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 AGAIN…2 DAYS ADDED IN THE JOLIET DIOCESE!!!
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 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.
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!
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.
There is an excellent opportunity for young women (ages 18-30) who are discerning a call to become a bride of Christ to get help with vocational discernment and first-hand experience with religious communities during an upcoming Women’s Discernment Retreat.
The retreat will take place on November 14-15, 2014, at Prairie Star Ranch, in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. You don’t have to be a local Kansan to participate!
The main goal of the retreat is to help women learn tools for discernment of the Lord’s will for their life. The young women will have the opportunity to grow in community with one another, develop their understanding of discernment, and meet some of the consecrated women serving in the Archdiocese. The sisters will share their lives and discuss such topics as Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, Prayer, and Communal Life.
We are always happy to promote the The Little Sisters of the Poor and the work they do with elderly poor. If you are a young single woman, between the ages of 17 and 35, and want to be introduced to this beautiful life of service to the poor, the Little Sisters in Mobile, Alabama, are having a discernment retreat weekend from November 14 -16th, 2014 at their Sacred Heart Residence.
The weekend will consist of Mass, talks, service opportunities, Eucharistic Adoration, Reconciliation, vocation stories from the Little Sisters, and a one-on-on opportunity for those who want to accompany a Little Sister in her daily duties. It will begin at 5pm on Friday and conclude by 2pm on Sunday.
I had the privilege of attending one of these discernment weekends and it was a memorable experience. Besides getting a glimpse of the sisters’ selfless service to their residents, I also got to meet one of the Little Sisters’ prayer warriors. This was an invalid Little Sister, not that old, who suffered from a debilitating disease that left her confined to a room, hooked to machines. I never saw such serenity and love radiating from a more beautiful face. She grasped my hand, and I felt that I had held the hand of a saint.
The Little Sisters in Mobile have a 92-bed facility that is full to the rafters. They hope to expand soon to accommodate more residents who do not have adequate financial means to live independently. Often, there is no family to care for them or even visit. Because the Little Sisters actually live at the Home, they share their entire lives with the residents, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. This is what makes their homes unique. It is truly a place of family.
Registration is free for the weekend but registration in advance is appreciated. If you have any questions, please call Sr. Carolyn at (251)591-3700.
Next month we celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week (November 2-8), a time for all to pray for a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. In other words, to pray for an environment in homes, schools, workplaces and souls where young men and women can hear God’s call to them.
“A culture of vocations is one that provides the necessary support for others to hear and respond to God’s call in their lives,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “With God’s grace, we help build that culture through fervent prayer, the witness of our lives and the encouragement we extend to those discerning a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life.”
It is especially important to pray for vocations from the Hispanic community which are 54% of the Catholics in the U.S. yet only 15% of the men in the seminary and many of these are foreign-born.
More information and resources for National Vocation Awareness Week, including a prayer card, suggested prayers of the faithful and bulletin-ready quotes are available online at the USCCB website.
We always keenly follow the events of the Conventual Franciscans at Marytown since we are located in the shadow of their monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. We are especially happy when we see young faces at the monastery, a sign of growth, vitality and the workings of the Holy Spirit. The following are pictures of six of the new postulants who are beginning their journey as Franciscans for the North American provinces.
As I read the brief write-ups of each young man, I was struck by some similarities in their vocation stories. One, they served the poor in some way. Two, their contact with a local Conventual Franciscan parish was a great influence, and three, God calls, no matter what the age – high school graduate to experienced businessman.
Aaron Clark (age 41, California), businessman, most recently worked on a spiritual care team at a hospital and tutoring immigrants.
Ted Cramer (age 33, Wyoming), managed construction for Habitat for Humanity and dedicated much time to the local Newman Center
Roberson Lubin (age 28, originally from Haiti), met the friars at a parish in Hermosa Beach in California, enjoyed volunteering at a medical center and parish.
Tim Blanchard (age 19, New York), working in kitchens, he helped provide meals for the poor. Met the Militia Immaculata Youth Group when he was volunteering at the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Franck Lino Sokpolie (age 19, originally from Togo), a freshman in college, after visiting many communities, he felt at home with the Conventuals.
Jaime Zaragoza (age 26, Texas), played college football, worked as a volunteer cook for a homeless shelter.
