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Partner Conference


Catholics on Call Partner Conference

Every fall, Catholics on Call offers the Partner Conference.  Campus ministers, vocation directors, volunteer directors, and anyone who ministers to young adults have the opportunity to come together to learn and discuss best practices for supporting young adult men and women in their vocational discernment.


If you are not a Catholics On Call Partner, and wish to learn more about the Partner Conference and the Partnership, contact us at 773.371.5432 or email the program coordinator at

You can review the benefits and roles of a Partner here, in addition to the Partnership Application/Renewal Form.

2018 Partner Conference 

Our 2018 Conference Fr. Dan Horan, OFM challenged us to explore of the anticipated October 2018 Synod on Young People. 

“Authenticity, Vocation, and the Risk of Faith: Hopes and Challenges for the Synod on Young People”

The fifteenth assembly of the Synod of Catholic Bishops is scheduled to take place in October 2018 and dedicated to discussing “young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.” Already the church has assembled young women and men from around the world to collaborate on highlighting the challenges, opportunities, and concerns they and their peers face when it comes to matters of faith and church life. Their response in anticipation of the synod was bold and direct, speaking candidly about the need for authenticity in church life and leadership, among other themes. If the bishops of the church were to take seriously the hopes and challenges highlighted by these young people, it could revolutionize ministry in numerous ways. Drawing on the synod’s preparatory document, the document from the young adults, and the instrumentum laboris scheduled to be released in Summer 2018, this presentation will provide analysis (what’s going on?), implications (what to expect?), and practical insights (what does it mean for us?) in anticipation of this historical synod.

Daniel P. Horan, OFM



Daniel P. Horan, OFM, PhD is a Franciscan friar (of the Order of Friars Minor of Holy Name Province), Roman Catholic priest, theologian, and author. He is currently Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Spirituality at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Fr. Dan is the author of numerous articles and several books including, Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis, God is Not Fair and other Reasons for Gratitude, and All God's Creatures: A Theology of Creation. A widely sought-after lecturer and retreat director, he regularly speaks at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and the Diocese of Reno Conference. He has previously taught at Siena College, St. Bonaventure University, and Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry, and he served as the Catholic Chaplain at Babson College in Wellesley, MA from 2012-2015. To learn more visit:


The 2017 Catholics on Call Partner Conference, Unexcused Absence:  Why Millennials Are Disconnected from the Church and What We Can Do About It, will take place on September 21-22, 2017, at Catholic Theological Union.  We have already engaged our main speaker—nationally-known youth minister, speaker, and author Frank Mercadante, who will speak on young adult, contemporary culture in the United States.  Frank has published Engaging a New Generation: A Vision for Reaching Catholic Teens (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012) and Positively Dangerous: Live Loud, Be Real, Change the World (Saint Mary’s Press, 2003), in addition to many other works.

You can view a short clip of Frank Mercadante's work here:



The 2016 Catholics on Call Partner Conference Partner Conference "Collaboration" took place on September 15-16, 2016. Our speakers were Fr. Frank S. Donio, S.A.C., D.Min., Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center and Provincial Rector of the Immaculate Conception Province of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate and Barbara Humphrey McCrabb, M.Div., Assistant Director for Higher Education, Secretariat of Catholic Education at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The two presentations were: Theology of collaboration by Fr. Frank Donio and Collaboration in ministry by Barbara McCrabb.



The 2015 Catholics on Call Partner Conference "Walking Together as Disciples - Exploring a Vocation to Ministry with Young Adults" took place on September 24-25, 2015. Our speaker was Kathleen A. Cahalan, professor of theology at Saint John’s University School of Theology∙Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota.

Cahalan earned her doctorate in practical theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School and is author of several books, most recently Opening the Field of Practical Theology (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014), edited with Gordon Mikoski, A Living Discipleship: Called on the Way, co-authored with Laura Kelly Fanucci (Twenty-Third Publications, 2015), and Introducing the Practice of Ministry (Liturgical Press, 2010).

