August 2014 newsletter

August 2014 newsletter

Summer Institute draws praise

The 112 participants in NRVC's July 8-22 Summer Institute in Chicago gave the event overwhelmingly positive evaluations. Vocation ministers attended from three countries, 22 states, and Washington, DC. They took part in at least one of four workshops: Ethical Issues, Behavioral Assessment I, Orientation for New Vocation Ministers, and Psychosexual Integration.

Sister Kelley Rush, S.N.D. praised the Orientation workshop: "The life experience examples were truly helpful. The sense of support from the NRVC and the networking with other vocation ministers was extremely helpful. I like that there are ongoing educational programs through NRVC."

Brother John Eustice, C.S.V. was glad he took part in all four workshops: "I really appreciated all of the featured resources, both in print and in electronic media. Everything was very practical."

Click here to see more photos of the 2014 Summer Institute.


NRVC workshops are great opportunities for networking and giving and receiving support. Pictured here are Father Andy McAlpin, O.P. and Sister Vera Chan, C.S.N.

During the Orientation Program Sister Angela Mathlin, S.S.M. shares a word she feels describes vocation ministry.


Fourteen people took part in all four Summer Institute workshops.


Thirty new vocation ministers completed the Orientation Program offered at this year's Summer Institute, 23 of whom are pictured here. NRVC staff and members extend a warm welcome to all the graduates.

Kathleen Mahoney to be honored

Chosen for NRVC's Harvest Award

Kathleen Mahoney, Ph.D.

NRVC is pleased to announce that it will be honoring Kathleen Mahoney, Ph.D. with its Harvest Award to be presented at the closing banquet of its November 6-10 convocation in Chicago. The Harvest Award honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to vocation ministry.

Mahoney was the project director for NRVC's 2013 study of education debt and its chilling effect on religious life vocations. She skillfully shepherded the study, helped publish its results, and edited a free, downloadable handbook with practical advice for religious communities on handling education debt of new members.

"Kathleen's excellent work on the debt study broke new ground and paved the way to establishing the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV)," said Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., NRVC's executive director. "Because of her important work, many young people who want to pursue religious life will not have to be turned away because of college debt."

Mahoney is a consultant working with foundations and nonprofit organizations in project management, strategic planning, and evaluation.  She is the recent past president of Porticus North America Foundation (2001-2010). Currently Mahoney works with the GHR Foundation as a consultant for its Sister Support Initiative. She has held academic posts at Washington University in St. Louis, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, and the Lynch School of Education at Boston College where she founded the Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education. She and her husband, John Brophy, live in Madison, Connecticut. 

"It is truly an honor to work with and on behalf of women and men religious, whose spiritual witness and service means so much to so many throughout the world," said Mahoney. "I am grateful for so many in religious life who have been my teachers, mentors, and friends. My deep thanks to the NRVC for selecting me to receive the Harvest Award."

Special jubilee convocation

Get the early registration discount

A host of special 25th-anniversary features will make NRVC's November

Celebrity guest host Clarence Gilyard—actor, writer, director, and committed Catholic—will add to the convocation's festive spirit.

6-10 convocation in Chicago an event you won't want to miss.

Those who register now will avoid increased fees that start October 1, and they can take advantage of NRVC's jubilee gift to members. That is, members can bring guests who play key roles in their institute for the same low rate as members. (Contact Sister Debbie Borneman to obtain this rate:

Just a few features of the jubilee convocation:

  • Inspiring keynote speakers will address our theme "It is good that we are here: rise and have no fear."
  • Actor Clarence Gilyard, of TV's Matlock and Texas Ranger fame, will serve as our celebrity guest host.
  • Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò will join us.
  • Workshops will delve into the practical issues of vocation ministry, covering topics such as peer supervision, working with the media, reconfiguration, and more.
  • Nationallly recognized vocalists John Angotti and Meredith Augustin will entertain us.
  • The results of NRVC's newest study—on multiculturalism in religious life—will be presented.
  • Quality prayer and liturgies will ground us.

In addition, participants will benefit from the outstanding support and networking that always occurs at NRVC convocations. 

Click here for details and online registration. NRVC's board and staff look forward to greeting you in person in November!

NRVC at European vocation conference

Brother Paul (right) with Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, the new Secretary for Seminaries at the Congregation for Clergy at the Vatican.

