our awareness of God’s call to each one of us.” 

Fransican Friar signs major recording contract

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Thursday 24, May 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy


Franciscan tenor Alessandro Brustenghi on Abbey Road in London.

Alessandro Brustenghi, a tenor from Assisi, Italy, who also happens to be a Franciscan Friar, just signed a major recording contract with Decca Records--the first ever Franciscan to do so. The album deal will showcase his voice to millions of opera fans.

The 34-year-old friar flew to London earlier this week for the recording at Abbey Road studios (made famous by the Beatles) and to give his first performance outside Italy at the 2012 International Decca Conference today.

Brustenghi intends to donate all proceeds from record sales to the Order of Friars Minor for charitable work..

His first album, made up of a mixture of traditional and modern sacred songs, will be released in October.

"I’m a bit nervous," said Brustenghi in an interview in the Telegraph, "but I understand this is necessary as it is a good opportunity to unleash this beautiful music to everybody. I feel excited, very excited because it’s realized my vocation."

"Music for me is a direct line with God. It’s the way to communicate with him, and it’s the way God uses to communicate with us. It’s the way to spread the gospel, to everybody, to the world.

"The story of St. Francis of Assisi is very similar to mine. Francis was a humble man, and he decided to spread the gospel with music, dance and joy.”

Learn more about the Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.):

You shall run and not get weary

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 20, March 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

Three years ago, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Arizona put their minds to raising funds to build a chapel and monastery in the Southwestern desert. They came up with a fun idea - have young and old alike run in an annual fundraiser named the Nun Run.

This year, their 3rd Annual Nun Run on March 10 attracted 1,135 participants at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Ariz., to compete in a 10K run, 5K run/walk, or opt for a slower-paced 1-mile walk.

"I started off the day full of energy and left with more than I arrived with," said Jill Sciarappo a volunteer and photographer.

The runners wore shirts designed by Sister Fidelis based on the year's motto from Isaiah 40:31 "You shall run and not get weary".

Many people came out for this amazing event from grandparents to young children. The "Nun Run" is trying to raise funds to continue work on building Our Lady of Solitude Monastery. The previous runs all help to fund the chapel and chapel appointments. After the final cosmetic work is completed on the chapel, the main focus will be completion of the Monastery to make rooms for 28 sisters.

Our Lady of Solitude is rising like a vision of medieval beauty on land donated to the sisters in Tonopah, just west of Phoenix. The sisters arrived here in 2005 from Hanceville, Ala., to establish the first Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in the West and to become the first contemplative community of nuns in the Phoenix Diocese.

The Nun Runs are helping to bring the diocesan community together for this project. "The Lord has inspired a lot of good people to come out and help us," said Sister John-Mark Maria. "A lot of people come together for Our Lord, and I experience that through the Nun Run. I'm very humbled, and I marvel in the Lord's goodness."

So if you see a nun run, go join in and think of the Lord. A young woman was running and wearing a shirt that had a picture of a sister with the words: "Not all habits are bad."

Let's remember to pray for those who are discerning a religious vocation or any vocation and let's continue to pray for the men and women who are priests or sisters, as they continue to inspire and work towards bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Check out more photos of the Nun Run or to get involved. 

Jesus' prayers on Cross inspire Forgiveness

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 15, February 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

The final words of Jesus Christ as he died on the cross should prompt Christians to pray for those who have hurt them Pope Benedict XVI said on Feb. 15, the Catholic News Reported.

"Jesus by asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying him, invites us to the difficult act of praying for those who do us wrong, who have damaged us, knowing always how to forgive," the Pope told over 6,000 pilgrims attending today's general audience in Paul VI Hall.

The Pope urged people to pray that "the light of God may illuminate their hearts, inviting us, that is, to live in our prayers, the same attitude of mercy and love that God has towards us."This attitude, he explained, is summed up in one line from the Our Father - "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Over the past several months, the Pope has used his weekly general audiences to explore the issue of prayer. This week he focused on the three last prayers of Jesus from the cross.

Those three final prayers of Jesus are "tragic" for every man but are also "pervaded by the deep calm that comes from trust in the Father and the will to abandon himself totally to him." They are a "supreme act of love" which went "to the limit and beyond the limit."As well as prompting us to pray for our enemies, the final prayers of Jesus should also teach Christians that "no matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God," Pope Benedict said.

Two Minutes of Wisdom

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 14, February 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Since today is Valentine's Day, a day where we express our love for others, I thought it would be neat to post a  video about a program that helps former gang members. Father Greg Boyle is the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that works with former gang members to help transform their lives, create positive communities and "find the person they are really meant to be." The link below takes you to Fr. Boyle talking about the importance of his work and the importance of helping those that are in need. 

Homeboy Industries started as a jobs program offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Homeboy assists at-risk, recently released, and formerly gang involved youth to become contributing members of their communities through a variety of services in response to their multiple needs. Free programs -- including counseling, education, tattoo removal, substance abuse and addiction assistance, job training and job placement -- enable young people to redirect their lives. Homeboy provides them with hope for their futures and is the nation’s largest gang-intervention and re-entry program – a model to all.

So today as we show our affection for those we love, let's remember to pray for those who need love and support. 

Sources: Homeboy Industries Homepage and Huffington Post

Called to Serve

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 07, February 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

The armed forces don't seem like a place where one would be called to serve the Lord or be a minister to faith. The Huffington Post published a really nice article about hearing your call while serving in the military. According to the Post, there are a number of men who became military chaplains, either by a twist of fate or perhaps divine Providence many they found their calling while on active duty.

Many chaplains enter into the military straight from the seminary but some are called directly while still serving. The article talks about Muslim, Jewish, and Christian's who have all been called while serving to become military chaplains.

Brian Wood, now a Catholic chaplain, wanted to be a priest according to his parents but instead of enrolling into the seminary he went into the Air Force. Several Catholic chaplains told him that he should become a priest, he said, citing his "strength of faith and they thought I had a glow to me, that I looked like a priest."

Today, he is a seminarian at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, supported by both his home diocese in Lubbock, Texas, and the Archdiocese for the Military Services. After his expected graduation in June, Wood is scheduled to do three years of pastoral work in Lubbock, where he hopes to remain in the Air Force reserves, before returning to active duty. "I have a strong passion for the military and for my faith," Wood said. "What better way to put those two together than become a military chaplain."

Let us continue to keep the men and women who serve our country in our daily prayers. 

Young lawyer looks at women living gospel values and says, "I want that."

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Tuesday 31, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life


This past Sunday's Times Picayune ran an indepth profile on Alison McCrary, a young lawyer who is on her way to becoming a sister. Here are some highlights from reporter Sheila Stroup's story:

“People have such a misconception of what nuns are,”  says McCrary. “We’re supposed to run into the world, not out of it. Our eyes are wide open, and our sleeves are rolled up.”

“My mother is Cherokee,” she says. “She wasn’t welcome at the white school or the black school when she was a girl. She just recently learned to read and write.”

Where McCrary lived, Confederate flags flew on many buildings, and the Ku Klux Klan marched in the square on weekends. “You grow up with something, you think it’s normal,” she says. “But that isn’t normal. . . . There are so many struggles of the poor and oppressed,” she says. “If I’m not engaged in some kind of social change, then something is wrong.”

She entered the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in August 2007. During her work as a paralegal and volunteer activities as a law student, she met several Sisters of St. Joseph and saw the important work they were doing, and she felt called to become a nun.

“I met Sister Helen Prejean and Sister Lory Schaff and all these incredible women who were living the gospel values, and I thought, ‘I want that,’” she says. She started meeting with a spiritual advisor, and after finishing law school and passing the bar in May, 2010, she took the first step to becoming a Sister of St. Joseph on Aug. 15, 2010.

“I knew I had to find the beauty in the middle of all the struggle,” she says. “My decision is something I feel at peace with. . . . I feel like I’m called to that commitment.”

When her fellowship is over in April, McCrary will begin the second step in becoming a nun. She will go from her busy ministry in criminal justice reform and cultural rights advocacy to a two-year novitiate. “You can’t work or volunteer,” she says. “It’s a time of contemplation, a time to explore your relationship with God.” She will live in Chicago with the other Sister of St. Joseph novices in a house owned by the congregation. “I think it will be really rewarding,” she says. She looks forward to finishing her novitiate and making her first vows in April 2014.

Read more about the Congregation of St. Joseph.

