April 2018 newsletter

April 2018 newsletter

NRVC executive director moves on

Farewell to Sister Sharon Dillon, S.S.J.-T.O.S.F.

Sister Sharon Dillon, S.J.J.-T.O.S.F.

NRVC bids farewell to Sister Sharon Dillon, S.S.J.-T.O.S.F., who resigned from her position as executive director for personal reasons effective March 8, 2018.

"We are grateful for the contributions Sister Sharon has made to the organization and wish her well in her future endeavors," stated Brother Ronald Hingle, S.C., board chair for NRVC. 

"As NRVC embarks on crafting and implementing a new five-year strategic plan, the board is committed to ensuring the vitality and growth of our organization and will work closely with the staff to keep NRVC true to its mission in service to our members and the wider church and at the forefront of vocation ministry," he continued. 

Abundance of vocation videos in March

Features of staff and members, NBC video

NRVC member Father Richard Goodin, O.F.M. was featured in an NBC Left Field video about Millennials who have chosen religious life. The video has been viewed more than 38,000 times.

Several online videos featuring NRVC members and staff launched in March, as did an NBC video about Millennials choosing religious life.

In honor of National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW), NRVC collaborated with several organizations to  produce SisterSpeak, a series of 2-minute online videos about contemporary women religious, their lives and vocations. The series was promoted on the social media channels of all the participants: Religious Formation Conference, the Center for the Study of Consecrated Life,  Communicators for Women Religious, and Giving Voice.

The Archdiocese of Chicago also produced an NCSW series of short online videos called Sister Stories. Among those featured were Sister Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M., director of member relations and services, and the following NRVC members:

  • Sister Lovina Pammit, O.S.F.
  • Sister Mary Beth Bromer, C.S.S.F.
  • Sister Editha Ben, S.P.
  • Sister Jessi Beck, P.B.V.M.

In mid-March NBC Left Field, which produces online-only videos, aired "More young Christians heed call to become priests and nuns" as part of its "Extraordinary Humans" series. It examines the hopes, fears, and dreams of  Millennials who have chosen religious life. NRVC member Father Richard Goodin, O.F.M. is featured, along with Sister Kathy of the Sisters of Christian Charity, which belongs to NRVC. NRVC and its sister organization, National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations, helped provide information and contacts to the producers.

Preparations continue for vocation synod

Young people give input in Rome

The forthcoming synod now has a webpage.

The Vatican continues to move forward in preparation for an October synod of bishops with the theme: young people, the faith, and vocational discernment. 

Three hundred young people from around the world gathered March 19-24 in Rome to discuss aspects of the synod themes. They produced a final document reflecting their thoughts on the synod themes.

Pope Francis announced the day before the youth gathering: "I strongly desire that all young people might be the protagonists of this preparation."

An official synod website and Facebook page are now available with many news stories, documents, and details of the preparation. 

Pre-convocation workshops announced

Taking place Nov. 1 in Buffalo

Participants in NRVC workshops, such as the one above, consistently give them high marks in evaluations. 

NRVC has announced the following all-day workshops to take place November 1 in Buffalo, New York prior to the start of its convocation. Online registration will be available soon at nrvc.net.

Finding your Digital Balance and Reducing Social Media Stress  

Crystal Taylor-Dietz, Psy.D., a psychologist on the staff of the St. Luke Institute, will present this workshop. It will look at the impact of social media and constant use of electronic devices and examine ways to better manage technology. This workshop is aimed at vocation ministers who either experience digital stress themselves or minister to those who do.

Screening Yellow and Red Flags in Candidate Assessment

This workshop will be conducted by Eran Talitman, Ph.D., the clinical team leader at Southdown Institute. He will look at factors that affect a candidate's suitability for religious life, including pornography use, social media use, sexual abuse, Asperger's Syndrome, and personality disorders. Attendees are encouraged to bring their questions to this workshop.

Issues of Civil, Canon and Immigration Law in Vocation Ministry

This workshop will be presented by Miguel Naranjo, an immigration lawyer with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and civil and canon lawyer Sister Deborah M. Cerullo S.S.N.D. The morning session for this workshop will examine immigration law as it affects religious institutes. The afternoon will cover (among other things) assessment policies and record keeping, financial policies for those entering formation, and special issues connected to older candidates.

ROI: Grace or Grim?

This workshop will be presented by Father James Greenfield, O.S.F.S., human development expert and president of DeSales University, and Father Kevin Nadolski, O.S.F.S., former vocation director and vice president of mission at DeSales University. Designed for vocation ministers with at least two years of experience, this workshop will examine the ROI (return on investment) in vocation ministry, taking note of community expectations, social realities, and self care. 

