Show me a sign: Discerners seeking direction
Common discernment questions
Q: What are the sisters’ ministries today?
A: I remember asking this question while researching congregations. I wanted to know if my interests and areas of expertise would fit within the congregation’s ministry. It was a way for me to prioritize potential congregations. My hope was to shrink the list from hundreds of congregations to a few to research in depth. It helped, but over time, I discovered there were other aspects to consider.
Now as the director of membership, the information I offer includes more about the congregation’s spirituality, mission, prayer life and community living. Many congregations have similar ministries, but their spirituality, mission, prayer life and community living affect how ministry is conducted. For example, Franciscans, Dominicans and Ursulines are rooted in education, yet how they teach is different. Just ask former Catholic school students to describe the congregation of sisters who taught them. You will hear how the type of congregation influenced their education. Differences arise in the celebration of patronal feast days and core values. Each congregation has its own “sub-culture” in the wider scope of religious life within the Catholic Church.
If you have a relationship with a few congregations and they have similar ministries such as education, ask about the different ways they serve that field.
A few other questions include:
• How do they define educational ministry?
• Is it possible to observe or volunteer with a sister for
a day to witness ministerial life?
• Do they serve outside the U.S.?
• Do they work in public or private school settings?
• Do they work in bilingual classrooms?
Each answer will show how congregations differ. Is there room for your own growth over time? Can you transition to a different grade level or into a different ministry with education experience? Is there flexibility?
Questions bring clarity to what on paper looks simple. You may be surprised to discover that a congregation you weren’t sure about is the better fit.
How will you know if a vocation to religious life is a call for you?
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