Sisters in Service: Sr. Connie Bach – PHJC Volunteer Program

In honor of National Catholic Sisters Week, Catholic Volunteer Network will share the perspective of sisters who started volunteer programs through CVN’s From Service to Sisterhood initiative. Sisters will share a little more about how they discerned their vocation, why they felt called to create a volunteer program, and what they’ve learned from living and working alongside volunteers.Today we meet Sr. Connie Bach of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and Executive Director of PHJC Volunteer Program 

My name is Sr. Connie Bach, Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ from Indiana. I direct the PHJC Volunteer Program, which offers volunteer opportunities anywhere from a week to a year in northwest Indiana and Chicago, as well as limited opportunities in Mexico and Kenya.


I was taught by PHJC sisters as a child and was impressed by their joy, simplicity, fun, prayerfulness and down to earth-ness! I also was inspired by the simplicity with which they live, their community life, the dignity and respect they show for each person and for their listening and openness to the Spirit in their lives. Lastly, I was deeply moved by their preferential option for the poor and marginalized as well as their great respect and care for Earth.

After nearly twenty years in education as a teacher and principal, I then ministered as a music therapist with persons living with special needs ranging in age from 5-95. But I wanted to share my joy and love of the poor with young people. I currently direct our volunteer program which offers single women 18 and older (and sometimes men) unique opportunities in a faith-based context to live out their Baptismal call to share God’s presence in our world.

The PHJC Volunteer Program building community while impacting mission.
I do not have a “typical day!” That is what I love about what I do. Each day brings new opportunities to answer God’s call and to live the gospel responding to whatever needs present themselves to me. Often I am on the road meeting young people at fairs and campuses, participating in vocation events, planning for future outreach and service, and working for my community in whatever way is needed. 

PHJC volunteers in action – changing lives with personal attention.
The volunteers with whom I have worked have drastically changed my view of the world and how they respond to God’s call to serve. I have witnessed profound prayer and contemplation, observed meaningful and inspiring service, and witnessed deep-seated compassion, and tenderness in a broken world. I’ve seen the eyes of those served glimmer with new hope, heard billowing belly laughs, celebrated with warm,  life-giving hugs and reverenced both joyful and sorrowful tears – all because a volunteer took the time to offer a hand, listen, comfort or assist another in need. Volunteers literally become angels for others!

Connecting souls with stillness, silence and listening.
I encourage those discerning volunteering or perhaps a vocation in the church to set aside time each day for SILENCE, to just BE STILL in God’s presence and LISTEN deeply to the voice within. In this chaotic, fast-moving and ever-changing world of ours, God gets pushed to the back burner and yet offers a safe harbor where desires are known, prayers are heard, new paths are shown and peace is cultivated. I also encourage having an objective, mature mentor or spiritual guide to assist in contemplating God’s call to a life of service, whether as single, married, vowed religious clergy or in lay ecclesial ministry.

Most of all, I encourage people to follow what it is they are passionate about and to live with great passion, fully giving themselves in service to something of significance, something greater than themselves that builds the kingdom here among us! “For it is in giving that we receive!” (St. Francis of Assisi).

For more discernment resources, we also encourage you to visit the “Explore Your Vocation” section on Catholic Volunteer Network’s website. 

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