Explore Your Vocation
Are you thinking more seriously about your vocation? You are not alone! Many people find that the year-long service experience opens their eyes to new forms of ministry. We would like to support you in this journey, and have several resources and discernment opportunities for you to consider.
Learn how the road to service guided four former volunteers to the calling of religious life:
How do you continue to live out the values that were so much a part of your service year? How will those values shape what’s next for you? Catholic Volunteer Network, in partnership with Notre Dame Mission Volunteers, now offers weekend retreats that provide space to discern how you can foster the values and live out your passion, and the possibility of religious life as a way to do so. Each weekend will provide a balance of reflection on your volunteer service, input on the skills of discernment, quiet time for reflection, and sharing with the other participants on the retreat. Thanks to the generosity of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, these retreats are being offered free of charge. Click here for more details about upcoming retreats.
This spring, Catholic Volunteer Network began a new initiative to support congregations of women religious. This three-year program, supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation helps communities of sisters launch new volunteer programs and gives more opportunities for our volunteers and alumni to dig in to their vocations. Read more about From Service to Sisterhood!
Read "The track from volunteering to vocations" by Sr. Janet Gildea, SC, featured in NCR's Global Sisters Report.
Our recent survey of volunteer alumni revealed that 6% of alums are currently involved in ordained ministry or religious life! This indicates that service is a great way to discern one's vocation. We are beginning to collect stories of women who are pursuing a vocation to religious life to share with our network. Here are some that we've covered so far:
- Mallory, a Former Colorado Vincentian Volunteer reflects on her journey from volunteer to sister.
- Annie served with JVC Northwest in Anchorage, AK before hearing her call to join the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
- Kelly's story of how she discerned her calling to become a Salesian sister.
- Meg's story of going from a Vincentian volunteer to a member of the Daughters of Charity.
- Tracy reflects on the road that led her to her first vows in "Volunteering that led to vows" from NCR's Global Sisters Report.
Would you like to share your discernment story with us? We would love to hear from you! Please contact Katie Mulembe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recommended Reading - looking for some books to help in your discernment process? Here is a list of suggestions from former volunteers who have done a lot of discernment themselves.
Serving with Sisters
Many of our programs offer volunteers the chance to live and work alongside men and women religious. This experience, whether one week or one year in length, is a unique opportunity to experience the rich charism of religious communities, grow in faith through prayer, lend a hand to their ministries in service to the poor, and develop long-lasting relationships. We have a variety of programs available, including international and domestic placements, as well as short-term and long-term commitments. Click on the link below to browse through more than 50 programs sponsored by women's religious communities.
There are several great organizations that are working to connect people with religious communities. Here are some of the organizations we recommend:
- AVE - After Volunteer Experience Program
This program, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, is an outreach to young adult women who have participated in a post-college year of volunteer service, domestic or international. AVE will provide a reflective space to integrate the volunteer experience and discern future directions in life and ministry. From August 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015 we initiated the AVE program with two women returning from volunteer service. The length of the program will be one to three months, the start and finish dates to be determined according to the needs of the participants and availability of space at Casa de Caridad in southern New Mexico. The program includes basic elements of intentional community life, weekly volunteer service experience, spiritual direction, and counseling (vocational, mental health, career). For further information and an application, contact Sister Janet at email@example.com.
- We Are Sisters American Catholic Sisters are such integral parts of our communities and our Church—working joyfully and often without fanfare—but they are among us. They are our friends and relatives, generously serving, leading and praying in communities and ministries across the country. They make the world a better place, bringing God’s love and mercy wherever they serve. We invite you to read Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters Today, a report that interprets the life of women religious in the United States on a continuum of the past, present, and future. The report explores their devotion, challenges stereotypes, and identifies 10 key themes for understanding sisters today.
- VISION Vocation Network
This site offers one of the most comprehensive resources available in print and online for those seeking information on Catholic religious vocations and men’s and women’s religious communities. Since 1987 VISION has been providing hundreds of thousands of readers each year with information on the broad spectrum of Catholic religious life through first-person accounts, profiles, photo stories, and articles about discernment, community life, vows, ministry, and Catholic teachings. Online features include a Community Search, Vocations Calendar, and Vocation Match.
- Catholics on Call
Catholics on Call supports Catholic young adults (ages 18-30) as they strive to discover God’s call in their lives, and explore the possibility of a life of service in the Church. A national vocation discovery program of the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union, Catholics on Call is dedicated to helping young adults from diverse backgrounds explore a call to ministry in the Church and to learn about leadership roles as lay ecclesial ministers, men or women religious, or ministry as ordained deacons or priests.
- A Nun's Life
A Nun’s Life Ministry was founded by Catholic Sisters Julie Vieira and Maxine Kollasch in 2006. This online faith community and nonprofit ministry reaches out with a pastoral presence to thousands of people worldwide each day. The website at aNunsLife.org is a place where you can talk with Catholic sisters and nuns and lots of other people on topics such as spirituality, prayer, community, ministry, and more.
- The Catholic Apostolate Center
Visit this site for plenty of helpful resources on vocational discernment, including Pope Francis' reflections on vocation and resources specifically for men, women, and those discerning marriage.
This website and annual publication provides many resources for Hispanic young people who are seeking to learn more about how to live out their faith. ¡OYE! seeks to initiate a dialogue to start building a vocational awareness and culture, a safe space where questions can be asked and where the conversation about radical and crucial issues such as commitment and relationship with God can take place. ¡OYE! is a resource provided by Claretian Publications.
Vocation.com offers a wealth of resources to young people considering vocations and all Catholics interested in promoting and fostering vocations.The site features video testimonies of priests and consecrated men and women and their unique vocation stories. Texts on the basics of prayer, a collection of meditations, and a discernment checklist provide further guidance through the discernment process. One of the key features of this site is its interactive nature. Inquirers can receive help in locating a vocation director in their area as well as type in their questions and have them answered by a priest.
Share Your Story
“The sense of community I felt with the Sisters made all the difference in my experience as a volunteer. If I leave with something, it is a better sense of balance in my life that the Sisters have taught and modeled for me.” - Molly
“This program is such a great fit for me. I feel so welcome, at home, and inspired by the Sisters. I’m in a stage of my life where I am not sure where God is calling me to be. To have the opportunity to serve others, to explore a variety of ministries, and to pray and discern my call in community is so amazing. I am surrounded by mothers and grandmothers who have so many life experiences to teach me.” - Natalie
“Since my second year of college, I have been passionate about the programs offered through the Catholic Volunteer Network. As I was finishing school, there were an overwhelming amount of choices and pressure to apply for jobs and where to apply to. My heart continued to go back to working a year through the CVN. I felt a strong need develop deeper into the person God was truly calling me to be before I “jumped into a career. I believe the core values of this program – spirituality, social justice, leadership and community, will help me develop into that person.” - Monica
These volunteers express the value of working alongside Sisters through their volunteer placement. Has a volunteer experience lead you to a deeper understanding of your vocation? Did you pursue a vocation to religious life after serving as a volunteer? We would love to hear your story! Contact Katie Mulembe for more information.