Father Hasser just returned from a very busy but important week in Dallas, TX at the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors Convention. So what did he do?
The NCDVD (National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors) is an organization of which Father Hasser is part. Actually, he’s the Regional Coordinator for our district, but we’ll get to that later. This conference is a dues paying membership that is made up of Vocations Directors throughout the United States. 90% of Vocations Directors belongs to the NCDVD. The conference membership enables Vocations Directors to foster relationships among themselves in order to share resources, help new directors, and, basically, assist the directors in their particular mission within the Church. It makes resources available to them throughout the year; it can even be used for research purposes–polling, compiling responses–about common practices throughout the country. It has a library and online resources that are available to members as well.
The NCDVD has a yearly convention, an annual event that is hosted by different regions. This event is a chance for the Vocations Directors to come together to pool their resources and learn for future planning. There is high participation at the convention. One interesting fact is that each year there are 40-50 new Vocations Directors (a 25% turnover). This convention is very useful for new directors, as they have a learning curve at their new position in their respective dioceses. For them, as well as for all, it fulfills a need for ongoing support. It can be quite difficult to be a new Vocations Director, just like any job–relationships need to be built in the diocese, tasks of the job learned… The Vocations Directors who have been at their positions for a longer term are able to help the newer ones.
Each year the conference provides ongoing formation and fruit. It is three to four days of intense work, it can be mentally exhausting as a great deal of brainstorming, creative thinking and social networking occur. Father said it is an exciting time: many good things come out of the convention but often it can be exacting to apply it.
The day begins at 7:30 with a holy hour, followed by morning prayer. At 9am, there are speakers, workshops or meetings for an hour and a half. After this, there is an hour “break”, in which the priests can have time to meet in small groups or one-on-one, or possibly just time to reflect or spend time at work. At 11:30, there is Holy Mass, followed by lunch. After lunch, it is workshop time once again until 3pm. The next two hours are spent as each individual chooses: meeting with others to discuss ideas, catching up on office details. At 5pm they reconvene for Vespers and evening prayer, followed by dinner. At 8:30pm, there is hospitality or social time for two and a half hours. This is a time to “purposefully mingle”. Perhaps they heard a good idea from a fellow director on which they want to follow-up, or a question that they would like to address with another. It is almost like sales networking on a spiritual/vocations director level. This strategizing time comes to a close at 11pm–the end of a busy day. A special aspect of the convention is that all of the participants are driven to improve their programs, to maximize their time while there, and are intentional in building relationships that can be continued later in the year.
When asked about what he learned most this year, Father said that he felt affirmed about our current program in our diocese in that what is working here is also working in other areas of the country. Our focus on engaging young people, the retreats, the campus visits, programs similar to the Knights of the Holy Temple are bearing fruit both here and elsewhere. The directors are seeing that true discipleship and relationship building are key to vocational discernment.
There were several keynote speakers, including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo from Galveston-Houston, Texas and Father Robert Barron. Father took away many ideas from the speakers and we hope to write subsequent articles on points of application for our diocese later on. He also attended three workshops. One was on immigration law, the basics that Vocations Directors need to know when those discerning in the diocese may have immigration issues. The second was on outreach to college students. He attended this one to check and see if what we are doing is successful elsewhere, to see how to improve upon what we are already doing. This workshop was very encouraging and gave several insights on how to encourage pastors within the diocese. The third was given by Mark Hart (The “Bible Geek”) on engaging high school students, especially using social media. Again, we hope to expound on these ideas in later articles.
Father also had several business meetings to attend. As he is the regional coordinator for the district of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, he had to give reports to the executive board and to our region. His commitments in this area also include separate meetings later on in the year and an extra day before the convention begins. He describes his position as a liaison between the board and the regional Vocations Directors.
All in all, this week lends itself to the accomplishment of a great deal of work. He says that it is very intense but fruitful and valuable experience for all.
Want more? Here is a link to what Vianney Vocations learned at NCDVD. Click here to read.