Category Archives: Vocations

Franciscan Sisters’ “Discernment of Spirits” Silent Vocation Retreat

osf manitowocAre you a 20-something young woman discerning if God is calling you to religious life or to married life? Or seeking to follow His will more closely? A Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, Sr. Jacqueline Spaniola, is offering a silent retreat, March 11-13, 2016, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

The Spiritual Exercises are a timeless and always useful “exercise” to guide you in the spiritual life as you seek to do God’s will. Most free time will be spent in blissful silence in order to pray and to ponder how God is working in your life. The retreat begins Friday, March 11th, at 6 p.m., and ends after a noon meal on Sunday, March 13th. The retreat is being held at the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity’s beautiful Motherhouse in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. For more information call or text 920-323-9632. Register for the retreat here.

The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity foundation dates back to 1866 when 5 young women, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s simple way of living, banded together to form a small community dedicated to teaching religious education amongst the scattered parishes in the area. By  1872, there was such a growth in the number of sisters that  property was purchased on the shores of Silver Lake, the current site of the Holy Family Motherhouse. Today, they serve in education, healthcare and outreach to the poor.

If the retreat dates do not work for you, please let them know, and they will try to schedule alternate dates and invite other young women to join you.

For more information, please contact Sr. Julie Ann Sheahan, OSF, at sjulieann@fscc-calledtobe.org or address: 2409 S. Alverno Road, Manitowoc, WI  54220.

Discernment of Spirits retreat_8.5x11_2015outline

“My vocation was a surprise when I first became aware. Over the years of saying yes to the call to religious life, my life has been one of purpose, meaning and satisfaction.”

 

Dominican Nuns of Marbury Vocation Letters

marburyThe Dominican Nuns in Marbury, Alabama, have issued a series of letters between a woman (fictional) discerning a vocation and a Dominican nun. The names may have been changed to protect the innocent (as they said in the old Dragnet series) but the letters do accurately depict Dominican monastic life as it is typically lived at Marbury. The sisters wish to keep their day-to-day life veiled behind the enclosure but you get a good glimpse of Dominican life behind the walls as you read on!

“Melanie” writes to the Novice Mistress “Magistra” which is Latin for “lady teacher.” Melanie also writes to her sister “Clare” who is curious about her “Come & See” visit to the monastery. After she enters the monastery, she writes to her family. Here are some excerpts:

It seems to be a common misconception that “extroverts should be active, introverts should be contemplative.  However our community history does not bear that out…. God calls people of all temperaments to live for Him in the contemplative life…. From Sr. Mary Magistra

It is a great motive for fidelity and joy in living our cloistered, contemplative life, to know that we are living it on behalf of and in union marbury1with our brethren the Dominican friars (and the other members of the Dominican family) in their consecration to God and in their preaching for the salvation of souls. From Sr. Mary Magistra

When Mom and Dad experience first-hand the peace to be found here, and see for themselves the joy of the nuns, they understand much better why such a life could be attractive and fulfilling for their own child. From Sr. Mary Magistra

When is the best time to enter religious life? Without delay. From Sr. Mary Magistra

(Melanie, writing to her family after entering) Since this was my first time being here in the monastery for the Paschal Triduum, I had to use of lot of energy just following everything and trying to turn the page at the right time, but I am so looking forward to having these ceremonies grow into a part of me over the years….  It is truly the liturgy that gives direction and movement to our lives, drawing us ever deeper each year into union with the Mysteries of Christ, “whom we desire to love solely.”

The letters are accompanied by charming pictures. As a visitor to Marbury last spring, I can vouch for the accuracy of the images!

For more information, visit the Marbury website.

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Debt-free and Free to Pursue a Vocation

Sarah and Sr. Veronica
Sarah and Sr. Veronica

One of the most memorable experiences that the IRL took away from the January Labouré Society boot camp was hearing the story of Sarah Meier. Sarah knew that she had a calling to a contemplative, cloistered community but could not enter because she had $250,000 in student loans to retire.

Sarah worked hard on her own to reduce what was owed but it was not enough. To the rescue came The Labouré Society whose mission is to help those who aspire to religious life but cannot do so due to college debt. Aspirants to religious communities are teamed with an accountability partner, meet weekly to discuss fundraising activities, and at the conclusion of the class are allocated funds based on effort, success and need.

Sarah knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nun but ended up with a doctorate in physical therapy. When her identical twin sister died tragically, Sarah found that she had grown closer to God as she worked through her grief.

She asked God to show her the way and the response she received back was: “Pray, pray for my people.” Her remembrance of a childhood desire to become a nun came flooding back to her. This led her to the Poor Clares of Barhamsville, VA.

groupphotoDec20133_000The sisters’ monastery is new but in many ways of traditional design. There is a wonderful tour of the monastery inside and out on their website. They certainly need the room in their new location for there are now 20 Poor Clares in residence! Here are the guiding principles that guided the design process:

Christ in the center of each sister’s heart;
Christ at the center of our community life;
the church at the center of the monastery;
the tabernacle at the center of the church.

Sarah’s complete story can be read at the National Catholic Register website.

