UNIVERSITY CATHOLIC LAUNCHES AVOW TO HELP WOMEN DISCERN THEIR VOCATION

Dominican sisters pray at the Adoration Chapel on the Dominican Campus in 2019. University Catholic is launching a new program, “Avow,” to help women discern their vocation. Tennessee Register file photo by Theresa Laurence

University Catholic will be holding an inaugural event for the new Nashville Avow group, a women’s vocational discernment group, on Friday, Jan. 31.
 
The evening will include a Mass, catered dinner and discussion of vocational discernment for women. The event is open to any woman in the Nashville diocese and will be held 6-8:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, in Room 304 of the Fleming Center.
 
The purpose of the night is to mark the beginning of the Avow group in the Nashville diocese. Avow is a parallel to the Melchizedek group that University Catholic sponsors for men discerning a vocation to the priesthood and religious life.
 
Following the event, Avow will meet once a month to discuss vocations, with a few religious sisters present to lead the women through the discernment process.
 
Erin Montgomery, a senior at Vanderbilt University who spearheaded the Avow group in Nashville, clarified that the group is not solely for women who feel called to the convent, though that is certainly a part of the discussion. “The group is about discernment in general. It’s for women to be able to come and talk about vocation and being open to what God is calling them to,” Montgomery said.
 
She had the idea to start the group after realizing that there was a need within the diocese for women to be able to support each other through the discernment process. She is an active member of University Catholic, the Catholic campus ministry for Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and other colleges in Nashville.
 
 After emailing with University Catholic’s vocational director to find out if there was any kind of group in Nashville, and meeting with the chaplain, she was led to the Avow group, a discernment group that was already established nationwide but lacked a Nashville branch.
 
After discussing it with some women from University Catholic and meeting with a few religious sisters in the diocese, Montgomery got ball rolling on starting the Avow group in Nashville.
 
Following the Jan. 31 event, she plans on participating fully in the group and handling a lot of the communication and logistical duties, but she is happy to hand off leadership of the meetings to the sisters who are more qualified to help women with vocational discernment.
 
Montgomery described the upcoming event as a base level introduction for any woman who is considering the religious life. It is for women in Nashville of any age or marital status.
 
“The goal of the event is to expose people to religious life and how beautiful it is,” Montgomery said. “A lot of people my age didn’t meet sisters growing up, and our ideas of them are based on movies like ‘Sister Act.’ We want to give women an idea of how beautiful this life is and what it means.”
 
If interested in joining the Avow group, information can be found under the “Learn” tab on University Catholic’s website: universitycatholic.org.

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