Trading Cards Promote Religious Vocations

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 26, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Posted in the Journal Sentinel, a creative and catchy way to approach religious vocations: Religious Trading Cards. These trading cards are unlike the traditional baseball or basketball cards. Rather they feautre highly respected and admired religious leaders in and around the Milwaukee area. Among them is Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki along with a handful of other local Catholic religious leaders featured on a new deck of trading cards circulating near and around Milwaukee. 

The initiative, launched last week by two Catholic parishes — St. Monica’s in Whitefish Bay and St. Eugene’s in Fox Point — is meant to draw interest towards religious vocations.

“The biggest challenge today is indifferent families,” parish pastoral associate Monica Cardenas told the Catholic Herald. “We need families to embrace the idea for their children.” Among the others featured: Bishop Donald Hying; former Cardinal Stritch University President Sister Camille Kleibhan; and Father Paul Fliss, interim pastor at St. Eugene’s.

Cards include mini-bios, nicknames, favorite saints and individuals who influenced their interest in religious life. No word yet on the tradability of the cards but a unique way to get people interested in religious life. 

Pope stresses the importance of spiritual guidance while discerning vocations

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 17, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

As we close out Vocation Awareness Week, we reflect on the recent message of Pope Benedict XVI who has emphasized the need for good spiritual counsel for those who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. The Catholic News Agency along with ETWN, reported the Pope's very important message on vocations. 

 "I would like to emphasize the critical role of spiritual guidance in the journey of faith and, in particular, in response to the vocation of special consecration for the service of God and his people," the Pope commented this Sunday at his Angelus address.

Also instrumental in the process, he said, are parents "who by their genuine faith and joyful married love, show children that it is beautiful and possible to build all your life on the love of God."

Speaking from the Papal apartments to several thousand pilgrims, the Pope explained his point with references to the Scripture readings at Mass on Sunday.

The Pope concluded his comments by entrusting all educators, "especially religious including priests, sisters, and parents," to the Virgin Mary as they help young people discern their vocation in life.

After speaking on religious vocations the Pope also mentioned the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will run Jan 18-25. He invited everyone "to join spiritually and, where possible, practically, to ask God for the gift of full unity among the Disciples of Christ."

Band of Sisters

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 04, January 2012 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

I am sure many of us had heard of the movie/show "Band of Brothers" which follows a group of paratroopers in WWII featured on HBO, but have you ever heard of Band of Sisters?

Band of Sisters, is a documentary film that tells the "unforgettable story of Catholic nuns in the United States: how they responded wholeheartedly to the call of Vatican II, risked everything in their unwavering commitment to social justice, and made a remarkable transformation from 'daughters of the church' into citizens of the world."

After Vatican II, these congregations searched and re-engaged with their pasts and learned that their true mission was to serve those of the greatest need: the poor. Now on the verge of losing what these sisters fought so hard for, they are fighting to preserve their freedom and to be able to continue to help the world.

Scheduled to be released this March, travel alongside these sisters Nancy Sylvester IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary), Miriam Therese MacGills OP (Caldwell Dominican), Pat Murphy and JoAnn Persch RSM (Sisters of Mercy) and their congregations as they take you through their journey and struggle to survive to maintain their mission.

For more information check out their website

Visitation Sisters' internship, monastic immersion programs

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 16, December 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

STUDENTS from Creighton University
in service with the Visitation Sisters.
The Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis are launching two new programs: the Visitation Internship Program (VIP) and the Monastic Immersion Program. The programs are intended to identify ways in which the sisters can address needs within the north Minneapolis neighborhood in which they live and minister as well as attract people to their community. North Minneapolis is an economically challenged area of the Twin Cities, and the Visitation Sisters strive to create a prayerful presence in the neighborhood.

The VIP program, which was successfully launched this fall, is a year-long internship program where participants provide service alongside the Visitation Sisters in North Minneapolis. The sisters have welcomed two young women as the inaugural participants to the VIP Program: Kelly Schumacher, a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana College in Illinois, and Beth Anne Cooper, a native of New York and graduate of Hope College in Michigan. Both young women are teaching English as Second Language classes to immigrants and refugees, doing advocacy work, working with grade-schoolers on both schoolwork and relationship-building, coaching youth sports, learning more about restorative justice, and planning service-learning for small groups which includes urban immersion experiences.

The sisters are also in the process of launching the new Monastic Immersion Program, offered by the sisters to women desiring an in-depth immersion into the monastic life. Through the Monastic Immersion Program, women have an opportunity to " ‘try on’ monastic customs and values,” said Sister Mary Frances Reis, contact for Visitation’s Monastic Immersion Program. They are invited to live the monastic life with the sisters for a period of six months to a year. Each participant is expected to enter fully into the sisters’ life of prayer, presence, and ministry during her stay. Prospective participants may come from any Christian faith tradition.

For more information about the VIP Program:

For more information about the Monastic Immersion Experience:

Generous Girl Scouts get glimpse of Carmelite life

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 09, December 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
GIRL SCOUT Troop 2272 outside the Carmel
of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Monastery.
Photo: Celeste Diller; Intermountain Catholic
In celebration of 100 years of Girl Scouting in the United States, Blessed Sacrament Girl Scout Troop 2272 in Utah donated more than 100 gifts to the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Monastery in Holladay (Intermountain Catholic, 12-9-11). Their visit to deliver the items to the sisters also gave them some exposure to religious life and allowed for interchanges between the girls and the sisters. Some of the scouts even felt the trip inspired them to consider a vocation to religious life.

The "first" vocation app?

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 06, December 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
In an item on the CCN Belief Blog, the Catholic Church in Ireland claimed to have the "world first" religious vocation-related app. That was in October. We applaud their effort, but we think VISION got in ahead of them, both for iPhone/iPad and Android.

More coverage of vocations, VocationMatch

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 31, October 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
National Catholic Register
reporter Judy Roberts recently wrote an article on the use of the internet and social media in exploring vocations to religious life that mention VocationMatch. The article also mentions the NRVC/CARA study on recent vocations to religious life.

Texas nun and 39-year Rangers fan

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 28, October 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
and her longtime friend
Sister Maggie Hession
with Nolan Ryan when
he pitched for the Rangers.

Describing herself as a tomboy who grew up in Temple, Texas playing baseball and football with boys, Sister Frances Evans has been a Texas Rangers fan ever since the team originated as one of the reincarnations of the old Washington Senators. She was at the Rangers’ opening game in 1972 and recently she attended the fifth game of this year’s World Series in Arlington (in row 14, behind home plate). “We got to know [Rangers' owner] Nolan [Ryan] when he was playing ball for us,” she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “When they built the new stadium, they asked us to be the first ones through the turnstile. Baseball’s been so good to us.”

Talking about her background, she had a few observations about her vocation. “I was a convert. I worked six years in Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio in the lab. There was something different about the sisters. The only thing I can think is, God just shook me by the neck and said, ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ In 1950 I entered convent in San Antonio, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.”

Did they wear habits back then? “We sure did! We wore habits for a long time.” Could they go to baseball games? “Not back then, you didn’t go much of anywhere. I worked in the hospital most of the time. I don’t think we even had television when I entered.

“I was stationed here in Fort Worth in 1967,” she said. “It was beginning to lighten up a bit here and there. I remember well when they went to the shorter skirts and I walked out of chapel and felt the breeze on my knees. I never knew how good that would feel.”

See another profile of the sisters in the Wall Street Journal.

Another Saint Therese

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 25, October 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

"Therese" is the name of some pretty amazing women in Catholic tradition: Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Mother Teresa. The first two are saints and also Doctors of the Church and the third one of the most revered people in the modern world. But there are, of course, other Thereses, including another "Mother Therese": Saint Therese Couderc, foundress of the Cenacle Sisters.

The mission of the Cenacle Sisters is to awaken and deepen faith primarily through retreats, religious education, and other activities. Mother Therese Couderc started it all in 1805 when she turned a hostel for women pilgrims visiting the tomb of Saint John Francis Regis, the great Jesuit missionary, into a "cenacle"—a place of prayer and retreat, said Cenacle Sister Rosemary Duncan, r.c. in a recent newsletter article. The Cenacle Sisters have centers throughout the United States and the world.

By the way, the Chicago Cenacle is having a women's weekend retreat November 4-6 on "The Three Teresas—of Avila, of Lisieux, of Calcutta." For more information contact Sister Rosemary.

VISION author makes final vows!

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 09, September 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

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.

N.Y. Dominicans’ vocation: Provide free care to terminally ill

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 19, August 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

“We can’t cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.” Those were the words of Rose Hawthorne, later Sister Mary Alfonsa, O.P., a daughter of the great American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who in 1896 went to the slums of New York to care for poverty-stricken cancer sufferers, where she was soon joined by the young Alice Huber.

