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Conference of the National Association of Vocation/Formation Directors (NAVFD)

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Date & Time
26 April 2021, 0 h 00 min - 28 April 2021, 0 h 00 min



Our Association’s mandate is to encourage and foster a culture of vocation among all Catholics across Canada by helping each person to recognize and realize their unique call from God to their own special way of living in this world.

This conference is open to all persons and organizations who are passionate about fostering a culture of vocation.

For registration form and further information, go to navfd.info or contact navfdco@gmail.com

Invitation from Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix,
Archbishop of Quebec
Primate of Canada


The conference begins on 26 April 2021 and ends on 28 April 2021.


Conference Fees in Canadian funds:

  • NAVFD Member                 $450.00
  • Non-NAVFD Member        $500.00


Please send your completed Registration Form with cheque or money order made payable to NAVFD to:

NAVFD Conference 2021
St. Teresa’s Parish
120 Mundy Pond Road,
St. John’s, NL A1E 1V1

Payment may also be made through PayPal: http://navfd.info/donate/

Cancellation Policy:  There is no penalty if registration is cancelled before April 15, 2021. Any cancellation after April 15, 2021 will not be refunded. Substitutions are acceptable at any time.

Keynote Speakers and Facilitator

Keynote Speaker #1: Dr. David Dean of Atlantic School of Theology

“Crossing Boundaries: The Holy Spirit and the formation of Christ’s Body”

Dr. David Deane will speak about the baptismal life as a life lived in relationship with the Holy Spirit. He will focus on some key moments in scripture, which show what the relationship with the Holy Spirit is like. He will also unpack Hildegard of Bingen’s understanding of how we live out our vocation through a process where the Holy Spirit pollinates our natural gifts. The goal will be for participants to come to a greater understanding of how the Christian life, in terms of their roles in faith formation, social justice, evangelism, or any other role, is a life lived in relationship with the Holy Spirit in a very intimate way.

Dr. David Deane is Associate Professor of Theology at Atlantic School of Theology. His books include “Nietzsche and Theology” and “Resisting the Tyranny of the Banal”, which is forthcoming with Fortress/Lexington Academic. A former fellow of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, he has written for The Times of London, The Irish Times, and The Irish Independent. He lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with his wife Jennifer, and daughters, Sophia (14), Chora (12), and Àine, 7.

Keynote Speaker #2: Sister Margo Ritchie, CSJ of London, Ontario

Where is This Place Called ‘Here’-The Adjacent Possible?

Borrowing a phrase from Irish poet Padraig O Tuama, Margo will begin to describe the landscape of this place called ‘here’ as a starting point for conversation among us. How we name this place called ‘here’ influences what we see…and what we don’t see.  Through the lens of call she will explore with us the image of the “adjacent possible”.

Sr. Margo Ritchie, CSJ

Margo is a Sister of St. Joseph whose life has taken her from teaching high school to being a co-director of a home for women in transition, to the work of spiritual direction at a retreat house in London. Her service now is the very interesting work of leadership within her Congregation.

She cares about making the world a more hospitable place for everyone and learning ways to live more humanly together.

Keynote Speaker #3: Father Daniel Horan, OFM of Chicago

Discernment, Vocation, and Formation in the Thought of Pope Francis

In keeping with the vision of a universal call to holiness expressed in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis has frequently written and spoken about need to attend to discernment in the lives of all the baptized. Recognizing consecrated religious life and ministerial priesthood as subsets of a broader theology of vocation, this presentation explores what the pope’s contributions to the themes of discernment and vocation have to offer to renewed consideration of religious formation and vocation ministries.

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, PhD is the Duns Scotus Professor of Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he teaches systematic theology and spirituality, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, and the author of hundreds of articles and more than twelve books, including Catholicity and Emerging Personhood: A Contemporary Theological Anthropology(Orbis Books, 2019), which received the 2020 First Place Award for Theology Book from the Association of Catholic Publishers. Among his forthcoming books due out later this year are A White Catholic’s Guide to Racism and Privilege and The Way of the Franciscans: A Prayer Journey Through Lent. Fr. Daniel regularly lectures around the United States and abroad; serves on a number of university, academic, and publication editorial boards, including the St. Bonaventure University Board of Trustees, the Franciscan School of Theology Board of Regents, and the Board of Directors of the International Thomas Merton Society. He is co-host of The Francis Effect Podcast. For information, visit www.DanHoran.com

Our Facilitator: Sr. Elizabeth Davis, RSM, PhD

Elizabeth Davis is the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland and Labrador.  In that role, she has special leadership responsibilities for St. Patrick’s Mercy Home, The Gathering Place, and Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice.  She has been a high school teacher and a health care administrator.  She has recently completed doctoral studies in Scripture at the University of Toronto. Among her awards are membership in the Order of Canada and the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as honorary doctoral degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Manitoba.