Executive Director Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. represented NRVC at the annual conference of the European Vocation Service (EVS), held July 3-6 in Warsaw, Poland. Gathering under the theme "Christ-centered Education in Service of Vocations Today," the approximately 50 participants represented 18 European countries. Also attending were representatives from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  

In his organizational report to the participants, Brother Paul shared the NRVC logo for the Year of Consecrated Life. Several representatives requested the use of this logo in their own countries. In  addition, he also shared the hymn commissioned by NRVC for this special year.

The EVS is the umbrella organization of vocation offices of national bishops' conferences throughout Europe. Because of NRVC's contact with EVS over the years, NRVC has established collaborative relationships with vocation offices in Ireland, England and Wales, and France.

Pre-conovocation workshops

Learn about critical issues in-depth

NRVC workshops tend to spur good conversation as part of the learning process. Pictured here are participants in a 2013 workshop on multicultural issues.


NRVC is offering the following pre-convocation workshops on November 6, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Chicago Marriott Hotel O'Hare.

Vocation Ministry and the Issues of Civil, Canon, and Immigration Law

by Father Daniel Ward, O.S.B., canon lawyer and former executive director of the Resource Center for Religious Institutes, and Mr. Miguel Naranho, director of Religious Immigration Services for Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Click here for details.

Building Intercultural Competence for Vocation Ministers

by Sister Teresa Maya, C.C.V.I., bicultural educator. Click here for details.

Life Questions: Screening for Formation

by Brother John Mark Falkenhain, O.S.B., psychologist, vocation director, and author of NRVC's  "Culture of Vocations Assessment Tool." Click here for details on page 7 of the convocation brochure.

HORIZON Summer edition

"Moving foward in hope" talks published

The Summer edition of HORIZON, which mails August 1, will carry the keynote presentations from the "Men Religious Moving Forward in Hope" events held this past winter. 

The talks have been edited to address universal concerns of both men and women religious. Among the feature articles are:

♦  "Vocation promotion in contemporary culture," by Brother Seán Sammon, F.M.S.

♦  "Canon law on entering a religious community," by Father Frank Morrisey, O.M.I.

♦  "Today's church and its vocation environment," by Father Thomas Gaunt, S.J.

♦  "Defining an internal culture of vocations," by Brother John Mark Falkenhain, O.S.B.

Chatrooms for women discerners

A Nun's Life offers two new chats

A Nun's Life Ministry, an online resource for women considering their vocation, has started two new chatrooms.

First Friday Chat

This chat will cover everything from music to faith to recipes to humor. It takes place on the first Friday of each month, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time until approximately 10 p.m.

Discernment Chat

This chat engages with questions like: How is God calling you? How does your life reflect God's activity in the world? Participants will exchange stories, encouragement, and prayers for the spiritual journey. The first Discernment Chat will be August 21, starting at 9 p.m. until approximately 10 p.m.

Click here for details on taking part in the chats.

Communications Tip of the Month

3 must-knows for responding to inquirers

Now that discerners have many ways to contact a vocation director, what is the best way to respond? There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but a few things have emerged as "best practices."

Have a system in place to respond

This helps ensure that no inquiry goes unanswered. Surprisingly, discerners still report sometimes not hearing back once they've worked up the nerve to contact a vocation director. If you prefer to make a personal response by e-mail but know you will be delayed, set up an "auto-response" so that inquirers get a message from you telling them when you'll be able to contact them personally. In gmail, for instance, this can be done by clicking on the upper right sprocket icon for "settings" and scrolling down to "vacation responder."

Don't delay your response

People have become accustomed to fast responses to e-mails and texts. Try to answer within 72 hours.

Respond in the same form in which you were contacted

This applies unless, of course, the person asks you to respond differently. In other words, a phone call prompts a phone call, a text receives a text, etc.

Learn more about how other vocation directors handle inquiries in this HORIZON article. (This link will take you to the article once you've logged in.)

Resource of the Month

Discernimiento con Otros (Discerning with Others)

This Spanish-language, 66-page booklet by Father Warren Sazama, S.J., contains basic information on Ignatian principles for discernment. It also addresses the need for spiritual direction as a key for discernment. This 10-chapter resource is available only in Spanish and is on sale for just $2 ($3 for non-members). 

Click here to order it online. Or contact NRVC at (773) 363-5454 or




Catholics on Call

Offering Partner Conference in September

Participants listen attentively during a Partner Conference.

Vocation ministers are encouraged to join Catholics on Call for its 10th annual Partner Conference September 18-19 at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The conference will bring together campus ministers, vocation directors, and other young adult ministers from around the country to engage in conversation and discussion about how to support Catholic young adults as they strive to discover God's call. The keynote speaker is Jonny Baker, team leader for "Pioneer Leadership," a non-traditional ministry training program for the Church Mission Society in London, England. Click here for information or to register for the conference. Or contact Birgit Oberhofer at or (773) 371-5431.

