December 2015 newsletter

December 2015 newsletter

Education grants available

Applications open to NRVC members registered by Dec. 31

Candidate Christina Chavez of the Congregation of Divine Providence, a 2015 NFCRV grant recipient, is greeted by NRVC Executive Director Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. at a meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The application process for the 2016 funding year for the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV) will begin on January 1 and close on March 15. Mr. Mark Teresi, NFCRV director, will mail a letter later this month to all NRVC members with detailed information.

Important reminder

Grant requests will only be accepted from NRVC members who register or renew their membership by December 31, 2015. If you are seriously considering applying for a grant on behalf of your religious institute for a candidate or postulant, please register today or before the end of the year. Go to to register.

Keynoters selected for NRVC convocation

Experts in Ignatian spirituality and evangelization to speak

Two keynote speakers have been selected for the October 27-31, 2016 convocation of the NRVC: Father Kevin O'Brien, S.J., an expert in Ignatian spirituality, ecclesiology, and pastoral ministry; and Ms. Sherry Weddell, an expert in evangelization and the formation of "intentional disciples." The convocation theme is "Awakened by the Spirit: Called to Discipleship."

Father Kevin O'Brien, S.J.

Father Kevin O’Brien, S.J. is vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University. In this role he shares the Catholic and Jesuit tradition of education and spirituality with faculty, students, staff, and alumni through seminars, social justice immersion programs, and retreats. Father O'Brien also oversees campus ministry programs on four campuses and the Mission and Pastoral Care program at MedStar Georgetown Hospital.

Father O’Brien lectures in Georgetown's Department of Theology in the area of ecclesiology and has written on Jesuit history and spirituality. In 2011, Loyola Press published his award-winning book, The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life.

Ms. Sherry Weddell

Sherry Weddell co-founded the Catherine of Siena Institute (CSI) with Father Michael Sweeney, O.P. in 1997. CSI is an affiliated international ministry of the Western Dominican Province. It trains Catholic leaders in evangelization and the formation of parishes of "intentional disciples." Ms. Weddell and her international team of collaborators have worked directly with 120,000 lay, religious, and ordained Catholics in more than 500 parishes in 137 dioceses.

Ms. Weddell is also the author of the books Become a Parish of Intentional Disciples (Our Sunday Visitor,  2015) and Forming Intentional Disciples: the Path to Knowing and Following Jesus (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012).

For more on the convocation and the keynote presenters, click here.

Vocation ministers prominent at NCYC

55 NRVC religious communities reach out to youth

NRVC members representing 55 religious institutes took part in the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), held November 19-21 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Vocation ministers hosted exhibit booths, volunteered as mentors to teenaged animators, and assisted as volunteers in a variety of capacities. These vocation personnel were present to some 23,000 Catholic teens, parents, and youth ministers who attended this biennial event—the largest of its kind in the country.

In commemoration of the Year of Consecrated Life, 15 religious communities also taught their spirituality and led prayers in the NCYC chapel. In addition Brother Ronnie Hingle, S.C., NRVC board chair, and Sister Debbie  Borneman, SS.C.M. presented a workshop on discernment that involved NRVC members. Below is an overview of the event in photos. Find additional photos on the NRVC Facebook page.

Grants for celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week

Apply by January 2

Participants at an earlier National Catholic Sisters Week event.

The National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) organization is making available grants of up to $1,000 to support local celebrations of Catholic sisters taking place during the week of March 8-14, 2016.

The grant application deadline is January 2. Grantees are encouraged to organize events tied to this year's theme for National Women's History Month (during which NCSW takes place): "Working to form a more perfect union--honoring women in public service and government."

The grant application can be downloaded here. Ideas for possible events can be found here.

For further information, see or contact Sister Mary Soher, O.P. at 651-690-6762 or

Holy Year of Mercy begins Dec. 8

Opportunity for reflection, action

The official logo of the Year of Mercy.

Religious communities and NRVC will be joining the worldwide church in observing the Holy Year of Mercy, which begins December 8 and lasts until November 20, 2016.

In light of this special jubilee year, the Winter edition of HORIZON, to be released February 1, will carry reflections linking vocation and mercy.

Vocation directors and their communities can find many resources online for incorporating this theme into their ministry.  Below are links to information and resources, and the text of Pope Francis' prayer for the year.  Vatican Year of Mercy website with complete information about the year, including:

  • bull of indiction
  • prayer
  • logo
  • hymn
  • homilies
  • pastoral resources
  • doors of mercy information
  • calendar  U.S. bishops' web page about the Year of Mercy, including:

  • meditations
  • monthly action suggestions
  • information on spiritual and corporal works of mercy
  • pastoral resources


Prayer of Pope Francis for the Year of Mercy

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.  

