Following a successful response around the world from the “Have You Considered Becoming a Priest” invitational coin sponsored by Serra International, Bob Rudman, Serra International’s vice president of communication for the executive committee, said they are now extending the effort with the “Have You Considered Religious Life” invitational coin for women considering becoming a sister.
And he sees it having an even bigger response.
“I think there are more young women in high school and college that think about what they’re going to do for their career and make their decision to become a sister earlier than young men who decide to become a priest,” Rudman said. “That’s a testimony to a lot of the age of our current sisters, especially some of the postulants.
“Our mission is to pray for those called to the priesthood and religious life, but this is a tangible expression that really gets to the heart of what we’re all about in inviting those young men and women to consider the vocation,” he said.
Designed by Copy Solutions, the coin is a silver, smaller scale version of the priestly invitational coin, which features a simple cross and olive branches on the front. When flipped over, the words “Have You Considered Religious Life” surround the image of the crown of thorns with the dove of the Holy Spirit at its center.
The coin also comes with a prayer card with the Blessed Virgin Mary on the front and the words, “Holy Mother Mary, pray for us!” The back serves as a message to those who will distribute the coins.
“Please present an Invitation Coin to any young woman you believe could be called to religious life,” the card reads. “She can affix it to her key chain to serve as a constant reminder of your unwavering support.”
Sister Mara Grace, OP, vocations director for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, said she loved the idea when Rudman first told her about it.
“I was instantly attracted to it. I remember as a teenager and young adult several people had invited me to consider discerning religious life,” Sister Mara Grace said. “This invitation planted seeds for me to consider it and eventually take steps to enter the convent. Studies show that extending an invitation to a young person to consider a vocation to the priesthood and religious life is effective in helping them take a step to see if the Lord is calling them.
“This coin serves as a way that we can be proactive in extending the invitation to young people today,” she continued. “The ‘Invitation Coin’ is a physical help to both the one who has been given the coin and to the one who offers it. When a young woman is invited to consider religious life, the coin remains with her as a reminder to ask the Lord how He is calling her to live her life and as an assurance that she is supported in her search for the Lord’s will.”
Sister Mara Grace said it’s a great tool for the laity, too, “both by identifying young women who may have the capacities for religious life, and by giving the courage to extend the invitation to young women to consider it.”
She said she is grateful to the Serra Club for their continued support of vocations.
“I am constantly inspired by the members of the Serra Club who have a real zeal and fervor for praying for vocations. My first year serving as vocation director, I was contacted by a member of the Serra Club to ask if they could add me to their prayer list each month,” explained Sister Mara Grace, who took on the role in 2020 after serving for two years as the assistant to the vocation director. “They said that they have found it very important to pray for vocation directors because they need the wisdom to direct the young people who are discerning their vocations. If there are wise vocation directors, there will be more solid vocations. This really touched me and enabled me to see the far-reaching effect that the Serra Club has by their prayers.”
Women who choose religious life with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia spend eight full years in formation before taking their final profession of vows, Sister Mara Grace explained.
The first year is the postulant year. “This year is set apart to spend time with the Lord and receive initial formation in philosophy, theology, and the religious life as it is lived by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.”
Upon completing this first year, the sisters receive their habit, religious name, and start the canonical novitiate for the next two years and make her temporary vows. After living for five years under the vows, they make their final profession after eight years.
“To young women who are considering religious life, I would reiterate that they must focus first on the Lord. In spending time with Him, getting to know Him, they will also be led in His will,” Sister Mara Grace said. “Discernment requires a lot of docility and a lot of trust. If the desire for religious life persists, it is good to take action – talk to a spiritual director or vocation director, inquire about visiting a convent. These concrete steps help to confirm the Lord’s will.”
Both the Serra International Invitation Coins for men considering the priesthood and women considering religious life are available for purchase in boxes of five at vianneyvocations.com. Each set is $25 apiece and comes with a “handsome” box and accompanying cards.
Several groups have already sponsored the purchase of the coins, including the Knights of Columbus Council 7764 at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin with a $250 donation.