NRVC at Religious Ed Congress

Members help make religious life visible

Maryknoll Sisters at the Religious Education Congress.

More than two dozen NRVC religious institutes and an NRVC staff member played active roles in the March 16-18 Religious Education Congress, an annual event in Los Angeles that draws some 40,000 active Catholics. 

NRVC members hosted booths at the congress. Sister Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M., director of member relations and services, attended the congress and also spoke on "Myths and Misconceptions of Religious Life" at the invitation of Vocations Alive! at the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles.

Still time to reserve VISION ads

Be part of the next edition!

Although the deadline for ad reservations was March 30,  for a short time VISION will still accept ads for the forthcoming edition. With the bishops' synod this fall putting a worldwide focus on vocation discernment, now is the time to be part of the premier vocation guide. Call 312-356-9900 and reserve your ad today! Find details at vocationnetwork.org/en/advertisers.

Ethics workshop July 20-21

At Summer Institute in Chicago

Father Raymond P. Carey, Ph.D. conducts an NRVC workshop. Participants praise the content and delivery of Carey's workshops.

If you have not yet taken the NRVC workshop on ethics, consider making it part of your summer. "Ethical Issues in Vocation/Formation Ministry"—to be held July 20-21 in Chicago—is part of the core curriculum that NRVC recommends for all vocation ministers.  

Father Raymond P. Carey, Ph.D. will lead this workshop, which will explore the ethics of confidentiality, agency, and obligations related to positions of trust. The workshop will also address issues related to dissemination of information, the timeliness of admissions or dismissal decisions, and other issues related the rights of candidates, communities, and those in authority.

Details and registration are available here.

Upcoming member area events

Gatherings include retreat, discussion of synod

Following are April and May meetings and events sponsored by member areas of NRVC. Members may attend events in any area.

Heartland, April 9-11
Leavenworth, KS
Reflection and Sharing on "Synod 2018 Young People, the Faith and Vocation Discernment"
Details here; preparation material here.
Ms. Lori Benge, 314-203-1678, bengel@adorers.org
Len Uhal, 563-580-5413, luhal@dwci.edu

New England, April 21
Mont Marie Center, Holyoke, MA
Sister Natalie Cain, S.S.J., 413-536-0853, ncain@ssjspringfield.com
Father Rocco Puopolo, S.X., 508-429-2144, frrocco@xaviermissionaries.org

Midwest, April 23-25
Donaldson, IN
Retreat Day, "Rest Stops for the Soul," presented by Father Joseph Nassal, C.P.P.S.
Sister Maria Brizuela, O.S.F., 815-325-4183, fsshvocations@aol.com
Sister Connie Bach, P.H.J.C., 574-340-6409, connie.ss@att.net

Hudson Valley, April 29 - May 1
Latham, NY
"Business, elections, social"
Details here; registration here.
Sister Marie Mackey, C.S.J., 718-791-7911, csjmack@gmail.com
Sister Anna Maria Lionetti, R.S.H.M., 914-631-8872 ext. 215, annamarialion@gmail.com

Delaware Valley, April 30 
Caldwell, NJ
Sister Celeste Mokrzycki, S.S.J., 215-248-7200, cmokrzycki@ssjphila.org
Sister Maryanne Tracey, S.C., 973-290-5325, mtracey@scnj.org

Pacific Northwest, May 4-5
Beaverton, OR
Sister Michael Francine Duncan, S.S.M.O., 503-644-9181, srmichaelfrancined@ssmo.org
Sister Christine Still, O.S.F., 253-797-0173, cstill@osfphila.org

Opportunities to celebrate vocations

Day of Prayer for Vocations, Brothers Day

In the coming weeks the church offers two days for celebrating vocations. Click on the links below for information and resources.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations, April 22

Religious Brothers Day, May 1

Nominate outstanding vocation ministers

To serve on board, to receive award

The Dubuque Area Vocation Association was granted the 2016 Mustard Seed Award for furthering vocation ministry in its region.

The NRVC Board is seeking nominations of people to serve on the board, as well as nominations of people or groups to honor for making outstanding contributions to vocation ministry.

Nominate yourself or another to serve on the board

Nomination forms (for yourself or another) are due May 15 and should be accompanied by a letter of approval from the nominee's superior. The board will hold interviews and make selections by June 13. The term of service begins in the fall of 2018 and lasts three years with an option to renew once.

Nominate someone to receive an award

Nominations are welcome for the Mustard Seed Award, which recognizes individuals or groups that have initiated a small, local vocations effort that has taken root and expanded. These nominees need not be vocation ministers or members of NRVC.

