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From Service to Sisterhood

September 16, 2014

On July 17-18, 2014, Catholics on Call participated in a symposium hosted by the Catholic Volunteer Network at the Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center in Chicago, IL entitled: From Service to Sisterhood. This event was the kick-off to CVN’s three year initiative of dedicating time and resources to examine ways of promoting Catholic Sisterhood through identifying the connection between women who join a long term volunteer program that is faith based and Sisterhood and finding ways to actualize this connection so that more women volunteers are encouraged to discern the possibility of a call to religious life. The attendees at the symposium were representatives from Catholic Volunteer Network programs, and various Congregational Leadership groups as well as the USCCB, Vocation Directors, Sisters and women previously involved in volunteer programs that entered religious life.Sr. Janet Gildea, one of our attendees, wrote a wonderful article about our gathering for NCR's Global Sisters Report.

Over the course of two days, several themes continually presented themselves in our reflections and discussions. We all recognized that the volunteer experience presented a valuable opportunity to plant a seed for the call to religious life. This is especially true for those programs that are closely linked to the Sisters that sponsor them. Such situations offer natural moments of gentle mentoring, common prayer time, and a look into what it’s like to live in community – a common hunger for which seems to continually present itself among young people. Within this setting, young women have the space and time to explore their call - whatever it might be.

We further acknowledged that the volunteer experience presents an intentional opportunity to engage in activities directly related to addressing issues of social justice so important to our Catholic teaching traditions. It is these social justice issues that have, over the decades, given rise to the charisms that inform the very foundations of most religious congregations.

At the conclusion of our time together, all participants agreed this was a great start to our three year program but next steps are key to achieving our goal of raising awareness of the richness and joy of religious life.

Funding Opportunities for Congregations of Women Religious

For CVN, next steps means partnering with religious congregations and providing guidance and funding for new volunteer programs. If you are a member of a congregation that is thinking about starting its own volunteer program, please check-out our workshop and funding applications at: www.catholicvolunteernetwork.org/funding-opportunities. We will be accepting applications for our formation workshop until August 22, 2014 and funding requests for volunteer programs until October 15, 2014.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Carol Lackie, Catholic Volunteer Network Sisters Initiative Project Coordinator at clackie@catholicvolunteernetwork.org

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