Universal Call to Holiness: Universal Call to Love Central to Personnel Retreat

“My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an ‘extra’ or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing.”

Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel

Universal Call to Holiness: Universal Call to Love was the theme at the January personnel retreat. Facilitators were Very Rev. David G. Caron, O.P., D. Min., the Vicar of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Dr. Susie Veters, D. Min., CPA, Director of Stewardship and Parish Services with The Catholic Foundation, Archdiocese of New Orleans. 

In his opening address, Fr. Caron said, “Holiness is not based on prayer alone, but also service. Today we ask ourselves, what is God calling us to be and how is God calling us to holiness? This call to holiness requires a relationship with God. It is a lifelong discernment for each of us.”

The path to holiness is not solely through a vocational life as a sister or priest. “I think that many people have not considered true holiness as attainable for everyday Catholics, but instead reserved for those ordained or in religious life,” said Dr. Veters. She has observed that hearing that we are all called to holiness and that holiness is attainable in the ordinary circumstances of life can be an enlightening moment for many.

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.”

John Henry Newman

During one of several breakout sessions, personnel took the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment that identifies a person’s unique sequence of 34 themes of talent. The assessment has 177 sentence pairs that have to be answered within an hour. Some of the duos are opposites, some are similar, and others have no apparent relationship. A total of 34 characteristics are highlighted through one’s selection of the sentence that most closely reflects the person’s  thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Participants received a report on their top five strength characteristics. Results were shared and discussed.

The StrengthsFinder program has been presented by the Catholic Foundation to parish administrative staff, Archdiocesan ministries and Archdiocesan departments. Dominican is the first school participant.

“We become the best version of ourselves by focusing on the positive qualities that are innately present in us,” noted Dr. Veters. “By recognizing and developing our strengths, we not only grow in holiness, but also become better spouses, parents, employees, friends. Additionally, focusing on strengths through organizational development programs such as StrengthsFinder helps the organization as a whole to grow and strengthen. It assists in team building by focusing employees on the goodness of their co-workers and suggesting ways that everyone can offer their best qualities to the particular duties assigned to them. In particular, a strengths-based approach to teaching, enables each educator to identify how he or she can best service students.”

“To be our best Dominican, requires the unique gifts of many,” said Dominican President Dr. Cynthia A. Thomas, adding that she feels blessed to serve in Catholic education and is inspired by her colleagues in the Dominican community. “They help me to strive for holiness in our ministry together. The unique gifts shared by each personnel member contribute to Dominican’s mission effectiveness benefiting our students and enriching their high school experience.”