God bless Sarah, The Labouré Society and the Poor Clares in Barhamsville, particularly on this special day, the Feast Day of their foundress, Saint Clare of Assisi.

 

 

 

 

The Spiritual Exercises as the Path to Discernment

Loyola-detail

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Basque knight who became a great saint and founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Church faithful can be guided by the inspiration of this great saint, particularly through his illuminating insights into discernment.

The very life of St. Ignatius aids in seeking holiness and the peace of God’s will. Bedridden from an injury suffered in battle, Ignatius read books on the life of Christ and lives of the saints which led to him experience a great conversion. These books inspired him to abandon his old way of life and seek to live out God’s will.

In Manresa, Spain, Saint Ignatius formulated the Spiritual Exercises which explain how one should discern God’s will, as he strove to after his conversion. This led him to be proclaimed the patron of spiritual exercises by Pope Pius XI in 1922. St. Ignatius explained that the Spiritual Exercises are a way of “seeking and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.”

The four stages of the Spiritual Exercises allow one to discern God’s will which can be particularly helpful when discerning which vocation God is calling one to. Pope Francis, formed in the spirituality of St. Ignatius within the Society of Jesus, said in discussing the Spiritual Exercises that they provoke several questions: “Is Christ the center of my life? Do I really put Christ at the center of my life? Because there is always the temptation to think that we are at the center.” The Holy Father is showing the importance of placing Christ at the center of one’s life in order to truly discern and follow His will for us.

The Church can clearly see the fruits of these Exercises which place Christ at the center of one’s discernment by the testimonies of those who have performed them. Great saints, like those who inspired St. Ignatius’ conversion, have undertaken the exercises including St. Charles Borromeo, “to adopt a more perfect form of life”; St. Teresa of Avila, to become, “the mistress of lofty contemplation”; and St Francis de Sales, “to serve God with the greatest possible fidelity.” These saints are a testament to the power of the Exercises and inspire those in discernment to also learn from the patron of spiritual exercises.

Many within the Church today seek to learn from the Spiritual Exercises with the Oblates of the Virgin Mary being just one example. While performing the Spiritual Exercises under the direction of a Jesuit priest, their founder, Ven. Pio Bruno Lanteri, experienced the mercy of God and strove to become a witness to this mercy by preaching fidelity to the Church and Our Lady. The spirituality of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary flows from the Spiritual Exercises and aids them in becoming experts in spiritual direction. If you would like more information on the Oblates of the Virgin Mary or how you can practice the Spiritual Exercises with them please visit their website: www.omvusa.org.

Prayer of Saint Ignatius
Dearest Jesus teach me to be generous
Teach me to love and serve You as You deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest
To labour and to look for no reward,
Except that of knowing that I do Your Holy Will.
Amen

Parish Visitors Celebrate New Milestone

The process towards the future canonization of Mother Mary Teresa Tallon, foundress of the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, took another big step last month when the diocesan phase was closed on January 13, 2015. The closing took place in the chancery of the Archdiocese of New York, and the following day Mother Mary Teresa’s writings and related papers were taken to Rome. The official Roman phase began January 22.

Rebecca
Rebecca

The Parish Visitors had another reason to celebrate as their new postulant, Rebecca Lasota, from Arizona, began her postulancy on January 25. Rebecca had a desire from a young age to become a sister and only knew a little about the Parish Visitors when she ran into Sr. Mary Beata in the parking lot of a Home Depot. Talk about going to the by-ways and highways to find your vocation!

The Parish Visitors main mission is to seek out and reconcile to the Church fallen-away Catholics through door-to-door evangelization.

“She loves our charism,” said Sr. Mary Beata. “We go out as the Good Shepherd. We carry Jesus, the Good News, to our people.”

Mother Mary Teresa told the sisters to “make the truth lovable.” May her increased visibility draw many to Jesus Christ, perhaps as a Parish Visitor of Mary Immaculate.

 

 

 

Vocations in Catholic Ireland

The news from Catholic Ireland has not been all that positive lately. Therefore, it is wonderful to see a vocations video, celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, that highlights the men and women who have said yes to God in that country. A country that sent so many missionaries to the United States and elsewhere.

According tothe website VocationsIreland.net, in the early 1960’s, there were around 30,000 men and women religious living in 2,000 communities. By 2013, the number was 8,500 men and women religious living in 800 communities. The communities attracting vocations in recent years have been the Dominicans, the Redemptoristines (sisters), the Benedictines at Glenstal, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Cistercians, the Franciscans, the Mercy Sisters, the Pallotines, the Passionists, the Carmelites, the Poor Clares, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of St Clare, the Jesuits the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Dominican Sisters.

If you are interested in any of the above communities, there is a clickable list of all the congregations in Ireland here.

One of the featured communities are the Redemptoristines featured below. God bless them all!

redemp srs

Wake Up the World!

wake up!Pope Francis has called upon consecrated women and men to “wake up the world!” And last weekend the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life officially began.

