Seeing the Spirit at work in the world
The Pope has named four women, three religious sisters and one laywomen, to serve as consultors to the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, an important Vatican department. According to Sister Nathalie Becquardt, xav., one of the women named, the move reflects Pope Francis' desire to be more inclusive and provide greater leadership roles for women in the church. The other women named are Sister Alessandra Smerilli, F.M.A,. Sister Maria Luisa Berzosa, F.I. and Professor Cecilia Costa.
Thinking of consecrated life? Prepare for vowed life by incorporating simple practices into your daily life today. Read more here.
Our banner display at World Youth Day Panama on the Four Steps to Vocation Discernment was a big hit. An article (in English and Spanish) and pdf of "Four steps to vocation discernment" now available. Click here for more.
The VISION crew met thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims at the Vocation Fair in Panama City's Omar Park. We passed out prayer cards and VISION bookmarks and signed up pilgrims to receive daily "Take Five" meditations and stay connected with VISION. One lucky pilgrim won our Fit Bit door prize.
We look forward to the 2022 World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. Hope to see you there!
Join VISION Vocation Guide in Panama City, Jan. 22-25, in the Vocation Fair
Parque Omar, Section A, booths 23, 24, 25.
Walk through our "Steps to Discernment" display and enter to win a fitbit!
Other World World Youth Day events
Fiat International Festival for Youth and Young Adults, hosted by the U.S.A.
Sponsored byKnights of Columbus, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Fellowship of Catholic University Students
Wed., Jan. 23, 2019, 2 p.m. - midnight
Centro de Convenciones Amador (Figali Convention Center)
Recognizing the context of the Church this year (including the crisis, the Synod, the Encuentro, the National Dialogue, etc.), the conversation will center on “What is the role of young people at this moment in the life of the Church?”
Featuring music, witness talks, prayer, dialogue. Learn more here.
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth featured Sr. Pat Haley, S.C.N. in a recent newsletter. This line caught our attention: "I will not work in a segregated dining room, obedience or no obedience . . ."
Sr. Pat explains, "When we got to Nazareth as postulants we were assigned duties. I was assigned to the white men’s dining room. I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m gonna do that.' Mother Lucille was coming down the hall, and although I knew I wasn’t supposed to, I stopped her. I asked for a meeting with her and her Council ‘because I am assigned a duty I simply will not do.’ The next day Sister Constance said that the meeting would take place that afternoon. I told the Council, ‘It is not right to be segregated in a place like this. I just spent my years in high school and earlier fighting segregation. I know I was coming into a white world, but there is no excuse for this.’ Sister Mary Ransom Burke, bless her heart, said, ‘What would you suggest we do?’ I looked at her and said, ‘It’s just a partition between two dining rooms. If you have a ladder and screwdriver, I’ll take it down….Mother Lucille said, ‘We will have to have a conversation with the workers.’ I said ‘You didn’t have a conversation with them before. It was decided by the Council. I will not work in a segregated dining room, obedience or no obedience.’ Nothing else was said but in a week the partition was down and I took the duty. Many of the workers did not like it but it was down. In the hallway there was a white water fountain and a colored fountain. I said you also need to do something about those two fountains. So they did. Sister Mary Ransom later said ‘Thank you’ to me and so did Mother Lucille.”
VISION has a gift for your in honor of Giving Tuesday: Our VISION Giving Calendar!
Find great ideas on the VISION Giving Calendar. Make every day of December a day of giving.
Enjoy and thank you for giving! Feel free to share with others!
The National Religious Vocation Conference, VISION's parent organization, hosted a conversation with young Catholics recently about their faith, their challenges, and how older Catholics can be of service to them. One youung person's advice to all Catholics: "Speak less. Pray more. Be faithful."
Find more highlights here:
“Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel," a new multimedia production celebrating the Sistine Chapel opens March 15, 2018 in Rome, according to Elisabetta Povoledo writing iin the New York Times. Notwithstanding a renowned artistic director, Marco Balich, and the theme song written by Sting, the shows choregrapher Fotis Nikolaou admits that "we can’t do anything bigger than Michelangelo, it’s like committing a sin to suggest that. We’re dialoguing with this masterpiece in the new forms of art, video, dance, theater. It’s like saying thank you to a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel.”
According to the Times report, "As most sightseers to the real Sistine Chapel know, the visit isn’t always edifying. The hall, though large, is almost always packed, and even though silence is mandatory it can be noisy experience. Ensuring that visitors have a positive experience there 'is constantly on my mind,' said Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, and a problem that still has to be resolved.
Ms. Jatta saw a rehearsal of the 'Universal Judgment' by artistic director Marco Balich and gave it a thumbs up. "It’s a delicate way to tell a beautiful story of faith, art and history," she says. And it communicates the Sistine Chapel "in a way that many generations can understand."
Asked whether she thought it could replace going to see the real thing, "No, sorry," she said.
