October 2015 newsletter

October 2015 newsletter

Pope's visit & World Meeting of Families

NRVC part of activities

Top: Awaiting the Mass in Washington, D.C. to canonize Junípero Serra is NRVC's Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C.

Bottom: Young people serve as "Swiss Guards" at Club Francis, an evening social that allowed sisters, brothers, and priests to mingle with young adults attending the World Meeting of Families.

Top: At the NRVC exhibit booth at the World Meeting of Families are (from left) Sisters Ana Dura, C.S.R., Katharina Pies, C.S.R., and Theresita Donach, C.S.F.N.

Bottom: Region 3 members, Sr. Celeste Mokrzycki, S.S.J. and Mrs. Maryellen Glackin, talk  and share materials on family and vocation with people at NRVC's booth at the World Meeting of Families.

In conjunction with Pope Francis' historic visit to the United States in late September, NRVC staff and members were involved in the many celebrations and activities of the week.

Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. attended the September 23 canonization Mass for Junípero Serra, patron of the lay vocation group, Serra International. He was also an invited guest at a celebration dinner sponsored by the Serrans.

In addition, NRVC and its partner, the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations, were both present as exhibitors at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, held September 22-25. They provided information based on the recently released study about how families can support vocations.

Members from Region 3 helped to staff the NRVC booth, which was available to approximately 17,000 Catholics from 150 countries.

In addition NRVC members and religious from around the country were part of the many Masses, talks, entertainment, and festivities that comprised Pope Francis' joyfully received visit to the U.S.

NRVC's family study released

Video, handout, summary explain results

A scene from the video "Five things your family can do," which summarizes key findings. Find it and other resources regarding the family study at nrvc.net.

NRVC encourages its members and friends to make use of its latest study,  which looks at the role of families in nurturing vocations. Vocation supporters are urged to use the free video and handouts summarizing key findings and also to read the summary and full report—all of which are at nrvc.net. The next edition of HORIZON will also carry study results.

The study 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 was conducted for NRVC by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. It also found that new entrants tend to come from families that:

  • 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.”

Vocation Ambassadors Program

New program underway

Members of the Vocation Ambassadors team talk to young adult focus group members during a kickoff meeting to begin designing the Ambassadors program.

Vocation directors, communicators, and a focus group of young adults convened by NRVC met in September in Chicago to begin designing a "Vocation Ambassadors" program.

The program is meant to help religious communities prepare and send forth young laypeople (ambassadors) to carry a vocation message to the public.

"The Vocation Ambassadors workshop will bring together vocation ministers, communicators, and young, lay Catholics to learn relevant, practical, and affordable marketing strategies that can be implemented immediately to promote vocations to religious life," says Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M. NRVC director of member relations and services.

The initiative is being funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Serving on the design team are: Sister Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M.; Ms. Miranda Caulkins; Ms. Debbi Della Porta; Sister June Fitzgerald, O.P.; Father Adam MacDonald, S.V.D.; Father Larry Rice, C.S.P.; and Sister Theresa Sullivan, D.C.

As details become available about the Vocation Ambassadors workshop—which will be offered only to NRVC members—more information will be published in this newsletter and on nrvc.net.

Two sisters' gatherings held

Next one October 10, Immaculata, PA

The sisters who took part in the September 20 gathering "Today's Catholic Sisters" in River Forest, Illinois, along with the authors of the book "New Generations of Catholic Sisters," take time for a smile with NRVC's executive director, Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C.

In September nearly 200 people took part in the first two of four gatherings on "Today's Catholic Sisters: Who they are, why we need them."

These  gatherings, hosted by NRVC and funded by the GHR Foundation, feature young sisters, along with the authors of the book New Generations of Catholic Sisters: The Challenge of Diversity.

A Q & A session and raffle follow the main presentation. Refreshments will be served.

These gatherings are an opportunity to generate support for Catholic sisters now and in the future. Consider inviting your family, friends, discerners, and parishioners to attend as well.


Remaining gatherings

October 10, 2015, 1-4 p.m. (Eastern time). Mass to follow. 
Immaculata University, Alumnae Hall, Immaculata, PA 

Please RSVP. Or click here to register on the Immaculata University website.

January 23, 2016, 9 a.m. - noon (Pacific time).
Mount Saint Mary’s University, Doheny Campus, Rose Hills Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA

Please RSVP.


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 the NRVC offices at 773-363-5454 or email Julie Montague at jmontague@nrvc.net.

NRVC staff news

Debbie Prieto's mother dies; finance director position opens

Debbie Prieto with her mother, Juanita (left).

NRVC extends its deepest sympathy to longtime NRVC staff assistant Miss Debbie Prieto and her family upon the death of her mother, Mrs. Juanita Prieto, on September 17. She died peacefully at home at age 89 after a long illness. May she rest in peace.

