A Tremendous Blessing
I am writing this letter to share about my experience as a resident at the Annunciation Women’s Vocation House which is a ministry under the Confraternity of Penitents in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have been living at the vocation house with two other women to include the “house mother” for the last two months and most recently another woman has joined us. Presently, I am a Candidate with the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Felix of Cantalice and awaiting a live-in candidacy. It was truly by Divine Providence that I found the Franciscan Women’s Vocation House during this period of discernment in my life and it has been such a tremendous blessing in many ways; thanks be to God!
Of the many benefits which this ministry affords women who are discerning God’s Call, the vocation house provides a wonderful opportunity to live in a community environment that fosters an active prayer life, meaningful formation events, fellowship with other discerners, shared meals, rewarding work experiences, and a peaceful means to continue discerning God’s Will. More specifically, the “house mother” has the responsibilities for arranging community activities to include: daily prayer times (i.e. Liturgy of the Hours), weekly formation meetings, shared meals, and other recreational/social activities such as spiritual movies, games, and/or outings. Each resident is invited and encouraged to join as many activities as her own work schedule allows for yet still adhering to the minimum participation requirements. For myself, I have really benefited from and enjoyed praying evening and night prayers together, sitting around the table to share a meal (and even attempting to employ my amateur culinary skills towards preparing community meals), fellowship activities, and the weekly formation events. From my perspective, the house mother has always been very sensitive to individuals’ experiences with prayer and accommodating for their level of spiritual maturity when preparing for community prayer and formation activities. Most recently, we just completed a study on the book entitled, Uniformity with God’s Will. I would speculate that we gained a lot of very practical insights since we often found ourselves referencing our ‘newly-acquired’ knowledge throughout the course of our days. Suffice it to say, I think the house mother creates a very positive environment for delving more deeply into an active prayer life, offering meaningful formation activities, and promoting fellowship among residents.
With regards to my work activities, I have the wonderful privilege of helping out with the confraternity’s online Catholic gift shop. Essentially, each resident has the option to either pay a monthly amount for her housing or she can choose to work for her “fair share”. For myself, I was yearning to find some type of meaningful work to perform during my transition and the gift shop was the perfect place for me to serve. It is such a rewarding experience each morning to receive orders from our customers and to bundle up packages of religious items for shipment to them. I can only imagine the smiles that will come to their faces and the joy that will fill their hearts when they receive the orders. What a blessing to be a part of this ministry while living at the vocation hours. Moreover, the Confraternity of Penitents Volunteer Coordinator has been extremely accommodating in allowing me to set my own hours so that I can participate in daily Mass and have the time I need for my own private prayer periods and discernment. In this regard and in every other manner of speaking, those individuals who oversee the mission of the vocation house place a high priority on promoting each woman’s on-going discernment. Beyond working at the gift shop, I have also elected to do some of my volunteer hours working in the garden and doing landscaping at the confraternity’s properties. This outdoor work has been very rewarding as well not only by its very nature in being outdoors amidst God’s creation, but also in learning a little about gardening; a rather unexpected blessing for me. Thus, I have really enjoyed the various types of work offered here at the vocation house and the flexibility that I have to do my work.
Another rich blessing with regards to the ministry at the Annunciation Vocation House is the tremendous spiritual support and guidance that each woman is afforded based on her own individual needs. Specifically, the volunteer coordinator and the house mother are both readily available at any time to meet with me to discuss spiritual matters, my personal discernment, and/or any concerns that I may have with living at the house. At the same time, I also have regular scheduled meetings with them. Additionally, women are also highly encouraged to have a spiritual director. Since I had just arrived in the local area, I did not have a spiritual director. Being so gracious and thoughtful, the house mother solicited the names of a couple priests in the surrounding area who would be willing to serve as an interim spiritual director. Praise and thanks be to God for His provisions! This opportunity for spiritual direction has proven to be yet another one of the many graces I have received in living here at the vocation house.
In closing, I cannot begin to express my sincere gratitude to the Confraternity of Penitents who invests its resources into offering a women’s vocation house (and a men’s vocation house as well). My two months here have been very fruitful for me in the spiritual realm and in fostering my desire to answer God’s Call to religious life. The benefits of living at the vocation house with other women of faith who are discerning God’s Will is truly an answer to prayer. I am so grateful for this stepping stone that God has placed in my journey and the means that I have to continue serving God in the midst of a major transition in my own life. We are Blessed beyond Measure; All praise and thanks be to God!
Resident, Annunciation Women’s Vocation House 26 June 2020
A Particular Important Part of Each Person's Journey
I am writing this letter at the request of the Confraternity of Penitents and in support of the mission of their House of Discernment as they seek a grant in order to make some much needed renovations and improvements to the living space. I have been associated with the Confraternity of Penitents for over ten years and know the governing body very well. So, when I was told that they were opening a house of vocational discernment I was extremely excited about the project.
The purpose of the house is to provide a communal living space where like minded individuals would live and pray together while offering each other support as they freely discerned the direction of their lives. With the many bedrooms available, the house would allow quite a few individuals to live together which would reduce the cost of living for all involved. This in turn would reduce each person’s stress in that they would not have to work multiple jobs in order to maintain a roof over their head in a peaceful and prayerful environment while figuring out where God is calling them to.
Vocational discernment is particularly important part of each person’s journey otherwise they might jump from job to job and never be fulfilled in anything that they do. Erin W, who is discerning her own vocation, is currently fulfilling the role of House Mother. This role in the House of Discernment is especially important as she coordinates the social and prayer schedule within the house as well as making sure that the rent and utilities are paid on time which is good stewardship and sign of maturity. Also, Erin’s own experiences over the years gives her an especially empathetic ear with which to listen and wisdom with which to speak.
Having spent time many years ago with the Confraternity of Penitents while I was discerning my own vocation I can speak with personal experience to the love and dedication with which they work. Please consider then a grant in order that they may continue their work in vocations in a more fruitful manner.
Sincerely yours in Christ
Br. Patrick H.
St. Martin’s Abbey
Astute House Parent
I am pleased to write a letter of recommendation for the discernment house located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Saint Francis’ Little Assisi! I enjoyed two short term visits to the discernment house in October and December of 2019.
The house is located in a quiet, safe neighborhood. It is walking distance from the historic St. Andrew’s Church which houses the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare and is also walking distance from the peaceful Mary’s Glen. The accommodations are simple and comfortable. Settling in was made easy by Erin, the house mother. She offered me opportunities for prayer and conversation, but was astute at knowing when I needed silence.
I strongly recommend this formation discernment house to anyone who is looking for one.
Susan P. (23 June 2020)