Communications conference

Vocation directors invited

Vocation ministers are invited to sharpen their communication skills at the 20th annual conference of Communicators for Women Religious, to take place in Long Beach, California, September 30 - October 3. The theme will be "Lights! Camera! Mission! Advancing Mission Through Storytelling and Visual Media."

Keynote speakers will include Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P. ("The Heart of the Story"); Jan Phillips ("Living on the Creative Edge"); Krista Neher ("Visual Social Media"); Marilyn Beker ("Connecting Story and Image on Film"); and Sister Eileen McNerney, C.S.J. ("Spirituality of Communications").

To learn more about the conference or to register, see

RFC offers programs

Anniversary event series; orientation

In celebration of its 60th anniversary, the Religious Formation Conference (RFC) is offering a series of two-day gatherings this fall in different locations. Titled "From Center to Periphery: Relocating the Prophetic Witness of Religious Life," the events will feature keynote addresses by Richard Gaillardetz, theology professor, and Sister Carol Jean Willie, S.C., Nongovernmental Organization representative to the United Nations.

September 19-20 Chicago
September 26-27 Renton (Seattle), WA
October 10-11 Atchison, KS
October 17-18 San Antonio, TX


In addition RFC will offer "Orientation to Formation Ministry" December 12-14  in Willimantic, Connecticut.  Vocation ministers are invited to attend to understand the bigger picture of initial formation.

Visit for details about these and other RFC programs.

LCWR seeking executive director

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has begun searching for an executive director to replace Sister Janet Mock, C.S.J. who is completing her term at the helm on December 31.

Candidates must be Catholic sisters who have had experience in congregational leadership beyond the local level. Applications will be accepted until September 1, 2014. For a position description and application form click here.

Sister Vicki Lichtenauer, S.C.L.


What roles have you played in NRVC?

I am the Region 9 co-coordinator along with Sister Rita Cameron, P.B.V.M., and I’ve been a regional NRVC presenter and conference planner.

How long have you been involved in vocation ministry?

Three years as vocation director, 10 years on our Vocation Network.

Do you work as part of a team?

I am the full-time vocation director, but we have monthly meetings as the Initial Formation Team. This team includes myself, the formation director, novice director, temporary vow director, and two wisdom figures who were once formation directors.

We also have a Vocation Network, which consists of seven sisters from around the country and two of our associates. We meet twice a year at the motherhouse and one time a year through a video conference call. (We are trying to be aware of our carbon footprint.)

Has being a member of NRVC been helpful to you?

Yes. The resources and training options are priceless. I have gleaned so much wisdom from former and current vocation directors. The NRVC presentations, handouts, networking, and resources—both hard copy and online—make this ministry a delight.

What have been your best outreach efforts?

One is our Xavier Communities, named after our founder Mother Xavier Ross. We have three intentional living opportunities whereby young women live with the sisters for varying amounts of time. We invite both women in discernment and women who want to experience simple, intentional community living. We have two homes, in Kansas City, Kansas and in Denver.

We also host spring break service groups from universities all over the country.

And finally, we host monthly dinners to nurture and support all the fabulous young adults in volunteer or social justice-related positions in the metro area. Our “People of Hope” dinners inspire us and give us a natural networking opportunity.

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

You are not alone. Use the wisdom of those who have been in vocation ministry. Help empower your community to live into the mindset that, “We are all vocation ministers.”

Contact Sister Vicki at

HORIZON Fall 2023 ...
The vow of celibacy is at once deeply personal and very ...  More
Become a Member ...
Join a professional network of vocation directors and those who support ...  More
World Day for Consecrated Life ...
Check out our resources to assist you in promoting vocations to ...  More
Get Involved in your Member ...
Check out events and gatherings this fall in your Member Area ...  More

NRVC Member Areas

Click here to locate members of the NRVC in your Member Area.


Behavioral Assessment 2 workshop

December 2-3,

Tucson, AZ

National Board Meeting

December 4-8,

Tucson, AZ

Member Area Gathering - Delaware Valley

December 5,

via Zoom

National Office Closed

Dec. 25 - Jan. 1,

Christmas Holiday

National Office Closed

January 15,

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

National Board Applications due

January 31,

Learn more

World Day for Consecrated Life

February 2,

Learn more...

Catholic Sisters Week

March 8-14,

Learn more...

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

April 21,

Plan now

Religious Brothers Day

May 1,

Plan ahead...

Renew your NRVC membership