Nominations are also welcome for the NRVC Recognition Award. This award honors members of NRVC (for at least three years) who have made an outstanding contribution to vocation ministry.

Resource of the month

Called: What happens after saying yes to God

The book Called: What happens after saying yes to God, by Brother Casey Cole, O.F.M., gives a first-person account of the ongoing discernment that happens during formation and beyond. 

Ideal for serious discerners, this 179-page book conveys that all Christians have a mission and must continually discern God's call, work at prayer, be challenged to be self-giving, and even experience failure. Consider reading and discussing this book with those in discernment. Purchase it for $15 at the NRVC store.

News of our collaborators

Australian vocation report released; several conferences slated

Australian vocations study shows similarities to U.S. vocation realities

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference released a major study and analysis of religious vocations in February, and several of the findings show parallels to vocation realities in the United States.

One similarity is in community best practices for attracting candidates.  "Congregational leaders identified three main factors that contributed to success in attracting new members: having an integrated and well-resourced approach, offering a live-in experience, and having a full-time vocation director or team,” the report concluded.

The study also contradicted popular wisdom in Australia that new members are all foreign-born (60 percent are not) and that only highly traditional orders are receiving new members. "The data shows that by no means could all the  congregations that have been successful in attracting new members in the last 15 years be said to be at the conservative or traditional end of the spectrum," the report states, another finding that is in sync with the U.S. reality.

The report explores challenges posed by Australian sex abuse cases and by difficulties new members have in adjusting to communal life. Nevertheless it ends on an upbeat note: "The report leaves us in no doubt that religious life has a future in Australia, although the future will not look like the past or even the present." 

Refer discerners to Catholics on Call 

Consider referring discerners ages 18-35 to the Catholics on Call Summer Conference to take place July 25-28 in Chicago. Participants will have the opportunity to connect and pray with other like-minded young people, hear nationally known speakers, discuss how to listen to God’s call, and learn skills for discerning all types of vocations. 

Register or learn more at catholicsoncall.org/apply or call 773-371-5432.

Conference on intercultural competencies April 15-18

Join national experts in human formation and intercultural competency to address opportunities and challenges in evaluating and forming international priests and religious for ministry in the United States. "Intercultural Competencies for Human Formation" will be held April 15-18, at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary in Indiana. The conference is co-sponsored by Saint Luke Institute and Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Learn more and register at sliconnect.org/conferences or contact Beth Davis at sliconnect@sli.org or 502-632-2471.

Canadian vocation conference April 22-25

The National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors in Canada invites U.S. vocation directors to attend its conference April 22-25 in Hamilton, Ontario, near Toronto. Find details here.

Communicator conference October 2-5

Communicators for Women Religious will hold its 24th annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas October 2-5. The theme is "FORTify your Mission: The Path WORTH Taking." The conference will take place at the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown. For more information, visit c4wr.org.


World Day of Prayer for Vocations is April 22!

Father Rocco Puopolo, S.X.

What roles do you play?

I'm the vocation director for the Xavierian Missionaries as well as our local community coordinator. Within NRVC, I'm the co-coordinator for the New England member area. 

How long have you been in vocation ministry? 

Seven years.

Are you part of a team?

Yes, we have two full-time vocation ministers together with two confreres who had once been involved in vocation ministry as well as a member of our sister community, the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary. We meet two or three times each year to review and plan our vocation service.

Has being a member of NRVC been helpful to you?

Besides finding quality material and workshops to enhance my ministry, I have met wonderful colleagues from other communities who bring zeal, hope, and joy to this service to our communities.  

What approach have you used lately that you found exciting?

Recently the New England member area sponsored a presentation and panel discussion on themes for the upcoming synod on youth and discernment. We promoted it throughout all the New England colleges. Although only 45 people attended in person, over 700 followed the program on Facebook Live! And by the next weekend another 300 had viewed the program on Facebook.

What's a fun fact about you that you'd like to share?

I joined the Xaverian Missionaries in the hope of going to Asia where St. Francis Xavier served and where we were in our beginnings. I did not want to be a classroom teacher. That said, I ended up being missioned to Africa, and after three years of part-time teaching, I became the superintendent of schools for our diocese. But it all worked out in the end!

What do you find most challenging, and what is most rewarding?

The challenge for me is to trust the spirit of the Lord who works in so many young men and women. The One who is doing the calling is not me! The reward in vocation work is to be with so many spirit-filled persons, attentive to that call and that spirit. It is a great place to be. 

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NRVC Member Areas

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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