Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Vocare retreat plants seeds of vocations for young women

the Inland Register

(From the July 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Last month’s Vocare retreat drew young women from throughout the Inland Northwest.

For the past five years the Spokane Diocese has conducted “Quo Vadis,” a camp for high school boys to find out more about the priesthood. (Editor’s note: See “Quo Vadis Days: five years fostering priestly vocations in Spokane,” IR 6/21/12).

Soon the sisters of these boys began to ask why they did not have something to learn about ‘the Sisters.” Bishop Cupich heard of their request and asked Father Darrin Connall, then Diocesan Vocation Director, to see what could be done.

Father Connall met with a committee of area Religious who meet regularly during the year to put on “Twilight Retreats” for young women age 18-35, to schedule Busy Persons Retreats and to be present at gatherings with vocation materials for their Religious communities.

The result was “Vocare 2012” (vocare is Latin for “to call”), held Tuesday-Thursday, June 26-28. Girls age 13-18 were invited.

Instead of a camp experience, the girls stayed at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in Spokane. With a limit of 30 participants, 31 girls signed up for the experience.

Besides Spokane and Spokane Valley, the girls came from Colbert, Walla Walla, Otis Orchards, Kettle Falls, Colville, Reardan, Deer Park, and Farmington, Wash., as well as Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Generous donations from the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, the Serra Club, and the respective Religious Communities helped subsidize the cost of participating.

Jim Falkner (right), director of Catholic Cemeteries, explained the memorial to deceased women Religious at Holy Cross Cemetery.

During the retreat, the girls had the opportunity to visit the places in Spokane where the Sisters of the diocese live and work.

On the first day they boarded a school bus, donated by Gonzaga Prep. The girls visited St. Joseph Family Center, a ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia, and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Emilie Court, ministries of the Sisters of Providence. Lunch was served by the Knights of Columbus Council 683 at the KC Hall, followed by a tour of the Gonzaga Campus, cut short by pouring rain. That evening, home-schooling parents provided a delicious taco bar dinner and members of the Catholic Daughters furnished cookies for dessert.

The second day began with a visit to St. Patrick Parish in Spokane and the Missionary Sisters of Charity. The visit started with a Holy Hour and Benediction, with Father Kenneth St. Hilaire, pastor of St. Patrick, presiding. The girls then went to the Sisters’ residence to hear about Mother Teresa and their community’s way of life.

A trip to Holy Cross Cemetery and a description of the Memorial to the Sisters by Cemeteries director Jim Falkner gave the girls an appreciation of the Sisters and their history in the diocese as they read the engraved stones.

Lunch was served at the Poor Clare Monastery, prepared by the Secular Franciscans in the beautiful garden. Fortunately, the day was sunny and dry, and the water fountain was a favorite attraction. The girls then prayed in the chapel, heard about the Poor Clares’ way of life, and had a tour and explanation of the radio studio located in the monastery, by Poor Clare Sister Marcia Kay Lacour. One of the girls read and recorded a poem she composed for a later broadcast.

Gonzaga Prep donated use of a bus for transportation during the Vocare Retreat. (IR photos courtesy of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church)

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane was the next stop. A tour, arranged by Madeline Durkin, highlighted the many beautiful aspects of this Mother Church of the Diocese that many of the girls were seeing for the first time.

The girls then walked to the Women’s Hearth, sponsored by Sisters of the Holy Names, Sisters of Providence, Dominican Sisters, and Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia. This ministry offers a place for homeless women to spend the day to rest or be involved in many creative activities. Some of the resulting art work adorns the walls. Some of the women themselves led the girls on their tour. That evening the girls were treated to another delicious dinner: lasagna, provided by the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church.

In the evenings the girls viewed the vocation materials of each community, heard stories of the founding of the communities, and listened to accounts of the Sisters’ vocation call. The girls attended Mass each day, thanks to Franciscan Father Michael Blackburn, Mary knoll Father Steve Booth, and Father Darrin Connall, rector of the Cathedral.

Morning and evening prayer services were similar to the Divine Office, prayed each day by the Sisters.

On the last day all the girls appeared in their blue Vocare T- shirts and were joined for Mass and lunch by their parents and many Sisters from the city. The lunch for 90 people was generously financed by the Serra Club.

Two insightful remarks on the evaluation sheets:

• “I learned that the lives of Sisters are a bit more interesting and joyful than I expected.”
• “I realized how much they give us and how much they do for others.”

A note was left in the room of one of the girls read:

I just want to thank you for the work, time, energy and prayer that you put into Vocare. Please know that all your efforts, including those that were not noticed but nevertheless made Vocare a wonderful experience, are deeply appreciated. You are all inspirations to me and also wonderful instruments of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for making Vocare a wonderful, joyful, peaceful, and fun-filled experience.

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