New women’s discernment group emphasizes spiritual life in community.
Vocational discernment is difficult as a college student, and particularly difficult for women due to the lack of conversation about women’s religious life. For any student, it can be challenging to find the time to develop a prayer life or regularly attend Mass. For women, it can be especially difficult to connect with other women also discerning their vocation. BeLoved, a new women’s discernment group on campus, is working to create opportunities for women to discern their vocations and grow in holiness together.
“During my time at Notre Dame, I have encountered so many women wanting to discern religious life, but have had a hard time finding resources to assist them or other women who are asking the same questions they are,” recalls senior Molly Link.
About a year ago, Link founded BeLoved, seeking to provide women on campus with the resources for active discernment she had been unable to find.
“After realizing that complaining about these issues was not going to get me anywhere, I decided to take action. Through many conversations with friends and formators about what women are looking for, we decided to form our own community,” Link said.
BeLoved seeks to create a community where women work to grow in their faith in order to properly discern their vocation. It is “an intentional community of women centered around vocational discernment,” Link said: “Through community prayer and participation in the Sacraments, we want to first focus on growing in relationship with the Lord, as this is the beginning of discernment.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the group would meet every month to make meals, have picnics, attend Mass together, and spend time with religious sisters with the goal of fostering a strong community life dedicated to intentionally exploring God’s plan for their lives. The group also met every weekday for Morning Prayer.
“It’s been really helpful having the support of a community who is asking similar questions about their relationship with God and exploring the possibility that He may be calling us to religious life. BeLoved offers the opportunity to discern living intentionally in community which is a central part of religious life,” said senior Cheyenne Schuster.
Discerning in community is essential because the community helps individuals develop the courage to respond to God’s call with zeal. “We’re not meant to do this alone, but too often we think we must,” said junior Maggie Garnett: “by gathering in community, we are able to build each other up and find accompaniment as we ask these beautiful (though at times intimidating!) questions about how we are called to love.”
However, BeLoved’s membership is not limited to women discerning the religious life; the group is open to women discerning any vocation.
“Because discernment can be such a fluid process, we are open to women discerning all types of vocations, no matter where they are in that journey,” Link said.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, BeLoved is seeking an adapted format for the group this semester. The group currently meets every weekday for Morning Prayer, and any additional meetings are on an as-needed basis over Zoom. Link said the group is working on establishing additional regular events focused on creating intentional conversations, such as hosting guest speakers and holding a retreat.
“We are trying to find the balance of fostering community and hosting events beneficial to women while not wanting to add too much to an already chaotic year. We want to make sure to be more of a help than a burden to our community, so we are still testing the waters for what exactly that looks like,” Link said.
BeLoved is always open to new members, and anyone interested in learning more about the group is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, check out BeLoved’s blog at belovednd.wordpress.com, or to join the women in prayer, weekdays at 9 a.m. in the Coleman-Morse chapel.
Maria is a junior PLS and Medieval Studies major who loves smoked salmon, Brideshead Revisited, and po-ta-toes. If you ever want to talk about Augustine, Platonism, or the unshakeable desire to leave your studies behind and become a Desert Father, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.