Discernment Retreat and Vocation Ministry During Pandemic

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Discernment Retreat

Last weekend (March 12-14), we held a virtual Discernment retreat “Following God Joyfully.” Ten retreatants attended, from North to South and East to West regions.  About 20 sisters from different regions, including the sisters in formation, participated in this retreat as speakers, panelists, companions, sharing witness, and during our social time.

Five main sessions were offered during the retreat, including a theological reflection on the story of Woman at the Well, Dominican Spirituality, Community Living, and Ministries, focusing on how Sisters respond to the needs of the time. In our final session, retreatants were given the opportunity to integrate all that was presented over the weekend. After each session, retreatants moved to a one-on-one session with a Sister companion and engaged in small or large group sharing. These sharing sessions gave the retreatants opportunities to meet and share at different levels with Sisters.

Different styles of prayers were also introduced.  These styles included theological reflection, personal reflection, Adoration, Rosary, Mass with faith sharing, Dominican Praise, Audio Divina, and Visio Divina. We also had social times at night with scavenger hunting games or informal conversations with sisters in formation.

Retreatants shared that this retreat brought further affirmation to their decision and gave them opportunities to know more sisters, to become connected, and to learn more about Dominican Spirituality. Some expressed their happiness to see familiar faces of Sisters from previous events.
Sisters participating in the retreat felt enriched, affirmed, and inspired too through the inputs, sharing, openness of the retreatants, and the richness of the program. We really fed one another throughout this weekend. Click here for some highlights of the retreat last week.

Vocation Ministry During Pandemic

Thanks to our Congregations’ proactive stance on building our capacity to engage in on-line programming, even before the pandemic necessitated it, we were able to pivot all programing to an “on-line” platform with little or no down time. Besides the Discernment retreat (formally called Come and See Retreat), during the year of this pandemic, we added several mini retreats to our offerings and mission programs.  We also started a monthly prayer group to complement our monthly Emmaus discernment group meetings. Our greatest team accomplishment was renovating the “Becoming a Sister” webpage, adding 60 pages of rich content for discerners to learn about us.

It has been a year since COVID-19 first emerged, bringing a cloud over the world. However, despite the loss and grief we have experienced, this pandemic has taught us to trust in God’s providential care for us in this ministry and for our discerners. The love of Christ has been impelling us to dig deep and to reach further. Impelled by that love, we continue to give ourselves to the journey of walking with women in the discernment process for religious life. We prayed for creative solutions in responding to our discerners’ needs during this transition time from in-person to online programs.  Our prayer was answered by listening attentively to God and to the women we serve.

As you look back over this past year, how has your relationship with God deepened or changed, despite the pandemic?

If you feel or hear a voice inviting you to explore religious life more closely, know that we have one of the most active discernment programs to help you to discern your call. Visit our vocation website or contact us.

Posted in God Calling?

4 responses to “Discernment Retreat and Vocation Ministry During Pandemic

  1. Thank you, Sr. Mai Dung and the team and God’s Call to the women who came and the sisters who were able to be companions. I could read between lines how fulfilling it was for everyone. How Blessed we are as we trust in God to bring us what we need and at the right time! Though I cannot be physically present, I pray for vocations and respond as I am able at this time. God bless everyone abundantly as begin the Springtime of our year together.
    Love and prayer, Brigid, OP

  2. Well done, Mai Dung, as Rita says you all have done a great job throughout the pandemic, having participated in 2 I can speak from experience. Your sharing with the Community is very important which you have done well.

  3. Sr. Mai Dung, thank you for this informative blog explaining the discernment weekend and all that you and the vocation team are doing to promote vocations. I participated for the first time in the March 12-14 weekend as a Sister Companion and affirm how well organized and inspiring the weekend was. The content gave a great introduction to the four pillars of Dominican life. It was also a good renewal weekend for me. Blessings to the team!

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