Jennifer Brinker of the St. Louis Review gives the back story in Holy Hangouts connect Daughters of Charity with discerners
Don’t call it an online chat. The Daughters of Charity prefer the more appropriate name “Holy Hangout.”
For a little more than a year, Daughters of Charity across the United States have been hosting every couple of months a Holy Hangout, an online discussion among the Daughters that shed light on their lives as women religious — including the vows they take, a glimpse into their daily lives and mission work.
Discussions are held via Google Hangout and live streamed (and later archived) on the Daughters’ YouTube page(www.youtube.com/daughtersofcharityus). Sister Marguerite Broderick, DC, who teaches at the Daughters’ seminary in St. Louis and offers mission formation to lay staff members of the community’s St. Louis office of the Province of St. Louise, will be one of six women to discuss the topic of discernment during the next Holy Hangout at 8 p.m. central time Sunday, June 1. During the conversation, the Daughters also encourage discussion and questions on Twitter using the #holyhangoutdc hashtag.
While part of the idea is to connect with members of a younger generation who are discerning a religious vocation, the ultimate goal is to evangelize by spreading the Gospel message, said Sister Liz Sjoberg, who hosts the discussions from her home at one of the Daughters’ community residences in Chicago, where she is completing studies toward a master’s degree in social work.
“The goal here ultimately is (focused on) the Church,” said the 32-year-old, who approached her community’s vocations directresses about the idea. “We would love to have women flooding our doors. But ultimately we want to spread the Gospel message, and I think this is an important way to do this. If a woman comes to us, it is secondary to engaging people with Jesus Christ.”
Sister Marguerite, who will celebrate 51 years as a Daughter of Charity in June, has been preparing for her first online discussion by reflecting on several thoughts, including how she discovered that the community was the right one for her and what was helpful in the discernment process.
As a youth, Sister Marguerite knew that she wanted to become a sister. “I wanted something meaningful,” said the eldest of six children. “I was grateful for the wonderful life that I had. I thought, ‘What can I give back to God?'” After she entered the Daughters in St. Louis in 1963, she spent many years teaching and as a principal. She also spent four years in the 1990s working with refugees in Guatemala. Those are some of the experiences she will likely be sharing in the discussion June 1.
The Daughters first entered into the world of social media about seven years ago, when Sister Liz and several others started making videos and posting them online. Over time, they started teaming with the vocations team. While the community has two provinces in the United States (the Province of St. Louise, based in St. Louis, and the Province of the West, based in Los Altos Hills, Calif.) both work together on social media efforts, including a presence on Twitter (@DofCharity) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/Daughters OfCharityVocationsUs).
Last October, the Daughters hired Bryanna Hampton as a web content assistant. A website dedicated to vocations and discernment (www.daughters-of-charity.com) launched this week.
Sister Liz invited her parents to participate in one of the Holy Hangouts, which focused on what it’s like to have a family member become a Catholic sister. “It demystified it for people,” she said. “I think sometimes it’s difficult for a parent or a sibling to see the relationship move in a different direction” after becoming a religious. “That was a really neat one.”
The community also hosted an international discussion with Daughters from the community’s motherhouse in Paris. “You never would have had this kind of experience before,” Sister Liz said. “It’s a way to get the message out without all of the cumbersome trouble of having a team of IT people doing this for you. We can do this with a laptop and a light on your face.”
For women who might be discerning a vocation, the Holy Hangouts provide an informal way of sharing the community’s mission. “People are coming together, even young women who are thinking about (religious life) but not ready to come on a retreat or make that phone call to a vocation director,” Sister Liz said. “It’s a little peek into our lives and should people choose to take that next step, that’s great.”
WHAT: Holy Hangout, sponsored by the Daughters of Charity
WHEN: 8 p.m. (central time) Sunday, June 1
MORE INFO: Follow the discussion on Twitter at #holyhangoutdc