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Called and sent: vocation awareness

By Sister Bridget Waldorf, SSND North American Vocation Team
Sister Bridget Waldorf

National Vocation Awareness Week is November 1-7, 2020. This annual celebration promotes vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. This promotion is done through education, renewing prayers and support for those considering or discerning one of these particular vocations. This week is an opportunity to highlight the work of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) North American Vocation Team (NAVT).

Inviting women to vowed membership is the work of the NAVT. However, before that happens, many conversations and experiences with young women prior to the point of their professing vows. Sharing the evolving charism of SSND in the world happens with the grace of God inspiring the efforts of many people such as associates, educators, families, students, volunteers and vowed sisters.

The North American Vocations Team encourages and supports those interested in becoming a sister. There are five SSND who form the NAVT: I am based in Dallas and I am joined by Sister Nancy Gilchriest, the coordinator from Queens, New York; Sisters Carol Jean Dust, St. Louis; Jill Laszewksi, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Stephanie Spandl, St. Paul, Minnesota. Our NAVT team is at the service of both the Central Pacific and Atlantic-Midwest provinces, freeing us to minister in many geographical areas.

In a normal year, we would be using National Vocation Awareness Week to present vocation talks at schools and churches and participate in vocation fairs. During this remarkable time of COVID-19, the NAVT is connecting with young adults virtually, encouraging our sisters to be involved in vocation ministry and planning for future gatherings. We are increasing our posts on social media, creating videos and designing online retreats with the goal of assisting women considering SSND as a life-giving response to God’s call.

Since March, the team has engaged in multiple online experiences to increase our presence with young adults. We have participated in the Summer Leadership Academy through Mount Mary University in Milwaukee; the “United in Love / Unidos en Amor” Youth in Theology Program through the College of St. Benedict/St. John University in Collegeville, Minnesota; the “Putting God First” Virtual Encounters through the Archdiocese of San Antonio; and other various virtual discernment groups. We were also featured twice on the “Dare to Love” radio program through the Archdiocese of Chicago and hosted a well-attended online retreat entitled, “My Peace I Leave with You – Encountering Christ in Uncertain Times.”

The gift of these virtual gatherings is that those who show up want to be there, which brings its own helpful energy. While in-person encounters are better - it’s the most energizing part of this ministry - we continue to do what we can from where we are at this moment.

In addition to the NAVT’s work, the sisters in North America are aware that all sisters have a role in engaging young adults to discern their vocational call. “We recognize that we are all vocation promoters, personally and communally.” (You Are Sent, C 43, 44). We also know that lay men and women can assist us in this important work simply by sharing their connection to SSND with young people and asking them, “Have you ever considered a call to religious life?”

Learn more about the work of the SSND North American Vocation Team.


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