Friday, March 28, 2014

Living Voice - Quarterly Call - VisionSpace Gathering

We gathered again for our Quarterly Conference Call between St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph Day.

Though we feel like we've had the conversation before, we talked about moving from conversation to moving into action? As we talked however, we realized that we are moving to action. Kristen M and Amy H both have houses to invite people to as models, though not without challenges, it is a sign of hope. The Franciscans of Washington, DC, Windridge Solitude and Green Mountain Monastery are other examples. Maybe we have more to celebrate than we realize.

We discussed two programs for this summer, VisionSpace and Summer Sisters. We are inviting sisters and women interested in religious life in to the Summer Sisters program. We plan to form community with interested women for 3-5 weeks over the summer. Living, Working and Praying together. More background from the last call.... 


Our first National Event will be in Summer of 2014. Online and on-ground in St. Louis, MO. July 5-7, 2014. Several sisters have expressed interest. Please re-contact if you are interested in online or on-ground.

Theme: Moving into action, Seeds of hope

  • - has webinars that have some good content. open to the public. see: 
  • Johnson, Mary, Patricia Wittberg, and Mary L. Gautier. New Generations of Catholic Sisters: The Challenge of Diversity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 
  • Hereford, Amy. Religious Life at the Crossroads: A School for Mystics and Prophets. New York: Orbis, 2013. 
Invitation: Contact Amy Hereford to participate. Please recontact even if you've emailed before, so we have a good count. Pass this invitation on to other sisters, especially those in their 40s and 50s who may be interested.

Program: Participants volunteer alone or in groups to prepare/facilitate a day. We recommend you draw from the resources, but you're not limited to that. All participants are encouraged to use one or more of the resources before you come.

Streaming: Each evening, we will stream a conversation to share the event beyond those who are gathered on-ground.

Sign up: Register for the program, or just to get more information.

Cost: $60. Scholarships available.

Open items still to discuss:
--Online forum
--2015 - Year for Consecrated Life

Great energy, great conversations! We invite younger women religious to be a part of this conversation. Contact if you would like to join us.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Seeds of Hope

I've got two events coming up.

First, I'm give a little presentation on seed saving at a seed swap that is being organized by the Franciscans for Earth. I tried to find the online link, but couldn't. Anyway, saving seeds is a sign of hope. In the waning days of autumn, I save veggies, and flower heads and store them away. The when the days get longer and warmer and spring is in the air, I go into my trays and jars of saved seeds. I can plant them, share them with friends, or exchange them for other types of seeds that I didn't save.

Taking apart flower heads, saving the seeds from tomatoes and beans and melons, sorting and labelling them is a long and slow process. I find it to be a contemplative practice. When I do it, I express my confidence that spring will come after a long cold winter. I express my confidence in the resilience of life that trusts its future to these tiny specks of life.

* * *
Second, I am giving a workshop next week to a group of leaders of religious communities. I will be talking about the challenges of the coming decades when the numbers will likely continue to decline and averages continue to rise. I'll be talking about the practical choices that they can make to secure their coming years. I will speak to them of the challenge of this time, and also of the privilege to be living this moment in religious life. I will invite them to embrace the truth of this moment in their community's story. A era when funerals outnumber entrances at least twenty to one. I will invite them to face this moment with courage, and with trust in the resilience of religious life, and the goodness of God's plan.

Many religious institutes will come to an end in the next decades. Many of us will mourn their passing, even as we rejoice in the gift they have been in our lives and in our communities. I will invite these leaders to rejoice in the seeds of hope that they have planted: countless children they have taught, sick they have comforted, poor they have offered hope. And their is a small remnant of younger members. We are ready to accept the challenge of living religious life into the future. A future that will be radically different from the present moment of religious life, but one that will do honor to the hundreds of generations of religious that have gone before us, right back to apostolic times.

I rejoice in seeds of hope!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Miracle on a Lonely Road

I heard a little phrase quoted by Pope Francis, quoting Manzoni:
I never saw God start a miracle without finishing it. 
He was talking about Christian unity, but I heard it as referring to the miracle of religious vocation, and the rebirthing of the religious life in our own times. A great and welcome miracle, and I want to put my trust in God's miracle, and God's gift of leading this remnant through the challenging desert into a new era of religious life.

This can be a lonely road, trying to articulate a new hope and a new future for religious life. It is in continuity with the history of religious life, yet as in every era, it is also in discontinuity. Religious life faces new challenges today as much that we knew of religious life in recent decades declines and passes away. Yet there is also a fierce hope as the newer generations set out on the journey of religious life. In dynamic fidelity to generations of men and women radically committed to the gospel, we accept the call into relationship with the many communities of justice, of peace and of sustainability.

I want to trust in the God of Miracles as I walk this road.

See video of pope's presentation here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Survey on Vocation Promotion

Children with Disabilities SurveyToday I received IRB approval to begin my data collection for my final paper to complete the Master of Divinity degree! The research I am gathering focuses on Vocation Ministry among Women Religious in the Twenty-first Century. I have created a short survey designed for finally professed women religious of all ages who are not currently serving as vocation directors or on a vocation team.

I am asking for your help to post the link to the survey to a diverse group of sisters serving in the United States. Would you be able to take the survey (if eligible) and to ask at least ten sisters to take this on-line survey? Please consider those who support vocation ministry AND those who are hesitant and reluctant. Please know that this survey is not connected to my ministry with NRVC.

The survey takes approximately 25 minutes to complete. The purpose of this online survey is to ask for insights about personal experiences in promoting vocations and to identify common obstacles in promoting religious life.

The results of this survey will remain anonymous. This survey does not ask for names and does not ask to identify religious institutes. No one will contact participants based upon their answers. Quotes from the comments may be used to illustrate points but no identifying information will be used. Participants may decline to answer any question.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am counting on your prayers and support. Please feel free to forward this email to ask for sisters to participate. The survey will close on March 17, 2014.

Again, thank you!! The link for the survey is:

Many thanks!!
Sr. Debbie Borneman