She directs a collaborative research project, the Collegeville Institute Seminars, which is exploring vocation in relationship to the professions, across the lifespan from children to older adults, and through interfaith perspectives. She has a forthcoming book on vocation, Call It What It Is.

Kathleen Cahalan gave two presentations: on The Call to Discipleship, the Vocation to Ministry and Accompanying Our Callings: Practices of Prayer, Discernment, and Story-telling.

from our 2014 Partner Conference


The 2014 Catholics on Call Partner Conference took place on September 18-19, 2014. Our speakers were Jonny Baker, Team Leader for "Pioneer Leadership," a non-traditional ministry training program for the Church Mission Society in London, UK and Steve Leach, one of the "pioneers" participating in the training program. Jonny and Steve gave inspiring presentations about young adult culture and finding vocation from "within." If you missed the conference, please read the article CoC Partner Conference - A Participants' Perspective by Fr. Henry Beck, O.F.M. or CoC Partner Conference 2014: A Young Adult's Perspective by Melissa Carnall.

In our evaluation we asked the participants if there is anything they would do differently in their work with young adults after having attended this conference. Here are some of their responses:

  • Enter their culture, our culture, looking for grace.
  • Offer authentically what God has done in my life.
  • Constant awareness of holy ground, God is there, being you.
  • Not differently, but increasing my awareness and awe for young adults.
  • I must pay attention to the building blocks of culture and use it to reach young adults.
  • First and foremost letting go of my pre-conceived notion of who young adults are.
  • Listen more closely to their stories and needs.
  • I will invite young people to tell their stories as opposed to simply telling them my community's story.

It was obvious that the conference left us challenged and inspired to engage young adults in not only our context, but in theirs as well. We trust that the Spirit continues to bear fruit from our time together.

from our 2013 Partner Conference

The 2013 Catholics on Call Partner Conference "Vocation - Waking Up to a New Understanding" took place on September 19-20, 2013 at CTU, Chicago. Our keynote speaker Dr. Edward P. Hahnenberg, a well-known speaker, theologian and author of the book “Awakening Vocation,” talked about the notion of vocation over the centuries and a renewed theology of God’s call.

The video recordings of Dr. Edward P. Hahnenberg's lectures "Slipping into Silent Slumber: Vocation Over the Centuries" and "Waking Up an Idea: Toward a Renewed Theology of God's Call"  are now available online below. In addition, Lauren Schwer, Associate Director for Campus Ministry at Loyola University Chicago, responds to one of Hahnenberg's lectures:

Dr. Edward P. Hahnenberg: Slipping into Silent Slumber: Vocation Over the Centuries

Lauren Schwer: Responder


Dr. Edward P. Hahnenberg: Waking Up an Idea: Toward a Renewed Theology of God's Call


Click here to see the results from our working groups in response to the question: "What practices can we offer young people that help them discern their calling?"

from our 2012 partner conference

Keynote speaker of the 2012 Partner Conference with the title "A Church for My Generation" was Dr. Susan K. Wood, S.C.L., a well-known theologian from Marquette University and gifted writer about Church and ministry. She reflected on characteristics of the different age cohorts in the Church and their impact on ecclesiology and vocation. In her presentation on "The Church Young Adults Want" she shared with the audience statistics from various surveys about young adults and their involvement in the Church. From there Dr. Wood reflected on a few key issues that seem to have an impact on young adults and the Church they want: Parish - Appeal to People in their Freedom - Attention to Ethnic Diversity - Attention to Ideological Diversity - More Open to Women - Authenticity. In her second presentation Susan Wood talked about "The Vocations Young Adults Want", touching on many burning questions for both, young adults, religious communities and lay ministers. Other parts of the program included: Young adult reponders, witness talks by Catholics on Call alums and time for discussion in small groups.