We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of
Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever and
ever. Amen.

Have you renewed your membership?

Register by Dec. 31 to avoid missing benefits

Member Ms. Nan Brenzel has found membership in NRVC invaluable. "NRVC is an outstanding source of education, resources, networking, and support to its members and others involved in vocation work," she says.

NRVC members are encouraged to renew their membership by December 31 to avoid missing out on benefits, such as the Winter HORIZON and the opportunity to apply for education assistance from the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV).

NFCRV will consider funding applications only from NRVC members who have registered or renewed by December 31. Last year, NFCRV helped eight religious communities to cover the cost of student loan payments for 10 incoming members.

Click here to renew your membership. Please direct any questions or concerns to Sister Deborah Borneman, director of member relations and services: or 773-363-5454.

International Vocation Conference reconvenes in Paris

December 1-2

Sister Nathalie Becquart, Xav. of the French bishops' conference, will host the Paris meeting. She is pictured here speaking to the International Vocation Conference that took place in February in Rome.

The International Vocation Conference (IVC), originally convened by the NRVC in February in Rome, reconvenes December 1-2 in Paris. The Paris meeting is a sub-group of the IVC delegates who will explore strategies for moving forward in vocations. 

It will be hosted by Sister Nathalie Becquart, Xav., director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and for Vocations at the bishops’ conference in Paris. Representing NRVC will be Executive Director Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C., Director of Member Relations and Services Sister Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M., and Board Chair Brother Ronnie Hingle, S.C.

"After the recent terrorist attacks, it will be especially poignant to have this meeting in Paris as a sign of our solidarity with people suffering from grief," noted Brother Paul.

The International Vocation Conference held in February as part of the Year of Consecrated Life was the first such meeting of its kind. It gathered more than a dozen national vocation and religious life leaders from the developed world. The statement released by attendees discussed a range of common concerns, including the need for a comprehensive theology of religious life that would be studied in seminaries, and the need to collaborate on and share communications and resources.

Hilton grant recipients meet

NRVC takes part

Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. takes part in a panel discussion of a study of public perceptions of Catholic sisters.

NRVC's Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C. and Sister Debbie Borneman, SS.C.M. participated in a November 4-7 gathering in Pasadena, California of the 32 organizations that have received monies from the Catholic Sisters' Initiative, part of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

The Hilton Foundation sponsored the meeting, which allowed grantees to network, share what they've learned from their projects, and respond to a study the foundation conducted of public perceptions of Catholic sisters. Brother Paul was one of three panel respondents to the study.

In 2014 NRVC was the recipient of a $2.55 million grant for the establishment of the National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV) and an additional $2 million grant for continued NRVC capacity building. In 2011 it received $50,000 to study the impact of educational debt and produce corresponding resources.

NRVC regions reconfigured

Goal is to better meet member needs


After extensive study and consultation with members, NRVC's board has introduced a new configuration of regions that will take effect over the coming year. NRVC will transition from 14 geographic areas to the 12 areas outlined in the above graphic. 

As shown in the graphic, the borders are fluid. Members can select for themselves a primary and secondary area with which to affiliate, depending on where they live and minister. Members can attend meetings and programs of any area at the discounted member rate.

For a video explaining the new setup in detail, click here.  For other details, see

NRVC mourns deaths

Sister Debbie Borneman's mother, Sister Pamela Welch

Nancy Borneman

The NRVC mourns the deaths of two closely connected individuals: Nancy Borneman, the mother of NRVC Director of Member Relations and Services Sister Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M.; and NRVC member Sister Pamela Welch, C.S.C.

Sister Debbie's mother passed away after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer on November 5. Sister Debbie expresses deep appreciation to all those who have reached out to her. Condolences may still be sent to her at the NRVC offices: 5401 S. Cornell Ave., Suite 207, Chicago, IL 60615. 

Sister Pamela Welch, C.S.C.

Sister Pamela Welch, C.S.C. died November 7. She had belonged to the Sisters of Holy Cross since 1978 and had served in human resources, pastoral care, and vocation ministry for her community.

May the souls of these two faith-filled women, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Resource of the month

Spiritual mentoring packet

“Bridge Building through Prayer: Spiritual Mentoring of Young Adults” is a packet of resources for use with service immersion programs, discernment weekends, Busy Persons Retreats, etc. It contains two prayer cards written by Sister Theresa Rickard, O.P.; a booklet by Father Warren Sazama, S.J.; a mentor booklet; and 12 papers for the young adults.

