Pre-Convocation Workshops

Pre-Convocation Workshops

October 31, 2024


Come a day early to elevate your skills and enhance your ministry! There are five workshops available, and you can select two to attend. The workshops are designed for vocation ministers, leadership teams, and all those responsible for the admissions process. When making your hotel reservations, plan to arrive on October 30, the day before the workshops on October 31.

The workshops begin at 9:00 a.m., shortly after 8:00 a.m. Mass, and conclude at 4:30 p.m. All workshops include a buffet lunch. 

Registration is open in the store for Pre-Convocation workshops.

Pre-Convocation workshop choices on October 31:

Workshop registration for NRVC members is $200 which includes your choice of two workshops and a buffet lunch. Price for non-members is $300.

  1. Requirements of Immigration Law in the Discernment Process
  2. Requirements of Civil and Canon Law in Candidate Assessment
  3. Navigating the Maze of Psychological Assessment in the Application Process        
  4. Are you Really Woke to the Opportunity?
  5. God’s Call is Everywhere: A Global Analysis of Contemporary Religious Vocations 

Pre-Convocation workshop descriptions and presenters

1.  Requirements of Immigration Law in the Discernment Process 

This workshop focuses on the critical components of immigration law in the application process for international applicants for religious institutes and societies of apostolic life in the U.S. Topics include the clarification of key immigration definitions, the R-1 Religious Worker Visa process/changes, documentation, and tracking of immigration status throughout formation, permanent residence process/changes, long-term immigration planning, and legal responsibilities of the religious institute and candidate. It will also include some of the ways religious institutes can be advocates to help immigrants/migrants/newcomers. Ms. Mateo will discuss suggestions on how to ask essential questions in a minimally invasive and timely way so if there is a reason to stop an application, it can be done early on to either resolve the issue or end the discernment, including insights into culturally sensitive issues that may delay an application or in seeking legal counsel.

Ms. Graciela Mateo is the Managing Attorney of the Religious Immigration Services (RIS) section of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINC). She has been with CLINIC in its RIS section since 2017 practicing exclusively in religious immigration law. CLINIC currently represents over 100 religious organizations assisting them in bringing international priests, brothers, sisters, novices, seminarians, and other religious workers into the U.S. to serve the Church. Ms. Graciela Mateo has been practicing immigration law since 2018. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Charlotte School of Law.


2.  Requirements of Civil and Canon Law in Candidate Assessment

This workshop focuses on the critical components of civil and canon law in candidate assessment and the application process. Because religious institutes and societies of apostolic life are non-profit voluntary religious associations, it will address pertinent information on policies and practices concerning financial assets, salary, savings, property, and tax issues along with debts, liabilities, and lawsuits of applicants to initial formation. Mr. Chris Fusco will include community transfers, international candidates, and special issues regarding the assets of older, widowed, and annulled Catholics. He will address document disposition, internal and external forums, and confidentiality. He will include suggestions on how to ask essential questions in a minimally invasive and timely way so if there is a reason to stop an application, it can be done early on to either resolve the issue or end the discernment, including insights into culturally sensitive issues that may delay an application or in seeking legal counsel.

Mr. Christopher J. Fusco, JCL, Esq. serves as the associate director for civil law at the Resource Center for Religious Institutes since March 2018 and has served as the associate general counsel and moderator of the Tribunal for the Diocese of Metuchen since September 2011. Mr. Fusco holds a master’s degree in religious studies and a licentiate degree in canon law from The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He received his Juris Doctor degree from The City University of New York School of Law and clerked for The Superior Court of New Jersey. He also holds a master’s degree in music from The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Christopher is a member of the Bars of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. He has also been admitted to the US Court of International Trade, the US Tax Court, and the US Supreme Court. He is a member of the Canon Law Society of America, the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the National Diocesan Attorneys Association.


3. Navigating the Maze of Psychological Assessment in the Application Process 

With all the new and effective treatments available for chronic conditions, it can be difficult to distinguish the seriousness of mental health conditions which necessitates telling a discerner to delay or stop discerning religious life. This workshop will address how to respectfully gather the information needed without minimizing behaviors that can make community life challenging. It will address issues that can be resolved with counseling and realistic expectations for the length of time needed to change behaviors before admission. The presenters will also explore serious mental health illnesses that can be hereditary, have no simple cure, or have enduring behaviors that require lifelong treatment that would preclude admission to vowed communal life. Generational family-of-origin issues and how the presence of mental health concerns in the family impacts the life of the individual and potentially of the community will be included in this workshop. The presenters will also explain the purpose of each component of psychological assessment and how to read the report. 

Sister Karen Cote, I.H.M. Psy.D., serves as the Director of Outpatient Services at Saint John Vianney Center since 2019. Sister Karen is a licensed psychologist for the Outpatient Department conducting psychological assessments and psychotherapy for priests, deacons and their spouses, and men and women religious. She has previous experience as a staff psychologist at a state hospital, director of a residential treatment facility for Native American adolescents, and a member of a crisis response team in New Mexico. She earned a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Immaculata University and an MSW in Clinical Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University. Sister Karen has written articles for HORIZON and presented workshops for the NRVC in the mental health field. Her interests include psychological assessment, personality disorders, and cultural diversity.

