Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

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


Young women experience Religious life during VOCARE 2013

the Inland Register

(From the July 18, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

VOCARE 2013 attracted participants from throughout the Inland Northwest. (IR photo courtesy of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church)

This year’s VOCARE vocations retreat for young women, June 23-26, drew a total of 37 young women – 19 for the first time and 18 returning for a second year.

Each group followed their own special program, with returning participants exposed to new experiences which took them deeper into their knowledge of Religious life and their personal discernment.

The participants came from Spokane, Spokane Valley, Colbert, Walla Walla, Kettle Falls, Colville, Reardan, Farmington, Veradale, Liberty Lake, Pasco, and Deer Park in Washington, and from Post Falls, Rathdrum, Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The two groups shared common times of prayer at morning and evening, as well as daily Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Celebrating Mass for the group during these prayerfully discerning days were Msgr. Kevin Codd, Diocesan Vocation Office Director; Maryknoll Father Steve Booth; and Bishop Blase Cupich. The two groups of young women shared mealtimes and free time to grow to know each other better. In their evaluation of the retreat experience, many girls commented on the great value of meeting other young persons who shared their Catholic faith and a desire for a deeper relationship with God.

The Sisters Diocesan Vocation Team, realizing the scant exposure high school girls have to the lives of Sisters in these times, decided to find a way to remedy this situation. They created VOCARE, a three-day vocational experience with specific activities to help young women ages 13-18 learn about the Sisters of the Diocese, their life styles, prayer life, ministries, and distinct charisms. This was accomplished by traveling by bus or van each day from Immaculate Heart Retreat Center (IHRC) to different convents and ministry sites of eight of the diocese’s Religious communities.

IHRC became the home base of VOCARE 2013 and the ambient for prayerful times, educational sharing, group activities and fun.

Places of ministry visited were the Franciscans’ St. Joseph Family Center; the Providence Community at Mount St. Joseph, learning of both their health care institutions in the region and their missionary efforts; the Missionaries of Charity (Blessed Mother Teresa’s order); The Poor Clare Monastery with the Catholic radio station; two sites of Women’s Transitions ministry to homeless women and children, the Women’s Hearth and the Transitional Living Center, cosponsored by four local Religious congregations; the Vacation Bible School program at All Saints School conducted by the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church; and the Convent of the Holy Names, who provided a rich half-day retreat for the returning participants and lunch with the community who reside there.

In addition to places of ministry and convents, the girls also toured historic St. Aloysius Church; the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, which many had never seen; the Gonzaga University campus; and the special Sisters’ memorial garden at Holy Cross Cemetery, where Jim Falkner, Director, shared with the girls the origin of this special garden honoring the memory of hundreds of pioneer Sisters who served the Spokane area for over 150 years.

By far, what the girls seemed to value most of VOCARE 2013 was, as many stated, “time to be with the Sisters, get to know their true personalities and discover a lot more about their orders, and learn the different ways God works and what made them become Sisters.”

Besides the core team of Sisters organizing VOCARE, over 20 other Sisters came at different times to share with the girls their stories or help provided one-on- one quality conversation time to each of the second-year participants. One girl said,” I really liked the one-on-one talks with the Sisters, because I felt that in that time I could actually speak and be heard and understood. That is hard to find in my life.”

VOCARE 2013 was truly a total Catholic Community effort, with multiple sponsors and volunteers, including groups who prepared and served meals: Home School Parents, Knights of Columbus Council 683, the Dodge Family of Tin Star BBQ in Post Falls, the Secular Franciscans of Deer Park, the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church, Catholic Daughters Court #196, and the Serra Club, who provided the closing lunch for over 100 persons. Monogrammed backpacks were provided by Abba’s Book Store. Gonzaga Prep provided the bus and its wonderful driver, Barry Barfield. The Tammy Loe family lent VOCARE their van.

A great effort was made to keep the fee required of each participant very reasonable and funds were raise to offset the costs. IHRC kept charges at a minimum. Contributions were generously supplied by the Washington State Court of the Catholic Daughters and Courts #196 and #2556; by two Assemblies and 13 Councils of the Knights of Columbus; five Religious congregations; the Associates of the Holy Names; some parish groups – i.e. Altar Society, Bible Study Group, Parish Council – as well as generous gifts from individuals.

In weighing the effectiveness of VOCARE, the Sisters Diocesan Vocation Team notes the findings of a study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).The study verifies that 68 percent of new members of communities of women Religious first realized an attraction to this state in life by the time they were 21, with 53 percent sensing a call by the time they were 18. Even younger girls, 27 percent under14 years of age, reported their first attraction to be a Sister came as grade school girls.

When the girls were asked what they would tell others about VOCARE, one reported, “ Fun! Also very educational and that it helped me to know my calling in life.” Said another, “Come, because I believe everyone should discover the great beauty of Religious life.”

VOCARE next year will be July 7-10, 2014.

(The Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church have posted a slide show of images from VOCARE 2013 on YouTube.)


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