Daughters of Charity Sister Liz Sjoberg and Sister Brenda Fritz love making music together. They've enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to invite other musicians to join in on the fun. Thus, after one week-end long session and lots of laughs, "Music Inspires: Beautiful Name" was born.
The documentary video attests to the joy and inspiration that went into this faith-filled work of art.
Sister Liz said in an interview that she "would love for other groups of religious sisters, brothers, and priests and young people to carry on the spirit of artistic collaboration." Consider this your invitation to let the music inspire you to act.
SOMETHING RATHER SAD happened to 100 percent of U.S. citizens in the 2016 election. No one felt heard or taken seriously. Half the nation wanted more attention paid to the facts. The other half wanted more attention paid to them.
Must we choose between ideas and people? Is it impossible to respect both? Social tensions stem from the reality that many people no longer trust the ideas. Facts have become “facts” that mutate dramatically depending on our sources. Experts are now “the elite”—a despised bunch if ever there was one.
Americans were once keen on developing expertise. This country created the broadest public school system ever attempted. The Old World scourge was privilege defined by dynasty. The American experiment was to invent a nation leveled by literacy. Equal educational access would produce a citizenry of “elites,” fueling progress and prosperity. John Carroll, the first U.S. bishop, recognized an opportunity and rushed ahead to establish the parochial school system. Religious communities were founded to provide the empowering ministry of education.
Catholic schools were frequently the only schools on the frontier. In the century that spawned the virulently anti-Catholic institutions, Protestants and others still didn’t hesitate to send their children to the sisters for an education. Book learning meant an equal share in the national conversation. It’s time to restore respect for the unifying power of learning. Education must again become the bridge to opportunity, not a source of division and suspicion.
GOD IS THE ALMIGHTY. Jesus is Lord. Christ is King. We use these phrases liberally in our tradition, but what are we really saying? The message is one of sovereignty—a creaky multisyllabic word that sounds at once old-fashioned and formidable. Sovereignty is the original superpower. No one is above the sovereign. No authority can limit and no voice overrule such a person. Sovereignty gets its way.
Grandiose statements are generally the hallmark of arrogant individuals. Nations can be arrogant, too. Some claim that God, by one name or another, is on their side, blessing all their deeds and rooting for their success. To be honest, we may hear some of our neighbors say “God Bless America” in a tone that’s aggressive toward and dismissive of the fate of other nations. This possessive attitude about God’s favor is as old as the Bible. “God Bless Israelites,” some ancient stories positively recommend, “and divine wrath befall the rest of you!”
The sovereignty of God, however, is by definition the biggest superpower there is. It can never be a gun in your arsenal or mine, pointed at our opponents. God can’t be controlled. Those who imagine they have the wrath of God on a chain, to be unleashed on their enemies at the appointed time, are kidding themselves. God is always large and in charge. No earthly authority, no army, no superpower nation merits our ultimate allegiance.
THERE IT IS AGAIN. That nagging in your brain, gnawing in your gut, heightening your emotions and making you want to fight—or run. We’re biologically bred to fear, and it’s not something we can pretend away. But we don’t have to be enslaved to it, to come out swinging or fleeing whenever fear rings the bell.
This generation is awash in fear, and with good reason. Every age has its violence, but this age has turned its genius toward inventing more ways to express it. We mount wars over dwindling resources. Terrorism brings the front of any far-off conflict to local churches, movie theaters, and street marathons. The world economy teeters on a mismanaged financial industry and poorly considered backroom deals. The environment, our vital cocoon, is under assault in every direction.
And of course, we haven’t resolved the more pedestrian forms of violence: racism, sexism, child abuse, domestic abuse, and prejudice based on orientation, class, ability. The volume has ramped up on hate speech all around us. It’s now civil to be uncivil.
All of which is reason to fear. Is there any reason for courage? For people of faith, certainly! The admonition not to be afraid is repeated often in Scripture—because people tended to freak out as regularly in those days as now. Fear is useless, Jesus tells us. What is needed is faith; that is, confidence in God’s faithfulness. When God is for us, as Paul says, who can be against?
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HOW CAN WE SAY that conversation is a lost art when people hold forth everywhere and no one appears at a loss for words? Well, chitchat isn’t conversation. Nor is blogging, with its counter-jabs and grandstanding rebuttals. Tweeting isn’t dialogue. All the misinterpreted e-mails and texts should be enough to convince us that, while words fly in all directions, they’re not exactly "smart" bombs.
Conversation is rooted in two Latin words meaning “to associate with” and “to turn around.” We gather in friendly dialogue to turn words around: first one speaking, then another, until the exchange of words turns US around. We should all expect to arrive at a new place in the end. That place will most definitely not be on opposite sides of a wall.
When Socrates taught his students to dialogue, he insisted one speak and the other listen. The listener could reply only after he (always he) repeated the first person’s position. The first speaker had to agree this was a faithful rendering of his ideas before the second person could advance the discussion. In this way, both listener and speaker remained attentive, respectful, and engaged.