Condolences may be sent to Debbie at daprieto@nrvc.net or at the NRVC office: 5401 S. Cornell Ave., #207, Chicago, IL, 60615.

In other staff news, due to health reasons, Mr. Justin Hurtado has resigned as the NRVC director of finance and operations. Mr. Wayne Montague will serve as interim director through November until a new director is hired. For further information about this employment opportunity, please contact Julie Montague at jmontague@nrvc.net.

World Youth Day sign-up for booths for the Vocation Expo

Preliminary sign-up for booths

The organizers of World Youth Day (WYD), taking place in Krakow, Poland in July 2016, are now taking names of organizations interested in renting a booth at the WYD Vocation Expo. 

Please note:  The Expo is a separate venue from the one being organized by NRVC and will be similar to a large vocation fair.

Rental fees, booth dimensions, etc. have not yet been determined. Eventually registration for the Vocation Expo will be available online at krakow2016.com/en. Until then organizers encourage those interested in a booth to submit their names now to be in the database. To do so, contact Malgorzata Skorupa in the WYD Youth Festival Department at kultura@wyd2016.com

NCYC sign-up

October 9 deadline

October 9 is the deadline to register for the largest Catholic youth event in the U.S., the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), taking place November 19-21 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Click here for complete information about this event and how NRVC members can take part.

NRVC members update

Regional coordinators meet, member renewals begin

Regional coordinators for NRVC gathered in Chicago September 28-30 to prepare for leading their regions.

Nineteen regional coordinators for NRVC gathered September 28-30 in Chicago to share best practices, learn what is happening throughout the organization, and provide feedback to the NRVC board about the proposed plans for re-grouping regions.

Each regional coordinator received a new binder with resources for leading regional activities and engaging members. To learn who your regional coordinators are and how to contact them, click here.


Membership renewals begin

NRVC members will be receiving membership renewal materials in the mail this month. Because NRVC has begun using a new database, some renewal forms may have errors. If your form has an error, please report it to NRVC's database administrator Marge Argyelan at margyelan@nrvc.net or 773-363-5454. NRVC extends its thanks for patience with this process.

Advent retreat/October workshops

Plan now to take part

Participants in the 2013 NRVC Advent retreat gave positive feedback about the experience.

NRVC invites vocation and formation ministers to renew their spirits at "Advent Days of Renewal and Reflection," to be held December 14-17 at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, Arizona, located in the Sonoran Desert.

Co-sponsored by NRVC and the Religious Formation Conference, this retreat will be led by Sister Addie Lorraine Walker, S.S.N.D. It will offer opportunities to embrace spiritual practices characteristic of Advent: waiting, accepting, anticipating, pondering and listening with heightened awareness, gratitude, and silence. 

A similar retreat was held in 2013 and was well-received by participants. Sister Maria Brizuela, O.S.F. wrote that she appreciated the "opportunity to take the time to pause and breathe intentionally … and in community with other vocation ministers."

To learn more, click here.


Seats still available at Fall Institute

Participants in a 2015 Summer Institute workshop show their enthusiasm.

Limited seats are still available to attend one of NRVC's four workshops at the Fall Institute, taking place October 13-25 at Marillac Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. They consist of:

Behavioral Assessment 1, by Father Raymond P. Carey, Ph.D., October 13-15

Ethical Issues in Vocation and Formation Ministry, by Father Raymond P. Carey, Ph.D., October 16-17

Orientation Program for New Vocation Directors, by Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. and Sister Debbie Borneman, SS.C.M., October 18-22

Trends, Issues, and Best Practices in Vocation Ministry in the 21st Century, by Sister Maria Cimperman, R.S.C.J., Ted Dunn, Ph.D., and Brother Sean D. Sammon, F.M.S., October 23-25

For further information, contact Sister Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M. at 773-363-5454 or debbiesscm@nrvc.net.

Resource of the month

"Religious Life: Absolutely Millennial!" DVD

National Vocation Awareness Week is being celebrated November 1-7 this year, and the DVD "Religious Life: Absolutely Millennial!" is a perfect resource to use with schools, campuses, boards, alumni, and associates to showcase the energy, hopes, and dreams of young members.

Designed with six chapters, this video can be shown in its entirety of 30 minutes or in single chapters. It's a great way to begin a meeting, presentation, or prayer service on vocations to religious life. Only $10 per DVD for NRVC members ($15 for non-members). Consider purchasing several copies to leave in libraries or offer as gifts.

To order or learn more, see nrvc.net/store.

Vocation events & resources of NRVC collaborators

Webinars, book, workshops, conferences, DVD

Workshops explore identity of Catholic sisters

St. John Vianney Center is completing a series of programs for Catholic sisters focusing on “Who Do You Say That I Am? Exploring the Identity of Religious Life in the 21st Century” with a final program at the Double Tree Hotel, Kenner, Louisiana, November 20-21.

