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Young people want to commit. They want to transform. They want to be part of the solution. Young people are showing up at protests and vigils to seek racial justice. Many of them are acting out of a deep commitment to faith – and need more opportunities to channel that desire and energy.

The opportunities created by the CORPS Act would allow thousands to be "accompanied and encouraged." Expanding national service is a way to act on Francis' call to empower "active citizenship." It can help a generation of young leaders "take up their responsibilities" to build a better world.

Volunteer Introspective

A Survey of Former Volunteers of the Catholic Volunteer Network

“A Survey of Former Volunteers of the Catholic Volunteer Network,” is a national survey commissioned by Catholic Volunteer Network (CVN) with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. The survey looked at more than 5,000 men and women in CVN member organizations. Full survey results were released on Friday, November 8, 2013 at the Catholic Volunteer Network’s annual conference in Silver Spring, MD.

The survey was distributed online earlier this year to former volunteers of Catholic Volunteer Network member organizations around the globe. Survey respondents provided demographic and background information as well as answered questions related to their experience with their volunteer program and lives following their volunteer service. The survey compared these results with the national averages, where applicable.

Some significant study findings include:

On Service

  • 98 percent of former volunteers said they decided to serve because they "felt compassion towards people in need." The same percentage also believe that their volunteer service experience made them a better person.
  • 95 percent say that they would recommend their volunteer program to others.

On Faith

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of former volunteers attend religious services at least once a week. This is significantly higher than the U.S. poulation (27 percent) and the U.S. Catholic population (25 percent).
  • Almost two in five former volunteers (37 percent) have considered a vocation to ordained ministry or religious life. 27 percent of these respondents have considered a vocation very seriously, and 35 percent say they have considered this somewhat seriously.

On Life

  • More than two-thirds of former volunteers (67 percent) say their volunteer service was either 'somewhat' or 'very' important in influencing their choice of career.
  • Almost half of former volunteers are married (47 percent). Excluding respondents who say that they have never been married, just under one in ten (9 percent) have ever divorced. This is much lower than the corresponding proportion of the U.S. population (31 percent).
  • More than eight in ten responding former volunteers (82 percent) say that they have volunteered time, donated money or property, or both in the past 12 months.

Click here to read the full report.

Our special thanks to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate ( for their work on this report, and to the SC Ministry Foundation for their support of this project.

In 2017, CVN’s nearly 200 member programs supported over 28,000 volunteers, 776 staff members, and 130,000 former volunteers in 45 states and 109 countries. The lives of almost three million individuals were impacted through a variety of services including education, social work, health care, sustainable farming initiatives, prison ministry, homeless services, and much more.



“The term vocation derives from the Latin “vocare," to call.  Vocation is not about doing.  In fact, it has little to do with ministry.  Vocation is essentially the call to be.  It is the core identity of who one is, of who God creates us to be in every moment.”
– Catherine Nguyen -  St. Joseph Worker, Orange, CA & CVN Serving with Sisters Ambassador 2017-2018

Faith-based service leaves a deep impression on those who serve. Reflected in CVN's Volunteer Introspective survey, many volunteers continue to reflect on their service, community-living, commitment to simplicity and solidarity with the poor, and spiritual journey long after they depart their volunteer program. These transformative experiences influence their lifestyle, career path, and most significantly, their vocation. CVN’s VOCARE initiative fosters a culture of vocation among prospective, current, and former volunteers through efforts related to Vitality, Outreach, Connection, Accompaniment, Resources, and Experience (VOCARE).

This project is made possible thanks to the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.


Vitality: Development of Volunteer Programs

VOCARE strengthens the vitality of women religious through the development of volunteer programs. Since 2013, VOCARE has provided seed funding, mentorship, and training to 18 congregations of womens religious to start volunteer programs - giving more young adults the opportunity to work alongside sisters, share in their way of life, and discern their own calling to vocation.

Outreach: Engaging Prospective volunteers

VOCARE nurtures vocations and discernment through outreach to prospective volunteers. Our Recruitment Associate visits over 50 colleges and universities annually, sharing post-graduate service opportunities, introducing discernment tools, and increasing the number of students who consider discerning their vocation through faith-based service.

Connection: Regional Networks for Current and Former Volunteers

VOCARE supports volunteer program staff in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago in their efforts to organize events and foster regional networks for volunteers at all stages of their journey. These networks provide opportunities for current and former volunteers to connect with their personal vocation, peers, and diverse religious and lay mentors. After piloting these projects in 2018, CVN hopes to expand these efforts in other regions.

Accompaniment: Staff training and collaboration

VOCARE provides training, resources, and retreat opportunities for staff of member programs to connect with their program’s mission and charism, religious leadership, and other program staff. In so doing, our network is strengthened to accompany and mentor volunteers at all stages of a volunteer's journey.

Resources: Stories and tools

VOCARE shares vocation stories, tools, and recommended organizations to support volunteers along their discernment and leadership journey. These resources, available in print and on CVN’s blog and website, help make vocation more accessible to prospective, current, and former volunteers.

Experience: choose service

VOCARE affirms that faith-based service engages volunteers in a process of experiential discernment. By serving, living, praying, and develop meaningful relationships with peers, mens and womens religious, and program staff across a variety of ministries, volunteers experience the many ways to live out vocation.

Growth: From Service to Sisterhood to VOCARE

"As we touch these young people and envelop them in our mission, they in turn, become conduits to carry this mission out into places where alone, we could never take it." - Sr. Michele Vincent Fisher, CSFN, Director of Holy Family Service Corps

In 2013, CVN launched From Service to Sisterhood with the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, to explore the connections between volunteer service and vocational discernment. Phase I (2013-2017) of the initiative focused on strengthening the vitality of communities of womens religious by supporting the development of 16 new volunteer programs – giving more young adults the opportunity to work alongside sisters, share in their way of life, and discern their own calling to a vocation. Now in Phase II (2017-2019), we’ve renamed the initiative VOCARE, reflecting our intention to strengthen and expand these efforts, in partnership with CVN’s nearly 200 member programs.

VOCARE: By the Numbers

  • 18 new volunteer programs sponsored by women’s religious
  • 5 annual convenings, 6 web- trainings, and 5 formation workshops for new programs
  • 15 discernment retreats for 197 former volunteers
  • Over 50 colleges visited, and 2,000 prospective volunteers engaged annually by CVN Recruitment Associate
  • 100 hours of new program director mentorship
  • 4 ad-campaigns, two new blog series, and new “Explore Your Vocation” CVN website page
  • 12 events for current and former volunteers across 4 regions between May - November 2017