(Photo by Christina Gray/Catholic San Francisco)
Dominican Sister Carla Kovak, vocations director for the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, left, and vocations promoter Reena Rosskopf hosted a “vocations ambassadors” night at the community’s motherhouse in San Rafael on Sept. 28.
Order prepares lay ‘ambassadors’ to invite women into religious life
November 1st, 2016
By Christina Gray
The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael launched a “vocation ambassadors” program on Sept. 28 aimed at preparing laywomen in parish and school communities to invite young Catholic women in Marin County and beyond to consider religious life.
“I know a lot of young people because I stay connected,” said vocations director Sister Carla Kovak, a former teacher and novice director who celebrated her 50th jubilee this year. “They know who a sister is because of our relationship. But how can we engage others to be more proactive about talking about religious life and inviting others to consider it?”
According to a 2015 study on Catholic sisters in the U.S. by the Conrad Hilton Foundation, 25 percent of all Catholic women have considered becoming a Catholic sister at some point in their lives. But the report said the call is often stifled by misconceptions about the lives and work of sisters today and a “big lack of inviters,” according to Reena Rosskopf, vocations promoter for the order.
“Sisters aren’t in people’s lives like they used to be,” said Rosskopf. “They are out in the community and working but it’s not like the old days when they were in the schools and hospitals on a regular basis. We really want to expand that network.”
When Sister Carla was a young woman discerning what she felt was a calling to enter religious life in the 1960s, she had a pretty good idea of what she was getting into. Educated by Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in Los Angeles, she spent summers helping them teach religion in a nearby barrio.
“That was a different era,” Sister Carla told Catholic San Francisco. “I was able to see sisters for who they were. I discovered their humanity, but also that they were smart and generous and funny and loving and kind to each other. They were real and that was attractive to me.”
Rosskopf said that young women do experience the same sense of being called by God to religious life, but with less exposure to the lives of sisters than in previous generations, the vocation is often not anchored in reality.
Young women can have an idealized view of religious life, said Sister Carla, and often don’t know who to talk to or how to take the next step.
The vocations department which also uses vocations-specific Facebook, Twitter and Instagram campaigns to connect to young Catholic women, promoted the ‘vocations ambassador’ meeting through parish bulletins, email lists and old school flyers.
The group included a senior at Dominican University and a handful of St. Raphael parishioners. They reported positive experiences with Dominican sisters as a reason for wanting to spread the word about vocations along with a strong belief in the future of religious life.
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From November 3, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.