Sister Mercedes McCann, RSM, Ph.D. serves in Leadership Relations in the Consultation, Education, and Outreach Department for Saint John Vianney Center. She also serves as a therapist in the Center’s outpatient program. Sr. Mercedes previously served as a psychotherapist for the inpatient program providing psychotherapy for women and men religious and priests. She has previous experience in state and county institutions, formation ministry, and as the assistant superintendent for special education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, holding numerous positions within the field of special education. She holds a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Seton Hall University and a master’s degree in psychology from Marywood University. Sister Mercedes has written articles for HORIZON and presented workshops for the NRVC. Her particular interest is the intersection of spirituality, ministry, community, and good mental health in religious life.


4.  Are you Really Woke to the Opportunity?

This interactive workshop created by the NRVC African American Vocation Committee explores how racial biases and stereotypes impact vocation ministry. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on what it means to welcome people of color into their communities, what they experience upon entering, and how to support them in their discernment. This workshop will leave attendees with topics for further personal and communal reflection, practical wisdom, resources, and a better appreciation of our call to be Catholic (Universal) in our promoting and nurturing the call.

Father Anthony Bozeman, S.S.J., a priest with the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (The Josephite Community), was raised in Philadelphia within the parish boundaries of Our Mother of Sorrows. Father Anthony joined the U.S. Military, serving his country for a total of 16 years of combined Active and Air National Guard Reserve duty. Father Anthony has pastored parishes in Philadelphia, Houston, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. He is the immediate past president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. He serves as assistant vocation director, administrator of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Reserve, LA, and as an Outreach Priest. Known for his enthusiasm and reliability, he is highly sought out nationally for preaching, retreats, and revivals. He describes himself as a man on fire for the Gospel of Christ, as a Preacher, Teacher, and Soul Reacher. Father Anthony understands that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”


5. God’s Call is Everywhere: A Global Analysis of Contemporary Religious Vocations 

Religious life is vitally necessary to the Catholic church today in an era of globalization and shifts in demographics beyond a numerical perspective. Through a comparative analysis of six countries researching newer entrants of women religious, the workshop presenters will provide a global understanding of the hopes and concerns of women discerning a vocation to religious life in the twenty-first century. What can we learn from a meta-analysis? This workshop moves beyond counting sisters to listening to and learning from one another about the obstacles to vocation discernment in various parts of the world. It brings together the sociological data to facilitate timely reflection for leadership, vocation, and formation directors through a global lens to remember that God’s call is everywhere.

Father Luis Fernando Falcó, MSpS, Ph.D., is a Mexican priest and member of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit congregation. He is trained as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst and completed doctoral studies in political science and sociology at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). Fr. Luis served in religious formation ministry for 21 years in his congregation and was rector of the Instituto de Formmación Filosófica Intercongregacional de México. He is the director of Proyecto Cruces, providing professional formation and consultancy to religious communities and priesthood, applying organizational and psychosocial knowledge to religious life. He has written a book, Contingencia y llamado eterno (2010), reflecting on the new sociocultural conditions of new vocations in religious life.

Ms. Mary L. Gautier, Ph.D. retired in 2019 as a senior research associate at CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, a position she held for 21 years. Mary holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Louisiana State University. At CARA, she specialized in Catholic demographic trends in the United States, managed CARA databases, and conducted demographic projects and computer-aided mapping. She also edited The CARA Report, a quarterly research publication, and other CARA publications. She is the co-author of twelve books on Catholicism in the United States. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Liturgical Press and for ASEC, the African Sisters Education Collaborative.

Sister Gemma Simmonds, C.J., is a sister of the Congregation of Jesus.  She is a senior research fellow at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge, where she is director of the Religious Life Institute. An international speaker and lecturer, she lectured in theology at Heythrop College, University of London, specializing in spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition, and has been a spiritual director and retreat giver for over thirty years. Gemma has been a missionary in Brazil, a chaplain at the Universities of Cambridge and London, and a chaplaincy volunteer in Holloway Prison.  She is a regular broadcaster on religious matters on the BBC, Radio Maria England, and other radio and television networks.

Sister Patricia Wittberg, S.C., Ph.D., is a sister of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Ohio.  She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago, is an emeritus professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and is currently a research associate with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).  She is particularly interested in generational continuity and change among Catholics. Her academic research focuses on the sociology of religion, community, and church and nonprofit organizations. She is the author of numerous books and articles on Catholicism and Catholic religious life, most recently chapters in Faith and Spiritual Life of Young Adult Catholics in a Rising Hispanic Church (Liturgical Press, 2022).


Registration for Convocation and Pre-Convocation workshops is open in the store. Look for details about the Convocation pilgrimage to spend more time with Convocation participants here. For more information about Convocation, click here. 

We kindly request that you stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel by registering using this link. The NRVC takes a financial risk when securing rooms for the Convocation. Reserving rooms at other hotels or BNB sites increases this risk, which could result in higher room and registration rates in the future. 

Download a draft Convocation schedule here




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