Update from our U.S. Counterparts:

Sr. Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M., MDiv, MA is the Executive Director of Member Relations and Services at the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC). She will bring us up to date on the activities of vocation ministry in the USA.

Sr. Ellen Dauwer, SC, PhD is a Sister of Charity (Convent Station, NJ) and serves as Executive Director of the Religious Formation Conference, (RFC). She will be on hand to give us an update on formation activities in the United States.

Workshop Session Details

Due to our online format, participants will be able to attend all 9 workshops if desired.

1.The Dawning Future of Religious Life: Germinating and Radiating – Brenda Peddigrew, RSM, PhD
Although we see a significant diminishing of numbers in our Canadian ways of living religious life, and many of our familiar Congregations are coming to conscious completion, it is most important at this time to recognize and attend to the deep and abiding influences that our Congregations have had and still have. Instead of “ending” we are really in “germination”, and our good influence in the world continues to radiate wherever we are or have been. The soul of this workshop is the recognition and practice of seeing how the heart of religious life continues in different forms, and will continue long after traditional forms have transformed.

2. Do Monkeys Go to Heaven? The Beauty and Wisdom of Faith and Science – Rev. John W. McCarthy, SJ, PhD
There persists a seemingly widespread notion that religious faith and empirical science must, by necessity, be in conflict. Yet as many contemporary scholars of the history of science tell us, the relationship is much more complex than that.

Properly understood, science and religion are not in conflict but act as fruitful partners in a healthy dialogue that seeks the truth of the fullness of human experience.  Placing biological evolution in dialogue with the Christian theology of creation, we will examine the wisdom and beauty of science and faith.  We will consider the vast, wondrous world of “both/and” rather than the limited, oppressive world of “either/or.” Both science and faith deal with data – albeit data of a different character and quality.  Both scientific and theological/philosophical inquiry need to be taken seriously.  It is in charitable and welcoming dialogue that any semblance of truth may be attained.

3. Formation that Nurtures Transformative Servant Leadership – Sr. Miriam K. Martin, PBVM, PhD
I have meaningful and challenging conversations both within my NL Province and the larger International Presentation Congregation about formation for emerging leaders within our groups. It is evident that leadership development for religious life and ministry is nurtured in initial formation. In these evolving times within religious life, mature human development and a commitment to a communal way of life play a significant role in drawing persons into living and leading with depth, authenticity, and creativity. This is a movement towards transformative servant leadership.

4. Christus Vivit:  From Paper to Practice – Santo Arrigo, C.Ss.R.
Exploring the gift and essence of the Apostolic Exhortation to Young People, Christus Vivit, and applying the scope and vision as a pastoral and missionary priority within the context of a religious congregation in Canada.

5. Who are our Newest Members? A Look at Millennials and Gen Z – Sr. Ellen Dauwer, SC, PhD
This presentation will begin with an overall look at the two most recent generations: Millennials and Gen Zeders. It will then focus on Catholics in these generations and conclude with a look at characteristics of members of these generations who are entering religious life. CARA and Pew research will form the foundation of the presentation.

6. Catechetical Formation of Candidates for Religious Life: Challenges and Opportunities – Tony Bidgood, C.Ss.R., MDiv
In the presentation, Fr. Tony will give a description of the conditions of belief in 21st– Century secular Canada, with a focus on the opportunities posed by this time to the catechetical formation of candidates for religious life.

7. Together for Mission: Formation of Associates of Religious Institutes – Anne Walsh, DMin
In this presentation, we will explore charisms as gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Together, we will explore the dimensions of charism, and ask how new vision and understanding might lead us to new possibilities for identifying, inviting, forming and calling associates to greater missionary involvement.

8.“Done Made My Vow To The Lord: The Vocational Call of Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA” – Maurice J. Nutt, C.Ss.R.
This workshop takes a deep dive into the conversion to Catholicism, acceptance, challenges, and perseverance of the vocational journey of Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA. Sister Thea was multi-vocational as a teacher, preacher, singer, and evangelist.  We explore her conviction to fully live the calling of religious life in an authentic way as an apologetically black woman while promoting intercultural awareness and advocating for racial reconciliation within the Catholic Church and beyond.

9. Due Diligence in Vocation Ministry – Sr. Deborah Borneman, SS.C.M., MDiv, MA
Vocation ministers have the right to gather the data they need for due diligence in candidate assessment yet safeguard the candidate’s right to minimal intrusion. This workshop is designed to update participants on the trends, best practices, and challenges of contemporary vocation ministry. Using a case study approach, participants will delve deeper into candidate issues that delay or preclude admission. Topics include the demographics to consider when inviting discerners and the latest research on newer members.

This will be a wonderful conference and the Planning Committee and the Board are delighted to welcome you to this exciting gathering.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact: Sr Nancy Sullivan, Executive Director of NAVFD at navfdco@gmail.com