I am NRVC: Sister Dorothy Ann Dirkx, S.S.M.

I am NRVC: Sister Dorothy Ann Dirkx, S.S.M.


1. How long have you been involved in vocation ministry?

Six years.

2. Are you part of a vocation team?

Sisters in every part of the province are involved in our vocation ministry. Their involvement amazes me every month when I publish their work in my vocation ministry newsletter.

In 2013 I created a vocation committee of laity and religious here in Wisconsin. I interviewed all of them, asking how they knew S.S.M.s, what of S.S.M. do they value, what they thought they could contribute to a vocation committee, etc. We meet three to four times annually. Members of this committee are responsible for keeping literature in parishes, soliciting opportunities for promoting religious life and priesthood, and co-partnering with me in speaking to groups, visiting high schools and grade schools. One member is launching a project whereby we are featured on hospital TVs--two- or three-second spots, keeping S.S.M. in the minds of viewers as they await doctor visits or medical procedures.

One member is our province communication specialist. She keeps us posted on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites and assists me in website advertising that targets Catholic youth.

3. Has being a member of NRVC been helpful?

The NRVC gives credence to my vocation ministry and is a vehicle whereby every member of the province receives up-to-date, pertinent information about this important ministry: every local house receives HORIZON. Maybe that is one reason so many sisters take seriously their role in promoting religious life.

Having been part of Moving Forward in Hope and then carrying the message of that seminar to the sisters throughout the province was a powerful experience: It energized the sisters in their commitment to religious life and their desire to guarantee that this way of life is an option for future generations. I believe strongly and passionately in the future of religious life, and being a member of the NRVC feeds that passion, keeps our hopes alive, and energizes us to continue our commitment to this important ministry.

The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother are a small but significant religious community, and being part of something bigger than ourselves is important to us. When the going gets rough and we need a push, having this “engine” of NRVC pushing us from behind or being in front of us pulling us forward is important.

4. What has been your best outreach effort?

That is a difficult question to answer and I am not sure I have a “best,” but I do have several that are very rewarding to me.

•   Blogging. I do a scripture blog and a religious life/discernment blog, published on www.becomingasister.org. I publish the scripture blog almost daily to keep persons coming to this website (this is our vocation website). This type of evangelizing is very energizing for me.

•   Creating personal responses to inquirers. There have been times when an inquirer will say: “I am overwhelmed with the number of responses I received and I was going to wait until I received all of them and then respond. But when I read your personalized letter, I had to respond to you immediately. I was so touched.”

•   Collaborating with campus ministry personnel (now at two colleges) in doing Busy Students’ Retreats. I am a spiritual director at heart, so this part of vocation ministry touches me deeply.

•   Creating “Come and See” programs. This is fun, as is conducting them. I have had the vocation office relocated to our province headquarters, so many of the retired sisters here are involved. The best part of some of these programs, for inquirers, is hearing the senior sisters tell their call stories.

•   I have created several PowerPoints in collaboration with others. (“A Purpose-filled Life,” “My Whole Self—Tuning into God by Tuning into Self,” “Four Basic Human Needs: Becoming One’s Best Self,” “Becoming My Best: What Inspires Me,” and “Discovering Your Purpose in Life”). I will be sharing these with parish personnel and also one of the campus ministers for feedback and suggestions. This project excites me and has many possibilities, one of which could be mini-retreats here at our headquarters for all age groups. Other possibilities are emerging in my consultation with persons in parishes and in campus ministry settings.

•   Visiting grade schools and high schools. These visits give us a chance to share our passion for religious life and answer questions the children and youth have concerning our lifestyle.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom to those who are new to this ministry?  

Develop a strong prayer life, and engage all your members. I tell our senior sisters that the core element of vocation ministry is prayer. They do this so well, and it is to them that I attribute the success I am experiencing, as we have five women requesting to enter the postulancy. It is their prayers, nothing else. I would tell persons new to this ministry to remember that important fact.

6. What do you find most rewarding about vocation ministry?

Witnessing a young person discover her call, be that marriage, religious life, or the single life.

Contact Sister Dorothy at ssmvoc@gmail.com.



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