A Letter from Katie Delaney, CVN’s Manager of Strategic Learning & Evaluation
In the field of faith-based service, we celebrate the diversity of our programs’ origins, missions, locations, and offerings. We also face collective challenges and questions. When inspiration is hard to find, can we look to one another? Can we sustain and nourish our unique gifts, together?
That’s the thought behind Sisters INSPIRE, CVN’s new, grant-funded pilot project intended to equip CVN programs to disrupt the white dominant cultural narrative embedded in community service and uplift models of faith-based service rooted in racial justice and community partnership. CVN’s origin story reminds us that in this work, Catholic Sisters have been at the fore.
When Pat Mader Stalker sought an experience of faith and service over 50 years ago, she found the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. For hundreds of years, Sisters have been living faith-based service before it was a catchphrase or tag-line. Sisters INSPIRE seeks to carry on this shared call in three ways:
Innovation: The Sisters Leadership Cohort brings together three Sisters-sponsored member programs – Loretto Volunteers, St. Joseph Worker – St. Paul, and Vincentian Mission Corps – to deepen their practice and assessment of racial justice and diversity strategies in community. The cohort will utilize collaborative pathway modeling to test and share the outcomes of these practices with CVN member programs.
Education: Sisters INSPIRE funding also enables CVN to build on our recent Program Management Courses (ex. Implicit Bias Training, Fostering Mental Health in the Service Experience) to continue offering members customized trainings – at a substantial discount – to support programs’ evolving needs and providing space for collective learning.
Evaluation: Rooted in collaboration, Sisters INSPIRE provides resources to help our network co-create a culture of evaluation that aligns with values, improves impact, and helps tell stories of faith-based service. With efforts such as CVN’s Annual Volunteer Survey (open until July 23) and our upcoming Conference, we seek to reimagine methods of assessment and data collection that honor the gifts of charism and diverse voices in our community.
Just as Pat encountered many years ago, we hope Sisters INSPIRE fosters our desire to breathe new life into our efforts of faith and service. What Sisters have done for the Church, may we continue to do for each other: pushing the boundary of understanding identity and call; embracing a spirituality that preaches through its practice; and centering those most impacted by systemic oppression and injustice. What may be possible? Only Spirit knows. We look forward to journeying together.
For more information about how you can collaborate with Sisters INSPIRE, please contact Katie at [email protected]