The Presentation Sisters (Union) held their first ever Virtual Vocation Animation Conference on 9, 10 and 11 September 2020 via Zoom. Originally the Conference was supposed to take place in Mount St Anne’s Retreat Centre in Killenard, Co Laois, Ireland from 16-27 September, but due to the global effects from Covid-19, this could no longer happen. Thankfully, in these wonderful technological times, we had an alternative. Twenty-six participants from Africa, Canada, England, the Holy Land, India, Ireland, Latin America, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Slovakia and United States attended the Conference.
There was extensive and meticulous planning done by the Planning Committee – Sisters Aurea Dias, Sharon Fagan, Bernadette Flanagan, Josephine James and Ann Marie O’Sullivan in the months leading up to the Conference. Their work was challenging, having their initial time frame for the Conference of ten days shortened to now just three half days! All of their hard work paid off, and the participants were supplied with invaluable resources and a renewed sense of excitement and energy for the ministry of Vocations.
Sr Mary Deane did a tremendous job facilitating this event. Her tireless work and preparation before the Conference showed as everything flowed beautifully throughout the three days.
On our first day, as part of the opening ritual, a Sister from each Unit presented a symbol and a brief description of what the symbol meant to their Unit regarding Vocation Animation Ministry. This was followed by a beautiful ritual dance performed by Sisters Sukirtha Kulandai (India North Unit), Gulnaz Anwar (Pakistan Unit), Consilio Buckley (Ireland: North East Unit) and Angela Sianga (Holy Cross Sister from Zambia). Congregational Leader, Sr Julie Watson offered a very inspiring opening address focusing on Birthing New Hope, which was the theme of the Conference. The participants from India, Pakistan, Africa and the Congregational Vocation Committee gave a snapshot of what has been working for them as well as some of the challenges of Vocation Animation Ministry.
On day 2 of the Conference the Sisters from the Philippines Unit opened the day with a meaningful prayer. Sr Lynne Baron, FCJ, who is the Vocations Director for the FCJ Province of Europe, spoke to the group about her ministry and experience with vocations and offered practical suggestions for today.
The Sisters from the United States Unit gathered the group in another reflective prayer to begin the final session. Sisters Aurea and Sharon, in a dialogue with one another, opened the conversation relating to the role of leadership and vocation animation. All participants were invited to ponder all they had learned during these days and to consider how they would create a plan upon returning home.
In a spirit of gratitude and hope the event closed with a lovely ritual prepared by the Sisters from the Newfoundland Unit.