DOMINICAN SISTERS of Hawthorne pray
at a new Rose Hill Home facility dedication

Those beginnings evolved into a religious community—the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne—and in 1901 the Rosary Hill Home north of New York City. Today the home is a 72-bed skilled nursing facility dedicated to providing palliative care to persons afflicted with incurable cancer who cannot afford to pay for care. No payment of any kind is accepted from patients, their families, or the government. Present-day sisters still provide direct care for the residents.

"If you have to be terminal, this is the place to come," one resident told Catholic News Service. "It's the most unusual place I've ever been. You're not conscious of people being ill here. We all have cancer and we're all terminal, but it's serene and there are lots of moments of fun and laughter," she said. "The care is done with love and . . . . the women who care for you gave up their lives for this work and it's their vocation."

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Sister Marilyn’s vocation story

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 02, August 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
SISTER MARILYN, center, with other members
of the Sisters of the Precious Blood of Waterton, N.Y.
In the past on this blog we've posted items about the vocation stories of members of religious communities. Sister Marilyn of the Sisters of the Precious Blood of Watertown, New York wanted to share hers.

Irish Trappistines cultivate inner life

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 29, July 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

There are monasteries of Trappistines—the women’s branch of the Trappist Cistercian order of monastics—all over the world, but in Ireland there is only one: St. Mary’s Abbey in Glencairn, which is home to 37 sisters.

The community is diverse, with sisters from India, Nigeria, and the Philippines as well as Ireland. And more sisters are on the way: Six women are in formation, and the abbey’s vocation director Sister Sarah Branigan says she is “occupied . . . with inquiries from people of all different ages, people from 20 to late 60s, so there are a steady flow of inquiries about this kind of life.”

SISTERS at prayer,
St. Mary's Abbey
What is that kind of life? “It’s a place where God is loved and worshiped, and it’s a place where we pray for humanity,” Abbess Mother Marie Fahy told Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. “We’re conscious of interceding before God for people, and it’s a place of conversion, where we constantly try to become who we are meant to be as fully human persons and overcome the demons and the less positive aspects of our life.”

The monastic life, Mother Fahy adds, is “the opportunity to live close to God and close to one’s self and have time for prayer and have time for leisurely walks and good reading and reflection on God’s word, and I think living at a deeper level.”

Sister Fiachra Nutty, who joined the community five years ago and expects to make her solemn profession of vows next year, describes the fit between herself and the community’s life. “I felt I needed space to be with God,” she says, “and that’s not very easy, I’ve found, for me in the outside world, because I am quite an extrovert, and I get involved in an awful lot of things, so enclosure was important to me, but at the same time I have a horror of restriction, as in claustrophobia. So here we are absolutely truly blessed. We have 200 acres within which to wander, you know, so that was a huge factor for me. Also the enormous welcome and warmth I felt from the community on my very first visit. That was just so wonderful.”

Younger nuns engage emerging future of religious life

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 26, July 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

From July 21-24, 150 Roman Catholic sisters from more than 50 U.S. congregations of women religious across the United States gathered at Loyola University Chicago for the 6th Giving Voice National Gathering. The conference was organized by Catholic sisters under 50 years of age. The sisters, many of whom are the youngest members of their religious orders, explored the emerging future of religious life in the 21st century and their role of leadership in that future.

Religious life is in the midst of a paradigm shift. The large novitiate classes of the 1950s and 1960s are aging and fewer women are entering religious life today. Many of the younger sisters recognize they will be called to leadership in their communities and the church within the next 10 to 15 years.

Sister Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M.—a theologian and leading authority on Catholic women's religious life—shared her insights throughout the conference. “We are in a kairos moment that, if we seize it, could really galvanize into a whole new era of American religious life,” she said on the opening night of the conference.

While the main purpose of the gathering was to create a space for the voices of younger women religious, sisters of all ages were invited to participate. The youngest sister in attendance was 25 while the oldest was 88.

“The most meaningful part was the excitement and energy I felt after seeing other great women who are living this life just like we are, with the struggles and joys,” said 40-year-old Ursuline Sister Jeannie Humphries. “Religious life is a viable option and opportunity in our world today—it’s about being open to being with others and growing and learning.”

Giving Voice is an organization of vowed women religious in the Roman Catholic Church who have experienced religious life only since the Second Vatican Council. The July conference was the sixth national gathering of younger women religious women organized since 1997.

For highlights from the gathering, visit the conference blog.

Seattle retreat gathers discerners, vocation directors

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 22, July 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

RETREAT GROUP with planning team in
back row: Sisters Amalia Camacho,
C.S.J.P., Jo-Anne Miller, C.S.J.P.,
Patricia Novak, O.S.F., Joan Gallagher, S.P., Monika Ellis, O.S.B., Francine
Barber, O.P.
and blogger
Susan Francois,
shares her
vocation story
as a young sister
in temporary


AS PUBLICIZED in the regularly updated Events Calendar of the VISION Vocation Network, the Archdiocese of Seattle Religious Vocation Team, comprised of vocation directors in the Seattle Archdiocese, held their first Intercommunity VIVA! Vocation Retreat weekend retreat earlier this month.

Eight young Catholic women who are exploring a call to religious life attended. Sisters from several local communities presented their vocation stories.

The Western Washington Serra Clubs sponsored the retreat.

One fifth of ordained in 2011 attended a World Youth Day

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 12, July 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

LAST APRIL we mentioned a new survey profiling those ordained to the priesthood in the U.S. in 2011. With World Youth Day (WYD) coming up next month in Madrid, it’s interesting to note that according to that study over 20 percent of the men ordained in 2011 have attended a WYD.

Do you know any priests, brothers, or sisters who have participated in a WYD? Do you think going to WYD would have an impact on discerning your life's vocation?

Visit VISION's special page devoted to this year's WYD, LikesGod.

VISION Vocation Network at World Youth Day in Madrid

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 23, June 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

VISION VOCATION NETWORK is going to Madrid for World Youth Day! In collaboration with Holy Cross Family Ministries, VISION will have a display in the Palacio de los Deportes under the banner “Love and Life: A Home for English-Speaking Pilgrims.”

We hope to meet and greet as many World Youth Day attendees as possible throughout the weeklong event (Aug. 16-21). We will have all sorts of fun giveaways (stickers, pens, t-shirts, buttons), and we will be looking for photos, tweets, and videos from attendees to post on our dedicated World Youth Day webpage:

If you're planning on going to World Youth Day this summer, please keep us updated on your preparation—both spiritual and practical—and tweet, text, or email us updates while you're there.

Go to for more information.

Reading for discerners

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 19, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Here is some recommended reading on discernment from the Spring 2011 issue of the National Religious Vocation Conference's HORIZON magazine:

Catholics on Call: Discerning a Life of Service in the Church edited by Father Robin Ryan, C.P. (Liturgical Press, 2010); eBook

A Sacred Voice Is Calling: Personal Vocation and Social Conscience by John Neafsey (Orbis Books, 2006)

Awakening Vocation: A Theology of Christian Call by Edward P. Hahnenberg (Liturgical Press, 2010); eBook

The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times: New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola by Father Dean Brackley, S.J. (Crossroad, 2004)

Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints by Father James Martin, S.J. (Hidden Spring, 2006)

"Do you want to turn the world upside down?"

Posted by:   🕔 Sunday 15, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

"Then, says Sister Cynthia on the Connect with Mercy blog, "go looking for some Roman Catholic sisters in your neighborhood, at your school, or in your church. Take some time to talk with them. You might be surprised by what you learn about their lives.

"You might know a sister who teaches all day every day, and perhaps after school or on weekends as well. But do you know that she may also be deeply involved in advocacy on any number of social justice issues? Ask her about the death penalty, about immigration, or about what’s happening in Darfur. See how her responses turn inside out what you might have thought about nuns.

Sister Cynthia, R.S.M.
"Did you know that sisters talk all the time about their call by God to be of service? More than any other group I know we talk and read and reflect. We dig far enough and hard enough to learn the truth that sometimes hides under politics, or racism and sexism. We talk about what we have learned. Then, most importantly we go do something about it. That’s why these days you can find sisters in courts of law as well as in community shelters for homeless people. They don’t look for fame in either place. They look for improvement in the well-being of those whom much of society would like to ignore, knowing that this is the best test of our country’s own health.  That’s how they turn the world upside down.