The video recordings of both key note presentations and an interview with participants are now available online:

Dr. Susan Wood, S.C.L.,  "The Church Young Adults Want"


Dr. Susan Wood, S.C.L.,  "The Vocations Young Adults Want"


Catholics On Call Partner Conference,  "A Church for My Generation" - Interviews with Participants


Dr. Susan Wood, S.C.L.'s Powerpoint presentation "The Church Young Adults Want" can be downloaded here:


A collection of working group results is available here:

from our 2011 partner conference

Around 120 people, Vocation Directors, Campus Ministers, Young Adult Ministers and others attended our 2011 Partner Conference with the title: Engaging Young Adults for Church Vocations. We had different speakers who shared with us best practices of reaching out to young adults and encouraging them in their vocation. Speakers included: Paul Jarzembowski, Executive Director of NCYAMA (National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association); Timone Davis, Director of ReCiL (Reclaiming Christ in Life), a Ministry of the Office for Black Catholics of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Jorge Rivera, Coordinator of Hispanic Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago and Fr. Robin Ryan, C.P., Founding Director of Catholics on Call and Vice-Provincial of the Passionists, Eastern Province. The conference left also time for conversation and networking.

A collection of the working group results is available here:


Partner Conference participant Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde shared her own reflection about the 2011 Partner Conference in the Blog of the Visitation Monastery.

Slide Show



from our 2010 Partner Conference

The 2010 Catholics on Call Partner Conference took place onSeptember 23-24, 2010 at CTU, Chicago. The title of the conference was: “Becoming an Adult in Today's World: What Catholic Young Adults Think About Faith, Church, Vocation”. Keynote Speakers were Dr. Christian Smith and Dr. Marti Jewell.

The 2010 Partner Conference focused on the religious and spiritual lives of Catholic young adults, with attention to their interest in church vocations. Dr. Christian Smith is the Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (Oxford, 2009). This important study of young adults is a follow-up to his earlier book, Soul-Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford, 2005). Dr. Marti Jewell serves as Assistant Professor of Theology in the School of Ministry at the University of Dallas. She was the Director of the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project from 2003 to 2009. As part of the Emerging Models Project, she studied the interest of young adult Catholics in ecclesial vocations.

from our 2009 Partner Conference

The 2009 Partner Conference took place on September 24/25, 2009 at CTU, Chicago. We were very pleased to have Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay, WI as as our main presenter. The theme of the conference was: "Discerning God's Call in the 21st Century."

Please click here for Fr. Robin Ryan, C.P.'s homily during the Closing Eucharist on Friday.

from our 2008 Partner Conference

Keynote speaker of the Partner Conference 2008 was Fr. Thomas Rausch, S.J. (Professor of Theology at Loyola Marymount University and author of Being Catholic in a Culture of Choice) gave two talks:

"Young Adult Catholics Today" 
"Meeting the Living God: Beyond a Culturally Determined Faith"

To post the recorded talks on the website, we had to devide them in smaller pieces. Click on the following links to hear the podcast:

Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Young Adult Catholics Today - Part 1
Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Young Adult Catholics Today - Part 2
Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Young Adult Catholics Today - Part 3
Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Young Adult Catholics Today - Part 4

Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Meeting the Living God - Part 1
Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Meeting the Living God - Part 2
Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Meeting the Living God - Part 3
Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Meeting the Living God - Part 4
Fr. Tom Rausch, S.J.: Meeting the Living God - Part 5

We are grateful to Fr. Rausch for making available the Bibliography he used.

Dan Allen, 2007 Catholics on Call alumni gave a very deep and insightful witness talk on vocation and calling on Friday morning!

Scroll down on this page to watch a slide show from the conference.

Slide Show

from our first Partner Conference (2005)

Presenters and their papers:

  • Fr. Donald Senior, C.P., New Testament scholar and President of Catholic Theological Union. Topic: Theology of CallDownload Fr. Senior's paper.
  • Fr. Jim Bacik, Catholic campus ministry director, University of Toledo, and prominent author. Topic: The Spirituality of Contemporary Young Adults. Respondents: Young adult panel. Download Fr. Bacik's paper.
  • Sr. Barbara Bowe, R.S.C.J., New Testament and Christian spirituality scholar. Topic: Principles of Discernment. Respondents: A panel of a campus minister, young adult minister, and vocation director. Download Professor Bowe's paper.
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