As we observe International Women’s Day, we are reminded of the remarkable journeys women have embarked on across various spheres, including religious life. This day, celebrating women’s achievements and advocating for equality, sets the perfect stage for a reflective exploration into the evolving roles and vocations of women within the Church. My perspective, while unique—as someone deeply connected to yet not a member of a religious congregation—offers a bridge between the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles and the wider community. It’s from this vantage point that I delve into the themes of devotion, service, and commitment as illuminated in “God’s Call Is Everywhere: A Global Analysis of Contemporary Religious Vocations for Women,” launching this month, and how these themes resonate with and inspire the mission of the OLA Sisters.

Having had the privilege to be present as a guest at the OLA Irish District Assembly 2024 during two significant days open to collaborators and staff, I was offered a unique window into a pivotal moment not only for the OLA Congregation but also within the broader Church. The Assembly unfolded against the backdrop of several momentous events: the ongoing Synod on Synodality, which invites us all toward a fresh way of embodying our faith together; the upcoming Church’s Jubilee year, beginning in December 2024; and the anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the Congregation’s foundation in 2026. These milestones collectively beckon us to approach the future with optimism and thoughtful consideration of our collective journey.

This time of reflection and discernment, as shared with us during the Assembly, transcends mere celebration. It represents a deep dive into both the challenges and opportunities that await us. Through the lens of my brief yet insightful experience, it became evident that themes of collaboration, prayer, and adaptability are not just focal points for the Congregation but resonate as vital imperatives for the entire Church and those of us connected to its mission. The Assembly’s emphasis on these areas mirrors the critical dialogues within the Church and among communities committed to religious life, resonating with the explorations in “God’s Call Is Everywhere.”

The book, ”God’s Call Is Everywhere: A Global Analysis of Contemporary Religious Vocations for Women,” offers a timely exploration that delves into the current state and future prospects of religious life for women globally. This pivotal work offers a comprehensive analysis, examining the motivations behind, challenges facing, and the undeniably persistent call to serve that defines contemporary religious vocations among women. By integrating extensive research across different countries, the book presents a nuanced view of how women are navigating their spiritual journeys in an ever-evolving Church landscape.

“God’s Call Is Everywhere” stands as a crucial resource at a time when the religious community, including the OLA Sisters, grapples with questions of vocations, identity, and mission in the 21st century. It provides valuable insights into the dynamics of religious life today, highlighting the resolute attraction to a life of devotion, the communal challenges of living in an age marked by individualism and digital disconnect, and the transformative power of a call to service.

The book’s launch coincides with a period of significant introspection and renewal within the OLA community, as they align their mission with the pressing needs of our times and the Church’s evolving understanding of synodality and community. This makes “God’s Call Is Everywhere” not just a reflection on the state of religious vocations but a beacon for future pathways that religious communities might explore, inspired by a global analysis that resonates deeply with the local and communal experiences of many religious congregations today.

The insights gleaned from the OLA Irish District Assembly 2024 and the reflections offered in “God’s Call Is Everywhere” intersect in ways that illuminate the challenges and opportunities facing these communities. The Assembly’s focus on embracing the future with hope amidst significant milestones for the Church and the Congregation parallels the book’s exploration of the contemporary state of religious vocations among women. Both narratives underscore a critical juncture in religious life, marked by a need for adaptation, deeper communion, and a reinvigorated mission that responds to the signs of the times.

At the core of these discussions is the concept of synodality, highlighted by the Assembly as a call toward a renewed way of being Church. This echoes the book’s findings on the importance of community and collaboration in fostering vocations and supporting women in their religious journeys. The synodal path invites a listening Church, where voices from various corners, including women discerning their vocations, are heard and valued. This inclusive approach is vital for understanding the multifaceted experiences of women in religious life, as presented in the book.