"We devote our energies to serving others in whatever way God chooses. We pray to hear God’s voice, and to be obedient. We are so serious about this that we take a vow of obedience to God, a vow to listen really hard and then to act on what we hear.  We recognize that the resources of Earth are limited, and that we need to share and take care of each other, especially the least among us. So we take a vow of poverty: we put all our money together to see what we can do to make a difference. Our work lives often balance each others. While some of us work as hospital administrators, others are on out the streets befriending immigrants. While some run colleges, others are doing volunteer literacy training.

"Our commitment to those on the edge is grounded in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who turned everything upside down, from ideas about who God is, to oppressive religious laws, to debilitating diseases, to tables in the temple., Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy,  turned her part of the world upside down by putting her house in a neighborhood of wealth, taking her sisters to the streets, demonstrating and teaching that women have a place and a voice in the world. She turned herself inside out to make a difference in her world.

"We try as hard as we can to be Mercy every day, visibly, right out loud, wherever we can, whenever it matters. We wear our faith in God’s loving providence with pride and joy. And we happily join with others who are on the same path, lifting little by little, block by block that part of the world which just might be the crucial corner edge to turn the whole thing over and allow a new world to emerge – a world where everyone has what they need and people work together in mutual respect.

"The Sisters of Mercy have been turning the world upside down for more than 175 years. We invite you to come with us to the streets, to turn yourselves inside out for the sake of God’s reign, for the health of God’s people, for the love of mercy."

Sisters of Mercy on VISION.

Project launched to address vocations and educational debt

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 06, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

The first meeting of the working group of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) Educational Debt and Vocations Project took place at the provincial office of the Franciscan Friars, Holy Name Province, in New York City. (The NRVC is a copublisher of the VISION Vocation Guide and VISION website.)

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the NRVC for the study. The goals of the project are:

• To assess the extent educational debt is hindering vocations to religious life; and

• To produce resources that will help address the problem of educational debt as it relates to vocations for various constituencies, including religious congregations, support organizations for vocations and religious communities, philanthropic organizations, and those considering life as a religious sister, brother, or priest.

A main impetus for the debt study was the finding in the 2009 NRVC/Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life in the United States that the average age of those entering religious life is 30 and that most entrants are college educated. In addition, feedback provided in the NRVC’s regular vocation trends surveys on indicates that debt has played a role in candidates’ readiness or eligibility for religious life. This project is timely also because the secular press is increasingly reporting on the growing issue of the overwhelming debt today’s college graduates face.

NRVC will contract with CARA to survey religious institutes regarding their policies, practices, and experience of working with candidates with student loan issues. After the survey results NRVC will develop resources for religious institutes, their treasurers and vocation directors, as well as for those who are discerning religious life.

Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., NRVC executive director, is hopeful that the “study will better equip religious congregations to work with candidates who have student loans so that student loan debt isn’t an obstacle to religious vocations and the call to consecrated life.”

13 Polish Dominicans make solemn profession

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 04, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

The Dominican Order of Preachers Vocations blog reports that the growth of vocations in the Dominicans extends to Poland, where 13 friars took their solemn vows in Krakow. Their priory was founded by the early Dominican Saint Hyacinth and has been in continual use since the beginning of the order in the 13th century.
THE POLISH DOMINICAN friars who recently made their solemn profession of vows.

Stepping Up the Call Pilgrimage for Vocations

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 02, May 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

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.
(Look for an article on “Stepping Up the Call” and other pilgrimages in the upcoming [out in August] issue of the VISION Catholic Religious Vocation Discernment Guide.)

For more information, contact Sr. Carolyn Hoying, C.P.P.S., 937-231-1244, or Fr. Vince Wirtner, C.P.P.S,

Learn more about the Sisters of the Precious Blood and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood

Survey of new priests in U.S. affirms the value of Catholic education and service

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 27, April 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

A new survey of those ordained to the priesthood in 2011 in the U.S. show they are younger and influenced by parish priests, Catholic education, service as altar boys, and social and church environments.

The Class of 2011: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood is an annual national survey of men being ordained priests for U.S. dioceses and religious communities. The study also includes information on the ages, education, ethnicity and country of origin, and other characteristics of the newly ordained’s backgrounds.

Brother Luke's paintings show the depth of his talent

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 13, April 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

an acrylic in the Byzantine style
commissioned by a Philadelphia parish
On the VISION Vocation-Network and in VISION magazine we frequently talk about the various talents and life experiences people bring to religious life—and continue to cultivate once there. Recently I came across the story of Brother Luke (Pape) of the Benedictine Monastery of Mount Saviour in Pine City, New York, who passed away at the age of 92 last summer.

In the 1930's, before becoming a monk, Brother Luke earned a living as a bookkeeper and took dance classes in the evening at the wonderfully named Boris Volkoff School, which performed at a festival in Berlin in 1936 in conjunction with the Olympics. He served in the Canadian army medical corps in Europe in World War II and after the war studied art at the Central School of Art in London and then became an interior designer, helping the National Ballet of Canada as a costume designer. In 1952 he entered Mount Saviour and among other activities continued his art studies and painting, taking up subjects like portraits, landscapes, farm scenes, buildings, and flowers.

A PAINTING Brother Luke completed at the age of 90.

Learn more about the Benedictine Monks of Mount Savior Monastery.

Brothers of Charity: 47 new Nairobi novices

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 23, March 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

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
The Brothers of Charity serve in 30 countries, where in addition to education they care for the mentally ill and persons with disabilities.

Parish vocation committees encourage local culture of vocation

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 22, March 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

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.

National Vocation Plan ready

Posted by:   🕔 Sunday 27, February 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life
Last September the Moving Forward in Hope Project, initiated by National Religious Vocation Conference and funded by the GHR Foundation, met to study in depth the NRVC/CARA study on recent vocations to consecrated life, and to develop a strategic plan of concrete action steps to promote new membership in religious communities. The resulting National Vocation Plan is now available. To see both the plan and the original study, go to

What's to love about being a priest?

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 16, February 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

"I love being a priest," says Fr. Charles B. Gordon, CSC, in an essay in the March issue of U.S. Catholic, "because right now there are more than a billion people in the world for whom I'm not only a priest but also their priest. On the off chance that we ever meet, they will know what to make of me, and I will have a way to be with them.

Gordon, a Holy Cross priest, who teaches theology and literature at the University of Portand in Oregon, lists a number of other reasons he loves being a priest, including "because I hear about miracles. That's because people tend not to tell each other about their miracles. But they'll tell a priest.

"I know a woman whose beloved father died when she was barely out of her teens. When it happened, she turned to scripture for solace. She opened her Bible at random and read, "In place of your fathers will be your sons." She was single then. Now she is married and has four children, all of them boys. That is her miracle.

"...I've spoken to a Chinese physicist who converted from atheism to Christianity because ice floats. He told me that every other liquid sinks when it freezes. If water sank when it froze, he assured me, the earth would be entirely lifeless. We exist because water behaves in this odd way. That, he said, cannot be a coincidence and so he believes in our Creator God."

For the entire article go to U.S. For more information about the Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers, click here and type in Congregation of Holy Cross or key in code 097.

Women entering religious life: high achievement, low encouragement, survey finds

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 11, February 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

A new study suggests that women entering religious life today are highly educated and experienced in church work—and also that many receive little or no encouragement from their families in their vocation.

The Profession Class of 2010: Survey of Women Religious Professing Perpetual Vows, released by the U.S. bishops on February 2, the World Day for Consecrated Life, and conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, found that more than half of the women who professed final vows to join a religious order in 2010 said a parent or family member had discouraged their religious calling. Only 26 percent of the surveyed sisters said their mother encouraged them to consider religious life, and only 16 percent said their fathers supported their choice.

In a presentation to the U.S. bishops in 2009, Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference, pointed to the discouragement from family and friends as a troublesome trend for the church. "Although people want a full-time pastor in their parish or religious sister teaching their children in the Catholic school, ironically, they are reluctant to have their own son or daughter choose that vocation," Bednarczyk said.

Nevertheless, religious life continues to attract highly educated and skilled candidates. Of those surveyed, six in ten entered their religious community with at least a bachelor’s degree and a quarter already possessed a graduate degree. Eighty-five percent had ministry experience before entering, most commonly in liturgical ministry, faith formation, or social service ministry.

More on this story at Preaching the News and USA Today.

“How did I get here?”

