The J.S. Paluch National Vocations Awareness Division

Annual Vocations Seminar - 2016


National leaders from vocation, evangelization, youth, young adult, multicultural ministries, Catholic marriage and family groups, the USA Council of Serra International, and religious and diocesan formation and communication organizations met at the Embassy Suites Hotel O’Hare-Rosemont in Rosemont, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, August 22–24, 2016, for the 29th annual vocation seminar, The Year of Mercy: Leadership, Mission, and Vocations, sponsored by the J.S. Paluch Company, Inc.


Keynote speaker, Most Rev. Bernard A. Hebda, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, inspired seminar participants as he explored the implications of mercy for vocations, mission, and leadership, and its importance to all Church ministries.

Rev. Ralph B. O’Donnell, Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Mrs. Rosemary Sullivan, Executive Director of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors (NCDVD), and Br. Paul Bednarczyk, CSC, Executive Director of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), presented updates on their organizations and their current services and resources. Mr. Paul Jarzembowski, Assistant Director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries, USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth and World Youth Day USA Coordinator, joined Fr. Ralph, Rose, and Br. Paul, and chaired their panel on World Youth Day 2016. Mr. Chris Adamczyk, Manager of Marketing & Communications, Ms. Vivian Cabrera, Social Media and PR Manager, and Mr. Noel Ocol, Director of Marketing and Communications, from Salt and Light Television in Canada, updated participants on recent programs and projects.


Vocation Panel
Tuesday afternoon featured panelists in various church ministries sharing their vocation stories: Sr. Chioma Ahanihu, SLW, a Sister of the Living Word, who will be taking her vows in September; Rev. Timothy Combs, OP, Newman Center Associate Pastor at Purdue University in Indiana; Mr. Mark Piper, an Associate of the Sisters of Mercy and Director of Mercy Association for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas West Midwest Community; Br. Joseph A. Siegel, OSA, an Augustinian religious brother currently working for PLOWs (Palos, Lemont, Orland, and Worth) Council on Aging in southwest Cook County; Ms. Kathleen Tierney, a member and National Directress of the DeSales Secular Institute; Sr. Alicia Torres, a member of the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago, currently serving at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago; Rev. Michael Trail, a recently ordained diocesan priest, currently the Associate Pastor at St. Damian Catholic Church in Oak Forest, Illinois.

Ms. Kathleen Leggdas, former Director of Ministry Evaluation for the Archdiocese of Chicago, served as seminar facilitator.

Opening Banquet and Special Guests
At the opening dinner on Monday evening, seminar participants and dinner guests were honored to have Rev. Francis Bitterman, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Chicago, offer the invocation and Sr. Lovina Francis Pammit, OSF, Coordinator of Religious Vocation Ministries for the Archdiocese of Chicago, serve as MC.

Dinner gathered international, national, and local guests, as well as J.S. Paluch managers and staff members. William Rafferty, President, and Mary Lou Paluch Rafferty, Owner, J.S. Paluch Company, greeted dinner guests and spoke following dinner.

Special guests at the dinner included Rev. Mark Francis, CSV, President of Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago; Sr. Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, PhD, Director of the Center for the Study of Consecrated Life and Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at CTU; Mr. Darius Villalobos, Evangelization Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Chicago; members of the Chicago Archdiocesan Vocation Association (CAVA) Board; and members of the Paluch Family Foundation planning committee.


Following dinner, Dolores Orzel, Creative Director of the National Vocations Awareness Division (NVAD), called on representatives from various church ministry organizations to offer gratitude and well wishes to Br. Paul Bednarczyk, CSC, who was elected Vicar General and First General Assistant of the Congregation of Holy Cross and will be leaving his position as Executive Director of NRVC. Mary Lou Paluch Rafferty joined Dolores to present a special 2016 Paluch Family Foundation Vocation Award to Br. Paul for his outstanding leadership, collaboration, vision, and commitment to vocation ministry during his 14 years of service as Executive Director of NRVC, as well as his key insights and contributions as a member of the NVAD Advisory Board.