Furthermore, the Assembly’s anticipation of celebrating the Congregation’s 150th anniversary and the Church’s Jubilee year resonates with the book’s portrayal of religious life as a rich tapestry of tradition and innovation. Just as the Assembly looks forward to these milestones as opportunities for renewal and reflection, “God’s Call Is Everywhere” offers a chance to reflect on the enduring appeal and evolving challenges of religious vocations for women. It highlights the need for communities like the OLA Sisters to remain rooted in their charism while being open to the Holy Spirit’s movements in an ever-changing world.

In drawing parallels between the Assembly’s outcomes and the book’s insights, we find a shared emphasis on the crucial role of dialogue, discernment, and dynamic faith in navigating the future of religious life. The Assembly’s deliberations and the book’s global analysis both suggest that facing the current challenges requires a collective effort—a journey made together, with hope and faith as our guides.

This interweaving of Assembly insights and book reflections underscores a profound connection between the lived experiences of the OLA Sisters and the broader narrative of women’s religious vocations today. It highlights a collective journey of faith, renewal, and commitment to serving God’s call, wherever and however it may manifest.

In today’s world, where division, violence, and a pervasive sense of uncertainty threaten the fabric of global communities, the role of the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles has never been more critical. Echoing the words of Pope Francis for the Jubilee 2025, themed “Pilgrims of Hope,” the OLA Sisters are called to be the bearers of hope, embodying an open spirit, a trusting heart, and a far-sighted vision that transcends the immediate challenges of our times.

The OLA Sisters, grounded in their missionary identity and the Christian virtue of hope, stand as vigilant witnesses of God’s love in a world teetering on the edge of despair. Their commitment to fostering peace, nurturing communities, and promoting a far-sighted vision of inclusivity and love mirrors the call to action highlighted in “God’s Call Is Everywhere.” Just as the book underscores the persistent and evolving call to serve in religious vocations among women, the OLA Sisters’ work exemplifies how this service can manifest as a beacon of hope amidst the turmoil of our era.

By holding fast to a vision that sees others as God sees them, the OLA Sisters actively work towards a better future for our world. Their efforts in education, healthcare, social justice, and environmental stewardship reflect a holistic approach to missionary work, one that addresses the root causes of inequality and strife while sowing seeds of hope and healing. In this way, their mission aligns with the transformative potential of religious life discussed in “God’s Call Is Everywhere,” serving as a living testament to the power of faith in action.

As the world grapples with unprecedented challenges, the OLA Sisters’ role as Pilgrims of Hope is indispensable. Their example encourages all of us to look to the future with an open spirit and a trusting heart, embodying the far-sighted vision needed to navigate the complexities of the 21st century. In doing so, they not only contribute to the immediate betterment of communities worldwide but also inspire a collective movement towards peace, unity, and a deeper understanding of our shared humanity.

As I conclude this reflection on “God’s Call Is Everywhere” in the light of the OLA Irish District Assembly 2024 and the broader themes of International Women’s Day, it’s clear that the journey ahead for religious life, particularly for women, is both challenging and ripe with opportunities. The insights from the Assembly, coupled with the global perspectives offered by the book, invite us into a collective reflection on the evolving nature of vocation and service in today’s world.

The alignment of these discussions with International Women’s Day is serendipitous, underscoring the pivotal role women play in the Church and society at large. The OLA Sisters, as Pilgrims of Hope, exemplify the courage, dedication, and vision necessary to navigate these changing tides. Their journey, reflective of the broader narrative of women’s religious vocations, is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of faith communities in the face of modern challenges.

Looking forward, it’s essential that we, as a Church and as a society, continue to support and uplift the voices of women in all areas of religious and community life. The insights from both the OLA Assembly and “God’s Call Is Everywhere” act as a guiding light, leading us toward a future where hope, collaboration, and mutual understanding pave the way for a more inclusive and compassionate world.

Together, with hope and faith as our anchors, we can move towards a future that embraces the richness of diversity, the strength of community, and the transformative power of love in action.

Purchase your copy here: God’s Call is Everywhere on Amazon.