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 09, February 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

That’s the question second-year Sisters of Mercy candidate Audrey Abbata asked herself. Ten years ago she was married and had a successful career with the Hearst Corporation. Then, in 2001, her husband Anthony was diagnosed with leukemia. He died three years later. “The darkness that enveloped me in the next few months frightened me immensely,” she said. “In my despair I got down on my knees and asked God to save me. God, being ever merciful, heard my plea. I found hope. From that day forward I vowed never to stray . . . from God again. To keep that promise I needed to make God the focus of my life. I had no idea how to live this, so I asked God to show me the way.”

AUDREY Abbata (left)

That way led her to the Sisters of Mercy, where she is now pursuing answers to other questions, like “how many of us long for something more in life?” and “how many of us live our lives content that we are on our journey with God?”

To those considering a vocation to consecrated life, Abbata says: “Religious life is a radical form of discipleship. Radical by definition is fundamental. I believe that in every generation God calls individuals to a fundamental life of vowed service to God. If God is stirring this desire in you, be open and allow God to transform you. Discover the contentment of living in harmony with God. Have enough faith to answer the call. God will show you the way.”

To read the full story of Abbata’s journey to religious life, visit the Mercy sisters website.

Click here to learn more abou the Sisters of Mery of the Americas.

Nashville Dominicans see big rise in entrants

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 04, February 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, also known as the Nashville Dominicans, recently celebrated their 150th anniversary with a postulant class of 27 young women, or 10 percent of the entire community, following up on last year’s group of 23 entrants.. The sisters are active across the United States and in Australia, where they teach more than 13,000 students in 34 schools.

Sister Catherine Marie, a spokeswoman, says the current group of first-year students represents ten percent of the whole community. "There are 270 of us and our growth of late has been rather extensive. This year we had 27 young women enter. Last year, it was 23. Great blessings to us."

In addition, these women are young, with nearly one third of the community now under age 30. That fact is especially relevant considering a recent poll by the Pew Research Center which showed that participation in organized religion is falling among Americans under 30. A different group, the National Opinion Research Center, found that 17 percent of Americans do not identify with any faith, including almost 25 percent of first-year university students.

Sister Kelly Edmunds is a first-year postulant with the St. Cecilia community. She says she came to the order out of a desire to serve others. She had seen Dominican sisters serving at the University of Sydney.

"Just to watch them, walking down the main boulevard of campus wearing their habits—it was just such a powerful witness,” she said. “I had friends in engineering who were, like, they knew I was Catholic so they would say to me, ‘Who are these nuns on campus?’ And so it was a really great witness to me of the power of religious life."

Beloved, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia's vocation video:

Dominicans see increase in vocations, need for expansion

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 19, January 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

While recent decades have seen declines in the numbers of members of religious orders—and the resulting closure of facilities—the recent upward trend in membership has produced the opposite challenge: not enough space.

DOMINICAN student brothers gather
at Aquinas Institute Spirit Week 2010.
For example, the Dominican friars in the central and southern U.S. welcomed 10 men last fall, their largest class in more than 20 years. Dominican Father David Wright, master of students in St. Louis, said two provinces have priesthood candidates living in St. Louis who attend Aquinas Institute, a graduate school of theology next to St. Louis University. In 2007, he said, “We had 18 students and this year we’re up to 25. Next year, if all those presently in the novitiate come in, we could have an increase of up to 30. It was time to expand.”

The Dominicans recently purchased the former Loretto Academy building in St. Louis. The renovated space will open in the fall as a Dominican priory, a residential community for men preparing to become priests in the order. The men will live in the house for five years while they study at Aquinas, which also educates laypeople to serve in ministerial roles. Those considering entering the order also go to the order's retirement community in Chicago where they experience the older members' life of prayer and living in community.

The building that will house the priory was designed by an architectural firm begun by George I. Barnett, who also designed the Missouri governor's mansion, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, and several of the earliest buildings at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It includes 32,000 feet of living space and an additional 16,000 feet of chapel, corridor, and storage space. Living quarters will undergo extensive renovation but much of the common space will be untouched. Features include a tile fireplace with carved wooden mantle and a chapel with stained-glass windows by artist Emil Frei. A new addition will include other common spaces and a fully accessible main entrance.

“We have a wonderful appeal both as a community and as an apostolate,” Father Wright said. “Preaching the word of God is what we're all about. And that can be done in hundreds of ways. Men don't join just to be in teaching, mission work, or whatever.” Continuing the work of their founder, Saint Dominic (1170-1221), the mission of the Dominicans includes preaching, teaching, and doing works of justice in a variety of settings--campus ministry, parish work, high schools, colleges, and retreat centers, full-time preaching, service in health care as chaplains and ethicists, the arts, and more. Community life, Father Wright said, involves not only living together under one roof but also the willingness to share one’s life with one another, being “of one mind and one heart in God.” The four pillars of Dominican life are prayer, common life, study, and ministry.

Twice a year the Dominicans have a “come and see” event for young men considering a vocation to experience that life, with the next one scheduled for the weekend of February 26-28, 2011 in Dallas.

“Figuring out my call”

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 05, January 2011 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy,Consecrated Life

Torma, M.S.C.
In his recent Vocation Corner online column, Father Andrew Torma, M.S.C., vocation director for the U.S.A. Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, offered some reflections on “Figuring Out My Call”:

“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."

Surge in young men entering U.K. seminaries

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 10, December 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Father Stephen Langridge, chairman of the vocations directors of England and Wales, saw the number of men entering English seminaries to become Catholic priests rise to its highest level in a decade. According to Langridge, 56 men began their journey to priesthood this year. "The number of people responding to the call of Christ to be priests and religious has been rising slowly but surely, and may rise further as people respond to the visit of Pope Benedict."

At their annual conference held recently at Oscott seminary in Birmingham, the vocation directors discussed the approaches to vocations work that have contributed to this increase. Many dioceses and religious orders now run discernment groups for young men and women, where all vocations are discussed. Such groups encourage lay, religious, and priestly vocations.

Father Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office of Vocation, said: “When everybody in the church takes seriously [Blessed John Henry] Newman's insight that 'God has created me to do him some definite service,' then a greater number discover their call to the priesthood and religious life."

Vocations directors also discussed new ways to promote a culture of vocation. Some 300 young people attended the "Invocation"  festival held in Birmingham in July 2010 for Catholics aged 16-35 who are discerning their vocation. This event was so popular that it is being held again on the weekend of June 17-19, 2011.

Schools are now being provided with high-quality online materials, and youth ministers are developing new approaches to bringing the gospel to life for the young. Attending events such as World Youth Day is an important experience that opens the eyes of many people to the richness of life in church service, and plans for English and Welsh participation in such convocations have been developed.

These British vocation leaders recommend the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops video Fishers of Men (also available with lots of other resources on the a vocation to be priest? website):

Part 1 . . .

. . . and Part 2:

Full time position: No pay but eternal rewards

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 08, November 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy
Capuchin Friary in Rapperswil,Switzerland. Rapperswill is known
as the Riviera of Upper Lake Zurich.                   


Wanted: Bankers, traders, or lawyers for full-time, lifelong position. No pay.

Associated Press reports that the Capuchin Friars in Switzerland have started an unconventional vocation drive by advertising in a classifieds section normally reserved for high-flying executive roles. Instead of a salary the successful application will enjoy "freedom from personal material wealth" along with time for prayer and contemplation. The accommodations aren't too shabby either!

Sisters of Providence's social media "best practices"

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 27, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life


Religious communities are recognizing the need to expand their online communications, especially in the area of social media, if they want to get the word out about themselves and attract potential new members. Helping to lead the way are the Sisters of Providence, who were recognized for their social media marketing "best practices" by the National Communicators Network for Women Religious at their annual conference last September in Denver.

The Sisters of Providence use various forms of social media to help share their community's mission and ministry. In the last year the Sisters of Providence have seen a growth of interest in vocations, as well as other activities, that they believe to be directly related to their social media and website work.

See how the Sisters developed their social media strategy here, and links to all of the Sisters of Providence social media efforts here.

VISION makes important youth connection

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 27, November 2009 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Highlights from VISION Vocation Guide's first time attendance to the National Catholic Youth Conference--held last week in Kansas City, MO--included:

  • Greeting enthusiastic young adults, teenagers, youth ministers, parents, chaperones among the 22,000-plus in attendance
  • Watching teenagers bowl with the bishops using the Wii that sponsored
  • Feeling the enthusiasm and spirit of the faith-filled crowd in and around Kansas City's Bartle Convention Center
  • Eating at Lidia's restaurant--yum!