Tuesday Evening Dinner and Concert
On Tuesday evening, seminar participants and other invited guests enjoyed dinner at the Doubletree Hotel in Rosemont followed by a spirited concert featuring gifted musicians and World Library Publications recording artists Mr. Thomas Wade Jefferson and Mr. W. Clifford Petty.


Seminar Participants
J.S. Paluch welcomed seminar participants from Canada: Rev. John Lemire, President of the Diocesan Vocation Directors of Canada (DVDC); Sr. Elaine Arsenault, SSS, representative of the National Association of Vocation and Formation Directors of Canada (NAVFD); and Rev. Toby Collins, CR, National Board Member, National Religious Vocation Conference.

Seminar participants from national organizations included Mr. Sam Alzheimer, President, Vianney Vocations; Ms. Jeannie Bross-Judge, Director of Communications and Marketing, National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM); Deacon Thomas and Mrs. Irene Corcoran, Christian Family Movement (CFM) Ambassadors; Rev. Anthony E. Cutcher, President, National Federation of Priests’ Councils (NFPC); Very Rev. Thomas M. Dragga, President, National Organization for Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy (NOCERCC); Sr. Gayle Lwanga Crumbley, RGS, National Black Sisters Conference; Sr. Ellen Dauwer, SC, Executive Director, Religious Formation Conference; Deacon Thomas R. Dubois, Executive Director, National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD); Rev. Jonathan Felux, Director of Vocations and Seminarians, and Ricardo & Lucia Luzondo, Directors, Renovación Familiar, Archdiocese of San Antonio; Lorrie & Don Gramer, Directors, MarriageBuidling USA; Rev. Eugene Hemrick, Director, National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood; Sr. Maxine Kollasch, IHM, and Sr. Julie Vieira, Co-Founders, A Nun’s Life Ministry; Ms. Carol M. Lackie, From Service to Sisterhood Project Coordinator, Catholic Volunteer Network (CVN); Mr. Cy D. Laurent, Founder & Executive Director, Labouré Society; Ms. Atle Lee from the Focolare Movement; Barbara Humphrey McCrabb, Assistant Director for Higher Education, USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education; Rev. Rene Panlasigui, Vocation Director, Rogationist Fathers; Ms. Elisabeth Roman, President, National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry; Mr. Nicholas T. Schafer, CFRE, Executive Director, Communicators for Women Religious (CWR); Mrs. Carol Scheiber, Editor, HORIZON and VISION, NRVC; Sr. Katarina Schuth, OSF, St. Paul Seminary Faculty; Ms. Paola Tai, Program Coordinator, Catholics on Call at CTU; Ms. Jennifer Tomshack, Editorial Director, VISION Vocation Guide, TrueQuest Communications; Mr. Mark J. Teresi, CFRE, Director, National Fund for Catholic Religious Vocations (NFCRV); Sr. Megan Mary Thibodeau, SOLT, Board Member, and Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR, Advisor to the Board, Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR); Dr. Carol Walters, Director, Office for Lay Ecclesial Ministry, Archdiocese of Chicago; Mr. Michael D. Wick, Executive Director, Institute on Religious Life; the Executive Committee and board members from the NRVC; and members of the NVAD Advisory Board.

Serra International Executive Director John Liston joined seminar participants USA Council President Mr. Greg Schwietz, Vocations Committee Member Mr. Gino Dimattia, and Peter Cunningham, Coordinator of USA Council Affairs.


In addition to underwriting this seminar, now in its 29th year, the J.S. Paluch Company supports vocation ministry through its Catholic family appointment calendars (Vocation, Religious Art, Stewardship, Scenic/Scripture), parish bulletin and bulletin filler art and copy with vocation themes, and direct contributions to local and national vocation organizations. Additional support for vocation ministry is provided through the Paluch Family Foundation, an independent charitable foundation, which honors service in liturgy, stewardship, and vocations.

The J.S. Paluch Company, founded in 1913, has served the Church for more than 100 years.

For further information, contact Dolores Orzel, Creative Director, NVAD, J.S. Paluch Company, Inc., 3708 River Road, Suite 400, Franklin Park, IL 60131-2158, 800-621-5197, ext. 2755, FAX to 888-957-3291, email to or visit and click on Vocation Support.