Sr. Catherine, R.A. and Michelle Sherman (Vocation and Volunteer Ministry Directorof the U.S. Province) were invitedby the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) to facilitate a workshop for its members in Region 1 (New England). Sr. Catherine writes about the experience in the paragraphs that follow.
On March 1, 2014, Michelle Sherman and I presented at the NRVC Region 1 workshop on New Models of Vocation Ministry. We were joined by Sr. Paula Dukhart, S.S.N.D. and Amanda Bell. A married lay woman, Amanda is on the SSNDs vocation promotion team. We addressed an enthusiastic group of 30 religious women and men, representing 14 congregations; drawn not only from Region 1, but also from Regions 6 and 2! Some were accompanied by lay affiliates or co-workers.
The workshop began with an activity that involved everyone in looking at the current model of vocation promotion in their congregations. How long has this model been in place? What works well and what doesnt? The exercise created a framework in which to receive our presentations.
Sr. Paula and I were asked to speak about the experience within our congregations of recognizing the need for change, of exploring possibilities, and discerning what and who - that change might involve.
Despite differences of size, scale and geographic scope, I was struck by the similarities in our experiences. In both, there was recognition of the need to prioritize and streamline vocation promotion; a desire for more collaboration: among sisters and with lay women; and an appreciation of their perspectives. We both described processes of discernment that drew on resources within our congregations and among our lay friends. I believe it was because in both cases we were able to involve and inform most of our sisters as this discernment unfolded, neither group encountered resistance to the outcome. Clearly, this was the work of the Holy Spirit!
Next, Michelle and Amanda spoke from their perspectives. One a confirmed introvert, the other an obvious extrovert, the background details and approach may have been different. Women of deep faith, both spoke with passion for their work and clarity about their mission. They both evidenced a real understanding and integration of the respective charisms of their institutions. They were able to articulate their own process of discerning this call from God, their own vocation stories.
Those attending the workshop were very interested and had many excellent questions. It was obvious that they were considering similar changes in their own vocation models and had an appreciation for the prophetic vision of our sisters. It was a real affirmation and a blessing. Once again, I was proud to be on the cutting edge of religious life in our tiny province!
Thank you to Region 1 of the NRVC for inviting us to participate in this workshop and the opportunity for the exchange of ideas with our sisters and brothers. Thank you to the US Province for sending us.
-- Sr. Catherine Soley, R.A.