In honor of National Catholic Sisters Week, Catholic Volunteer Network will share the perspective of sisters who started volunteer programs through CVN's From Service to Sisterhood initiative. Sisters will share a little more about how they discerned their vocation, why they felt called to create a volunteer program, and what they've learned from living and working alongside volunteers.Today we meet Sr. Janet Gildea, SC of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and the Executive Director of AVE: After Volunteer Experience in Anthony, New Mexico.
|Sister/Doctor Janet examines a child on a mission project in Ecuador.|
My first awareness of “a call” came as a desire to serve as a family physician. I felt that if I was actually accepted to medical school then that was a sign that the desire came from God and I wanted to serve those who most lacked access to healthcare. I didn’t think that you could be a Catholic sister AND a doctor- until I read about one while I was in college. That was it! I found that dual calling was the perfect path for me. My congregation’s formation process was flexible and could accommodate the demands of my medical ministry preparation. We also had some pioneer Sister-doctors so that made the call to be a Sister of Charity clear for me.
|Emma Littmann, an AVE participant, reading with a child at Proyecto Santo Niño, a Sisters of Charity|
ministry to children with special needs and their mothers across the border in Mexico.
|Sisters Carol, Peggy and Janet on the way|
to Mexico with a big donation of diapers.
We Sisters who form the nucleus of the AVE community have had somewhat similar experiences to the returning volunteers. It is challenging to convey the transformational encounters of our life on the margins to our families, friends and community. We understand the experience of transition, of being neither “here” nor “there” which returning volunteers often encounter. We have a ministry to children with special needs and their mothers across the border in Mexico, called Proyecto Santo Niño. AVE participants come with us several times a week to help them tap into their volunteer ministry experiences and to discover the meaning of their volunteer time in the larger context of their lives.
|From left to right: Sisters of Charity Andrea Koverman, |
Annie Klapheke (who served with JVC-NW) and
Tracy Kemme (who served with Rostro de Cristo).
AVE is not a “recruitment program” but it offers an opportunity to live in community with active women religious without any expectation or obligation. For those who think they might be feeling the call to religious life or those ready to seriously discern, AVE offers a place to come and wonder. I invite you to visit our website and learn more.
For more discernment resources, we also encourage you to visit the "Explore Your Vocation" section on Catholic Volunteer Network's website.