|Vision Vocation Guide and VocationNetwork.org are resources of the Natiional Religious Vocation Conference, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.|
Seeing the Spirit at work in the world
|Vision Vocation Guide and VocationNetwork.org are resources of the Natiional Religious Vocation Conference, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.|
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?
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a vowed religious community of Catholic women, are preparing for the 25th memorial anniversary of the deaths of five of their American missionary sisters in Liberia. In October 1992, these "martyrs of charity" were killed by soldiers in the army of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor during a civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead. This coming October, the sisters are releasing two mini-documentaries about the martyrs.
Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra and Mary Joel Kolmer were killed as they drove the convent’s security guard home to a neighboring suburb. Three days later, soldiers shot and killed Sisters Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller, and Shirley Kolmer in front of their convent.
“We remember them as fellow sisters radically committed to their ministry. Their lives and martyrdom have left an indelible mark on us,” the community said in a statement. One current Adorer, Sister Elizabeth Kolmer, had a biological sister and a cousin who were among the five. Another current Adorer, Sister Mary Ann Mueller, had a biological sister in the group.
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ were founded in 1834 as a teaching order by Saint Maria De Mattias in Italy. The Adorers strive to be Christ’s reconciling presence in the world by responding to the needs of individuals and society. Diverse in their ministries and singular in their mission to be a compassionate presence wherever they are, Adorers serve as educators, justice advocates, health care workers, pastoral ministers, spiritual directors, and more. Worldwide they are 2,000 women strong, including more than 200 in the United States.
Read bios of the martyrs of charity.
Watch the final letters of the martyrs read by their sisters.
Watch a Frontline news segment on the martyrs: “Who killed the nuns?”
Sisterhood, a special, seven-part series produced by Canadian Salt + Light TV in collaboration with Loyola University New Orleans, gives viewers an exclusive look into the daily lives of sisters from around the world. As Salt and Light decribes the focus of the series: "Day in and day out, in every country, religious sisters provide an enormous service to the Church, giving life to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Without their prayer, their wisdom or their charity, the Church could scarcely begin to achieve its mission. Yet, the number of sisters in North America and in other countries is dwindling, and at a time when the world desperately needs their charisms."
The series, which already aired in Canada, is available for streaming at Salt + Light.
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.”
“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 Carmelites@archden.org 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!
Carmelite friars conducted a “ministry of presence” at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, the day that protests erupted around the country over President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries. The friars’ action segued into a spontaneous interfaith prayer service with a Muslim imam.
Brothers Matthew Gummess, Mikhail Woodruff, and Kevin Keller "wandered through the crowd to hear stories, share hope, and offer a friendly prayerful presence,” reports the Order of Carmelites blog. “Brother Mikhail was a voice of kindness and impartiality in conversation with reporters. Brother Matthew offered moral support and chocolates to travelers, airport staff, security, lawyers, and anybody who might need a little boost.”
After they met Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, who was also at the airport, the four agreed to hold an immediate joint prayer service.
“Together with the Imam, those present were called to prayer by Brother Matthew with some verses of 'Amazing Grace.' Brother Mikhail invoked the presence of God in a warm and hospitable prayer. Then Imam Hendi passionately prayed on behalf of the gathering—roughly 50 people from diverse faiths—offering words of peace, justice, and integrity,” the Carmelites report.
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.
To show support for indigenous rights and environmental concerns, two Presentation Sisters spent their Thanksgiving weekend bringing firewood and sleeping bags to the protesters at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.
Sister Liz Remily, P.B.V.M., from Aberdeen, South Dakota and Sister Joanna Bruno, P.B.V.M., from San Francisco worked with other members of their community to gather supplies and then made a 450-mile drive to the reservation to deliver goods.
“It was encouraging and inspiring to see so many young and courageous people standing up for the earth and indigenous rights,” Bruno and Remily report. They were also impressed by the size and the spirit of the protest: “Along with the Lakota and Yankton Sioux were thousands ... representing over 200 tribes from North and Central America along with environmentalists.”
Explaining their rationale, the sisters say: “We can go to the moon and return safely to earth. How can we not figure out a way to move oil from point A to point B without sacrificing sacred lands and contaminating drinking water? If we are willing to rape indigenous sacred lands then we would be willing someday to run a pipeline through the main aisle of Notre Dame Cathedral.”