For more information, click here, or contact Pat Weston at pweston@sjvcenter.org or call 888-993-8885.


Center for the Study of Consecrated Life conference

The Center for the Study of Consecrated Life will host a Feb. 5-6 sympusium featuring  For more information see ctu.edu/consecratedlife or call 773-371-5431.  


Religious Formation Conference hosts November congress

The Religious Formation Conference (RFC) will host a webinar November 17 by Sister Paula Cooney, I.H.M. on "Retirement: an Invitation to Transformation."  For more iniformation see relforcon.org.


LCWR publishes book

The Leadership Conference for Women Religious recently released the book Transformational Leadership: Conversations with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, edited by Sister Annmarie Sanders, I.H.M. (Orbis, 2015). The book consists of interviews with prominent leaders and thinkers in religious life, addressing issues such as envisioning the future, encouraging transformation, coping with division, etc. Learn more here.


CMSWR produces film, offers symposium "To Wake up the World"

The Council of Major Superiors of Women (CMSWR) has produced a documentary about the calling and daily lives of a variety of women religious. Titled "For Love Alone," the DVD may be purchased for $9.95 on Amazon.com. See the trailer on YouTube.

CMSWR will also host a fall symposium, “To Wake up the World,” November 13-14 at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in St. Louis. This will be a national event at which scholars and religious come together to discuss the beauty and witness of religious life. The keynote address will be by Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, O.P., adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is open to all religious, priests, and laity. Learn more at cmswr.org.


National Catholic Youth Conference

The National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) will take place November 19-21 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and vocation directors are invited to be part of the event as volunteers or as exhibitors. NCYC is a three-day high-energy experience of prayer, community, and talks for more than 23,000 teens, parents, and youth ministers from around the country. The 2015 NCYC theme is "Here I Am Lord/Aqui Estoy Señor." For details about how NRVC members can take part, click here.



Upcoming events


NRVC Fall Institute, Leavenworth, KS

Oct. 13-25, 2015

National Vocation Awareness Week

Nov. 1-7, 2015

NCYC, Indianapolis, IN

Nov. 19-21, 2015

Year of Mercy

Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016

Advent Days of Reflection and Renewal

Dec. 14-17, 2015

World Day for Consecrated Life

Feb. 2, 6 & 7, 2016

National Catholic Sisters Week

March 8-14, 2016

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

April 17, 2016

World Youth Day 2016

July 25-31, 2016

NRVC Convocation 2016

Oct. 26-31, 2016


Sister Barbara Ann Smelko, S.C.

How long have you been involved in vocation ministry?

I started in this ministry in 2010 in Chicago, but after a reorganization, I'm now in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, working full time as the coordinator for vocation ministries for the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill.

How is your vocation ministry organized?

I work closely with the formation congregational council member. My community also has a New Membership Formation Network of 11 sisters who meet quarterly. At these gatherings, we receive input on vocation topics and plan vocation events, such as discernment retreats, open houses, prayer services, and outreach to the poor done with young adults.

Has being a member of NRVC been helpful to you?

NRVC is truly a center for vocation awareness, education, conversation, and resources.  I’ve attended workshops and convocations, and the print and electronic resources are so helpful in my ministry. The well-written, well-researched articles in HORIZON are timely and relevant—good for re-reading and giving to others.  

Also I appreciate the financial assistance to help cover membership dues, attend a workshop, or [through the National Fund for Religious Vocations] pay down college loans of new members.

What vocation projects have been most rewarding or fruitful?

I find great meaning in Busy Persons Retreats, online retreats, and events that connect sisters and young adults in active service to the poor. Another project I like is our monthly Taize prayer for peace.

What do you enjoy the most in vocation ministry?

The opportunity to encourage young adults to add religious life to their list of viable life choices and to encourage parents to do the same for their children.

Contact Sister Barbara Ann at barbaraannsmelko42scsh@gmail.com.

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National Office Closed

May 27,

Memorial Day National Holiday

Member Area Gathering - West Coast

June 18,

via Zoom

National Office Closed

June 19,

Juneteenth National Holiday

Member Area Gathering - Delaware Valley

June 22,

Huntington Valley, PA

Orientation Program for New Vocation Directors

July 10-14, 2024,

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Ethical Issues in Vocation and Formation Ministry Workshop

July 16-17, 2024,

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Behavioral Assessment 1 workshop

July 19-21, 2024,

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Health and Wellness in Candidate Assessment Workshop

July 23-24, 2024,

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Being Human and Sexual: An Evolving Understanding Workshop

July 26-29, 2024,

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