It has 12 topics for both mentors and young adults to use in prayer. Each topic contains suggested scripture readings and reflection questions to guide discernment. Consider purchasing this resource to use during a winter break service event.

Member price is just $8. Non-member price is $12. Order here or contact NRVC at 773-363-5454 or to order.

Vocation events & resources of NRVC collaborators

Webinar on call, religious life symposium, pornography resources, and more

RFC offering webinar, and "ForMission"

RFC will present a webinar on the theme "Hearing God's call: a model for lifelong formation" on January 29, at 3:30 p.m. by Father Brad Milunski, O.F.M. Conv. For details contact Sister Carol Regan, S.U.S.C. at, 202-827-4562.

Applications are being accepted for "ForMission," a two-year formation program for formators. The program consists of four week-long intensive sessions at various locations throughout the U.S. The first session of the class of 2018 will be June 8-16, 2016 at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. For more information, click here. Call the RFC national office for an application packet: 202-827-4562.


Center for the Study of Consecrated Life symposium

The Center for the Study of Consecrated Life will host a symposium February 5-6 featuring Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. The theme will be "Community Life and Mission: Toward a Future Full of Hope." For more information see or call 773-371-5431.  


St. Luke Institute has resources to address pornography

In light of the U.S. bishops' concern about pornography, St. Luke Institute is calling attention to its resources on this topic, which are available at Content includes material from Saint Luke Institute and other Catholic organizations, books recommended by Saint Luke Institute therapists, and suggested website blocking and monitoring software. Contact Beth Davis, Saint Luke’s director of education, at 502-632-2471 or for more information.


CMSWR sponsors leadership forum for young women

The Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious is sponsoring "GIVEN: the Catholic Young Women's Leadership Forum," June 7-12 at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

This event will bring together 300 rising leaders, selected by application, with religious and lay leaders for a full-scholarship, week-long immersion in faith formation, leadership skills training, and networking. Speakers will include: law professor Helen Alvaré, Catholic Relief Services President Dr. Carolyn Woo, and singer songwriter Audrey Assad.

Applications for a full scholarship are at This event is supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.


Religious Brothers Conference to hold assembly

The Religious Brothers Conference will hold its 45th annual assembly July 23-26 at the Siena Center in Racine, Wisconsin. Brothers from all communities are welcome to attend. The theme will be "The Brother in the Year of Mercy," and the keynote speakers will be Sister Barbara Reid, O.P. and Brother Steve Bevans, S.V.D., both of whom are on the faculty of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. For more information, see


Upcoming events

Mr. Chris Irr


What roles do you play in vocation ministry?

I'm the director of communications for the Xaverian brothers, and I'm the co-chair for NRVC's Region 4. In my communications role, I am the first point of contact with men inquiring about vocations. I also participate in NRVC on behalf of the congregation and lobby leadership for a focus on vocations. That is, I try to help leadership keep vocations on their minds and plan accordingly.

How long have you been involved in vocation ministry?

Three years.

Has being a member of NRVC been helpful to you?

It has. As a congregation we haven’t had a great focus on new vocations here in the U.S. (We have active vocation teams in Kenya and the Congo.) The NRVC Region 4 group that I have been involved with has allowed me to bring ideas to the congregational leadership. And we’ve made efforts to respond to the needs of those men who are approaching us in their discernment. Outside of the regional meetings, I had the opportunity to attend NRVC's Men Moving Forward in Hope workshop in Houston with our general superior. Through that program we’ve been able to give vocations a place in the congregation's consciousness. As we look to embrace the future with hope, we see that part of our mission is to be open to the possibility of vocations here in the U.S.

What has been your best vocation effort?

Our best vocation effort is to simply imagine and be open to the possibility of new U.S. vocations. We’ve done that on the leadership level, and for us, that is no small thing. The congregation is filled with much life. But, as we all know, it is often difficult for us as individuals and communities to focus on the good that we are in the world. And so we can shy away from inviting people into a shared mission out of some form of misguided humility or inverted perfectionism. (We are not perfect, so why would we invite someone into this situation?) There is a desire to overcome these internal barriers and open up to the possibility of new membership. This is a small step, but a positive one, and a step that is aligned with our ongoing community formation and renewal.

What do you find most rewarding about vocation ministry?

Being contacted by men who desire to be part of something bigger than themselves—men who see what hope the Xaverian Brothers are in the world, men who want to be a part of the mission. We’ve had some of those men approach us lately; it is a great gift to the congregation.

Reach Chris at 410-646-6764 or

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NRVC Member Areas

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


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

National Office Closed

July 4,

National Holiday

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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Oct. 31 - Nov. 4,

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