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—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 anunslife.org 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".
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 www.mklm.org.
Read more here.
Pope Francis announced the canonization of Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, a Swedish-born Lutheran convert who established the Bridgettine order, and Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski, who founded the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Making the announcement in St. Peter's Square, the pope explained that members of the faithful should use these newly canonized saints as examples for living a life rooted in Christ, even during times of struggle.
Saint Mary Elizabeth (1870-1957) worked as a nurse in New York, which led her to reflect on her spiritual life. Guided by a Jesuit, she studied Catholic doctrine and was baptized. In 1904 she moved to Rome and with special permission from Pope Saint Pius X, she took the religious habit of Saint Bridget in the residence where the saint had lived, which was then occupied by Carmelites. Led by the Holy Spirit, she refounded the order of Saint Bridget in 1911. She has been honored by Israel for her efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust during World War II.
Saint Stanislaus (1631-1701) was born in Poland to poor and devout Catholic parents. In 1670, he founded the Institute of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. The three goals of this institute were: 1) to promote devotion to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, 2) to offer prayers and sacrifices for the dead, especially those who were not prepared to die, and 3) to minister to the poor and the marginalized. Stanislaus dedicated himself with apostolic zeal to these charitable purposes until the end of his life.
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.
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.
In May, 61 cloistered nuns from six monasteries in Santiago, Chile, spent time with inmates at a local women's prison and attended Mass with them, as part of this Year of Mercy. Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who celebrated the Mass, shared with Catholic News Agency that the nuns requested the joint visit, “so the sisters who contemplate the face of God every day in prayer could contemplate him in the face of people who are suffering, going through a hard time in their lives.”
The nuns, who lead a traditional enclosed monastic life, sang a Chilean song and four even danced after they all celebrated Mass. "[It was] a grace to share with them, to really feel like a sister with them, to feel their sorrow, their joy and to become one with them,” said Sister Maria Rosa of the Discalced Carmelites from the San José monastery.
Read more here.
The Year of Mercy runs through November 2016.
As reported by Crux, Father Samuel Giese is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who serves as a senior Army chaplain for the D.C. National Guard, with the rank of colonel. During the Memorial Day weekend, he honors veterans who’ve given their lives for their country during Mass.
Father Giese has a special relationship with those who serve in the armed forces. He served in Iraq with the 155th Brigade Combat Team of the Mississippi National Guard, during a time when those soldiers not only faced the anxiety of war in that country but also worries about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in their communities back home.
“I think as Catholics, particularly as priests, we often talk about sacrifice. In situations like war, you have the opportunity to see people sacrifice for others, so it puts a lot of things in perspective, including Jesus’s sacrifice,” Giese said.
A delegation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame attended the 66th annual United Nations Conference for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from May 30 to June 1 in Korea. The theme of the conference was “Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together".
Sister Eileen Reilly, director of the SSND UN-NGO office, said, “We are hoping that our participation in this conference with more than 1,800 delegates from around the world will give us a deeper understanding of what it means to educate for global citizenship in our divided world.”
Along with Sister Reilly, Sister Gloria Hirai, of Japan, and Sister Lourdes Pangelinan, of Guam, also attended the conference and worked with diplomats, United Nations officials, policy experts, scientists, educators, businesses, trade unions, parliamentarians, and local authorities.
Throughout the conference, the sisters and their colleagues sought to promote change that empowers women, the young, and the poor and marginalized and addresses systems of poverty and injustice.
Read more here.
Father Sabino Maffeo, S.J., assistant to the director of the Vatican Observatory, recently discovered the names of four Sisters of the Holy Child who helped map a section of the night sky that was assigned, as part of an international project, to the Vatican Observatory in 1887. Italian Sisters Emilia Ponzoni, Regina Colombo, Concetta Finardi, and Luigia Panceri helped catalog nearly half a million stars. Using photographic plates, the Vatican Observatory, along with 19 other countries, mapped the entire sky.
In 1920 Pope Benedict XV received the sisters in a private audience and gave them a gold chalice. Pope Pius XI also received the "measuring nuns" eight years later, awarding them a silver medal.