MFIH: Keys to the Future Final Report - PDF

MFIH: Keys to the Future Final Report - PDF

Meeting of Women Religious

Keys to the Future Process

In 2012, through the generous support of the GHR Foundation, a committee of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) developed the Moving Forward in Hope: Keys to the Future process. The process is an adaptable, interactive, and participatory workshop for religious communities. It is designed to help an individual community:
1) Understand crucial points of information that emerged
in the 2009 NRVC/CARA Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life.
2) Examine the community’s realities in light of the study.
3) Identify and prepare to take positive, concrete steps to encourage
new membership with support and participation from the entire community.


What happens during the Keys PROCESS?

The committee consciously designed the process to help communities address what might be hard realities in some religious institutes. After the 2009 NRVC/CARA Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life was released, it was clear that differences exist in the vision of religious life between a Vatican II generation and those newer entrants. These differences extend to young adults’ experience of church, worship, their ways of communication, and their ethnic diversity to name a few.
Because of the delicacy of the issues emerging from the 2009 study, the committee designed a process to enable participants to focus on the issues and to maintain a hopeful, positive, and practical perspective. The committee chose the metaphor of an automobile because it is not gender specific, it conveys movement, and it would elicit discussion of significant issues without being threatening.


The main elements of the Keys process included:

1) Getting in touch with one’s own vocation story: looking through the rearview mirror. In individual reflection and small-group sharing, participants recall their emotions, hopes, and dreams from their own call and response. .
2) Naming the community’s reality honestly: describing one’s car and journey through written reflection and small and large group sharing
3) Understanding newer members: Who are they? What are they looking for and what do they need? This step including examining the main findings of the 2009 NRVC/CARA Study through a Power Point presentation; watching a DVD of finally professed members under the age of 40 to gain insight into what newer members are seeking; and small and large group sharing.
4) Taking our foot off the brake: exploring concrete, creative, and courageous next steps including asking the questions: How can the community respond creatively and boldly to four important areas (identified by the NRVC/CARA study and by younger religious in the DVD): communal living, Eucharist, communal prayer, and visibility? What should members start doing? Stop doing? This portion of the process involved small and large group sharing.


Community leaders learn to use Keys process

In June 2012 NRVC held a two-day training event in San Antonio, TX to prepare 75 sisters, brothers, and priests to use the process with their own religious congregations. As part of the training, participants took part in a trial run (even though it was created as an intra-community process, rather than inter-community). In addition to the 75 selected participants, guest attendees included five representatives from the major U.S. religious-life organizations (CMSWR, CMSM, LCWR, RFC, and USCCB); seven of the eight members of the Keys planning committee; the executive director of NRVC, Brother Paul Bednarczyk, C.S.C.; and the publications editor of NRVC, Carol Schuck Scheiber, for a total of 89 participants.

In feedback about the San Antonio training, participants were overwhelmingly positive and eager to bring the process back to their communities.

Some felt apprehensive about the issues and emotions that an honest vocational appraisal might evoke, but the overriding sentiment above and beyond any fear was that the Keys workshop would help communities deal in a constructive way with the concerns raised by the 2009 Vocation Study.

Here are some representative comments from the San Antonio training workshop:


• It could not have been more hands-on and practical. I am so looking forward to using the tools with my community. The witness of the newer members was particularly engaging.

—Brother Robert Croteau, Brothers of the Sacred Heart, New England Province

• I gained so much insight from all the tools that were used in this workshop. I’m very hopeful, as well as excited, to go home and share. Excellent ideas!

—Sister Mary Stephen Beauford,
Oblate Sisters of Providence

• It gave me a clearer understanding of the [2009 vocation] study and increased my energy to “doing something” about vocations! It was non-threatening and truly engaging, in an honest manner.

—Sister Yolanda Cruz, Sisters of St. Mary of Namur

• It will help us to get real/concrete. Thank you!

—Brother John Celichowski, Capuchin Province of St. Joseph

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