Religious cannot shake and wake up the world unless there are actually men and women religious. One religious can make a difference! Look at the lives of Sts. Francis, Dominic, Benedict, Mother Cabrini, Don Bosco, Mother Teresa, etc…

Another great foundress was St. Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor in 19th century France. The Little Sisters have issued a new vocation video called Love Serves in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life. It is free and viewable online here. They want our help in reaching young women who might make a great Little Sister of the Poor in serving the elderly poor.

lspIn a recent poll, more than one in four young Catholics reported that they had never been encouraged to consider becoming a religious sister, brother or priest. Those who were invited to consider a religious vocation said it was a family member, a friend, a teacher or youth minister who broached the subject with them. It could be you!

Please share the vocation video, LOVE SERVES, with a young woman you might know. It may make an everlasting difference!

Here I Am Lord National Vocations Conference

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St. Patrick Parish in St. Charles, IL. is once again the host of the HERE I AM LORD National Vocations Conference.  The 2015 THEME IS “BE NOT AFRAID.” The conference was founded in 2003 to address the need of vocation awareness. The vocations of marriage, single life, religious life and the priesthood are all vocations in the eyes of God and the Church!  HERE I AM LORD provides an opportunity for young people and adults of all ages to recognize that fact.  The largest parish-based vocations conference in the United States brings together Religious from across the country to share the JOY of their vocation. The best Catholic speakers and musicians join to share the JOY of their vocation and faith.

HERE I AM LORD 2015

MARCH 3 – 8, 2015

HERE WE GROW

HERE WE GROW AGAIN…2 DAYS ADDED IN THE JOLIET DIOCESE!!!

RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES ~ REGISTER NOW

Register for both the Main Conference and recently added opportunities in the Joliet Diocese. Religious Communities should be interested in particular because this event attracts young people like no other event of its kind. Religious Communities will have the opportunity to meet and talk to 5000 young people. WOW~!

A New Franciscan Community Begins!

Catherine, Nicolette, Alycia & Kristen
Catherine, Nicolette, Alycia & Kristen

A new community of Franciscan women is forming in the Diocese of Buffalo with the support of their bishop, Most Rev. Richard Malone. Called the Marian Franciscans, they are in the process of being established as either a public or private association of the faithful.

It is exciting for us, for in the Buffalo area, the IRL has only one Affiliate Community, the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Marian Franciscans are an active community whose mission is to serve the Church as agents of the New Evangelization. They have a three tiered approach: to serve existing entities in the Church, to minister to those who have had a crisis of the faith and to offer ongoing formation to those solid or lukewarm in their faith.

One of their hopes is to serve “as a ministry of presence to the middle class.” This is so needed! One of their potential apostolates is to have a coffee shop run by the sisters in their habits to meet and reach out to busy Americans where they are at in order to facilitate and rekindle an encounter with Christ and His Church.

Three of the foundresses came together when they discovered that individually they were discerning the same things and took it as a sign of the Holy Spirit. From 2010-2013, they lived and worked with the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm as they continued their discernment. The fourth foundress discerned through prayer that she too felt called to join them in this apostolate.

In August of 2013, they were Consecrated to Our Lady. In additional to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, they will be professing a fourth vow of Total Consecration to Our Lady. Members pray the rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet daily in addition to regular spiritual readings and Franciscan devotions.

In Assisi on Pilgrimage
In Assisi on Pilgrimage

They are now living in the Diocesan Retreat Center doing retreat work and other ministries. They also hold weekly open house for those discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. This month, they have a fifth young woman joining them to further discern her call.

If you want additional information, please contact them directly at (603)205-6533 or write to: Nicolette Langlois, c/o Marian Franciscans, PO Box 834, Derby, NY  14047.

Please pray that they may become agents for the New Evangelization in Buffalo and beyond!

 

 

 

The Sisterhood Premiere – Nov 25th on Lifetime

The discerners
The discerners

“The Sisterhood,” a new Lifetime series premiering on Tuesday, November 25, at 10pm ET/PT, follows the discernment journey of five young women. The series features three IRL Affiliate communities: the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, the Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker, and the Carmelites for the Aged & Infirm.

From what we have heard, the filming of the series had a profound impact, not only on the young women on their vocation journey, but also on the crew who were involved in the production. This is a real live example of religious communities casting out into the deep to reach a whole new audience via cable TV.

The five discerners are Christie from California who performs in a country music band, Claire a homeschooler from Joliet, Eseni a former beauty queen from the Bronx, Francesca a recent college graduate from New Jersey, and Stacey from New York who performs in musical theater.

Lifetime told us, “We have sent out special sneak peeks to select members of the Catholic community and our network has already received wonderful feedback from sisters from around the country, religious reporters, and Catholic supporters. We would love your help spreading the word about this series in hopes of bringing much needed attention to the gracious nuns, sisters and church leaders that are so actively involved in changing the lives of young women who are on the sacred path of pursuing a consecrated life.”

So spread the word and please watch! It would be wonderful if a young woman watching the series could be moved to pursue a religious vocation. And the higher the audience ratings, the more that the cable networks will be inclined to pursue inspiring Catholic topics with the cooperation and assistance of religious communities. All should hopefully come away blessed by the encounter.

Check out the promo here!!