How often should I be talking with my discerner(s)?
You will have 10 phone calls with your discerner in total. One introductory phone call, a phone call after each workshop, and one final phone call to wrap up the program.
Am I responsible for getting in touch with my discerner(s)?
Your discerner(s) are responsible for reaching out to you. They will be given your email address through Franciscan At Home. Following their email contact, you will exchange phone numbers for further communications.
Does it matter if we use phone or video call?
You can choose whether to use phone or video call. For international program participants, we recommend video call so neither of you are charged with international fees.
What should we be talking about on our calls?
Prior to your conversation, you will receive a copy of your discerner’s workshop progress and task responses by email. Please review these.
You can ask about anything they’ve written in their task responses. We also recommend discussing the questions the discerner will write at the end of each workshop.
You are also welcome to talk with them about other matters regarding their discernment and spiritual life as you see fit, within the parameters of the program.
Am I allowed to encourage my discerner(s) to visit my community?
Vocations Outreach is a non-biased formation tool to help young adults in their discernment. We are careful to protect the discerner’s freedom within the mentoring relationship and to mitigate any undue pressure. As such, we are cautious about mentors encouraging program participants to discern with their own community if the discerner is not expressing prior interest.
If a discerner expresses interest in visiting or if you invite a discerner to visit your community, you must notify the Vocations Outreach team by email.
We request these records to see which mentors are making such invitations, and how often they are doing so.
If you are interested in using the program for young adults already discerning with your community, please read more about our ability to integrate with a vocations office by clicking here.
What is a Formation Companion?
Just as it is important to have mentors in our journey of discernment and discipleship, it is also important to have like-minded peers as traveling companions. In Vocations Outreach, we provide for this need by asking our discerners to choose a Formation Companion to accompany them throughout the program.
A Formation Companion is a friend whose role is to be a prayerful and supportive listener for the discerner, throughout the program. The Formation Companion is meant to be a peer, rather than a mentor. He or she does not have to be discerning consecrated life or the priesthood but must be a committed Catholic and a trusted friend. The discerner chooses his or her own formation companion.
In the tasks you will be receiving, you will notice that each workshop has a task where the discerner is required to have a conversation with his or her Formation Companion. It is the discerner’s responsibility to set up these conversations. As a mentor, you do not need to take responsibility to ensure that these conversations happen. However, you may find it helpful to review the criteria for choosing a Formation Companion that we give to our discerners. They will provide you with a context for the tasks you will receive.
Criteria for Choosing a Formation Companion:
- He or she is a committed and practicing Catholic (someone who believes and professes all that the Church holds to be true and revealed by God).
- He or she is of the same biological sex as the discerner. He or she is in a similar stage of life (for example, both in college or both single young adults who are working).
- He or she would be interested in learning more about discernment in general. This does not mean that they are required to also be discerning consecrated life or the priesthood.
- He or she is someone the discerner trusts.
- He or she is a good listener.
- He or she has time to have a conversation (in-person or over the phone) with the discerner every couple of weeks throughout this program.
How long does the program last?
The program will run for 6-7 months. After you finish the program with a discerner, you will be able to receive a new program participant if you wish to continue serving as a mentor.
My discerner is sending me a lot of emails with their workshop responses. Is this normal?
No. With the online formation courses, program participants will have the option to send task responses individually to you or to send them all at once at the end of the workshop.
We have given them instructions to wait until the end of the workshop to send their responses to you. If they are not doing this, please contact us so we can get in touch with them and make sure they understand how to use the workshop properly.
If they are sending you too many emails that are non-workshop related, just let us know and we can address that with them.
I was paired with a discerner, but haven’t heard from them. Do I need to contact them?
You are welcome to reach out to any discerners you have been paired with. If you haven’t heard from them within 2 weeks of being paired or are having a hard time getting in touch with them in general, please feel free to contact us and we will get in touch with them.
What if I am no longer able to be a mentor?
If you will not be able to continue serving as a mentor, please do your best to let us know in a timely manner. However, we understand that clergy and religious often have assignments and duties that can change with little notice.
If you are no longer be able to be a mentor, we ask that you try to finish the program with any discerners you currently have. If this is not possible, other arrangements will be made for those program participants.
Will I have to maintain contact with a discerner after the program ends?
You are not required to maintain contact with discerners after they complete the program, but you are free to do so.