On behalf of the NRVC Board, I am delighted to announce that the board of directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded NRVC a $2 million dollar grant to continue to build our organization’s capacity and sustainability. This generous grant will provide NRVC with additional personnel, the ability to create an effective development program, resources for the Year of Consecrated Life, and other important vocation-promotion services over the next three years (2014-16).
NRVC will implement the following objectives over a three-year period:
1. Restructure and expand its administration: NRVC currently operates with a 25-year-old staffing structure that does not adequately meet the needs of our current expanded mission, programming, and services. This grant will assist in underwriting the restructuring of the NRVC administration over the next five months. The following updated organizational structure was developed with the help of a professional management consultant firm:
Executive Director: The Executive Director will remain as the CEO of the organization, but the balance of the position’s focus will shift from internal to external operations. Upcoming projects that will receive particular attention will be a comprehensive development program for the NRVC and the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV). In addition, the Executive Director will continue international outreach for collaborative efforts in professional development and vocation promotion; relationships with significant partners, major donor initiatives, and sustainable organizational strategies.
Executive Assistant:The Executive Assistant will serve as the conduit with all NRVC directors to oversee daily administrative responsibilities of the NRVC office. Primary responsibilities will include administrative and clerical support to the Executive Director and special projects.
Director of Member Relations and Services: This position, formerly Associate Director of Programming and Resources, includes developing and overseeing programming, resources, membership, and current member relations.
Director of Finance & Operations: This position will require the coordination of all financial and operational functions of the NRVC, including grant oversight, investment, contractual obligations, and bookkeeping and quarterly reporting.
Director of Development and Fundraising: Because of the integral link between the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations and NRVC, this position will be filled by the Director of the NFCRV. Responsibilities for NRVC include donor development and care, grant writing, special events, and marketing and promotional efforts.
IT Manager: The IT Manager will oversee all membership, donor, and subscription databases as well as online services.
Staff Assistant: The Staff Assistant will provide assistance to all Directors in the areas of reception and clerical help.
2. Develop a broad-based marketing campaign to support NRVC, its mission, and the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV): The purpose of this campaign is to mobilize the broadest-based audience possible to take an active part in NRVC’s mission through prayer and financial contributions. This campaign will include an investment in traditional direct-marketing methods to develop strategies for continued growth. Through traditional methods of testing, NRVC will lay the groundwork for identifying major donor prospects and creating planned giving leads for both the NRVC and the NFCRV. This campaign will be quarterly and begin in the fall of 2014.
3. Promote and provide resources at the national, diocesan, and parish level for the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life to commence in November 2014: With the Year of Consecrated Life in the spotlight, NRVC and its VISION Vocation Network want to make the most of this unique educational opportunity by getting high quality resources into the hands of dioceses and parishes. This will include a specially commissioned commemorative hymn, a resource packet to be mailed to every parish in the U.S.; a media e-kit; a photo and video bank; a CARA Study to discerners, and a special expanded issue of the 2015 Vision Vocation Guide.
4. Partner with other “top tier” Catholic organizations in sponsoring the vocation program and venue at the English-language pavilion at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in 2016: Building on our success in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, NRVC and its VISION Vocation Network will partner with the Knights of Columbus, the USCCB, Canadian Salt and Light TV, Holy Cross Family Ministries, and other international organizations in sponsoring the vocation venue and program for World Youth Day 2016. Participation of NRVC members in this endeavor will be given first priority.
5. Conduct research through CARA to study the influence of parents and family in nurturing vocations to religious life and priesthood: No study on the influence of parents and families on vocations has ever been done before. This research will be timely as Pope Francis will convene a Synod on the Family in Rome in October of 2014. In addition, Philadelphia will be the host city of the 8th World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia from September 22-27, 2015. The three-party study will include a:
- Survey of Parents of Religious and Clergy
- Survey to a Random Sampling of Catholic Parents
- Regional Focus Groups
6. Sponsor a convening of the directors of various international religious vocation organizations, particularly from English-speaking countries (Canada, Ireland, England and Wales, Australia, and New Zealand) during the Year of Consecrated Life. The purpose of this facilitated meeting to be held in Rome in February 2015 will be:
- to gain a sense of the larger vocation picture beyond their own country;
- to identify common areas of convergence in vocation needs with suggested solutions;
- to explore future areas for collaboration in the common mission of promoting membership to religious life.
7. Convene an exploratory panel of high profile experts in media and communications to assist in defining the scope and sequence of a national communications strategy and office for religious vocations: This convening will engage the best of church communicators, journalists, and media specialists to develop a plan of communications that is inclusive of religious life in its entirety and complexity, while not falling into the same issues that trap an already divided and polarized church and religious life. The final result of this collaborative effort will be a communications plan that is hopeful, real, and focused on what unites religious.
8. Redesign the award-winning VISION Vocation Network multilingual website (www.VocationNetwork.org): This expansive redesign will provide a better visitor experience, including quicker response times, responsive design to accommodate any viewing device; and updated key features, including Vocation Match and Vocation Calendar.
9. Launch a new vocation program titled “Vocation Ambassadors. This one-of-a-kind initiative will be offered as a pilot program with a desire to offer it annually as part of the regular NRVC programming. The purpose of the program is to provide lay Catholics with media training and communication skills to represent and promote religious life in their parishes and schools and among the general public.
NRVC is the only organization in the U.S. church that directly serves the comprehensive needs of religious vocation directors and their desire to invite new members to their unique and fulfilling way of life. The vocation directors’ needs, much like the vocation question itself, continue to increase in their complexity. While there are no simple solutions, one thing is clear: NRVC and its mission must remain vital and strong for the sake of the future of religious life among its membership and beyond.
This generous Hilton Foundation grant will enable NRVC to grow as a religious and professional nonprofit organization with better organization, financial sustainability, improved services to our membership, and increased outreach to the larger church community. By increasing our influence and broadening our support, NRVC will be better positioned to serve the church, our constituents, and most especially, those who are discerning religious life.
On behalf of the NRVC board and membership, I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Board of Directors for their vision and generous investment in the future of religious life and for their confidence in NRVC and its leadership. In particular, I would like to thank Sister Rosemarie Nassif, S.S.N.D., director of the Hilton Foundation Sisters’ Initiative, and Brad Myers, domestic program officer at the Foundation, for their immeasurable encouragement and guidance.
Most of all, I want to thank you for your membership and continued loyal support, especially during this transition year. Two years ago the NRVC made a bold proposal to increase membership dues dramatically to demonstrate to our partnering foundations that our members are equally invested in our mission and its future. Mindful of the financial sacrifices this would entail, the NRVC membership at the 2012 Convocation voted nearly unanimously in favor of restructuring membership levels and fees. Your vote of confidence was key to showing our benefactors that the NRVC mission is worthy of their investment.
As we bask in the glow of our 25th anniversary year and this glorious season of Pentecost, may the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with hope, gratitude, and awe at God’s unfolding bounty.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. Executive Director