A few photos--sorry we couldn't provide more--we were glued to the booth!

Franciscan Friars at their booth
National Religious Vocation
Conference (NRVC) Board
Member Augustinian Father
Kevin DiPrinzio, NRVC
Executive Director Holy Cross
Brother Paul Bednarczyk, and
NRVC Associate Director
Sister of St. Joseph of
Philadelphia Charlene Diorka

Vocation flavors in Julie and Julia

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 26, August 2009 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

What does a movie centering on cooking have to do with vocation? Could be plenty. To my mind, Julie and Julia is not only a fun movie to watch, but it's something of a secular meditation on what we Catholics call a "vocation story." There is no prayer in this movie (at least none is portrayed). There is no discussion of "calling" or "discernment," yet at heart the movie is about two women who are in the process of discovering who they are, where they belong in the world and what it is that they love and are good at.

For people of faith, these foundational concerns are the building blocks of vocation. Who am I? What are my gifts? What am I passionate about? What stirs me? These all play into the pivotal question of "What is God calling me to?" After all, God calls us according to our gifts and our deepest desires.

Julia Child had a gift for cooking and for communicating her love of cooking to others. The blogger, Julie Powell, also had a passion for cooking and writing. In the movie, over the course of months and years, both women learn by trial and error about their individual gifts and passions. They both have failures and experience uncertainty. Yet, as they come to know and appreciate themselves better, their talents finally begin to bloom in a way that becomes noticed by others. Throughout the movie they share their talents with others, especially their husbands who enthusiastically devour the scrumptious goodies that flow from the kitchen. Many of this movie's luscious food scenes hint at the heavenly banquet.

Julie and Julia is a secular story. But Christians, too, can gain some insights about the importance of self-discovery in vocation and the wisdom of sharing our gifts with others.

Post submitted by Carol Schuck Scheiber, VISION's content editor

Best practices for encouraging religious vocations

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Wednesday 12, August 2009 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

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 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:

  • Being Proactive about Vocations
  • Creating a Culture of Vocations
  • Vocation Director and/or Team
  • Use of Media for Vocation Promotion
  • Discernment Programs
  • Targeting Age Groups

Parishes, religious educators, and families also play a role in promoting vocations. Let's hope the study spurs more vocation awareness among all Catholics.


Washington runs for vocations to the priesthood

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 22, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

Running and vocations seem to be a hot topic on this blog (see previous item below). The latest installment: About 200 men and women from the Archdiocese of Washington will participate in the Marine Corps Marathon and 10K run to raise money for seminarians.

The archdiocese’s “Run for Vocations” team will seek to heighten awareness of the need for priestly vocations as well as bring in funds for seminarians. The marathon is slated for October 31 in Arlington, Virginia. The Marine Corps Marathon, now in its 35th year, claims to be the fourth largest marathon in the United States.

Among the archdiocesan runners, 49 are running the full 26.2-mile marathon while 138 are participating in the 10K. Funds raised through the team will help cover unexpected expenses for seminarians, including medical costs, travel expenses for family emergencies, and spiritual enrichment.

Follow the Marine Corps Marathon on Facebook and Twitter. For donations and registration information, visit the Run for Vocations website.

Vocation Match makes the national news—again

Posted by:   🕔 Monday 21, April 2008 Categories: Vocation and Discernment
The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric for Thursday, April 17 showcased the VISION VocationMatch as one of the ways the Catholic Church has gone "high-tech" in its promotion of religious vocations. The story also gathered some of its background statistics from VISION's recent Trends on Vocations press release.

Click here to viewto the CBS clip. The link to the clip is also available on the VISION website homepage.
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News Flash: Vocations are on the rise!

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 03, August 2007 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

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.

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NY Times columnist wants "to grow up and become a Polish nun"

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Monday 01, March 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff, who often writes about humanitarian crises around the world, has this engaging paragraph in his February 27, 2010 column on the growing role of faith-based groups in humanitarian relief efforts:

"One of the most inspiring figures I've met while covering Congo's brutal civil war is a determined Polish nun in the terrifying hinterland, feeding orphans, standing up to drunken soldiers and comforting survivors--all in a war zone. I came back and decided: I want to grow up and become a Polish nun."

Keep missionaries and relief workers of all faith traditions in your prayers today. And tell us how YOU are helping alleviate suffering somewhere in the world--through a donation, a volunteer effort, alternative spring break, or the like.

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Nun + Run

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 20, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

There are Nun Runs. These are come-and-see events where women discerning their vocation visit several women’s communities in succession (in fact there’s a Nun Run coming up November 12-13 in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky area—click on the link and scroll down).

Then there is the Run for Nuns, where people run to raise money to help prospective members of religious orders pay off their college debt. And don't forget nuns who run, like triathlete Sister Madonna Bruder and ultramarathoner Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd.

Now we hear about the upcoming fourth annual Run with the Nuns Motorcycle Rally and Show this Saturday, October 23, 2010 at the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino & Racetrack in Bossier City, LA. The event benefits children's health through parent education, services to abused children, teen obesity prevention, and other child-welfare programs.

Last year almost 1,000 bikers and over 30 vendors participated in the Run. This year there will be live and silent auctions, games, and a larger vendor area. Breakfast and lunch will be served, live bands will perform throughout the day, and Shreveport Bishop Michael Duca will open the event with a blessing of the bikes. Says event chairwoman Liz Swaine, "You don't need a bike to come out and participate."

Visitation Sisters get proactive about new members

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 31, March 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

In the 2004 issue of VISION magazine we ran an item about the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis, who for 20 years have opened the doors of their Old Highland area homes to neighbors in need of food, shelter, other physical necessities, or just someone to talk with. They reach out especially to children and families, offering toys, crafts, games, snacks, and activities such as baking and trips to karate lessons. If friends and neighbors arrive during prayer time, they are invited to join the sisters in their chapel, which is consciously located next to the front door.

Baking party at the sisters' house
Now, says a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Carolyn Mann, the sisters “are waging a multimedia campaign to draw more women” to their community. They are seeking to double their membership, to 14, and their efforts include news releases, bulletin announcements at parishes, Facebook (they have over 300 fans), and blogging."For a long time we've wanted new members, but we just took the bull by the horns this year," says Sister Katherine Mullin, V.H.M.

Their effort began last January with the launch of a new website. With a group of supporters they call Vocation Partners the sisters are also developing a strategic plan to attract women between 20 and 45 years old. Outreach will include “live in” experiences and “nonthreatening” ways to attract people, like hosting dinners and information sessions, says Sister Joanna O'Meara, V.H.M.

"The effort is really to shout out with a loud voice, 'We're here, we're here!' " O'Meara said. "We want to be able to continue here. Certainly there are many things we could be about, but we need more members to do it, for kind of practical reasons."

Their community, says Sister Suzanne Homeyer, V.H.M., offers young women an opportunity "to combine their spirituality, religion, and life in the real world."

Legionaries ask, "Why not priest?"

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Wednesday 13, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

“Today is a marvelous time to be a priest!” These words of John Paul II were the inspiration for a group of Catholic seminarians from the Legionaries of Christ to develop, an innovative website with catchy videos on a range of topics of interest to young men considering priesthood.

One engaging video shows a series of quick clips of priests from around the world responding to the question of “Why Not Priest?” with one-line answers in their native languages (subtitled for viewer comprehension). Take a look and then answer for yourself—Why Not Priest? Why Not Sister? Why Not Brother? … And most importantly, Why not you?!



Next steps to attract new generations to religious life

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 12, October 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Dozens of vowed religious and Catholic lay leaders gathered in Chicago recently to discuss the next steps needed to attract young people to religious life.

"Together we are seeking to discover a truth of how we may effectively promote religious life to a new generation in a new century," said Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference, as he opened the invitation-only symposium called "Moving Forward in Hope."

SISTER Joan Scanlon, O.P.,
facilitator of the symposium.

The gathering, which was funded by a foundation that wished to remain anonymous, included vocations directors, Catholic educators, major superiors, diocesan personnel, parents, young adult and campus ministers, younger men and women religious, media and communications experts, and church researchers and statisticians.

The gathering was designed to develop an action plan for promoting vocations in the United States. Bednarczyk said a final report on the symposium and the proposed plans would be presented to the foundation by the end of the year and made public after a board meeting of the vocation conference in February.

Among the potential responses to this issue, said Brother Sean D. Sammon, former superior general of the Marist Brothers and former president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, a key ingredient in establishing "the necessary lines of communication between this population and our congregations" is the creation of a "culture of vocation promotion," including the appointment of at least one full-time vocation promoter in each of the congregation's provinces or districts.