Conversation, understood this way, is a truly moral activity. Most talkers simply want to have their say, to talk past whatever was just offered. We don’t engage others in search of truth; we blast one and all with “our” truth. What if we regarded each person, especially those with different perspectives, as a potential source of wisdom? What might we learn?
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a vowed religious community of Catholic women, are preparing for the 25th memorial anniversary of the deaths of five of their American missionary sisters in Liberia. In October 1992, these "martyrs of charity" were killed by soldiers in the army of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor during a civil war that left hundreds of thousands dead. This coming October, the sisters are releasing two mini-documentaries about the martyrs.
Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra and Mary Joel Kolmer were killed as they drove the convent’s security guard home to a neighboring suburb. Three days later, soldiers shot and killed Sisters Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller, and Shirley Kolmer in front of their convent.
“We remember them as fellow sisters radically committed to their ministry. Their lives and martyrdom have left an indelible mark on us,” the community said in a statement. One current Adorer, Sister Elizabeth Kolmer, had a biological sister and a cousin who were among the five. Another current Adorer, Sister Mary Ann Mueller, had a biological sister in the group.
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ were founded in 1834 as a teaching order by Saint Maria De Mattias in Italy. The Adorers strive to be Christ’s reconciling presence in the world by responding to the needs of individuals and society. Diverse in their ministries and singular in their mission to be a compassionate presence wherever they are, Adorers serve as educators, justice advocates, health care workers, pastoral ministers, spiritual directors, and more. Worldwide they are 2,000 women strong, including more than 200 in the United States.
Read bios of the martyrs of charity.
Watch the final letters of the martyrs read by their sisters.
Watch a Frontline news segment on the martyrs: “Who killed the nuns?”
Sisterhood, a special, seven-part series produced by Canadian Salt + Light TV in collaboration with Loyola University New Orleans, gives viewers an exclusive look into the daily lives of sisters from around the world. As Salt and Light decribes the focus of the series: "Day in and day out, in every country, religious sisters provide an enormous service to the Church, giving life to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Without their prayer, their wisdom or their charity, the Church could scarcely begin to achieve its mission. Yet, the number of sisters in North America and in other countries is dwindling, and at a time when the world desperately needs their charisms."
The series, which already aired in Canada, is available for streaming at Salt + Light.
Pope Francis said that a life which isn't shared with others "belongs in the museum," according to Inés San Martín reporting for Crux. In a Google hangout with youth from around the world, the Pope urged young people not to succumb to an "elitist education" but to be agents of a "human globalization."
“To educate is not to know things," said Francis, but to be "capable of using the three languages, that of the hands, the heart and the mind. Education is to include.”
“If you feel that call, answer it!” Sister Imelda Cardona of the Carmelites of the Holy Trinity says in a general message to young Catholics. “God loves you, so you should answer.”
Sister Cardona is one of six Allied Discalced Carmelites, who have come to the U.S. from Mexico to open a convent in Denver and care for the archdiocese's Holy Trinity Center.
The community, whose charism is to know and to make known the glory of the Holy Trinity, has arrived to Denver to care for the archdiocese’s Holy Trinity Center.
Founded by Sister Martha Maria Ramirez-Mora on July 16, 1986, the order has 200-plus nuns serving in various apostolates – ranging from assisting at nursing homes to retreat centers – in Mexico, Italy, Rome, Argentina and Chile.
“It is by the grace of God,” Mother Martha Patricia Malacara, superior of the community, told the Denver Catholic that the sisters have made their way to the U.S.
Although they will be helping out in the archbishop's residency and caring for the sacristies on the John Paul II center campus, prayer is the primary ministry of this semi-cloistered, comtemplative community: “We want to let people know that we are praying for them.” Mother Malacara says. “Prayer is our main charism.”
Prayer requests may be emailed to Carmelites@archden.org or mailed to Allied Discalced Carmelites of the Holy Trinity, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210. Be sure to tell them VISION Vocation Network sent you!
Carmelite friars conducted a “ministry of presence” at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, the day that protests erupted around the country over President Trump’s travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries. The friars’ action segued into a spontaneous interfaith prayer service with a Muslim imam.
Brothers Matthew Gummess, Mikhail Woodruff, and Kevin Keller "wandered through the crowd to hear stories, share hope, and offer a friendly prayerful presence,” reports the Order of Carmelites blog. “Brother Mikhail was a voice of kindness and impartiality in conversation with reporters. Brother Matthew offered moral support and chocolates to travelers, airport staff, security, lawyers, and anybody who might need a little boost.”
After they met Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, who was also at the airport, the four agreed to hold an immediate joint prayer service.
“Together with the Imam, those present were called to prayer by Brother Matthew with some verses of 'Amazing Grace.' Brother Mikhail invoked the presence of God in a warm and hospitable prayer. Then Imam Hendi passionately prayed on behalf of the gathering—roughly 50 people from diverse faiths—offering words of peace, justice, and integrity,” the Carmelites report.