When Tracey Horan started her internship with an order of US Sisters, she had no idea what the next year would have in store. Horan thought that she might even "meet a nice farm boy and settle down". Global Sisters Report has the story.
Now, Horan is discerning her first vows with the same group of Sisters, of Providence of St Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana.
Horan, who interned with the sisters at the White Violet Centre for Eco-Justice as well as with AmeriCorps VISTA, sees her time as a volunteer as critical to her journey to religious life.
She recalls a moment on Valentine's Day when she was asked to help teach the Sisters a dance to raise awareness about violence against women and also realised that she might be called to religious life.
"I just remember being in the front and showing them the moves to this dance and thinking there is nowhere that I'd rather be right now. And that was definitely one of the most memorable Valentine's Days I've ever had — I think that was kind of telling," joked Horan, who is also a contributor to Global Sisters Report.
Simple moments like these are what many former volunteers who have transitioned to a religious vocation say were crucial to their decision to pursue religious life.
While long-term volunteering is not a direct feeder to religious life, Catholic Volunteer Network did notice a connection between volunteering and vocations. In 2012, the organisation commissioned a study to explore a variety of topics with former volunteers, one of them being consecrated religious life.
According to the study, Volunteer Introspective, released in 2013, only 6 percent of those surveyed were pursuing a religious vocation, regardless of religion. However, many more volunteers have seriously considered a religious vocation.
Photo: Tracey Horan, second from left, hikes with the Sisters of Providence of St Mary-of-the-Woods during her internship year with the White Violet Centre for Eco-Justice in 2013.