"If General Motors or IBM faced the personnel crisis that we have had on our hands for the last few decades, they would have long ago had their best people in the work of recruiting men and women for a career with their corporations," he said. "At the same time, each of us must learn to take some responsibility for this work."

He also suggested taking advantage of "opportunities available to educate as wide a population as possible," such as with a parish adult education course on religious life yesterday and today.

"In so doing, we might consider targeting parents especially," Sammon said. "They were once one of the strongest allies of those encouraging vocations; they need to be brought into that same position again."

Another crucial factor is visibility, he said, noting that "a number of us from older generations of religious have, to a large extent, become invisible in the places in which we serve and the communities in which we live."

"If we are truly interested in improving the witness value of our way of life," he said, "a number of us will need to find some new and more effective ways to be more visible."

Fraternal spirit alive and well in religious brotherhood

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Wednesday 29, September 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., executive director of the National Religious Vocation Conference (sponsors of VISION) was featured in a recent National Catholic Reporter (NCR) profile of the state of brotherhood in America, "Despite steep decline, brothers see hope for their vocation's future."

Interviewed by NRC reporter Robert McClory, Holy Cross Brother Bednarczyk spoke openly of how his sense of vocation developed early in life. He briefly considered studying for priesthood but became convinced brotherhood was the right choice for him.

Bednarczyk, 53, studied at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, run by the Holy Cross congregation, and formally entered the order as a novice in 1979. He says he felt comfortable as a brother from the beginning and he likes the fact that brothers are not part of the hierarchal structure in the church.

"We are not above anybody. A brother by definition is on an even level, on the same plane with everyone he encounters," says Bednarczyk, and this fact allows brothers to play a unique role in relating to today's egalitarian minded young people.

Bednarczyk also discussed with journalist McClory the challenge of reaching Catholics who grew up with Vatican II as ancient history. This generation knows Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he said, and they're not as vehement about fighting church battles as are older generations.

"But they are the signs of these times," he said, and must be taken seriously. He believes religious life as practiced by the brothers can provide a "prophetic dimension" to them and to the larger church, both through its emphasis on community life and in reaching out to the poor and suffering.

Photo of Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk (Photo Credit: NCR Publishing Company)

"Third World" comes in first for women's vocations growth

Posted by:   🕔 Thursday 26, August 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

Catholic sisters in India attend
a continuing education program
Although India is an overwhelmingly Hindu and Islamic country, a recent report by Catholic Culture showed that the country led the world in the number of vocations to women’s life in the Catholic Church. India recorded an increase of 9,398 women religious from 2002-2007. In addition to India, the rest of Asia made considerable gains in the number of female religious since 2000. Vietnam saw an increase of 2,545 sisters, while South Korea and the Philippines had increases of about 500.

There was also an upward trend in Africa, where the numbers of sisters in Tanzania and the Congo grew by about 1,500. Nigeria, Madagascar, Kenya, and Angola added 500 to 800 sisters.

In Europe, the Americas, and Oceania, however, there was a downward trend. Overall, 99 nations have seen increases in women’s vocations since 2000. Unfortunately, these gains have not been able to offset the 4.6 percent decline among Western religious sisters. Italy, for example, lost 11,156 sisters from 2002-2007. The United States experienced a loss of 10,454 during the same period.

Currently there are about 750,000 religious sisters serving around the world.

Notes on a monastic discernment

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 24, August 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

A few months ago discerner Jon Perrotti wrote VISION to say that at the time he was "taking part in an 'observership,' a noncommittal residential experience of monastic life, at Mount Saviour Monastery in Pine City, New York." And so," he said, "if sharing my experience can ever be of any help to other men or women considering a monastic vocation, this is the time to capture it with words. . . ." Here’s some of what he said.

"My life has afforded me a great deal of travel and adventure, and I have had much contact and rich encounters with people of other faiths, and indeed even religious experience outside of Christian tradition. I first meditated in a Zen Buddhist temple when I was a 17-year-old exchange student in Japan and practiced meditation off and on into my adulthood. I have done Hindu kirtan chanting and took part in a sweat lodge ceremony on an American Indian reservation. I have had conversations with and been impressed by the intellectual honesty and integrity of atheists, taken part in interfaith dialogue and prayer with Muslims, and danced and drummed with pagans. Yet, for me, [my] vocation would not be remotely possible if I could not bring my heart and mind into exclusive loyalty to one faith.

"I happen to have been born and raised Catholic, and something consistently drew me back to a Catholic expression of Christian faith, but the major turning point of my life that brought me to where I am today happened at the ecumenical monastic community of Taizé. There, the fragmented church, the broken Body of Christ, comes together to declare that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. I learned there that the monastic life is not lived just for the sake of the life itself and its consequences to the monk. It is a radical life of following Christ courageously focused on powerful prayer and powerful witness.

"What a gamble it is to act on the hope that I can make . . . a difference in the world with prayer . . . . Do I really believe in God enough to take such a risk with my life? I don't want to be wasted! Can I trust God to hear my prayers? Where do you start? The problems of the world are so great. Am I running away from the challenge by going off to pray? Not if I believe the words of our Lord. He promised us that we would move mountains with our prayer. By the grace of God, that is what monks are doing and are called to do—move mountains."

He has some important questions. "How about proclaiming the gospel? The Lord told us: ‘No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house’ (Matthew 5:15). . . . The risk of failing to proclaim the gospel is the same for monks as it is for any other Christian. But the monastery has a unique and powerful opportunity for witness in the modem world, perhaps more than it has in any time in the history of Christendom, because as the world becomes more outrageous in its injustice, depravity, greed, and insane pace, the anomaly of the monastery stands out in stark relief for simply not following suit. More importantly, something happens when believers come together and dedicate their full lives to prayer and praising God. The Holy Spirit makes its presence known. An encounter with real holiness has got to be the most powerful witness to the existence of God that anyone, believer or nonbeliever, will find.

"Is all this vow-taking biblical? I was always particularly impressed with Jesus' admonishment about making oaths: ‘Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black’ (Matthew 5:36). This always rang true for me—live in the now, man! I didn't even like to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag because I thought, why should I pledge allegiance to my country? Who knows what our government will do tomorrow! Someone pointed out to me that vows are really statements of hope. A couple who make vows of marriage join in a common statement of hope that, with God's grace, their love will survive. I can conceive of taking vows because I have hope in Christ . . . and if I believe he is calling me to a particular life, I can make a vow as a statement of hope that I may be able to answer that call to the end.

"The more daunting fears are the fears of one who has made his bet with Christ. . . . If my choice to follow the Lord puts a wedge, or even a world of distance, between me and others, be they strangers whom I would have befriended or members of my own dear family, will that sacrifice have been for nothing? Would God let me make such a mistake? What if there's not a God, and my choice to live a life of prayer is a choice to waste my life? The greater fears about a monastic vocation are human ones. Surely there will be days when God seems to be absent. I think that is true for any pope or street-corner preacher, as it is for all who seek him through their lives. . . . So I will do my best on those days to sing with the psalmist, ‘O Lord . . . . why do you hide your face from me?’ (Psalm 88:14). I pray such days will be few. I believe they will be few, because so far God keeps showing up, amazingly."

I'll trade you two Father Johns for a Father Bill

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 11, August 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

FATHER DAVE Korth, executive director
of St. Augustine Indian Mission
in Winnebago, Nebraska, and senior associate pastor
of four parishes in the Winnebago area,
with his Priesthood Trading Card.
Photo by Lisa Maxson and Shannon R.A. Tarvin/staff
of the Omaha Catholic Voice.
Four mothers from Omaha are taking a unique approach to promoting vocations to the priesthood: collectible priest trading cards. Diane Anderson, one of the moms involved with the project, said, "We wanted to take something secular and put a holy twist to it. We wanted to make it personal, something fun, but something holy as well."

The cards will feature photos and statistics of priests serving in the Archdiocese of Omaha. Anderson, along with Lori Mellender, Cathy Hula, and Melia Vankat, said they thought the cards were a fun way for children, especially boys, to participate in a popular hobby and at the same time learn about local priests and possibly gain interest in the priesthood.

Both active and retired priests have been asked to provide information for the cards. The information includes ordination date, hobbies, favorite prayers and patron saints, and desired charism (blessing or talent the priest has to offer). Cards are published only with the permission of the priest. is printing and packaging the cards, which are being sold in packs of eight at local Catholic bookstores and through card-project coordinators. Packs sell for $1.Each pack includes a card with a picture of St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, and a prayer for priests.