The Conventual Franciscans are one of the three branches of the First Order of St. Francis. The word Conventual is derived from the Latin convenire, “to come together.” Their Order includes about 4500 priests and brothers around the world.
In Assisi, their Friars care for the Basilica of St. Francis, which includes his tomb. In addition, the Conventuals are the Vatican confessors at St. Peter’s Basilica.
In an interesting bit of history, Friar Juan Perez, who pleaded Columbus’ case before King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, is credited with celebrating the first Mass in the New World.
Francis said, “And the Lord gave me brothers.” And so we believe we can only experience humility and charity in relationship with one another as brothers. It is within the context of brotherhood that Conventual Franciscans strive to follow the poor and crucified Christ.
The IRL was blessed to have as one of its friends, Sr. Evelyn Ann Schumacher (1919-2013), OSF, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity. Sr. Evelyn Ann wrote many books on a variety of topics that were published by the IRL, usually related but not limited to deepening one’s religious vocation.
One of her books was called An Undivided Heart: Pope John Paul II on the Deeper Realities of the Consecrated Life. She presents the Holy Father’s thoughts on the Call and the Vows that is helpful for novices and aspirants as well as those religious seeking personal renewal. Another book she wrote on the subject of Pope John Paul II’s regard for religious is Holiness Heart of the Renewal: The Lasting Legacy of Pope John Paul II’s Message to Religious.
Sr. Evelyn Ann’s community’s Motherhouse is located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. They were founded in 1869 in rural Wisconsin by five young Catholic women, in response to God’s call and inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s Gospel way of life. They serve in a variety of ministries across the U.S.
They are holding Vocation Discernment Retreats on August 17-19th, 2014, and again on August 21-23, 2014, at their beautiful Motherhouse. Click here to register or for more information.
For the past few months, we have been blessed to have a summer intern, Christina Pezzella, working with us in the office. She is eagerly counting down the days until her entrance into the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The date of entrance is August 28th but she has one huge stumbling block to overcome—her student loan debt.
Christina graduated from Hillsdale College early in December 2010. At the time, she said, “I did not have any idea that the Lord would one day call me to the religious life. For this reason, I am faced with loans that I will not be able to pay off in time without assistance.”
Her debt, which was initially over $60,000, has been reduced to approximately $20,000 thanks to the generosity of many people and a lot of hard work on Christina’s part. She has given her vocation talk to numerous groups, held bowl-a-thons, and given her testimony on the radio. What is the price of a vocation? For her and for the Church, it is priceless!
On the Feast of St. Dominic, Christina received the most joyous news. A benefactor has agreed to match all donations up to $10,000. This generous gift will enable her to enter on August 28th IF she is able to raise the remaining $10,000.
She humbly asks you, and anyone you may know, to prayerfully consider making a contribution to her vocation fund, which will be matched 100%! This will double any gifts. To make a contribution, or to find out more information about her vocation story, please visit her blog: www.TheLifeCatholic.com.
Christina says: May God bless you abundantly… you are in my prayers!!!
Here is an event that I wish every parish would sponsor or encourage: Radical Joy Expo – Religious Life Conference. It is an day-long meeting meant to introduce young people to religious life. As Pope Francis said, “No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the Joy brought by the Lord.”
Pope Francis has declared 2015 a year dedicated to consecrated life. This observance will be a distinct way for the Universal Church to thank religious for their witness and response to God’s call to radically follow Him in joy. It will also serve to promote vocations to this unique form of discipleship in the Church.
All young people are invited to come together on this day, Saturday September 13th, so that they themselves can see that this radical witness of joy, joy that only Jesus can give, is still alive, well and making a big comeback! It is an opportunity for young people to talk face-to-face with sisters, brothers and priests.
Bring your school, bring your youth group, bring your family and friends. Don’t think that this invitation isn’t for you. Come, come see what God has in store specifically for you. The location is: Mary Help of Christians Center, 6400 East Chelsea Street, Tampa, FL, 33610. For more information visit the website or call (813)626-6191.
“Consecrated life is a prophecy,” said the Holy Father. “Like birds, God ask us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, by avoiding temptation to ‘domesticate’ our young people we help our church grow. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord”