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Vocational retreat

Paul Wadell (Religious Studies) and Paul Ngo (Psychology) taking part in this year's retreat.

August 2008

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St. Norbert to host national conference on vocation

The concept of institutional calling will be the theme of a conference for Catholic schools within the Lilly Endowment's Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation to be held at St. Norbert College Oct. 23-25, 2008.

Sponsored by the Program of Faith, Learning and Vocation, the conference will allow participants to examine and discuss the ways in which their program efforts have fostered reflection on institutional vocation, processes that can be effective in further developing this reflection and the importance of mining the stories of the schools’ founders or founding orders.

“The interest in exploring these questions came from those who have journeyed with us over the years. Convinced that they were individually called to something of import and value, our colleagues began to ask what our college community was called to be,” said Julie Massey ’87, director of the Program of Faith, Learning and Vocation.

One of Massey’s favorite quotes is from liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, who said "Vocation is always a convocation."

“He could not be more right,” she said. “Figuring out the vocation of St. Norbert College is not the job of the Norbertines alone or the administration alone and it is not solely the job of the Program of Faith, Learning and Vocation. It is work that requires communal discernment.”

Nearly 100 members of the college’s faculty and staff have participated in Retreat Seminar 1, which has been offered for six consecutive summers and focuses primarily on personal vocation and its connections to one’s work, relationships and significant commitments.

Dozens of others have participated in book discussions, the study group on vocation or special retreats on vocation offered for various groups. Feedback from those participants led to the development of Retreat Seminar 2, which was offered for the second time June 23-25, 2008, at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality in De Pere.

“This seminar has given faculty and staff from diverse areas of college life the opportunity to learn, pray, dialogue, and move toward a deeper understanding of what our college is and what it is called to become,” said Massey.

The year’s seminar was facilitated by Paul Wadell (Religious Studies) and John P. Schuster, author of “Answering Your Call—A Guide for Living Your Deepest Purpose," which was used to drive discussions in each of the study groups on vocation.

William Hyland (Classical Studies) gave a presentation on St. Norbert and his story, including a comparison of the world of Norbert of Xanten and the world of today. A panel of four Norbertines shared reflections on the charism of Norbertine life and how they connect it to the institutional call of the college.

Among the things participants gained from the seminar were a deeper understanding of Norbert's life and the energy to work on strengthening institutional mission and an appreciation of the people who make up the community and a sense of hope for the future of the college.

Learning how their personal vocation intersects with the vocation of St. Norbert College allowed them to better understand their role in the story; and perhaps most importantly, how they can articulate that story to others.



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St. Norbert College • 100 Grant Street • De Pere, WI 54115-2099 • 920-337-3181