According to Mellender, the project's goal is to encourage children to collect every priest's card, as well as open their hearts to the call to the priesthood.” We want them to understand that God calls ordinary men to do something extraordinary," she said.

Anderson added that the idea of a vocation is somewhat philosophical, so making note of the humanity of each priest may help boys relate and aspire to be a priest. "We need more vocations within our archdiocese, and I personally think that the younger you start to talk to boys about the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood, the more open they are to it," Anderson said.

There is no word yet on what a complete set of the cards might be worth in 20 years.

The musical theme of a monk's journey

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 30, June 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

In April of 2008 I posted a blog item about the Monastery of the Holy Cross, an urban Benedictine monastic community on Chicago’s South Side. Specifically I talked about the award-winning bed-and-breakfast they operate out of one of the monastery buildings.

The community has an interesting history, tracing its roots to three founding brothers who had done mission work and felt called to form a community of prayer. In 1991 they were invited to Chicago in order to establish a contemplative presence in the city and were given a parish church that had been closed. They began renovations of the church and over the next few years were able to purchase several adjacent properties, allowing them to welcome more guests and accommodate more monks. In the mid-1990s the community sought to affiliate itself with the Subiaco Congregation of the Order of Saint Benedict, and in May of 2000 the founding members made their solemn professions as Benedictine monks. On the same day the first new member made his first vows.

The story of the current prior of the community, Father Peter Funk, O.S.B., is as interesting as that of the community itself. Coming from a musical family, Funk studied music theory at the University of Chicago and was getting hired as a cantor at Chicago parishes and leader of music at the university’s Catholic campus ministry. With his childhood friend Jon Elfner, Funk formed a jazz-rock fusion band called Om in 1994, which also included bassist Aaron Kohen and a rotating group of other local musicians. They played their last gig at the Taste of Chicago in 1997. “I wasn’t surprised at all,” Elfner said of his friend’s decision to enter monastic life. “Knowing him as long as I did, he always vested a lot into his religious life.” Funk was prepared to give up music to focus on his monastic formation but got lessons with a voice coach instead.

These days, besides the community’s liturgical music (they devote three and a half to four hours a day to communal sung prayer), Funk also plays in a trio with fellow Benedictines Brother Brendan Creeden, Funk’s former novice master, and novice Ezekiel Brennan. The group performs at social functions the monastery hosts. While he doesn’t listen to much modern music anymore, Funk is still a fan of Steve Reich and Steve Coleman.

Source: and the Chicago Sun-Times

Father’s Day comes early for one dad, now priest

Posted by: Dan Grippo   🕔 Tuesday 29, June 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

A former Protestant pastor who is a married father of eight was ordained a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this past June 15. The newly ordained Fr. Paul Shenck was raised Jewish and baptized a Christian when he was 16 years old, Catholic News Agency reports.

In 1994 Shenck left the New Covenant Tabernacle, an evangelical church he founded, and became a pastor in western New York for the Reformed Episcopal Church. He entered the Catholic Church in 2004. He and his wife Rebecca have been married for 33 years.

While Latin-rite Catholic priests are ordinarily required to be celibates, a special provision instituted in 1980 by Pope John Paul II allows the ordination of married men in certain cases.

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Ursuline Sisters Celebrate 475 Years

Posted by: Patrice Tuohy   🕔 Friday 25, June 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life
Saint Angela Merici
with Ursuline sisters

How could a woman in her 60s, together with a small supporting group of older women, gather two dozen young women to live a new life and end up becoming a force for reform and renewal in the whole Western Church? This is what happened in 1535 in Brescia, Italy and the woman was Angela Merici, says Ursuline Sister Elisa Ryan, OSU in an update sent to VISION about her community.

Within 100 years, following the reforming Council of Trent, her small Company of St. Ursula inspired Ursuline foundations throughout Europe and soon after in North and South America. Today Ursulines are found in every corner of the world. The Holy Spirit was Angela's life-long guide. Her parting counsel to the members of her company was to remain united and obedient to the Holy Spirit who speaks without ceasing in their hearts.

Ursulines are women called to grow in holiness, women committed to respond to the counsels and urgings of the Holy Spirit to lead a new life in our Church and in our world. Ursuline life mentors this growth in ways that have reflected the very diverse times and needs of the Church. Today a new Church awaits a new generation of Ursulines. Click here to read more about the Ursulines in VISION's digital edition.

French church reaches out for more priests

Posted by:   🕔 Friday 11, June 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Clergy

There are around 24,000 priests in France today, down from 42,000 in 1975. But vocation ministers are responding by launching a campaign to reach out to the public with newspaper inserts and brochures that showcase real priests and their passion for people and humanity, says a National Public Radio story. The campaign is also distributing 50,000 postcards aimed at 16- to 22-year-olds—depicting a Catholic priest's garb with a button reading "Jesus is my Boss" pinned to the lapel and the slogan "Why not?"—in cafes, bars, and cinemas and on college campuses.

“Priests suffer from a low social status, so we're trying to change that by showing what being a priest really means,” says Frederic Fonfroide de Lafon, the head of the firm the church has hired to run the campaign. “A priest has extensive training in philosophy and the humanities. He is not someone who lives apart from society in his own world, but someone who participates. A priest accompanies people in the most important moments of their lives." Church officials say they are pleased with the campaign's reception; its Facebook page has had 40,000 visitors already, and vocation ministers say they are receiving more than 100 emails a day since the campaign began in April.

Listen to the full National Public Radio story.

Building a monastery of the heart

Posted by:   🕔 Tuesday 18, May 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment,Consecrated Life

St. Scholastica Chapel at Mount St. Scholastica
“Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?”

That’s the question that spoke to journalist and poet Judith Valente from the Rule of St. Benedict, which has guided Benedictine monastic life for about 1,500 years. The 17th-century bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet called the Rule “an epitome of Christianity, a learned and mysterious abridgement of all the doctrines of the gospel, all the institutions of the Fathers, and all the counsels of perfection"—or, as Valente reported in an October 30, 2009 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly story, “It’s been said everything one needs to know about living the spiritual life is contained in this little book.”

Starting in June of 2008 the Rule had become Valente’s constant companion. She had been invited to share as a layperson in the life of Mount St. Scholastica, a Benedictine monastery for women in Atchison, Kansas (and a VISION Vocation Network advertising-community), for a book she’d been asked to write. “I admit I questioned at first what practical wisdom a monastery might hold for a modern, married, professional woman like me,” Valente said. “It turns out I’ve learned plenty.

“I used to think of monasteries as outmoded remnants of a past era,” Valente said. “But now, when I enter Mount St. Scholastica, I feel as if I’m peering into the future, a future our world so desperately needs—one that stresses community over competitiveness, service over self-aggrandizement, quietude over gratuitous talk, and simplicity over constant consumption. The Mount is a place where those who listen are valued as much as those who speak up; a place where people forgo personal wealth but want for nothing; where prayers are said for the victims of violent crime and bells are tolled when a Death Row prisoner is executed.”

Valente found another countercultural example in the monastic idea of stability. “At Mount St. Scholastica there are sisters who have lived together for as many as 75 years. Having moved from state to state here in the U.S. and lived in three European cities over the course of my career, the notion of spending one’s entire life in the same place seems quite foreign to me. In fact, the whole concept is alien to our highly mobile American society. Stability reminds us to grow where we’re planted.

“I suppose,” she said, “I am just one of the many Benedict has spoken to through the ages who yearns for life and desires to see good days. ‘Run, then,’ Benedict reminds me and all of us, ‘while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you.’ ”

VISION helps discerner discern

Posted by:   🕔 Wednesday 03, March 2010 Categories: Vocation and Discernment

Hannah Corbin (left) gets a hug from Sister Denise Wilkinson, general superior, during her entrance into the postulancy Sept. 14 under the watchful eye of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.
Hannah Corbin is a postulant with the Sisters of Providence—and part of her journey to religious life involved VISION!

“Hannah’s ‘call’ to religious life,” says a story on the Sisters of Providence website, “was a gradual process. . . . She began to research other religious communities to see what choices were possible. She went online to the VISION website and read flyers on bulletin boards at college. She remembers seeing the Providence Volunteer Ministry (PVM) opportunity [on the VISION site] with the Sisters of Providence.”

Read Hannah’s full story here. And check out the Opportunities section on the VISION site to find a large number of discernment and service events available with Catholic communities of consecrated life.



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